Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan air bases could host Canadian planes

Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan air bases could host Canadian planes

Canadian government is considering a German air base in Uzbekistan or an American air base in Kyrgyzstan as a possible short-term fix for the loss of Camp Mirage, the Canadian air base near Dubai, Torontosun newspaper wrote according to Qmi Agency.

The United Arab Emirates is evicting the Canadian Forces from Camp Mirage in three weeks because the Canadian government refuses to grant the country's national airlines additional flights to Canada.

Without Mirage, the Canadian Forces require another site near Afghanistan from which to fly cargo in and out of the country.

A senior defence department source confirmed two possible temporary replacements: Germany's air base in Termez, Uzbekistan, and the U.S. air base in Manas, Kyrgyzstan.

On Sunday, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said several potential locations have been identified, "that will replace the forward operating nature that Camp Mirage has provided for us."

"There's negotiations happening right now between planners at my department as well as foreign affairs to secure an alternate location," he said.

But neither MacKay nor Catherine Loubier, a spokeswoman for Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon, would identify the possible locations.

"We can't comment on operational matters that say anything about where we're going and what it represents and logistics, because of obvious reasons. It wouldn't be secure to do that," she said. "We are currently supported by several locations in the world. "That's going to remain."

Navy Capt. Dave Scanlon, the senior spokesman for the defence department, said without Mirage, Canada would need stop-over locations en route to Afghanistan.

He added, though, neither Termez nor Manas are scheduled to receive major investments in Canadian assets.

"But if you're hearing that there's a possibility we could have places that we need to phase through - or pass through - like a connecting airport concept, then that might be a possibility," Scanlon said.

Camp Mirage was an open secret in Ottawa, with the Canadian Forces and the government never officially confirming its existence or role.

Located in the UAE Al Minhad air force base, Mirage is a trans-load facility established in 2001 as a hub to resupply the 2,750 Canadian troops fighting in Kandahar.

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