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Friday, April 15, 2016

Time Running out for CF-18 Upgrades as Jets continue to Age

By: David Pugliese, National Post 

Improvements to Canada’s CF-18 jets — which could cost almost $500 million — have to be done within five years or the upgrades to the aging planes won’t make economic sense, according to the officer in charge of determining how to modernize the fighters.

BN2006-0060-14
Two aircraft from 425 Tactical Fighter Squadron, 3 Wing Bagotville fly over l’arrondissement
Chicoutimi of ville de Saguenay. Photo: CAF Combat Camera (Feb, 2006)
Whether the Canadian government’s notoriously slow procurement process can push ahead such a project to keep the jets flying until 2025 remains to be seen.

Options on how to upgrade the CF-18s are being looked at, said Lt.-Col. Jean-Marc Brzezinski, who is leading the process in the RCAF’s fighter capability office.

The project officially kicked off last September.

“My mandate has been given roughly about one year to look at what we need to do to make sure the aircraft is airworthy (and) interoperable,” Brzezinski said in an interview.

The Conservatives originally announced the modernization project to keep the fighters flying until 2025 because they hadn’t yet determined how to replace the CF-18s. The project has continued under the Liberals.

Brzezinski said the upgrades have to be on the aircraft by 2021 if the project is to make financial sense. That means decisions have to be made and contracts placed within the next two years.

The air force will continue to monitor the state of the airframes so the planes can keep flying safely. Improvements could be made to the communications equipment to keep up with changes in aviation regulations in civil airspace. Other upgrades could be made to weapons and how the planes communicate and operate with allied fighter jets.

“We have to be able to spend money (so) that everything is ready on the aircraft so that it can used by 2021,” Brzezinski said. “If you start spending a lot of money in 2023 or 2024, and the aircraft is no longer being supported past 2025, then it doesn’t become economically viable.”

Once the air force figures out what it needs, the process shifts and approvals are required from upper levels in the Department of National Defence, Treasury Board and government. Public Services and Procurement Canada also gets involved at a later stage.

Canada’s military procurement system is extremely slow and whether it can accommodate quickly setting up the needed contacts is out of the hands of Brzezinski and the air force.

“We are on a very, very aggressive shortened timeline,” Brzezinski said.

The modernization will keep the planes flying but that doesn’t necessarily mean the fleet will be shut down at the end of 2025. Brzezinski said a smaller number of planes could keep operating for a couple of years after, but that support for the CF-18s will begin to taper off in 2025.

The DND has listed the estimated cost for the modernization as between $250 million and $499 million.

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Brzezinski said the precise cost is not known because his office has yet to determine what needs to be done to the planes, and the government and the military have not made any decisions on how to proceed.

“It really depends on where the department wants to go,” he said. “One of the options could very well be status quo which means we do nothing. We just carry on the maintenance practices.”

Canada previously spent $2.6 billion modernizing the CF-18s in a program that started in 2002. The planes were purchased in 1982.

The Conservative government had planned to buy 65 F-35 stealth fighters to replace the CF-18s. But they put that on hold as the cost of the program significantly increased and technical problems affecting the F-35 emerged.

During the federal election last year, the Liberals said they would not purchase the F-35 if they came to power. Instead a less expensive fighter jet would be bought, they said in their defence platform.

But since then, that promise has been thrown into question by Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan who has claimed that any competition would be open to all jets, suggesting the F-35 could end up being purchased.

CAF personnel deploy to Morocco for Exercise AFRICAN LION

DND Press Release 

From April 18 to 28, 2016, members from the Canadian Army will be supporting UN-mandated training activities taking place in Agadir, Morocco, during Exercise AFRICAN LION 2016.

Nine Canadian Armed Forces officers, including members from the Canadian Army, will be working with participants from 11 nations to advance multinational interoperability and capacity building in the context of peace support following a potential regional crisis.

Representatives from Belgium, Germany, Italy, Mauritania, the Netherlands, Spain, Senegal, Tunisia, the United Kingdom, and the United States are anticipated to participate in various field training and command post simulations in Exercise AFRICAN LION 2016.

“Canada’s participation in Exercise AFRICAN LION 2016 demonstrates our commitment to preserving peace and responding to humanitarian crises world-wide," said Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan. "As members of a United Nations-mandated task force, Canadian Armed Forces representatives will apply their exceptional skills and expertise to help enhance interoperability among our allies and build critical capacity among participating nations.”

Exercise AFRICAN LION is the largest multinational exercise on the African continent and involves land, air, and naval contingents. It aims to test joint, interagency, and multinational partner ability to conduct peace operations and enhance regional relationships.

This type of training provides an opportunity for the Canadian Army to reinforce cooperation with multinational forces, strengthen its defence capabilities, maintain strategic posture, and prepare to respond to crises on the African continent.

Activities during Exercise AFRICAN LION 2016 will include crisis action planning and operations in accordance with UN standards for peace operations, such as the protection of civilians and countering gender-based violence and illicit trafficking, as well as training participating nations in the laws of armed conflict.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Hillier: Defence Cuts have left Canadian military in ‘fragile’ shape

By: Lee Berthiaume, Ottawa Citizen | April 13, 2016

OTTAWA — Rick Hillier says the Canadian military is “fragile” after years of budget cuts and delayed equipment purchases. And while he stopped short of saying the force is on the verge of another “decade of darkness,” he didn’t rule it out completely.

“If the funding doesn’t materialize, the Canadian Armed Forces are going to have very tough time,” the retired general said. “It’s going to be really challenging. So I won’t give a label to it yet. I’ll wait and see.”

