Jump to content

Canadian Armed Forces Search and Rescue

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Canadian Forces CC-115 Buffalo fixed wing SAR aircraft from 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron.
CH-146 Griffon in SAR markings

Canadian Armed Forces Search and Rescue (CAFSAR; French: Recherche et sauvetage des Forces armées canadiennes) is the collective name used to refer to search and rescue (SAR) resources and operations within the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) and Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) are jointly responsible for Canada’s SAR operations.


Military search and rescue in Canada traces its history to 1942[1] when Wilfred May pioneered the concept of parachuting survival experts into airplane crash sites. The Royal Canadian Air Force, impressed with "Wop's" rescue squad, enrolled the first three RCAF Pararescue jumpers in June 1944. January 1945 saw the first RCAF pararescue course with graduates stationed to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia; Sea Island, British Columbia; and Edmonton, Alberta. The RCAF and the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) began to task aircraft resources for SAR operations and occasionally perform joint operations. Unification of the RCAF and RCN with the Canadian Army in 1968 formed the Canadian Armed Forces, at which time SAR operations were divided between Maritime Command and Force Mobile Command.

The formation of the Canadian Coast Guard in 1962, as well as its civilian predecessor agencies and some volunteer organizations, have held responsibility for the vast majority of maritime SAR operations in Canada since the 19th century. Pacific and Atlantic maritime SAR is directed from Joint Rescue Coordination Centres (JRCC) located at Maritime Pacific and Atlantic Naval Headquarters in Esquimalt, BC and Halifax, NS. The centres are manned by Royal Canadian Air Force and Canadian Coast Guard personnel. A third JRCC is located at Trenton, Ontario and is responsible for the Great Lakes and the North.[citation needed]

In 2014, the RCAF revamped its FWSAR replacement project to have the competitors suggest the best locations to base the aircraft out of.[2]


Search and rescue operations cover the entirety of Canada's SAR Region (SRR) which measures 15,540,000 km2 (6,000,000 sq mi). Resources are operationally administered in three SAR regions by each respective Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC):[citation needed]


CH-118 Iroquois helicopter from CFB Cold Lake in the mountains of British Columbia.
CC-138 Twin Otter at Cambridge Bay Airport.
Canadian Forces CH-149 Cormorant helicopter exercising with a Canadian Coast Guard vessel.

Canadian Forces search and rescue resources are mostly in the form of squadrons of dedicated SAR aircraft located at bases across the country supported by 750 personnel, which includes ground crew, air crew, and 150 Search and Rescue Technicians (SAR Techs). CF SAR operations occasionally provide assistance to civilian agencies which lack the resources and equipment to conduct a large scale SAR operation.[citation needed]

Search and Rescue technicians (SAR Techs)

Search and Rescue technicians are advanced trauma life support pararescue specialists trained in military freefall, diving, mountaineering, rappeling, wilderness survival in extreme conditions, hoist rescue operations and various other rescue-related tasks, such as securing landing zones/drop zones or leading mountain rescue operations in coordination with civilian agencies and volunteer organizations. After a two-week selection period, SAR Techs undergo 11 months of initial training at the Canadian Forces School of Search and Rescue, based at 19 Wing Comox in British Columbia.[citation needed]


Additional resources available for SAR include:

  • CC-138 Twin Otter, primarily transport aircraft. The Twin Otters often participate in Arctic SAR missions because they are the only RCAF aircraft permanently based in Northern Canada.
  • CP-140 Aurora, anti-submarine/marine reconnaissance fixed wing (sometimes used to assist search and rescue in marine operations).
Retired aircraft (1968–present)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ May, Denny. "Wop's WWII Para-Rescue Service". Edmonton Public Library. Archived from the original on 2008-11-19. Retrieved April 11, 2014.
  2. ^ PUGLIESE, DAVID (12 April 2014). "Canada Overhauls Requirements For SAR Aircraft Replacement". www.defensenews.com. Gannett Government Media. Archived from the original on April 12, 2014. Retrieved 12 April 2014.
  3. ^ "Fixed-wing search and rescue procurement project". canada.ca. Government of Canada. Retrieved 2021-02-20.

External links[edit]