Helicopter crew members onboard HMCS Halifax conduct inflight refueling during Operation Reassurance in the Mediterranean Sea in 2020. Some of the military choppers flying around Greater Victoria recently are taking part in a special ops training exercise. (Photo by Cpl. Braden Trudeau/Trinity-Formation Imaging Services)

Helicopter crew members onboard HMCS Halifax conduct inflight refueling during Operation Reassurance in the Mediterranean Sea in 2020. Some of the military choppers flying around Greater Victoria recently are taking part in a special ops training exercise. (Photo by Cpl. Braden Trudeau/Trinity-Formation Imaging Services)

Special Ops exercise brings influx of helicopters to Victoria

Ontario-based air force unit comes to Victoria to train over ocean

An increase in the number of helicopters circling overhead in recent days is due to a Special Ops military training exercise.

The Canadian Special Operations Aviation Squadron is a specialized air force unit based out of the Petawawa army base near Ottawa, Ont. Because there’s no ocean in Ontario, the unit often comes to Greater Victoria to train.

Special Ops Forces Command Capt. Ian Grant couldn’t share any details about what the training consists of, but said they are grateful to Greater Victoria residents for putting up with any noise disturbance.

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The unit originates from Lion Squadron, which was created in 1942 during the Second World War. It disbanded after the war, but was called back into action in 1962 as a fighter squadron. In 1971 it went back into operation as a tactical helicopter unit. In 1992 it was deployed to Somalia during the civil war as part of a United Nations peace-making mission and in 1995 was part of a series of humanitarian missions in Haiti.

It wasn’t until 2006 that the unit took its current form as a special operations squadron.

The unit has been training near Constance Bay and Albert Head since June 7 and will be there until June 18.

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