Hillier, who famously coined the term to describe the years of deep cuts in military spending and personnel under the Chr├ętien Liberals, starting in the mid-1990s, recently spent an hour talking to the Ottawa Citizen about the state of the military and the Trudeau government’s new defence review.

Military officials, industry representatives and defence experts have largely welcomed the review, saying a medium- to long-term assessment of Canada’s defence requirements is overdue. But the Liberals also promised a “leaner, more agile” military, prompting fears of a stripped-down force.


Hillier, who is still widely respected in military circles for having led the Forces out of that decade of darkness as chief of defence staff in 2005-08, agrees a review is overdue and could help address some of the major issues that have plagued the Canadian Forces in recent years. But it could also make things worse.

“Every time we run operations now we’re strained and we’re stretched and we’re scraping from other places,” he said. “I use fragility in that way. The funding issue makes everything fragile. You can’t hire enough people, you can’t get the equipment.

“What comes out of the defence review will either increase that fragility or perhaps crack it, or else it can make the confidence grow much, much stronger.”

Hillier said he has a great deal of respect for Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, a former lieutenant-colonel in the military reserves. But he was “disturbed” by the Liberal government’s decision last month to withhold nearly $4 billion that had been earmarked for new military equipment.

That measure was announced in the federal budget, and continued a trend started under the Conservatives.

“(The government) said it’ll come back later,” Hillier said. “I never believed that as chief of defence staff. If it’s not in the fiscal framework, it’s not there. So that’s a $4-billion cut that occurred. That came mostly out of the acquisition capital funding, where we desperately need to spend even more.”

Hillier was also extremely critical of Canada’s slide to the bottom-third of NATO allies in terms of defence spending. All NATO allies committed in 2014 to spend two per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) on defence, but Canada is spending less than one per cent.

Sajjan recently defended Canada’s record, noting it was contributing to many operations abroad. But Hillier, who would like to see the military grow to 75,000 men and women in uniform, said such operations will become harder to sustain as long as the government refuses to increase spending.

“Right now we’re trying to do too much with too few people,” he said. “Because of our unwillingness as a nation to fund the Canadian Armed Forces with more resources, we are asking the people in uniform to carry more than their fair share of the burden.”

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Hillier also noted that no one could have predicted in the 1990s Canada would be involved in a sustained war in Afghanistan. Building up the capacity for such missions takes years — and he believes the military will only be called upon to deal with more and more threats around the “very violent, aggressive” world in coming years.

While the government could decide to maintain current funding levels, Hillier said the result would be a much smaller Canadian military.

“So you can have a capable military that’s smaller, but you’re limited to one small mission somewhere and therefore the effect of this Group of Seven nation, which is a founding member of NATO and a founding member of the UN, is going to be marginalized,” he said.

“At some point in time, if you want to do what this nation wants to do, you’ve got to have more dollars and you’ve got to have more people.”

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Canadian Army Reservists prepare for Exercise ARROWHEAD CALM

DND Press Release:
April 13, 2016 – Ottawa – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces

Approximately 500 Canadian Army Reserve Force soldiers from 31 Canadian Brigade Group (31 CBG) will practice their combat skills from April 15 to 17, 2016, at the 4th Canadian Division Training Centre in Meaford, Ontario, as a part of Exercise ARROWHEAD CALM 2016.

Reservists from across the brigade will practice operational planning and the execution of tactical infantry, armoured reconnaissance, and combat engineer tasks. Logistical and communications support to the exercise will also be provided by 31 CBG. Core training events such as Exercise ARROWHEAD CALM 2016 strengthen soldiers’ capability to operate effectively at home and abroad.

“Exercise ARROWHEAD CALM 2016 will allow Canadian Army Reservists to practice operational planning and the execution of tactical tasks in order to hone their skills as soldiers and leaders. Reserve Force soldiers are vital members of our fighting force and they continuously distinguish themselves through their commitment and enthusiasm.” Colonel Kevin Bertoia, Commander, 31 Canadian Brigade Group

Exercise ARROWHEAD CALM 2016 is a work-up training event, designed to practice infantry, armoured reconnaissance, and engineer tasks in advance of large-scale collective training under Exercise STALWART GUARDIAN 2016, which takes place in August. 

Canadian Army Reservists play a fundamental role in meeting the operational needs of the Canadian Army by contributing to security and defence requirements across Canada and internationally. They constitute a significant portion of Canada’s deployed forces.

31 Canadian Brigade Group, with its headquarters in London, Ontario, leads Army Reserve units in the area spanning Windsor, Hamilton, Owen Sound, and Barrie, Ontario.

4th Canadian Division Training Centre in Meaford, Ontario, hosts Regular Force and Reserve Force soldiers, as well as a variety of other countries’ military units and non-military agencies. On a weekly average, over 600 soldiers conduct training primarily in field craft, offensive and defensive operations, weapons handling drills, and the necessary tactics, techniques, and procedures to employ these skills in a combat setting.

New Remote Weapon stations to be installed on RCN Ships

By: Nestor Arellano Apr 13 2016
Vanguard Defense

A fleet of Canadian navy ships will be equipped with new remote weapon stations as part of a $36 million contract signed by the government with Raytheon Canada Ltd.

Under the terms of the deal, Raytheon will provide up to 58 naval remote weapon stations for the Royal Canadian Navy.

The stations will be installed on Canada’s existing fleet of Halifax-class modernized frigates, as well as on the future Queenston-class Join Support Ships. The contract also ensures ongoing overhaul and maintenance of the equipment for an initial five years, as well as two additional weapon stations to be used for training in both the east and west coast fleet schools.

