Friday, December 8, 2017

Federal Government Rejects FREMM Frigate Proposal That Could Save $30B

By: David Pugliese, National Post

Liberals reject warship proposal that companies said would save taxpayers as much as $32B
Industry sources alleged the Canadian competition is skewed to favour a bid by Lockheed Martin Canada and the British firm BAE which would see Canada buying the Type 26 frigate. 
The 3rd FREMM "Languedoc" sails during the acceptation ceremony by the OCCAR on March 16, 2016 in Toulon.BORIS HORVAT/AFP/Getty Images.

The Liberal government has rejected a European consortium’s offer to provide Canada with a fleet of new warships, which industry officials said could have saved Canadian taxpayers as much as $32 billion.

Postmedia reported last week that the French and Italian governments made the Canadian government a proposal on behalf of their shipbuilders, Fincantieri of Italy and Naval Group of France, offering Canada 15 of the consortium’s FREMM frigates at a fixed price of roughly $30 billion. The offer came in lieu of a bid from the consortium to win the design for the $62-billion Canadian Surface Combatant program, intended to provide the Canadian navy with the core of its future surface combat fleet.

To be clear, any proposals submitted outside of the established competitive process will not be considered

But the Canadian government announced Tuesday it was rejecting the pitch. “The submission of an unsolicited proposal at the final hour undermines the fair and competitive nature of this procurement suggesting a sole source contracting arrangement,” Public Services and Procurement Canada said in a statement. “Acceptance of such a proposal would break faith with the bidders who invested time and effort to participate in the competitive process, put at risk the Government’s ability to properly equip the Royal Canadian Navy and would establish a harmful precedent for future competitive procurements.

“To be clear, any proposals submitted outside of the established competitive process will not be considered,” the statement said.

The Fincantieri-Naval Group’s gambit was always seen as risky, as federal bureaucrats were expected to fight the proposal. But sources close to the European companies said they felt they didn’t have anything to lose. They alleged the Canadian competition is skewed to favour a bid by Lockheed Martin Canada and the British firm BAE which would see Canada buying the Type 26 frigate BAE is building for Britain’s navy.
A photo shows the FREMM Aquitaine multipurpose frigate on May 11, 2017 in Brest harbour, western France. FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images
The Canadian government had originally asked for only bids featuring proven ship designs. It changed those parameters last year to allow a bid from BAE, though the Type 26 was at the time still on the drawing board.

Both Public Services and Procurement Canada and Halifax’s Irving Shipbuilding, which the government has named prime contractor on the CSC project, have denied allegations of favoritism.

Industry sources, however, told Postmedia that two other European shipbuilders also decided against submitting bids on the Canadian program because of concerns over the fairness of the process.

PSPC has declined to say how many bids were received for the CSC project by the Nov. 30 deadline. Besides the Lockheed-BAE group, only two other companies have publicly acknowledged bidding.

Fincantieri and Naval Group had hoped their offer might sway the Liberals, as it eliminated much of the risk in such a large procurement by offering a proven warship design at a fixed price. The consortium had proposed building the ships at Irving’s Halifax yards, as well as using Canadian technology on board the ships and transferring some technology to Canadian firms so they could be involved in future sales of FREMM vessels on the international market.

But the Canadian government dismissed the consortium’s claim of cost savings. “With respect to suggestions that significant savings could be realized through this alternative process, this is far from evident,” PSPC’s statement said.

Officials from Fincantieri and Naval Group were not available for comment Tuesday.

The Italian, French, Moroccan and Egyptian navies currently operate FREMM frigates; Australia is considering buying them for its new fleet, and they are seen as serious contenders in the competition to outfit the U.S. Navy with modern frigates.

The cost of the CSC program has steadily increased. Originally set at $26 billion, the Department of National Defence later estimated its price tag at $40 billion. Then in June, Parliamentary budget officer Jean-Denis Fréchette estimated its cost at $61.82 billion. He also warned that inflation will cost taxpayers an extra $3 billion for every year beyond 2018 the awarding of the contract is delayed.

