Thursday, August 20, 2015

RCNs Arctic Patrol Ships to be armed with MK-38's

It was announced that Irving Shipbuilding has awarded the defence contract for Canada's Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS) to BAE Systems for the ships self-defence purposes.

BAE will provide up to 6 modified 25mm MK-38 Machine Gun Systems for the AOPS's. The contract stipulates the first gun systems will be delivered in 2017 (the same date as the first AOPS), and one system per year after until the end of the contract - again the same time table as the remaining AOPS.

GULF OF ADEN (Feb. 28, 2011) An MK-38 25mm gun system is fired during a live-fire exercise aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87). Mason is deployed as part of the Enterprise Carrier Strike Group and assigned to Combined Task Force 151, supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jeffry A. Willadsen/Released)

Project Resolve: RCN's Interim Supply Ship

There is new(er) news about Project Resolve. Please be sure to also read: Asterix to Salvage Parts from HMCS Protecteur & Asterix iAOR to be ready by 2017

During election campaign, people expect little more than future promises on Defence issues - but we got news the other day that the Government has signed a letter of intent with Davie Shipbuilding in Levis, Quebec to retrofit a civilian container ship, the Asterix (a 1,702 TEU Boxship).

(*TEU - a Unit of Measurement = Twenty-Foot Equivalent Unit (i.e. a 20 Foot Sea Container))

According to several sources Davie Shipbuilding has purchased the Asterix for around $20 million and will spend upwards of $350 Million on retrofitting it to meet the Royal Canadian Navies requirements. 

For this all to take place,the Government was required to change its rules on sole-sourcing defence purchases. Otherwise, multiple firms would have been required to bid for the project, which could have led to further delays. 

The Government quietly added a line to the contract back in June 2015, that allows a deal to move forward to a single company, if the requirements are "urgent operational reasons, and fulfills an interim requirement."  This can possibly set a dangerous precedent for future projects or governments, as what defines urgent or interim? 

Little is known about the final ownership of the Asterix. It is highly unlikely that the ship will be owned by the Royal Canadian Navy - as it is Davie who reportedly purchased the ship. In all likelihood, Davie will then lease the ship to the Navy on a long-term basis until the planned Queenston-Class AOR vessels are built (The first in late 2020). The estimated cost for the lease - between $65 and $75 Million per year. What will happen to the Asterix after all 3 Queenston AORs are operational? That is another unanswered question - it will most likely continue to operate as a broader part of the Navy, most likely helping out on more humanitarian missions or as a central command ship for larger international deployments. The modified Asterix is expected to be in service for at least the next 20 to 25 years. There are no reports about whether or not Davie will sell the ship to the Navy at the end of the initial lease agreement. 

The Royal Canadian Navy currently does not have a supply ship, and temporarily rented a Chilean Supply Ship for exercises on the West Coast, and have leased a Spanish supply ship for the East Coast.  The Asterix will give the RCN supply capability until the Queenston-Class AORs arrive, but will also allow the Navy to maintain a high level of training on supply vessels. 

The Asterix is currently capable of carrying 1,702 twenty-foot sea containers. Davie will convert the ship into a Naval Supply Vessel, capable of replenishing other Navy vessels at sea. 

The conversion will include, modifying the hull and ballast systems, to be capable of carrying 10,000 liters of spare fuel. A landing pad will be added to the ship, large enough to allow for two Chinook sized helicopters to use it. Although it is more likely that the Cyclones will operate off of the ship. Accompanying the landing pad, will be two hangers for the ships own aircraft be to be stored. Accommodations for up to 350 personnel, including a large medical facility (mobile hospital) and a command center. Unlike the Queenston-Class, no mention of any weapons systems have been added to the design of the Asterix. 

Once all the modifications are complete, the ship will also be able to carry an additional 40 twenty-foot sea containers. (Down form the 1,702) 

The project name Davie Shipbuilding is using for this overhaul - Project Resolve, which has led to the nickname Resolve-Class AOR for the Asterix. It is currently only a temporary name, but I think HMCS Resolve has a nice ring to it. 