“Canada needs a fleet that is both capable and flexible, one that will enable us to defend the country’s maritime interests here at home and around the world,” Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, commander of the RCN, said. “Part of that force capability includes the inherent need to protect our ships and sailors from the threats they may encounter in any operational setting. The acquisition of this remotely operated weapon system will enhance the Navy’s close-in force protection capability while also providing enhanced personal protection to the crew operating these systems.

The weapon stations currently on board the fleet of Halifax-class modernized frigates are not remotely operated and require gun operators to be outside on the ship deck operating the guns.With these new Naval Remote Weapon Stations, operators will now be able to remotely observe and locate targets under various environmental conditions (day or night, rain, snow, smoke, dust/sand, haze, fog and various sea/air temperature, as well as other conditions affecting visibility) from a separate compartment on board the ship, which will increase the safety and protection of the ship’s crew.

With these new Naval Remote Weapon Stations, operators will now be able to remotely observe and locate targets under various environmental conditions (day or night, rain, snow, smoke, dust/sand, haze, fog and various sea/air temperature, as well as other conditions affecting visibility) from a separate compartment on board the ship, which will increase the safety and protection of the ship’s crew.

The Naval Remote Weapon Stations contracts are aligned with the Defence Procurement Strategy, which aims to leverage military spending to create highly skilled jobs and drive economic growth across the Canadian economy.

The delivery of the Naval Remote Weapon Stations is expected to begin in August 2017. These contracts will help create and maintain up to 23 jobs in Canada.

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Nestor Arellano is editor of Vanguard Magazine. Nestor is a seasoned journalist who has written extensively on defence and military industry issues as well as technology and business developments. He is also associate editor of Vanguard's sister publication, IT in Canada.

RCAF unveils the 2016 CF-18 Demonstration Hornet


RCAF Press Release

Royal Canadian Air Force

The Royal Canadian Air Force recently unveiled the CF-18 Demonstration Jet for its 2016 season.
 CF-18 Demonstration jet in flight
The CF-18 Demonstration jet takes to the sky during its first day of flying! PHOTO: © Mike Reyno
The unveiling ceremony took place on April 5, 2016, at 4 Wing Cold, Alberta, where the jet was painted over the past few weeks. The wing commander, officials from the City of Cold Lake and the Town of Bonnyville, and Captain Ryan Kean, who will fly the jet, attended.

It gave everyone in attendance a chance to see, for the first time, the CF-18 Hornet design, which commemorates this year’s theme: the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP).

"It is always a privilege for 4 Wing to be entrusted with the responsibility of designing and preparing the demonstration CF-18, which allows the Royal Canadian Air Force to connect with thousands of Canadians and present them with proud moments of our heritage,” said Colonel Eric Kenny, the commander of 4 Wing. “This year again, Mr. Jim Belliveau has demonstrated incredible talent in capturing an idea as complex as the British Commonwealth Air Training Program. Mr Belliveau and our technicians outdid themselves bringing to life Jim’s idea. This jet will be for all to enjoy because of the hard work and commitment of our 4 Wing members."

In 2016, the Royal Canadian Air Force is commemorating one of the world’s greatest air training programs, the BCATP, which ran from 1939 to 1945, and the 75th anniversary of the establishment of RCAF’s 400-series squadrons that make up the fabric of the modern RCAF.

These squadrons, which continue to serve Canada and Canadians to this day, came into being as a result of Article XV of the BCATP agreement.

By the end of the Second World War, the BCATP had produced 131,553 aircrew, including pilots, wireless operators, air gunners, and navigators for the air forces of Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. The plan also trained citizens of other nations – including Poland, the United States, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, Czechoslovakia and France – who were critical to the war effort. Further, tens-of-thousands of maintainers and support staff were recruited and trained by the RCAF to support the effort; without the contribution of these civilian men and women, the plan would have failed.

The CF-18 Demonstration jet takes to the sky during its first day of flying! PHOTO: © Mike Reyno
The CF-18 Demonstration jet takes to the sky during its first day of flying! PHOTO: © Mike Reyno
A native of London, Ontario, Captain Ryan Kean joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 2003 under the Regular Officer Training Plan. In July 2013, he was posted to his current unit, 410 Tactical Fighter (Operational Training) “Cougar” Squadron, as an instructor pilot on the Hornet and is currently the squadron’s deputy operations officer. During his time at 4 Wing, Captain Kean has participated in multiple training missions and exercises all over Canada and the United States. He has also conducted operational missions both at home and overseas in support of NORAD and NATO missions. He has more than1,600 flying hours on military aircraft, including 1,300 hours on the Hornet.

“I am honored to be representing the Royal Canadian Air Force during this year’s airshow season,” said Captain Kean. “I hope to be a source of inspiration to our young Canadians the same way I was inspired myself as a young child. I am looking forward to sharing with them my passion for aviation, hoping to motivate them to reach for their dreams as I did when I decided to become a fighter pilot.

"This year’s theme also fits well with the Demonstration team outreach mission as it ties together a pivotal moment in our Air Force’s history and its long standing relationship with our communities across Canada.”

The specially painted Hornet features a unique commemorative paint job designed by veteran design director, Jim Belliveau, at 4 Wing.

(From left to right) Chief Warrant Officer Alain Roy, 4 Wing Cold Lake’s chief warrant officer, Colonel Eric Kenny, commander of 4 Wing; Mr. Jim Belliveau, design and paint crew lead; and Captain Ryan Kean, the CF-18 Demonstration Hornet pilot, during the Hornet’s unveiling ceremony held at 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta, on April 5, 2016. PHOTO: Corporal Bryan Carter, CK04-2016-0278-004
(From left to right) Chief Warrant Officer Alain Roy, 4 Wing Cold Lake’s chief warrant officer, Colonel Eric Kenny, commander of 4 Wing; Mr. Jim Belliveau, design and paint crew lead; and Captain Ryan Kean, the CF-18 Demonstration Hornet pilot, during the Hornet’s unveiling ceremony held at 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta, on April 5, 2016. PHOTO: Corporal Bryan Carter, CK04-2016-0278-004

Liberals will spend $133 million in five years for Arctic Surveillance

By: David Pugliese, The National Post 

OTTAWA — The Canadian government will spend $133 million over the next five years for new technologies to improve surveillance of the Arctic.

