WASHINGTON (Agencies) – Canada plans to deploy four Griffon helicopters to a Latvia-based NATO battlegroup, marking the first time in over 20 years that the country has based its tactical aviation capabilities in Europe, the Ministry of National Defense said on Friday.
“Starting in summer 2024, Canada will deploy four Griffon helicopters to the eFP Battle Group and periodically deploy Chinooks as well, starting fall 2025. This is the first time that Canada has persistently deployed tactical aviation capabilities to Europe since operations in Bosnia and Kosovo in the late 1990s and early 2000s,” the ministry said in a statement.
The announcement comes as National Defense Minister Bill Blair and Chief of the Defense Staff Gen. Wayne Eyre visit Latvia, which hosts Canada’s largest foreign military deployment.
Per the roadmap it committed to in July, Canada is more than doubling its military presence in Operation Reassurance from about 1,000 troops to up to 2,200 persistently-deployed troops by 2026.
Blair announced several other measures, including finalizing the procurement of Portable Anti-Armor Missile Systems for Canadian forces in Latvia, including missiles, simulators, and associated supports; and deploying medium range radar capabilities for the first time to provide aerial surveillance for the brigade.
Blair also announced a total investment of more than C$15 million ($11.2 million) in infrastructure to scale up the current battlegroup to a brigade, part of the C$2.6 billion in funding that Canada committed to Operation Reassurance in July.