Canada to Pull Out of NATO Air Surveillance

Canadian Forces will soon announce their withdrawal from a key NATO air surveillance program as part of cost-cutting measures, an official told AFP June 9.

The NATO Airborne Warning And Control System (AWACS) is widely used by the alliance in Afghanistan and Libya to monitor air space and guide fighter jets to their targets.

The planes, with massive radar dishes mounted on top, are staffed by multinational crews. Of their 2,900 air crew and support staff from 17 NATO nations, about 100 are Canadian.

The senior Canadian official told AFP on condition of anonymity that the Canadian air force has decided to pull out of the program to trim costs as the government looks to eliminate a CA$36.2 billion budget deficit.

Defense ministry spokesman Jay Paxton said the military has “identified numerous efficiencies that do not affect the core capabilities or readiness of our military, as part of this government’s efforts to ensure best value for tax dollars.”

Canada’s withdrawal from the AWACS program comes as it looks to extend its participation in the Libya mission to September.