Gascoyne Inlet Camp, Nunavut. 7 April 2014 – Twin Otter aircraft crew, Captain (Capt) Chuck Rockwell, Capt Andrew Oakes and Corporal Mike Nesbitt takes off from Gascoyne Inlet Camp, Nunavut after a personnel and equipment drop off on April 7, 2014 during Operation NUNALIVUT. (Photo: Master Seaman Peter Reed, CFB Shearwater, Nova Scotia)
Gascoyne Inlet Camp, Nunavut. 7 April 2014 – Twin Otter aircraft crew, Captain (Capt) Chuck Rockwell, Capt Andrew Oakes and Corporal Mike Nesbitt takes off from Gascoyne Inlet Camp, Nunavut after a personnel and equipment drop off on April 7, 2014 during Operation NUNALIVUT. (Photo: Master Seaman Peter Reed, CFB Shearwater, Nova Scotia)
The research project dovetails with the election promise of the Liberals who said they would increase surveillance in the Far North.

The work could also provide new technology for Canada as it enters into the renewal of the North American Aerospace Defence Command agreement with the United States. Senior NORAD officers have suggested that to be relevant past 2025 the alliance should improve its surveillance capabilities in the north.

Defence Research and Development Canada, the military’s science organization, is co-ordinating the surveillance research. The project will “enhance all domain situational awareness” of the air, sea and underwater approaches to Canada, particularly in the Arctic, according to a DRDC notice recently issued to companies and universities.

“Right now we’re generating interest,” said DRDC spokeswoman Kathleen Guillot. “The call for proposals is anticipated in the fall.” The DRDC notice sent to industry noted that climate change is making the north more accessible, increasing economic activity and international interest in the Arctic.

“Such increased Arctic activity brings additional responsibilities for the Department of National Defence and other government departments in search and rescue, emergency response and environmental monitoring,” the notice noted. “A greater awareness of the potential challenges posed by foreign military and commercial activities in the Arctic region is also essential for Canada.”

It also stated that the current North Warning System radar technology, used for providing surveillance of northern air approaches to North America, will need to be replaced as early as 2025.

We view the Arctic as an emerging operating area with much yet to be defined.

“Starting work now to define cost effective solutions that would provide the situational awareness capabilities required into the future is critical for the defence of Canada, and the United States, against continuously evolving potential adversary systems and threats,” according to the DRDC notice.

Whatever technology to be considered for the Arctic must be suitable for a remote setting, where there is limited power, harsh weather and “vulnerability to capture,” it said.

U.S. officers are already viewing improvements in surveillance in the Arctic as an important part of protecting the continent. At a January 2015 news conference, Admiral William Gortney, head of NORAD and the U.S. Northern Command, said the Arctic remains “key terrain as the northern approach to North America.”

“We view the Arctic as an emerging operating area with much yet to be defined,” he said.

Canadian defence officials see the provision of a new radar system in the Arctic as potentially fulfilling part of its contribution to the future of NORAD, according to a September 2013 Department of National Defence briefing note. NORAD conducted a strategic review in 2014 noting the need for improved sensors, communications and infrastructure in the high North in order to remain effective into the future.

Canada’s Arctic coastline is 162,000 kilometers long and only one-tenth of its northern waters are charted.

© Copyright (c) National Post

Report: CAF slow to act on sexual abuse of Afghan children

A soldier would be able to take a pro-active role, whether that is reporting or whether it’s an actual intervention with the use of deadly force or non-deadly force. Mission-by-mission we make decisions around what is legal and authorized in that particular mission. It’s conceivable that we could be in a place where the use of deadly force may violate not only Canadian law but the law of the land that we are in, but non-deadly force would be perfectly acceptable. We got to make certain that we gear the training of the solider and the rules of engagement and the appropriate orders from me to do what is the right thing. . . . I am confident that our soldiers have an active avenue available to them on all missions.

I’m sure in some cases a soldier feels conflicted, is he imposing a Canadian value?
I don’t feel as conflicted. I spent a lot of time in Afghanistan. Abusing children is not part of their culture. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. That culture tends to celebrate their children. They dote on their children and the abuse of a child is inherently and fundamentally not a part of their culture. I don’t know of any Afghan commander that I worked with that would condone such a thing. I mean they are all family people. They wanted their country to be better. I think this is down into the level of criminal act.

Senior CAF officer being investigated for 2009 helicopter crash in Afghanistan

CBC Exclusive Report: By Brett Ruskin

1 British and 2 Canadian soldiers died in flaming wreckage

At least one senior Royal Canadian Air Force officer is under investigation by the military police unit that probes major crimes for alleged negligence relating to a deadly helicopter crash six years ago in Afghanistan.

CBC News has confirmed that the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service is looking into allegations of negligence related to an incident on July 6, 2009, when a CH-146 Griffon crashed with six people on board.

All survived the impact, but three soldiers — including two Canadians, Master Cpl. Patrice Audet, 38, and Cpl. Martin Joannette, 25, and British Capt. Ben Babington-Browne, 27 — died after being unable to escape the flaming wreckage.

"This investigation is ongoing and no further information can be provided at this time," a military police spokesperson said in an email.
Heavily redacted report

Initially the crash was blamed on "pilot technique" and sandy ground conditions.

