MAKICHUK: Canada eyes way to send rockets to Ukraine

A British Army Apache attack helicopter in Afghanistan fires rockets at insurgents during a patrol in 2008.
A British Army Apache attack helicopter in Afghanistan fires rockets at insurgents during a patrol in 2008.Ministry of Defence

It appears that Opposition leader Pierre Poilievre's appeal to send expired CRV7 (short for Canadian Rocket Vehicle 7) unguided aircraft rockets to Ukraine has not fallen on deaf ears.

While it has not happened yet, Canada's Minister of National Defense Bill Blair told reporters at a military briefing in Edmonton the Department of National Defence is currently assessing how safe it is to transport the CRV7 rockets and which is the best way to do it, Defence Express reports.

The CRV7s are decades old and could have become unstable, rendering them dangerous to handle and transport.

Aside from concerns about whether they could be safely airlifted, giving them to Ukraine would mean breaking the contract with the disposal company, which has been building a special facility for the job, Global News reported.

Based on the American Hydra 70 unguided rocket, experts say the weapon could make a major impact for the Ukrainian military, which is fighting for its survival in the two-year-old conflict with Russian invaders.

In February, Canadian opposition MPs from the Conservative Party proposed an initiative to provide Ukraine with a significant amount of aviation munitions, Defence Express reported.

Canada has been disposing of the CRV7 rockets so far and the cost to destroy the rest has been pegged at about $30 million — a cost that remains controversial.

Some munition experts were appalled by that price tag, saying it could be done for far less.

Currently, the Department of National Defence says there are 83,303 CRV7 rockets warehoused in the munitions depot in Dundurn, SK, about 45 km south of Saskatoon.

Media reports claim only 8,000 CRV7 rockets are in good condition and have combat parts.

Since the CRV7s use a solid fuel, they may still be safe, provided they had been stored properly and not exposed to moisture or contamination.

The Justin Trudeau government came under criticism in the House for dragging its feet on the request to give the rockets to Ukraine.

"Instead of making Canadians pay millions of dollars to decommission these weapons, they should be given to Ukraine to use them in the defence of sovereignty," leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, Pierre Poilievre said.

Lockheed Martin's DAGR missile system.
Lockheed Martin's DAGR missile system.Lockheed Martin

He also questioned why Trudeau promised Ukraine an air defence system a year ago that has yet to materialize.

But rather than answer that charge, or the claim that his government allowed detonators to be shipped to Russia, Trudeau raised Poilievre’s opposition to the Canada-Ukraine free trade deal, which was not entirely accurate.

What the CPC was opposed to was an amendment that tied the existing agreement to "promote carbon pricing and measures to mitigate carbon leakage risks."

The Conservatives thought it ridiculous to make such a demand, while Ukraine fights for its life against the Russian aggressors.

Ukraine has had a carbon tax since 2011, which it needs to one day be part of the European Union.

Thanks to the fact that the CRV7 rockets are based on the Hydra 70 unguided rocket, they can be launched from the same blocks, Defence Express reported.

These modules with the original American rocket are already integrated under a wing of Ukrainian helicopters.

In addition, the CRV7 can be used to make ground mini-Multiple Launch Rocket Systems.

The CRV7 is a 2.75-inch (70 mm) folding-fin ground attack rocket produced by Bristol Aerospace in Winnipeg, MB.

It was introduced in the early 1970s as an upgraded version of the standard US 2.75-inch air-to-ground rocket.

It remains one of the most powerful air-to-ground attack rockets to this day and has slowly become the de facto standard for NATO.

Ukrainian ground rocket launcher.
Ukrainian ground rocket launcher.Handout

Lockheed Martin has also created the DAGR, a semi-active laser guidance kit that adapts to 2.75-inch/70mm rockets to provide guided-rocket performance comparable to that of the precision-strike laser-guided HELLFIRE II missile, the company said.

The DAGR guidance kit provides rockets such as the Hydra-70 and CRV-7, lock-on-after-launch and lock-on-before-launch capability, target handoff, enhanced built-in test and laser coding from the cockpit.

DAGR's off-axis capability also increases the engagement envelope, providing additional field of view for angle of attack, moving targets and wind.

In the short range, DAGR is capable of easily engaging targets moving at up to 60 mph and up to 15 degrees off-boresight.

From extended ranges and high altitudes, DAGR is capable of engaging targets that are within a 12-kilometre diameter circle below the firing platform.

Ukrainian Lt. Gen. Budanov said the CRV7s would be used both in Ukrainian attack helicopters and ground launchers to target Russian tanks and artillery.

Ukraine has made similar appeals for junked military equipment to other countries, including Australia, which has 45 retired MRH-90 helicopters that Ukraine wants.

But Australia has deemed them unsafe, and intends to disassemble and bury the choppers, arguing getting them into working condition would be too costly.

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