An international investigation is underway after a Canadian military aircraft and French air force plane “came into contact” at a U.S. air base in Guam last week, Canada’s defence ministry says.
The Department of National Defence told Global News the incident occurred Friday on the ramp at Anderson Air Force Base “in which the two aircraft came into contact.”
Those two aircraft were a Canadian CC-150 Polaris military transport plane and a French Air and Space Force A400M, which is also used as a military transport aircraft.
“There was no one on board the Canadian aircraft at the time and there are no reported casualties,” Daniel Le Bouthillier, a spokesperson for the department said in a statement Monday.
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The Canadian, French and U.S. air forces are investigating what happened.
Le Bouthillier did not say exactly how the incident occured, or detail the extent of the damage to the Canadian or French aircraft.
“As the matter is still being investigated through the flight safety investigation process, we cannot comment on the potential cause of the damage,” he said.
Global News has reached out to the French Ministry of Defence for further information on what happened.
The Pentagon referred questions about the incident to Anderson Air Force Base, whose press office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
This is not the first time a Canadian plane has been involved in an incident at an air base.
In 2019, another CC-150 Polaris — the one most commonly used to transport the prime minister, governor general and other high-ranking dignitaries — crashed into an aircraft hangar in Trenton, Ont.
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According to a military incident summary, that aircraft was stopped and awaiting a tow into the hangar with both the parking brake and chocks — wedges meant to prevent the wheels from rolling — in place.
But the plane began rolling on its own, right over the chocks, and its nose collided with the hangar wall while the right engine of the aircraft hit a tow tractor inside the hangar.
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The aircraft sustained “serious damage,” the military said at the time, and was grounded for several months for repairs.
Canada operates five Polaris aircraft, which have been in service since 1992, for military, medical and diplomatic transport. Two of the aircraft also supply air-to-air refueling.
The federal government is currently working to replace that fleet with six newer-model aircraft.
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Last year, Defence Minister Anita Anand announced her department had purchased its first replacement aircraft, two Airbus A330-200 planes built in 2015 at a cost of US$102 million. Those two planes are expected to arrive in Canada by the end of this year.
The department intends to procure a total of six newer military transport aircraft for the new fleet.
DND said Monday the Polaris aircraft involved in the incident at Anderson Air Force Base had been in Guam to return Canadian military members who had been taking part in the U.S. Air Force’s Exercise Mobility Guardian.
The U.S. Air Force describes the exercise as the Air Mobility Command’s “largest, and arguably most challenging, exercise in years” designed to ensure combat readiness and “wartime contingency” in the Indo-Pacific region.
Canada has vowed to increase its military presence in the region as part of its larger Indo-Pacific strategy.
— with files from Global’s Amanda Connolly
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