Canadian troops were forced to hitch a ride on a British transport aircraft when the RCAF ran out of serviceable planes last week. The RCAF is using a single Polaris transport to manage the rotation of Canadian troops from its base in Latvia, where it’s fulfilling a NATO mission to keep Russian troops at bay. Their Polaris was put out of commission by a landing gear issue. The only other flying Polaris is being used to support Canada’s operation in the Middle East. The third Polaris, which is also used as executive transport for the prime minister and other senior officials, is undergoing $11 million in repairs from a hangar crash incident.
For now, the Canadian troops are going to and from Latvia on an Airbus A330 tanker conversion designated the Voyager. The aircraft has a section of cabin outfitted with airline seats. “The members originally set to depart from (Canadian Forces Base) Trenton for Latvia on 8 July departed instead on 9 July with the support of the British Royal Air Force, who had an A330 Voyager aircraft available to support the departure from Canada,” Lamirande said in an email.“This aircraft will also bring the approximately 120 returning members home.” It’s not clear how long the Polaris will be out of commission.