Feds looking to extend CF-18 Fleet until at least 2026

By: Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — The Royal Canadian Air Force may have to keep its aging CF-18s airborne even longer than already expected after industry sources warned Wednesday that the Trudeau government is planning to push back the delivery date for its new fleet of fighters.

Word of the likely delay comes with the government moving ahead with the purchase of used fighter jets from Australia as a temporary stopgap alongside its existing CF-18s, rather than the original plan of buying brand new Super Hornets from U.S. aerospace giant Boeing Co.

But the government is also wrestling with how best to sell Canadians on the idea of used jets, mindful of the disaster that followed the purchase of second-hand British submarines in the 1990s.

The Liberal government said last year that it planned to start receiving new fighter jets in about five years, or around 2021, at which point the phase-out of CF-18s was scheduled to begin.

But several sources told The Canadian Press on Wednesday that defence officials now don’t expect the first of 88 new fighters to be delivered for another eight years, putting the new time frame around 2026.

The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, would not speculate on why the delivery schedule was being changed.

But the decision could have major financial implications if it means having to sink even more money into the CF-18s to keep them in service longer than planned.

National Defence had already planned to spend up to $500 million to keep its 76 CF-18s flying to 2025, but previous estimates have said extending past that date would be very expensive.

Some are also wondering whether the Liberals, who promised to launch a formal fighter-jet competition to replace the CF-18s before the 2019 election, now plan to hold off until after Canadians go to the polls.

Retired military officers and defence experts alike say a competition, which latest estimates say would be worth up to $19 billion, could be launched right away, and urged the Liberals to take that step, rather than waiting several more years.

“If they had launched a competition last year, we could already be getting on with it,” said Alan Williams, who previously served as head of military procurement at the Department of National Defence.

“Even today, it could be started.”

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan would not comment Wednesday on when the competition would be launched, saying only that it would be announced “at the appropriate time.”

In the meantime, government and industry sources say the Liberals have settled on buying Australia’s used jets from Australia. The original plan to buy 18 Super Hornets, at an estimated cost of $6 billion, was scuttled after Boeing triggered a bitter trade dispute with Montreal-based rival Bombardier earlier this year.

The Australian plan does have its advantages. The aircraft will almost certainly be cheaper than the Super Hornets, and easier to incorporate into Canada’s existing fleet, since they are nearly identical to the CF-18, and won’t require new training or infrastructure.

But the Australian jets are 30 years old — the same vintage as the CF-18s — and sources say the government is concerned about resurrecting memories of the four second-hand subs Canada bought from the U.K. One of those vessels, HMCS Chicoutimi, caught fire while crossing the Atlantic in 2004, killing a naval officer and injuring nine other sailors.

Billions of dollars have also been sunk into the vessels over the years to address a multitude of technical problems, which has kept them docked more often than they have been at sea.

During question period Wednesday, Conservative MP Tony Clement called on the Liberals to abandon the “rusted out” Australian “bucket of bolts” and hold an immediate competition to replace the CF-18s.

The Australian planes come with another built-in advantage, said defence analyst David Perry of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute: Canada has long since learned how to keep them in service.

“We’ve proven to be very good, out of necessity, at keeping them flying for quite some period of time, whereas the Upholder class of submarines were totally unique. Canada hadn’t operated them,” Perry said.

“But at the end of the day, when you’re buying heavily used, 30-year-old aircraft, you’re buying heavily used 30-year-old aircraft.”

Friday, December 1, 2017

French-Italian Consortium offers Canada a deal on a new fleet of frigates

By: David Pugliese, The National Post 

The proposal is for Canada's chosen contractor, Halifax-based Irving Shipbuilding, to build 15 ships based on the consortium’s FREMM frigate design, that could save the Federal Government close to $32 Billion. 
A FREMM frigate sails off the coast of France in 2016.Boris Horvat/AFP/Getty Images

OTTAWA — In a surprise twist in Canada’s shipbuilding saga, a foreign consortium is offering the country a way to build a fleet of warships at a guaranteed price of $30 billion — a potential savings of $32 billion.