Those conclusions were based on a heavily redacted board of inquiry report released two years after the crash.

CBC News has since obtained a less-redacted version, along with the flight safety investigation report.

According to both reports, there are at least two underlying issues — the flight crew had too little training and the helicopter carried too much weight.


The crash involved a CH-146 Griffon helicopter. (Canadian Forces)

On July 6, 2009, the Griffon took off from a sandy area. The down force of the spinning blades created a "dust ball," which reduced the pilot's visibility.

Dust ball training is mandatory for all flight crews, who usually did exercises before and during their deployment to Afghanistan.

However, "the vast majority of the [Canada Helicopter Force, Afghanistan] aircrew only received the theory portion of the dust ball training," the board of inquiry report said.

Some pilots only got to watch the manoeuvre, not attempt it.

In this specific case, prior to his deployment "the [pilot] only observed a demonstration of the landing technique rather than practised dust ball landings himself," the flight safety report said. "Additionally, the [pilot] did not observe or complete any dust ball takeoff techniques."

Put simply, the pilot blamed for crashing the helicopter was allegedly sent to Afghanistan lacking the training to take off and land in sand.
Griffon weight limits modified

The original weight limit for the Griffon helicopter in Afghanistan was between 10,300 and 10,700 pounds.

But senior officials thought the weight cap would limit operations.

The weight cap "would significantly impair the ability of the unit to fulfil the entire spectrum of operations in support of the Joint Task Force," the board of inquiry report heard from military commanders.

So they changed the flight manual.

"The modified operating limitations in Section 1 of the flight manual restricted the Griffon to between 11,750 and 11,900 lb.," the board of inquiry report said.
Weight limit 'unknowingly' tested

Helicopter payload calculations are complex.

If a helicopter is close to the ground, it needs less power. The air its rotor forces downward bounces off the ground and creates a type of cushion.

To rise above that cushion and maintain altitude, more power is needed. A helicopter loaded to its maximum weight might be able to take off, but would have difficulty climbing above a certain height.

These two height zones are called "in ground effect" or "out of ground effect."

That height as well as the weight and power calculations change with air temperature and altitude above sea level.

Investigators compared the Griffon's payload to all possible weight limits.

The board of inquiry report found it exceeded those limits "by between 1,020 lb. to 1,320 lb." The flight safety report found it may have been as much as 1,720 lb. overweight.

"The Griffon flight [crew] was unknowingly flight testing the performance information found in the flight manual," the board of inquiry report found.

"The crew attempted to conduct a takeoff not knowing that the aircraft had an insufficient margin to remain within engine limitations," the flight safety found.
New allegations prompt investigation

These report observations went largely unnoticed for years.

But recently, a former Royal Canadian Air Force flight instructor began raising concerns about the incident.

"As a former helicopter pilot, I was stunned by what I read," said retired captain Anthony Snieder.

Snieder said he began looking into the crash after noticing safety violations in Moose Jaw in 2012. He was stationed at 15 Wing Moose Jaw teaching air force pilots.

He looked back at previous incidents and found issues with the Griffon crash.
Retired Capt. Anthony Snieder (Facebook) in a CT-114 Tutor
"We have limitations for how to operate the aircraft, and they were intentionally violating aircraft limitations," he said.

As a result of voicing his concerns, Snieder said, he was reassigned to an office position and publicly discredited. He filed a harassment claim with the military, but it was dismissed. At that time Snieder asked to be released from the military.

Snieder has since applied to Federal Court for a judicial review of the dismissal of his harassment claim.

Amid his court battle, Snieder contacted the military police.

"If you do any act that could likely cause the destruction of an aircraft, it's against the law and you go to jail for it," Snieder said.

The Canadian Forces National Investigation Service is a unit with the military police that independently investigates serious and sensitive matters. Their jurisdiction covers Department of National Defence (DND) property, DND employees and Canadian Forces personnel serving around the world.

An official tells CBC News that "in all cases, investigations are conducted to determine the facts, analyze the evidence, and if warranted, lay appropriate charges."

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Brett Ruskin is a reporter and video-journalist covering everything from local breaking news to national issues. He's based in Halifax.

Sajjan: Military SAR won’t be Privatized

In what appears to be one of the fastes turn-around's in defence policy - less than 24 hours after the Liberal Defence Review announced that it would consider privatizing Search and Rescue (SAR) in Canada - Defence Minister Sajjan told the House of Commons yesterday; that no - SAR will not be privatized; as the CAF plays too critical a role in SAR in Canada. 

Here is Lee Berthiaume, Ottawa Citizen |article: 

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan “The Canadian Armed Forces play a critical role in search and rescue,” Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan told the House of Commons on Tuesday.
OTTAWA — Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has headed off a potentially divisive debate by declaring the Liberal government will not privatize military search and rescue.

Sajjan made the comments Tuesday in response to an NDP question, after the Citizen revealed that the government’s defence review included questions about whether there were “alternatives” to having the military conduct search and rescue missions.

“The previous government might have been looking at privatizing search and rescue,” Sajjan told the House of Commons. “But I can assure the member that this government is not, because the Canadian Armed Forces play a critical role in search and rescue.”

Sajjan said last week everything was on the table as he launched consultations with the public, parliamentarians and defence experts on how the military should be structured for the future.

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Harjit Sajjan defends Canada’s military budget after Donald Trump slams NATO ‘free riders’
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The government released a 36-page document asking for feedback on what the military should — and should not — be doing. One section focuses on the military’s role in search and rescue, and asks if there are “models for alternative service delivery that could be explored.”

“Given the range of other actors engaged in this activity and the small proportion of rescues that require CAF assets,” the document reads, “a valid question is: what role should the CAF have in search and rescue?”

