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Canada increases global reach with new military transporter

20 december 2014, 12:50

 Canada's defense minister announced Friday the addition of a fifth military transport jumbo jet to its fleet, as the nation continues expanding its combat and humanitarian reach around the world, AFP reports.

Its four existing Globemaster III C17 aircrafts were purchased in 2008-2009 and have been used recently in Canadian and allied airlifts in Afghanistan, the Arctic, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Lithuania, Mali, Sierra Leone and Ukraine.

"It's no exaggeration to say that the C17 fleet has revolutionized the way the Canadian forces operate," Minister Rob Nicholson told a press conference.

"Without these aircraft, we would be forced to contract airlift services or hitch rides with our allies. Instead, we are now in a position to help allies when required, and during the past year, we have seen that the world remains a volatile and very unpredictable place," he said.

"Our Canadian Armed Forces stand ready to protect Canada and Canadian interests."

In January 2013, the Canadian jumbo jets carried military equipment to French forces that launched a surprise intervention in Mali in a bid to stop Al-Qaeda-linked fighters from expanding their control of parts of the country.

Most recently, they were used to deliver medical supplies to Ebola-stricken Sierra Leone, winter coats, boots and gloves to dress 30,000 Ukrainian soldiers fighting pro-Moscow separatists in east Ukraine, and armaments for airstrikes on the Islamic State group in Iraq.

Boeing started winding down manufacturing of the Globemaster III C17 after the United States military announced in 2009 it would stop buying them.

Only three were delivered to customers this year from a peak annual production of 16 from 2002 to 2009. But new orders keep forestalling its retirement.

The aircraft can take off and land on short runways, avoiding enemy fire while carrying a massive amount of cargo, including tanks.

Canada is paying Can$415 million (US$358 million)to buy and service the aircraft over 12 years.

Canadian airmen will pick up the order in the spring from Boeing's Long Beach, Florida assembly plant.

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