Canada’s new fighter jets could be stationed at a “forward operating location” in Iqaluit

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo: A CF-18 on an air training exercise out of Iqaluit this past January.

When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and US President Joe Biden met on February 23, they committed to modernizing NORAD.

It’s not exactly clear what this means.

But Nunatsiaq News recently reported: “Part of what’s contemplated is an expansion of northern Canada’s forward operating locations, known as FOL sites. The FOL site in Iqaluit includes three hangars capable of housing F-18 fighter jets, as well as a large barracks located off the road to the causeway.”

In that article, University of Manitoba political studies professor James Fergusson says: “You need more of them up there potentially. So that’s going to be a major investment and development project as well.”

This also fits with the Canadian government’s stated rationale: “A modern fighter jet fleet is essential for defending Canada and Canadian sovereignty and contribute to our NORAD and NATO commitments, now and in the future.”

Furthermore, on January 18-20 of this year, the Royal Canadian Air Force “conducted High Arctic air training involving two CF-18 Hornet fighters and one CC-150T Polaris air-to-air refueling aircraft operating from Iqaluit, Nunavut.”

The stated reason for this exercise: “It enhances the RCAF’s ongoing support to operations and exercises and showcases the Canadian Armed Forces’ ability to project force into the region so that we can work cooperatively with our partners.”

Nunatsiaq News also notes that 47 radar stations that run from Labrador to Alaska are now obsolete and their lifespan expires in 2025. Replacing that system could cost an estimated $11 billion. The maintenance contract for these stations is held by Raytheon.

Fergusson says there could be new radar stations located further north of where they are now as well as “space-based assets” and more naval surveillance.

That naval surveillance in the Arctic is also driving Canada purchasing 15 Type 26 warships from Lockheed Martin and BAE that a recent report from the Parliamentary Budget Officer says could cost an estimated $77 billion.

Climate change is also driving this militarization of the North.

The Globe and Mail has reported: “In frank comments to the Ottawa Conference on Security and Defence, deputy minister Jody Thomas said that Beijing is turning its attention to the Northwest Passage as melting ice opens up Arctic sea lanes to shipping and resource exploitation, including fish, petroleum and critical minerals.”

The No Fighter Jet Coalition recently released this report that estimates the actual cost of Canada purchasing 88 new fighter jets could total $76.8 billion.

Please also see our articles: The struggle of Innu land defenders against NATO low level flight training over Nitassinan and Dene land defender Brian Grandbois and the struggle against the Cold Lake air force base.

Photo: A protest at the Goose Bay air force base in 1988 in opposition to NATO low level flight training over Nitassinan.

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