The Liberals have said their goal for the defence review is a “leaner, more agile” military that is better able to respond to the challenges facing Canada, but others fear the review is intended to identify ways the government can cut costs. The review is expected to culminate in a new defence policy in early 2017.

The previous Conservative government raised the idea of privatizing military search and rescue five years ago, before letting it die amid a public outcry. Liberal MP Judy Foote was among those who said she was “appalled” by the idea.

Foote, who hails from Newfoundland and Labrador, is now the minister of public services and procurement, which oversees military equipment purchases. Her department is managing a $3.1-billion project to replace the air force’s ancient search-and-rescue planes.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Change of guard for Operation ARTEMIS

DND Press Release: 
April 11, 2016 – Ottawa – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces

A five-member Canadian contingent replaced seven Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) members who were deployed on Operation ARTEMIS since December 2015, today in Bahrain.

Operation ARTEMIS is the Canadian Armed Forces’ participation in counter-terrorism and maritime security operations across the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Gulf of Oman and the Indian Ocean.

Operation ARTEMIS clearly demonstrates Canada’s solidarity with partners and allies that are working together for peace and security in the maritime environment of the greater Middle East region.

The incoming five-member CAF contingent will support the British Royal Navy in command of CTF 150 until August 2016. The seven RCN members were supporting Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 150) headed by the Royal Australian Navy contingent.

The returning Canadian Armed Forces’ contribution to CTF 150 included Captain (Navy) William Quinn in the position of Deputy Commander and Chief of Staff of CTF 150 while the other RCN members were integrated into the multinational, land-based command unit.

Headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, Operation ARTEMIS is the Canadian Armed Forces’ (CAF) ongoing contribution to counter-terrorism and maritime security operations across the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman and western Indian Ocean.

Arabian Sea, 18 December 2012 – Members of HMCS Regina’s boarding party board a dhow for inspection during Operation ARTEMIS. (Photo by Cpl Rick Ayer, Formation Imaging Services, Halifax)
Arabian Sea, 18 December 2012 – Members of HMCS Regina’s boarding party board a dhow for inspection during Operation ARTEMIS. (Photo by Cpl Rick Ayer, Formation Imaging Services, Halifax)
“Long-time contributors to Combined Task Force 150, the Canadian Armed Forces continue to demonstrate Canada’s commitment to the fight against terrorism and the promotion of international security and stability. I am confident that the recent successes of the Operation ARTEMIS contingent in Bahrain will be continued by the new team of Royal Canadian Navy personnel taking their place.”
 - Lieutenant-General Stephen Bowes, Commander Canadian Joint Operations Command

“Since we deployed on Operation ARTEMIS in early December 2015, we have worked diligently with the Royal Australian Navy and other partners to maintain maritime security and counter international terrorism in the western half of the Indian Ocean. Our success during this deployment is a fine example of what can be achieved when like-minded nations join forces in common cause.”
- Captain (N) William Quinn, Commander Task Force Arabian Sea/Deputy Commander and Chief of Staff of CTF 150

Canadian Army to Start Receiving TAPVs this Summer

By: David Pugliese, Defence Watch 

Defence Watch had previously reported on the delays affecting the delivery of the Tactical Armoured Patrol Vehicles to the Canadian Army and the hope at the DND that the first will be delivered by August. That will be happening, the Army has now confirmed.
tapv sized

The fleet of 500 TAPVs will be distributed across seven bases and 24 units over a 17-month period.

The Canadian Army has said it expects to declare full operational capability by mid-2020, following training of all operators, and completion of user trials and exercises confirming operational readiness.

The TAPVs from Textron are being delivered in two variants, according to the army – General Utility and Reconnaissance. The vehicles are equipped with remote weapons stations, which allows gunners to aim and fire from the vehicle’s interior. The remote weapons stations come equipped with both a 40-mm automatic grenade launcher and a C6 machine gun, the army pointed out.

Photo above courtesy of Textron.

Delivery schedule below as outlined by the Army up until the end of 2017.
Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 9.00.40 PM

Liberals Are Consider Privatizing SAR in Canada

By: LEE BERTHIAUME, Ottawa Citizen 

An RCAF CH-149 Cormorant helicopter on exercising with a Canadian Coast Guard vessel.
The Liberal government is considering whether the military should continue to be involved in search-and-rescue missions, or rely instead on private companies and other alternatives to save Canadians in distress.

The idea has been raised as part of the government’s defence review, and is sure to stoke strong reactions both inside the military and across the country.

The previous Conservative government aired a similar proposal five years ago, before letting it quietly die.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said last week that everything was on the table as he launched consultations with the public, parliamentarians and defence experts on how the military should be structured for the future. Consultations will continue until the end of July, with a new defence policy to be released in early 2017.

As part of those consultations, the government released a 36-page document asking for feedback on what the military should — and should not — be doing. One section focuses specifically on the military’s role in search and rescue, and asks if there are “models for alternative service delivery that could be explored.”

The Canadian Armed Forces responds to more than 9,000 distress calls each year, the document says. But only about 1,000 actually require military search-and-rescue helicopters or airplanes. The rest involve co-ordinating other government departments, volunteers and private companies hired to help. The Conservatives raised the possibility of privatizing search-and-rescue operations in a meeting with representatives from various aerospace firms in 2011. The idea didn’t get far, however, after a public outcry.
HMCS Saskatoon near Esquimalt, British Columbia and An RCAF CH-149 Cormorant helicopter that is practicing personnel transfers.
Among those who spoke out against the proposal was Liberal MP Judy Foote, who wrote in a blog post at the time that she was “appalled by the government’s notice to companies that the government would be exploring the privatization of searchand-rescue operations.”