Monday, August 17, 2015

Election 2015: Harper Promises Increase in Reserve Force

Today at a Campaign stop in Fredericton, New Brunswick Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that if the Conservatives are re-elected, they would increase the number of Reserves in the Canadian Armed Forces from 24,000 to 30,000 within the next four years. That is almost a decade faster than the current Canadian Defense Strategy, which lists 2028 as the date for the Reserves to hit the 30,000 troop level.

The Prime Minister announced that a Conservative government would streamline the recruitment process for Reserves, and more to a more Central training system in Ontario and the Great Lakes region, so Reserves can train closer to home.

Such a surge will help increase the effectiveness of the Canadian Armed Forces, especially in response to Canada's Sovereignty needs, national emergencies (floods, and forest fires), and to help protect Canada's coastal and offshore waters.

In the 2011 Election the Conservatives took 8 of the 10 Seats in New Brunswick, and he is hoping to do just as well this time around. Canada's largest Eastern Military Base is CFB Gagetown located just outside of Fredericton.

To read the original CBC News Article: Stephen Harper Pledges Reserve Increase

Continue to Support for Air Task Force Iraq

You may know this already (perhaps because of this webpage) - but I am a strong supporter of the military. There have been recent calls for changes to Canada's contribution to the fight against ISIS. In Canada, our mission is titled, Operation IMPACT. The US led coalition name is Operation INHERENT RESOLVE.  We need to continue to support Air Task Force Iraq (ATFI)

Those who call for changes say Canada has only contributed to approximately 3% of coalition air strikes. They argue that 3% of strikes will not hurt ISIS - and therefore, Canada should withdraw our fighter jets (as both the NDP and Liberal's propose) and withdraw our Special Forces training mission (as the NDP propose). But when you look at the breakdown of military forces in the region, it becomes extremely clear why Canada has only contributed to about 3% of airstrikes...we have 1% of the forces involved. If you want more of a Canadian contribution, you have to be willing to deploy more Canadian assets.

I agree with both the Liberal and NDP calls for more humanitarian aid - Canada has a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) - that I believe could be deployed for a longer mission to the UN refugee camps being set up in Jordan or Turkey. The DART team does amazing work when they deploy to disaster zones; just look at what they were able to do in Nepal on a month long deployment.

But to those who want Canada to be a bigger contributor to the fight against ISIS (which I think we should be at least maintaining our current contribution) you need to be willing to deploy more Canadian assets.

Canada currently has the following assets in place to help the coalition against ISIS;
(Numbers of Aircraft only - not support personnel)

  • 6 CF-188 Super Hornet Strike Aircraft 
  • 1 CC-150T Polaris Areal refueller to support Canada and Coalition allies 
  • 2 CP-140M Aurora Surveillance aircraft to target and examine airstrike effectiveness for Canada and Coalition allies. 
  • Numerous trips with a CC-177 Globemaster III for transport of Goods to Canadian Forces, Coalituon Allies and military and humanitarian aid to Iraq. 
Between August and September 2014 - RCAF aircraft delivered 1.6 million pounds of military supplies to Iraq.  The donations from coalition allies included small arms, ammunition and other equipment. Military equipment was delivered to Security forces working in Baghdad and Erbil. 

As of August 12, 2015 - Air Task Force Iraq (ATFI)
  • CF-188 Hornets have conducted more than 861 sorties, and more than 1000 Airstrikes 
  • CC-150T Polaris has conducted more than 228 sorties, and delivering close to 14 million pouds of fuel to coalition aircraft 
  • CP-140 Aurora aircraft have conducted more than 248 reconnaissance missions. 
  • CC-177 Globemaster aircraft have conducted dozens of flights. 
Canada has close to 700 personnel deployed to Iraq - a relatively small number compared to out allies. Don't believe me? Take a look. (Some American breakdowns are not public) 