Fincantieri of Italy and Naval Group of France — major forces in international shipbuilding — don’t believe the current $62-billion Canadian Surface Combatant program, already beset with delays and increasing costs, will be successful, industry sources told Postmedia.

Instead, the French and Italian governments have proposed that Canada’s chosen contractor, Halifax-based Irving Shipbuilding, build 15 ships based on the consortium’s FREMM frigate design, which is proven and is in operation with the French and Italian navies. They are offering to guarantee the cost of the ships at a fixed $30 billion.

The deal would use Canadian technology on board the ships, sources said, and include the transfer of technology to Canadian firms so they could be involved in future sales of FREMM vessels on the international market.

As well as the French and Italian navies, Morocco and Egypt operate FREMM ships. Australia is considering them for its new naval fleet, and they are seen as a serious contender in the competition to outfit the U.S. Navy with modern frigates.

Bids for the Surface Combatant program were to have been submitted by Thursday to Irving. The company has not responded to a request for comment, and it is not known how receptive it would be to the consortium’s proposal.

The Fincantieri-Naval Group gambit is risky, as federal bureaucrats are expected to oppose it. But the potential of $32 billion in savings for Canadian taxpayers will put pressure on the Liberal government to seriously consider the offer.

Defence industry insiders said the Fincantieri-Naval Group consortium thinks it has nothing to lose by trying to circumvent the CSC procurement process, which a number of observers believe is skewed to favour a bid by Lockheed Martin Canada and the British firm BAE. They would provide Canada the Type 26 frigate that BAE is building for the Royal Navy.

Industry sources pointed out that Canada had originally asked for proven ship designs, then at the last minute loosened that restriction to allow the Lockheed-BAE bid to qualify, since the Type 26 was at the time still on the drawing board. (Construction on the Type 26 frigate began in the summer, but the first ship for the Royal Navy is not yet completed.)

Both Irving and Public Services and Procurement Canada have denied any favoritism towards BAE.
An aerial image of Irving Shipbuilding Halifax Shipyard. Irving Shipbuilding Inc.

Another team, led by Alion Canada, is offering the Dutch De Zeven Provinciën Air Defence and Command frigate. Though no other bids have yet been reported, a number of other companies were expected to put their ships in the running for the CSC program.

Fincantieri, the fourth-largest shipyard in the world, has long warned the Liberal government it believes the CSC procurement process is flawed. On Oct. 24, 2016, the firm sent then-Public Services and Procurement Minister Judy Foote a detailed outline of why it thought the acquisition process was in trouble, warning that “Canada is exposed to unnecessary cost uncertainty.”

At the time, the company proposed to Foote that a fixed-price competition be held, with the winning shipyard building the first three warships complete with Canadian systems and delivering them to Irving. The ships would have then be evaluated and, after any technical issues were worked out, Irving would have begun to build the remaining 12 vessels. That would allow work on the new ships to get underway faster, the vessels to be fully tested and the risk to the Canadian taxpayer significantly reduced, Fincantieri argued.

Foote dismissed the company’s recommendation. However, the cost of the CSC program has steadily increased. Originally set at $26 billion, the Department of National Defence later estimated the price tag at $40 billion. Then in June, Parliamentary Budget Officer Jean-Denis Fréchette estimated the CSC program would cost $61.82 billion — and warned that because of inflation, every year beyond 2018 the awarding of the contract is delayed would cost taxpayers an extra $3 billion.

There are also concerns that plans to build two supply ships for the Royal Canadian Navy and a new Polar-class icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard are in trouble.

The Liberals have said they can’t provide Parliament with a schedule for the delivery of the supply ships or the icebreaker because they deem such information secret.

Public Services and Procurement Canada would not comment on the reasoning behind that claim.

