On September 18th, Minister of National Defense, met with the United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Defense, Grant Shapps in London.
The Minister congratulated Secretary Shapps on his recent appointment and noted that he looks forward to building upon the excellent defense relationship between Canada and the United Kingdom. Minister Blair and Secretary Shapps condemned Russia’s ongoing, illegal and unjustifiable war of aggression against Ukraine, and discussed the ongoing collaboration between Canada and the United Kingdom to support Ukraine.
Through Operation UNIFIER, approximately 170 Canadian Armed Forces members are deployed in the United Kingdom, where they have trained 2,600 Ukrainian recruits in collaboration with the British Operation INTERFLEX. Minister Blair visited Camp Lydd on September 17, 2023, and saw first-hand how Canadian and British military members are working together. In addition, a Royal Canadian Air Force detachment is currently deployed in Prestwick, Scotland. The detachment operates three CC-130 Hercules aircraft and has delivered over 11 million pounds of Ukraine-bound military aid donated by Canada, partners, and allies.
As The Minister announced on September 17, 2023, Canada is also contributing $33 million (CAD) to the British-led partnership delivering high priority air defense equipment to Ukraine. Secretary Shapps welcomed this announcement, and both Minister Blair and Secretary Shapps looked forward to future collaboration between Canada and the United Kingdom in support of Ukraine.
The Minister discussed Canada’s ongoing efforts to update its defense policy and noted that several of Canada’s investments in military capabilities involve close collaboration with the United Kingdom. Through a $1.168 billion contract awarded in December 2022 to Leonardo United Kingdom Ltd, Canada is upgrading its Cormorant search and rescue helicopter fleet. In addition, Canada is investing in 15 new Canadian Surface Combatant warships, whose design will be based on BAE’s Type 26 warship, bolstering interoperability between the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Navy.
The Minister and Secretary Shapps also noted the ongoing participation of the Canadian and British militaries in joint exercises. More than 140 Royal Canadian Air Force personnel are currently participating in Exercise COBRA WARRIOR 23-2, a British-hosted multinational live-fly exercise held at Royal Air Force (RAF) station Waddington in the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force is also participating in the ongoing Canadian-led Exercise CUTLASS FURY 2023 off the coast of Nova Scotia.
The two counterparts agreed to stay in close communication and looked forward to working together.