OTTAWA - Newly released documents reveal there was a fair amount of fretting within air force ranks about the impact of last year's Libya bombing campaign on Canada's fleet of CF-18 fighter jets.
The aging multi-role fighters were called upon to enforce a UN-sanctioned no-fly zone, which eventually led to the ouster of dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
Soon after arriving in March 2011 at their forward base in Trepani, Italy, the Canadian contingent found itself flying six missions per day — far more than air force planners expected.
Briefing notes indicate that two months into the campaign, intense internal debate erupted about increasing the number of aircraft from seven to nine, prompting military planners to warn about wear and tear on the 77-jet fleet.
A former top air force commander says the notes underscore how the country's small air force strained under the weight of the mission.
Retired lieutenant-general George MacDonald, a former vice-chief of defence staff, says the briefings put new emphasis on getting a replacement program on track.
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The funeral in Majer for 34 victims of a NATO air strike on two rural compounds on August 8, 2011.
Posters of victims of NATO air strikes seen on June 20, 2011 outside the large el-Hamedi family farm in Sorman. A guard walks in the background.
NATO air strikes struck the Imarat al-Tameen apartment complex in downtown Sirte multiple times on September 16, 2011, killing one man and one pregnant woman.
Farid Fathi Jfara pointing to where family members found the body of Farah Jfara, 9, killed with four relatives in a NATO air strike on August 29 on 30, 2011 in Bani Walid.
A NATO air strike on August 4, 2011 in Zliten killed Mustafa al-Morabit's two children, Moatez, 3, and Mohamed, 5.
A NATO air strike hit the al-Morabit house in Zliten on August 4, 2011, killing Ibtessam Ali al-Barbar, 37, and her children Moatez and Mohamed.
A NATO air strike on the al-Gherari house in Tripoli on June 19, 2011 killed five members of the family. NATO said the strike was due to a "weapons system failure."
A tail fin from a 500 pound laser-guided bomb (GBU-12) found in Majer, where NATO air strikes killed 34 civilians and wounded more than 30 on August 8, 2011.