Canada & US Hold Joint Nuclear Exercise

By: Murray Brewster, CBC News

Canadian and U.S. officials quietly held exercises last spring to practise dealing with worst-case nuclear scenarios — running through simulated attacks on both sides of the border, CBC News has learned.

The training took place against the backdrop of federal officials in this country discreetly revising contingency plans, including one to reconstitute the federal government outside of Ottawa should the capital become "unviable" in an attack or natural disaster.

Exercises are done on an annual, or semi-annual, basis, but the latest came amid fresh urgency in light of the worsening international climate, particularly with North Korean nuclear and intercontinental missile tests, the latest of which happened Tuesday.

Canada sets aside two bunkers at military bases amid global uncertainty, North Korean threat

What is generally not well appreciated is how reliant Canada would be on the U.S. in the event of either a nuclear-tipped missile landing in this country, or some kind of terrorist dirty bomb.

Documents filed recently in Parliament, in response to a written question by the Conservatives, refer to a number of contingency plans, many of which fall back on co-operation with Washington.

A nuclear scenario was incorporated into a regular exercise, known as Staunch Maple, last spring.

It took place in both Ontario and Nova Scotia and involved Canadian CH-146 Griffon helicopters, an RCMP ASTAR-350 helicopter, and two American UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.

The Department of National Defence acknowledged, at the time, that the training scenario involved a "security incident."

But a series of government officials, speaking to CBC News on background, confirmed the scenario was designed to test the reaction of officials to "a nuclear event."

Earlier iterations of Staunch Maple involved things such as earthquake response in B.C.

The Canadian drill, which took place last April, was conducted in tandem with a much larger U.S. exercise, known as Gotham Shield, which simulated a nuclear attack on New York City.

Much of the current political debate about the threat posed by North Korea revolved around whether the U.S. would defend Canada during a missile attack.

There has been little discussion about what the aftermath might look like and how prepared the country would be to deal with the consequences.

A spokesperson for National Defence said there are contingency plans that cover "a wide range of scenarios involving attacks on Canada, including a missile attack."

Dan Le Bouthillier said a series of contingency plans were reviewed as recently as last spring, but he added periodic assessments are made to ensure they stay current.

A senior defence official, speaking on background, said the issue of whether North Korea could effectively "hurl a hunk of metal across the Pacific and possibly hit us," has preoccupied defence planning in this country for a while.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged the hazard in a recent town hall but suggested it relates more to be being caught in the middle, rather than being deliberately targeted.

"There are potential challenges for intercontinental ballistic missiles from North Korea passing over Canadian territory," he said in Charlottetown.
Assistance from Washington

The answer to the question of what would happen in the event of a missile strike would depend strictly on the warhead and where it landed, according a number of current and former officials, who spoke to CBC News on background.

Canadian decision-makers would be notified of a missile launch and its trajectory by Norad's warning centre. A decision about trying to shoot it down would be made solely by the U.S., because Canada is not part of its ballistic missile defences.

Much of the initial post-impact response would fall on local police and municipalities.

The responsibility, however, would be quickly passed along to the federal government and Public Safety Canada, which is in charge of emergency management.

Picking up the phone to Washington is among the very first things Canadian officials, both military and civilian, would do in the event that the missile was nuclear-tipped.

A non-nuclear blast, although devastating, would likely not require an immediate call to Washington for assistance. It is in the aftermath of a nuclear explosion, even a small one, that Canada is vulnerable.
Members of the Canadian Joint Incident Response Unit rappel onto the deck of the ship Strait Explorer. The unit would require help from the U.S. National Guard in the event of a nuclear attack. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)
The country's military, mostly through the special forces, and the RCMP have the capability to help clean up contamination sites and treat irradiated victims.

That organization is known as the Canadian Joint Incident Response Unit. But its capacity to carry out the dangerous work is limited by their size and they would require assistance of U.S. National Guard units.

A few years ago, the former Conservative government signed a memorandum with Washington to make it easier for each country's armed forces to operate on both sides of the border.