Foote, who hails from Newfoundland and Labrador, is now the minister of public services and procurement, which oversees military equipment purchases. Her department is currently managing a $3.1-billion project to replace the air force’s ancient search-and-rescue planes.

Paul Ives, mayor of Comox, B.C., which is home to the air force’s search-and-rescue school as well as one of its search-and-rescue squadrons, said he was surprised to learn that privatizing the service was being considered.

A Canadian Coast Guard communications centre is slated to close in the Vancouver Island community next month, and Ives said there would be an economic impact if search and rescue were privatized as well. But he was more skeptical that private companies could provide the same level of service as the military.

“Those guys who are rappelling down to rescue you are professionals to the nth degree and they’re a very proud part of the military,” he said.
An RCAF CC-146 Griffon helicopter waits to take off as CAF personnel from 424 (Transport and Rescue) Squadron conducted a search and rescue (SAR) during exercise TIGEREX
“I wouldn’t want to be out in the wilderness somewhere expecting somebody to come in on a rescue mission who’s working on a contract basis and worrying about, ‘Can we really do this? Will it cost us more than it’s worth?’ ”

York University professor Martin Shadwick, who has written extensively on military search and rescue, said the actual monetary savings of privatization or moving the service somewhere else such as the Coast Guard would likely be very small.

At the same time there would be a number of intangible costs, he said, such as damage to military morale and the Force’s links with average Canadians given that search and rescue is one of the military’s most highprofile activities.

“So there’s a whole lot of things that often don’t fit nicely on a balance sheet,” he said. “Getting rid of it completely, I don’t think it’s in the broader national interest.”

CAF Looking for New Weapons Simulator Despite Underused Multi-Million Dollar System

By: David Pugliese, Ottawa Citizen

A decision in 2003 to purchase a training system for the Canadian military that is comparable to a sophisticated version of laser tag came with an original price tag of $137 million, but ended up costing $209 million.

The Canadian military spent $209 million on a high-tech weapons simulator but five years passed before the system was used for the role it originally had been purchased for, and even then troops did not take part in all of the training the government paid for.

Despite that, the army is looking to spend up to $249 million on a new, similar system.

In 2003, the army convinced the Liberal government it needed the Weapons Effects Simulation (WES) system to properly train its troops against similarly equipped armies fielding infantry units, tanks and armoured vehicles.

The $137-million contract went to the U.S. firm Cubic Defence, which was supported by SNC Lavalin of Montreal.

The WES system is comparable to a more sophisticated version of laser tag: lasers and radios simulate weapons fire, with hits being recorded by computerized sensors attached to soldiers, tanks or other vehicles, the military explained.

Under the Conservative government, the cost increased to $209 million as amendments were made to the contract.

But by the time the WES system was delivered, the Canadian Forces were heavily involved in fighting insurgents in Afghanistan who didn’t use armoured vehicles or tanks.

The army then switched to using the WES system for some of its Afghan training, but there were problems.

“It was not until 2013 that the land training authority started using the WES system for force-on-force training exercises as initially intended in the contract,” concluded a recently released Department of National Defence audit.

As part of the deal, the military entered into a $73-million service contract, in which company support for exercises was prepaid.

During the first seven years, the Canadian Forces didn’t use up all its training allotment, but the contractors were paid nonetheless.

The auditors estimated the arrangement cost taxpayers between $8 million and $12 million. In other cases, army units were not fully aware such support services — along with the prepaid exercise time — were available.

“These exercises were not fully utilized but were paid for in fixed fees in accordance with the contract,” the auditors said.

The Canadian Forces also put $61 million of WES equipment back into the hands of the contractor so it could provide support to army units, but the Defence Department had trouble tracking where the gear went, the auditors added. The loan was seen as one of the largest in the Canadian Army. “A loan agreement has not been established between DND and the contractor for the WES equipment as per the contract requirement,” auditors warned.

Capt. Graham Kallos, a spokesman for the Canadian Manoeuvre Training Centre in Wainwright, Alta., said the WES system is now being used for large-scale military training operations involving armoured vehicles and tanks.

But the audit noted there were performance problems with the gear in the first of those large-scale exercises dubbed Maple Resolve. Details about the problems with the equipment, however, were censored from the audit.

Still, the army and the auditors have deemed the WES system an effective training tool.

Last year in the government’s defence acquisition guide, which lists future military procurement programs, a replacement for the WES system was proposed.

The cost of that is estimated to be between $100 million and $249 million. The army hopes to examine what it needs for such a purchase starting next year and hopes to award a contract in 2021.

But it is unclear how such a project would be affected by the Liberal government’s recently launched review of defence priorities.

Lockheed Tells Liberals - F-35 Attractive option for Arctic defence


By: MATTHEW FISHER in Crystal City, Va.
National Post

THE RUSSIAN PRESENCE IN THE ARCTIC IS NOT MYTHICAL. IT RENOVATED 15 BASES THERE IN 2015.
Photo: LOCKHEED MARTIN FILES
Having remained mostly silent during the often overheated debate about Canada’s next fighter jet purchase that took place during the Stephen Harper years, Lockheed Martin has begun to pitch its F-35 as the best choice to defend the vast Atlantic and Pacific approaches to Canada and especially the High Arctic.

It’s no coincidence that Lockheed Martin has stressed the F-35’s suitability for Arctic operations, something that lines up with the Liberals’ focus on asserting Canada’s sovereignty over the Far North, writes Matthew Fisher.

It is probably no coincidence that what Lockheed has chosen to stress about the fifth-generation warplane dovetails with the Liberal government having declared that asserting Canada’s sovereignty over the Far North and the defence of North American airspace were among its security priorities.