The USAF Assets in Iraq 
  • Multiple B-1B Lancer Bombers operating out of Qatar 
  • Dozens of F-22 Raptor Strike Aircraft 
  • Dozens of F-15E Strike Eagles Aircraft
  • Dozens of F-16C Fighting Falcons Aircraft
  • Numerous F-16CJ Anti-Radar Aircraft 
  • Numerous A-10C Thunderbolt "Warthogs" Close Air support aircraft
  • Numerous KC-135 Stratotankers - areal refueling aircraft 
  • Numerous KC-10 Extenders - areal refueling aircraft 
  • Numerous C-130J Hercules strategic lift aircraft 
  • Numerous Drones (Including MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper Attack drones) 
The US Navy Assets in Iraq 
  • 12 F/A-18E Super Hornet Strike Aircraft 
  • 22 F/A-18F Super Hornet Strike Aircraft 
  • Between 20 and 24 F/A-18C/D Super Hornet Strike Aircraft 
  • 5 EA-18G Growler Anti-Radar Aircraft 
  • 4 EA-6B Prowlers Anti-Radar Aircraft 
  • 4 E-2D Hakweye AWACS aircraft 
  • 3 E-2C Hakweye AWACS Aircraft 
  • Numerous SH-60B and SH-60F Seahawk Helicopters for support 
  • 11 MH-60R Seahawk Support Helicopters 
  • 2 C-2A Greyhound Strategic Transport Aircraft 
The US Marine Corps Assets in Iraq 

  • 6 F/A-18 Super Hornet Strike Aircraft
  • 10 F/A-18C (Navy) Super Hornet Strike Aircraft 
  • 6 AV-8B Harrier Strike Aircraft 
  • Numerous EA-6B Prowler Electronic Warfare 
  • Numerous KC-130 areal refueling aircraft 
  • 8 to 10 MV-22B Osprey Tilt-Rotor Assault aircraft 
  • At least 4 AH-1Z Super Cobra Attack helicopters 
  • At least 3 UH-1Y Hueys attack helicopters 
  • At least 3 CH-53E Super Stallion Transport Helicopters 
Iraqi Air Force Assets 
  • 3 Cessna AC-208Bs - Armed Scout Aircraft 
  • 3 Cessna RC-208B - Reconnaissance Aircraft 
  • 15 Su-25 "Frogfoot" Attack Aircraft 
  • 6 Mi-35M "Hind" Attack Helicopters 
  • 15 Mi-28NE Night Hunter attack helicopters 
  • 19 Airbus EC635 Helicopters (Armed Scout) 
  • 23 Bell 407 JetRanger Armed Scout Aircraft 
  • 6 SA342 Gazelle Scout Helicopters 
French Air Force Assets in Iraq 
  • 9 Rafales Reconnaissance/Attack Aircraft 
  • 6 Mirage 2000D Attack Aircraft 
  • 1 C135FR areal refueling aircraft 
  • 1 Breguet Atlantique 2 Reconnaissance Aircraft 
Royal Australian Air Force Assets in Iraq 
  • 6 to 8 F/A-18F Super Hornet Strike aircraft 
  • 1 E-7A Wedgetail AWACS Aircraft 
  • 1 KC-30A areal refueling aircraft 
  • 1 C-17A Globemaster III Strategic Lift Aircraft 
Royal Air Force (Great Britain) Assets in Iraq 
  • 8 Tornado Strike Aircraft 
  • 1 RC-135W surveillance Aircraft 
  • 1 Raytheon Sentital surveillance aircraft 
  • Numerous MQ-9 Reaper Surveillance Drones  
Royal Danish Air Force Assets in Iraq 
  • 7 F-16AMs Strike Aircraft 
  • 1 C-130J Hercules Strategic Lift Aircraft 

Italian Air Force Assets in Iraq 
  • 4 Tornado Tactical Recon aircraft 
  • 1 KC-767A areal refueling aircraft 
  • 2 MQ-1 Predator Attack Drones 
Royal Saudi Air Force Assets in Iraq 
  • At least 4 Tornado IDS Strike Aircraft 
  • Possibly 4 F-15S Strike Eagles 
  • Numerous EF2000 Typhoon Multi-Role Aircraft 

