An uncommon sight close to Vegreville is popping heads.
The central Alberta city has been invaded by part of Canadian army historical past. Leopard 1 tanks are neatly lined up in a piece yard on the west finish of city.
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Many of those heavy metallic battle machines have been utilized in fight in Afghanistan.
A Vegreville firm, High quality Disposal & Recycling Inc., acquired the contract to repurpose these out-of-date relics for use for goal observe at Chilly Lake Air Weapons Vary.
Venture supervisor for high quality disposal, Jaden Melenka, mentioned the response from the general public has been entertaining.
“They’ll drive by and see a tank rolling by and so they’ll textual content somebody who works right here and say, ‘What on earth are you guys doing?’” mentioned Melenka.
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Canada acquired greater than 50 of the Leopard 1 tanks within the Seventies and operated them till 2017. The growing old machines have since been changed with Leopard 2 tanks.
Melenka says it’s an honour to be engaged on such an essential a part of Canadian army historical past.
“These are from 1978 so you possibly can think about all of the arms that touched them and the tales that went together with them,” mentioned Melenka.
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“The crew that was in right here have been brothers, you already know, and once we go in right here and begin this taking aside we’re virtually a part of that brotherhood and that historical past — and we couldn’t be happier to be doing this.”
The repurposing work entails making certain they will not operate as a weapons system.
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“The top recreation is we fully intestine it right down to a naked shell, take away all of the elements, then reassemble every thing, put it again collectively,” mentioned Melenka. “The gun barrel we weld shut. From there, it’s able to be moved to weapons vary.”
The undertaking is bittersweet for former Canadian tank commander Anthony Sewards. Sewards operated a Leopard 1 tank in fight in Afghanistan.
“It brings a little bit little bit of a tear within the eye. They’ve been changed, phased out. It’s a number of reminiscences,” mentioned Sewards.
“You deploy and that tank is your private home. I’m fortunate sufficient that my tank goes to Canadian Battle Museum in Ottawa.”
Researching and repurposing these machines has been a studying expertise for Melenka and his crew in additional methods than one.
“Clearly, we had by no means labored on a tank earlier than so there have been a number of unknowns. The army working with us have been so wonderful with us and despatched a group to undergo all of the components,” he mentioned.
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Whereas the undertaking has been a problem, Melenka mentioned the work has been rewarding.
“The crew that was in right here have been brothers, you already know, and once we go in right here and begin taking them aside we’re virtually a part of that brotherhood and that historical past and we couldn’t be happier to be doing this.”
About 45 retired Canadian Military tanks will quickly be used for goal observe on the Chilly Lake Air Weapons Vary. A number of others are getting used as monuments in cities throughout Canada.
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