During the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, U.S. troops were quietly deployed in the event of a terrorist "dirty bomb" incident.

The commander of Canada's special forces, Maj.-Gen. Mike Rouleau wouldn't comment on the North Korean situation, nor contingency planning, but said the government's latest defence policy will allow him to increase the size of his nuclear, biological and chemical team by as many as 70 people.

The military and government officials may be well-prepared to make decisions in the aftermath of a worst-case scenario, but many experts question whether political leaders have wrapped their heads around such eventualities.

The general in charge of the country's joint operations command said cabinet ministers and the prime minister occasionally participate in exercises, and when they're not available an official will sit in their chair.

"The ideal would be everybody is available all of the time to be able to do this. That is not the world in which we live," said Lt.-Gen. Steve Bowes, who has sat in on many of the drills. "The important thing is to make sure the leader understands their authority, their responsibilities and accountability. It's not just about the individual, it's about the organization. We're much stronger in ways that don't think people appreciate."

Further Reading: 
Canada could be called on for troops in event of war with North Korea

Monday, November 20, 2017

Rise in Russian Threat to North Atlantic

© 2017 FrontLine Defence (Vol 14, No 4)

The rebuilding of Russia’s Northern fleet and its defense bastion built around the Kola Peninsula creates a direct challenge to the Norwegian area of interest. Clearly, the expanded reach of Russia into the Arctic also affects the nature of the air and sea domains of strategic interest to all of the Arctic Council States.

In its Long Term Plan (issued on 17 June 2016), the Norwegian Ministry of Defence notes that “the most significant change in the Norwegian security environment relates to Russia’s growing military capability and its use of force. The military reform in Russia has resulted in a modernization of Russia’s conventional forces as well as a strengthening of its nuclear capabilities.”
Dark areas above represent sea oil and natural gas reserves of the Arctic region. It is estimated that approximately 25% of the world’s undiscovered oil and natural gas reserves are located under the icy waters of the Arctic Ocean.
It goes on to mention Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, and the continued destabilization of Eastern Ukraine. Both “constitute violations of international law, which have had a dramatic effect on European security,” the document asserts. “Russia has repeatedly proven itself willing to use a wide range of measures, including military force, to sustain its political dominance and influence.”

Even though Russia is not considered a military threat to Norway, the combination of military modernization and the will to exert military power is a “central factor” in Norwegian defense planning.

The country recognizes that areas in Norway’s immediate vicinity are also “central to Russian nuclear deterrence,” and that “Russia’s military presence and activities in the North have increased in recent years.”

The High North, it asserts, continues to be characterized by stability and cooperation, and Russian strategies for the Arctic still officially emphasize international cooperation. However, as the report notes, “we cannot rule out the possibility that Russia, in a given situation, will consider the use of military force to be a relevant tool, also in the High North.”
The Royal Norwegian Navy has six of these superfast, stealth missile Skjold-class corvettes in its fleet. (Photo: Forsvaret)

Allied Interoperability

The United States, the UK and Norway are all bringing new capabilities to bear on maritime threats in the North Atlantic. The commitment to the new maritime surveillance and strike aircraft, the Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft (P-8), and the introduction of the new Triton UAV are part of refocusing attention on the North Atlantic.

The Norwegians are procuring the P-8 in part to deal with this challenge and are looking to collaborate with both the Royal Air Force and the U.S. Navy in the region as British and American P-8s (and in the American case, the Tritons) come into the region for maritime defense.

Major General Skinnarland, Chief of Staff of the Norwegian Air Force, commented that “with the P-8s operating from the UK, Iceland, and Norway, [the Allies] can shape a maritime domain awareness data capability which can inform our forces effectively as well, but again, this requires work to share the data and to shape common concepts of operations.” She noted the importance of exercising “often and effectively together” to shape effective concepts of operations. This, she says “will require bringing the new equipment, and the people together to share experience and to shape a common way ahead.”
During a February 2017 Norwegian ­Airpower Conference, a Norwegian officer highlights, from a threat perspective, the Russian bastion built around the Kola Peninsula.
After the last RAF Hawker Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft was retired in 2011, the challenge became how to keep those key skill sets alive. NATO exercises provided interim opportunities, however in 2016, the MoD announced a decision to purchase nine Boeing P-8s. I visited RAF Lossiemouth in north-east Scotland earlier this year, where the Brits are standing up their new P-8 base. The new base will also allow Norwegians to train, and the U.S. to operate as well.