Other Air Assets in Iraq 
  • The UAE has at least 6 F-16s or Mirage 2000s deployed against targets in both Iraq and Syria
  • The Royal Bahraini Air Force has at least 3 F-16s against targets in Syria
  • Royal Jordanian Air Force has at least 3 F-16s against targets in Syria 
  • Belgian Air Component has at least 6 F-16 involved active in Iraq 
  • The Royal Netherlands Air Force has at least 8 F-16s active in Iraq 
  • The US Army has numerous AH-64D Apache Attack Helicopters for security of the US Embassy in Baghdad. 
  • The Iranian Air Force has possibly 4 to 8 F-4 Phantom IIs and possibly 5 Su-24MKs (They are however not part of the US Led Coalition) 
  • The Royal Moroccon Air Force has 6 F-16s active in Iraq. 
  • The Turkish Air Force have 3 F-16s operating against targets in Syria. 
So when looking at the overall air assets in place against ISIS it is no wonder the RCAF has such a small role to play. If critics of Operation IMPACT (or OP INHERENT RESOLVE) want Canada to play a larger role - deploy more aircraft. Canada could easily deploy another 6 to 10 CF-18s without compromising our Sovereignty flights. (This calculation is based on the fact that at the outset of OP IMPACT, Canada had 6 (with one spare) CF-18s involved in the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission in Eastern Europe. 

Continue to Support Air Task Force Iraq - are a small part of the overall picture, but they are making a difference.  

RCAF July 2015 Airstrike Update

An Update on the RCAF's Airstrikes against ISIS for July 2015. All in Iraq, with one in Syria.

On July 2, 2015 - RCAF CF-18s struck three ISIS fighting positions; one Northwest of Tal Afar; one Northeast of Tal Afar; and one in the vicinity of Sinjar.

On July 3, 2015- RCAF CF-18s struck three ISIS fighting positions; one in the vicinity of Sinjar; one Southeast of Mosul; and one Northwest of Mosul.

On July 4, 2015 - RCAF CF-18s targeted an ISIS fighting position Southeast of Fallujah.

On July 5, 2015 - RCAF CF-18s targeted an ISIS fighting position Southeast of Fallujah.

On July 10, 2015 - RCAF CF-18s targeted and ISIS fighting position Northeast of Fallujah.

On July 11, 2015 - RCAF CF-18s targeted two ISIS fighting positions; one Northeast of Fallujah; and one Southeast of Fallujah.

On July 12, 2015 - RCAF CF-18s struck an ISIS fighting position in the vicinity of Ramadi.

On July 15, 2015- RCAF CF-18s struck an ISIS fighting position Northwest of Tal Afar.

On July 16, 2015 - RCAF CF-18s struck an ISIS fighting position Northwest of Mosul.

On July 17, 2015 - RCAF CF-18s struck an ISIS fighting position Northwest of Tal Afar.

On July 18, 2015 - RCAF CF-18s struck two ISIS fighting positions; one within the vicinity of Ramadi; and another Northeast of Sinjar.

On July 19, 2015 - RCAF CF-18s targeted an ISIS transport vehicle Northwest of Tal Afar.

On July 21, 2015 - RCAF CF-18s targeted an ISIS fighting position Southeast of Haditha.

On July 22, 2015 - RCAF CF-18s targeted an ISIS fighting position Southeast of Mosul.

On July 23, 2015 - RCAF CF-18s struck and ISIS fighting position East of Mosul.

On July 24, 2015 - RCAF CF-18s struck an ISIS fighting position Northwest of Mosul.

On July 25, 2015 - RCAF CF-18s struck an ISIS staging area in Kirkuk.

On July 26, 2015 - RCAF CF-18s targeted two ISIS fighting positions in Sinjar and Tal Afar.

On July 29, 2015 - RCAF CF-18s struck an ISIS fighting position Northwest of Haditha.

On July 30, 2015 - RCAF CF-18s struck and ISIS compound and an ISIS fighting position Northwest of Haditha.

On July 30, 2015 - RCAF CF-18s targeted an ISIS compound in Al Qa'am

On July 30, 2015 -  RCAF CF-18s targeted an ISIS compound North of Al Bukamal, Syria.