Go Bold with Joetey Attariwala

Go Bold with Joetey Attariwala

Great podcast interview with my friend Joetey Attariwalla talking all things Operation Allied Force and how combat evolved for the CF-18 back 25 years ago. Reflected on changes of the fighter force, as well as to my own professional life over the years since. And of course the story of the Canada Day flypast on 1 July 1999.

Operation Allied Force – Bringing a Peacetime Air Force into the Big Leagues

Operation Allied Force – Bringing a Peacetime Air Force into the Big Leagues

It was an unforgettable homecoming. On Canada Day 1999, 12 CF-18s roared over Parliament Hill in Ottawa, marking our return from combat—a moment that Hollywood’s best could not have rivaled. But the true story behind that flypast was an extraordinary coup, instigated by our combat unit and not from months of preplanning by officials in the Canadian Air Force. This proud moment exemplified how all returning servicemen and women should be honoured after serving Canada abroad.

Dropping the Ball Again – Canadian Fighter Pilot Training

Dropping the Ball Again – Canadian Fighter Pilot Training

The recent retirement of the RCAF’s 419 Squadron, based in Cold Lake, Alberta ended fighter pilot training in Canada.  NATO Flying Training in Canada (NFTC) is the very successful pilot training program that has flown the CT-155 Hawk jet for 24 years, creating baby fighter pilots, teaching them basic fighter pilot skill sets.  Sovereign Fighter-Lead-In-Training (FLIT), which is also called Phase IV in pilot training parlance, has graduated wannabe fighter pilots who were capable, safe, and effective as they moved on to learn to fly the more advanced CF-18 Hornet.

As it turns out, RCAF officials cancelled this program with perfectly capable jets to fly, trained instructors and maintenance personnel available at a time when the air force is desperately short of fighter pilots and with very little access to training programs to refill their ranks.  There are only 42 combat-ready fighter pilots in the RCAF, not enough to sufficiently man the CF-18s to protect our country or support operations abroad.  With 88 F-35s to be delivered in the coming years, and a severe shortage of trained pilots, instead of leveraging existing sovereign training capability, RCAF officials just shot themselves in the foot and cut off their own elite, highly successful fighter pilot training program. The decision they took is now to outsource all of that training out-of-country at enormous additional expense.