Indeed, what was clear from discussions at “Lossie” is that the infrastructure is being built from the ground up with broader considerations in mind, notably creating a 21st century maritime domain awareness information and strike network. The RAF is building capacity in its P-8 hangers for visiting aircraft such as the RAAF, the USN, or the Norwegian Air Force to train and operate from. In many ways, the thinking is similar to how building the F-35 enterprise out from the UK to Northern Europe is being shaped.
Boeing P-8 aircraft at RAF Lossiemouth. (MoD photo: LAC Charlotte Hopkins) 

Flying the same ISR/C2/strike aircraft will create synergies with regard to how best to share combat data in a fluid situation that demands timely and effective decision-making.

The UK is clearly a key player in shaping the way ahead on both the P-8 and F-35 enterprises, not just by investing in both platforms, but in building the infrastructure and training a new generation of operators and maintainers as well.

At the heart of this learning process are the solid working relationships among the professional military in working towards innovative concepts of operations. This is a work in progress that requires infrastructure, platforms, training and openness in shaping evolving working relationships.
Northrop Grumman Triton UAV. (photo: Todd Miller)
Having visited Norway earlier this year and having discussed among other things, the coming of the P-8 and the F-35 in Norway, it is clear that what happens on the other side of the North Sea (the UK) is of keen interest to Norway. In talking with the RAF and Royal Navy, it is evident that changes in Norway are part of the broader UK consideration when it comes to the reshaping of NATO defense capabilities in a dynamic region.

To lay down a foundation for a 21st century approach, the U.S. Navy is pairing its P-8s with the Triton – a new high altitude, long endurance (HALE) unmanned aircraft developed by Northrop Grumman– and is working an integrated approach between the two.

In a very narrow sense, the P-8 and Triton are “replacing” the P-3. However, the additional ISR and C2 enterprise being put in place to operate the combined P-8 / Triton capability is a much broader capability than the classic P-3. Much like how the Osprey transformed the U.S. Marine Corps prior to flying the F-35, the P-8/Triton team is doing the same for the US Navy as the F-35 comes to the carrier air wing.
RCAF Commander LGen Michael Hood (Photo: Sgt Paz Quillé, RCAF PA Imagery)
The team at Naval Air Station Jacksonville is building a common Maritime Domain Awareness and Maritime Combat Culture and treats the platforms as partner applications of the evolving combat theory. The partnership is both technology and aircrew synergistic.

It should be noted that the P-8 and the Triton (which draws heavily on F-35 systems) as well as the F-35 are a new generation of software-upgradeable aircraft, whose software will be reworked in interaction with the sharing of data and the reworking of core platform capabilities.

It is about shaping a combat-learning cycle in which software can be upgraded as the user groups shape, in real time, the core needs they see, to rapidly deal with a reactive enemy.
July 2017 – MCpl Kevin Hardy, lead Airborne Electronic Sensor Operator (AESOP); Patricia DeMille, Fishery Officer for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans; and Cpl Brett Galliford, AESOP and the Non-Acoustic Sensor Operator for the CP-140 Aurora, work together to identify possible vessels of interest engaged in illegal fishing during Operation Driftnet. (Photo: Sgt Shilo Adamson, CFB Borden)
As the COS of the Norwegian Air Force put the challenge: “We should plug and play in terms of our new capabilities; but that will not happen by simply adding new equipment – it will be hard work.”

