August 17, 2011

RCAF finds that equipment is easier to obtain than trained crews

Filed under: Cancon, Military — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 12:08

From Strategy Page:

Canada is finding it’s easier to buy new helicopters, than find the people it needs to operate and maintain them. Such is the case with a new CH-47 transport helicopter squadron, which will require 482 pilots, maintainers and support staff. Pilots are in training, as are some of the maintainers.

The problems is that the Royal Canadian Air Force has only 14,500 personnel and it’s difficult to round up 482 specialists for a new squadron. The new unit does not reach full strength until 2014, and three years is believed sufficient to recruit or transfer the people needed for the new unit. But maybe not, because it’s always a problem with smaller armed forces in this age of ever evolving technology. The U.S. Air Force has 330,000 personnel, and has been downsizing for the last two decades. All those people give you a lot more flexibility, and fewer problems in forming new units.

Canada has been leasing and trying to buy CH-47s for the past four years. That’s because the CH-47 is the best helicopter for use in Afghanistan, having proved able to deal with the dust and high altitude operations better than other transport choppers. The CH-47 has been engineered, over the years, to deal with the dust, and always had the engine power to handle high altitude operations. For these reasons, Canada is buying fifteen more CH-47Fs and forming another air force squadron to operate them.


  1. The problem is that the CF has not been allowed to increase from its 65,000 number since Chretien downsized it in the 1990’s. The Public Service was downsized at this same time and have balloned well beyond their pre-1990’s numbers. Too bad there is no political will to increase the military.

    Comment by Dwayne — August 17, 2011 @ 17:00

  2. Now that you guys are again styling yourselves Royal Canadian again – perhaps you can recruit abroad?

    Mercenary is such a gauche term, I will allow. Call them ‘condottieri’ if you want to be classy and classic.

    But if the pay is good, you emphasize the ‘royal’ bits (soldiers are romantics at heart) I have no doubt you could do well recruiting at the Air Force, Army and Marine separation centers.

    Hmm: need a former jarhead? If the pay is good, I’ll take the queen’s shilling. I am not young, but I can still shoot, I know barracks discipline. Give me a warrant, I’ll do IT for you with a secondary billet of ‘ground defense’.

    Comment by Brian Dunbar — August 17, 2011 @ 17:13

  3. The CF also has a difficult time promoting from within; so it might have willing people in the Militia (or non-aviation trades) who will never get the chance because they lack one critical requirement. And while that person is spending three years and several grand getting certificated or a degree, the bar moves higher and voila, they’re still unqualified. Then they quit and go into the private sector (for better pay), or another Commonwealth force (for less hassle).

    Here’s one example.

    Comment by Chris Taylor — August 17, 2011 @ 18:31

  4. I know that the times have changed on component transfers, that is old news. I assisted someone I know to move from Reserves to Reg Force and she kept her rank and, if I remember right, they let her keep her seniority too. At least this was the way it was in the Air Force. I can’t imagine that the other services are any different now either as there was a CANFORGEN changing the direction.

    For pay scales you can go here:


    A Private starts at $31,000 a year. This is the same regardless of occupation. After 4 years everyone becomes a Corporal (really have to screw up not to get that promotion) and at Corporal the occupation scales change depending on if you are a technical occupation or not. Non-Technical occupations make $53,712 a year starting and they get an incentive raise every year until their 4th year at which time they make $56,796. Specialist 1 occupations (most of the tech trades) make $60,114 when they get their Corporals and will make $64,344. The officers make more, of course 🙂

    If someone stays in and gets promoted only twice, once to Cpl (automatic) and once to Master Corporal, as a spec trade, they will make (as of now) $66,708 a year. A promotion to Sergant will not gain a ton of money, but much more responsibilty 🙂 On the chart you will not see Master Corporal, they still call MCpl an appontment, to there is a 5A Cpl and a 5B Cpl. When a Corporal is promoted (appointed) to MCpl they go from whatever incentive they are making to the same incentive. So, if they are a 4th incentive Cpl they go same MCpl.

    The pension outlook is pretty good too. They did change some rules but essentially it is 2% per year up to 70% of your best 5 years pay, not including allowances. So, lets say, a person never makes MCpl… as a Cpl today they will make about (Spec 1) $64,000 a year. Take 70% of that, after 35 years served, and you get a pension of just over $42,000 a year. There is indexing that kicks in when you turn 55, and the formula is years served plus age equals 85, but you don’t get indexing before 55 even is you meet the criteria.

    On top of a pretty fair pay scale there is 4 weeks of vacation time per year, 5 weeks after 5 years served and 6 weeks after 28 years served. There are draw backs though, like deployments, wars, fires, flood and the like, but all in all it is a pretty good life. I’ve been at it over 32 years now and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

    I will ammend one bit of my 1st post. Apparently I missed the announcement of our expansion to 70,000 folks in the CF. We now stand somewhere near 68,000 Reg force personnel… but we still have to shuffle the deck chairs to find people to staff a new squadron.

    Comment by Dwayne — August 18, 2011 @ 11:24

  5. Pay scales have been relatively generous since the 1970s, although that can be a two-edged sword when money gets tight (also the late 70s). The big difference for Canadian Forces folks since 9/11 has been provision of modern equipment, at least that’s the opinion of several active duty personnel I met a couple of months ago. Whereas in my day we had equipment that qualified for full pensions, these days the equipment is replaced long before it’s worn out. That by itself told me that this wasn’t the CF of my day.

    Comment by Nicholas — August 18, 2011 @ 11:43

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