It follows a promise from Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan that Canada will conduct “an open and transparent process to replace the CF18s.”

That reverses what the Liberals had said during the election campaign about excluding the F-35 from consideration from what will be a multibillion-dollar contract, no matter which fighter jet platform the federal government buys.

It comes after the Pentagon has said the cost of each F-35 has dropped to US$100 million from $145 million and is expected to dip to about $80 million by 2019.

The high cost of the Joint Strike Fighter had been one of the other major complaints in Canada.

Lockheed’s emphasis on the suitability of the JSF for Arctic operations against manned, unmanned and missile threats was designed to clear up “misconceptions about this airplane,” Billie Flynn, a former RCAF squadron commander who is a senior test pilot on the F-35, said at Lockheed’s offices in a Washington suburb.

The JSF has only one engine, which critics say makes it is too dangerous to fly over the vast northern expanses.

This assessment is at odds with the U.S. decision to base its entire over-the-pole fighter jet defence on the F-35 — as it has done for decades with the single-engine F-16.

Similarly, Norway intends to fly only F-35s above the Arctic Circle. Canada’s other Arctic ally, Denmark, which sometimes sends fighter jets to Greenland, is likely to opt for the F-35 soon, too.

“Think about Air Canada no longer having four-engine airplanes,” Flynn said in explaining why other countries had decided to deploy F-35s in the Far North.

“We fly across the Pacific, the Atlantic and even as far down as Australia in twoengine aircraft. It is the same with fighter engines. There is no need for two engines anymore.”

The F-35 was a better choice for Canada in the Arctic than fourth-generation alternatives such as Boeing’s F-18 Super Hornet, Flynn said, because it had more sophisticated sensors, including passive and active radars that could spot intruders at a greater distance.

“Russia is closer than you think. It is only 840 nautical miles from Alert,” Flynn said, referring to Canada’s top secret air force listening post at the north end of Ellesmere Island. “The Russian presence in the Arctic is not mythical. It renovated 15 bases there in 2015.”

The F-35 has faced hard questions over a potentially dangerous ejection seat, problems with overheating when its bomb bay is open at high altitudes, and software glitches with the helmet and with millions of lines of coding for the jet’s computer, which is meant to fuse information from its radars, infrared cameras, electronic jammers and the computers of other aircraft flying with it.

While acknowledging that there had been challenges, Flynn said they were being resolved. Where there had been about 3,000 “deficiencies,” there were now “419, which sounds like a lot, but it isn’t,” he said.

Flynn said he believed the F-35 was uniquely capable of providing the edge required to counter the “stealthy” jets being developed by Russia and China.

Having “stealth is a matter of survivability. If you don’t have it, you are an RCAF pilot who is not coming home,” Flynn said.

“You need an aircraft that can sense (other aircraft) from a long way away and then prosecute them if and when that is required.”

If Canada were to chose another aircraft, Flynn raised the prospect that the government might have “to leave the country’s Arctic defence to allies” whose F-35s would be capable of dealing with a new generation of lethal long-range Russian missiles such as the S-400, which can strike targets hundreds of kilometres away.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Sajjan defends Canada’s military budget after Donald Trump slams NATO ‘free riders’

By: Lee Berthiaume, The National Post

OTTAWA — Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has defended Canada for bringing up the rear in terms of military spending among NATO members, after U.S. Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump and a number of U.S. senators recently slammed the alliance for being full of “free riders.”

All NATO members signed a declaration in Wales two years ago agreeing to increase defence spending to two per cent of gross domestic product within a decade.

But NATO says Canada spent just one per cent of GDP on defence last year, the smallest amount since before the Second World War. While most other NATO members have also failed to fulfil their commitment, Canada is currently in the bottom third of the alliance in terms of defence spending as a percentage of GDP.

In an interview with the Ottawa Citizen, Sajjan questioned NATO’s figures. “My question back is: What formula would you like us to use?” he said. “If we use the different formulas of various other countries, we can crunch the numbers and we can move it up to 1.3 (per cent of GDP), 1.4, potentially even 1.5.”

At the same time, Sajjan said what’s important is that Canada is contributing to a large number of military operations that directly and indirectly benefit NATO. That includes sending troops to Ukraine and Poland, deploying a frigate to the Black Sea, and helping stop drug traffickers in the Caribbean.

“So when you actually look at what Canada is doing and what investment we have made to certain capabilities that supports those operations, then I would like to say: Before you talk about how much money and that percentage, talk to me about what each nation is actually doing,” Sajjan said.

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Defence analyst David Perry of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute said NATO’s formula for calculating spending is standardized for all alliance members. And while he sympathized with the view that it’s what you do with your military, not how much you spend, he said Canada still made a commitment to spend two per cent on defence.

“That’s what we signed up to,” Perry said. “That’s the metric we’re measured against.”

The question of NATO members not pulling their weight emerged last week as a potential issue in the U.S. presidential election, after Trump called the alliance “obsolete” and accused a number of countries of being “free riders.”

While many of Trump’s comments during the Republican primary have been dismissed as absurd or worse, some U.S. analysts have said Trump’s comments on NATO reflect a growing sentiment within the American populace — and even some parts of official Washington.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg got an earful from angry senators during an hour-long, closed-door meeting in Washington last week, according to Foreign Policy magazine. The senators wanted to know why only five of 28 NATO members were spending two per cent of their gross domestic product on defence.

The British government, which spent about 2.07 per cent of GDP on defence last year, also sent a diplomatic message to Ottawa and other NATO capitals in January indicating their unhappiness with the lack of progress made toward meeting the Wales commitment.

lberthiaume@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/leeberthiaume