Canadian Perspective on Maritime Threats
I recently had a chance to talk with the commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force, Lieutenant-General Mike Hood, about the Canadian approach and contribution to the evolving threats and challenges in the North Atlantic to maritime defense and security. Obviously, Canada is a key partner and occupies key geography as Russia returns to significant maritime operations from the Kola Peninsula into the High North as well.

As the Brits, Norwegians and Americans build new capabilities to operate in the North Atlantic, what is the Canadian approach and contribution? And what new investments and capabilities might be offered by Canada to the coalition effort?

Canada’s current anti-submarine warfare capabilities are built around an upgraded CP-140 Aurora, a new CH-148 Cyclone ASW helicopter developed by Sikorsky (although grounded earlier this year due to a “momentary change in descent rate”), and frigates recently modernized by Lockheed Martin Canada – all integrated into coalition ASW operations.

“Out of all the NATO ASW platforms in there,” says LGen Hood, “the most effective one has been our CP-140. I am exceptionally proud of our ASW capability, and when I couple it with the new advanced capability on our upgraded frigates, I see us a backbone of NATO’s ASW capability.”

Over the decade ahead, as the maritime domain awareness and strike enterprise is reworked with the coming of the P-8 and the Triton (among other assets) Canada will add an unmanned capability, continue upgrading the CP-140, and work closely with allies in reshaping the maritime domain awareness and strike networks. New satellite sensor and communications systems will also be added.

According to LGen Hood, this will allow the RCAF to leverage developments in the next decade to determine what needs to be put on their replacement manned air platform and to determine which air platform that would be. “The government’s new defence policy lays out a 20-year funding line that recapitalizes our air force.”

He acknowledges that the eventual replacement of the CP-140 is funded in that policy but explains that this is not a near term need. “We have better capability from an ASW perspective in the CP-140 than comes off the line presently in the P-8. We have just gone through a Block III upgrade that has completely modernized the ASW capability as well as adding an overland ISR piece. We have replaced the wings on many major empennage [tail assembly] points and the goal is to get our CP-140 out to about 2032 when we’re going to replace it with another platform.”

He notes that next year, the CP-140s will receive a Block IV upgrade which will include new infrared counter measures, a tactical data link 16 to complement link 11 and full motion video, imagery, email, chat, and VOIP.

Canadians have also contributed to keeping the RAF in the game prior to the P-8 acquisition. “We have been flying two members of the RAF crews on our ASW aircraft in the interim between the sunset of Nimrod and the sunrise of the P-8.” Canadians have helped manage the “GIUK gap” by operating from either Lossiemouth in Scotland or Keflavik in Iceland. The Greenland-Iceland-UK “gap” is an area in the northern Atlantic Ocean that forms a naval choke point between the three landmasses.

The General also notes that the new defence policy has authorized adding a unmanned aerial systems capability for the ASW effort as well. “In the next three years, we’ll be under contract for a medium altitude UAS that is going to have both domestic and coastal abilities as well as expeditionary strike capabilities.
12 Jul – The ground crew for the CP-140 Aurora prepares the aircraft for its daily mission on Operation Driftnet in Hakodate, Japan. (Photo: Sergeant Shilo Adamson, CFB Borden)
LGen Hood confirms that Canada is among the allies funding the NATO AGS (Alliance Ground Surveillance) programme to acquire an airborne ground surveillance capability on five remotely-piloted Global Hawk aircraft. NATO will operate and maintain them on behalf of all NATO member countries.

There is a satellite component to ASW, and Canada’s new RADARSAT Constellation (planned to launch in 2018) will provide enhanced sensor coverage. There are also plans to launch a polar constellation satellite system to provide for High North communication needs. “That is actually going to finally allow us to operate UASs up above 70° North.”

The evolving maritime domain awareness network and the reshaping of its capabilities as new sensors, platforms and C2 systems come on line adds new opportunities. The integration of new UAS capabilities with manned capabilities will reshape expectations of the platforms, and it is from this context of evolution that the head of the RCAF sees the question of a replacement aircraft for the CP-140.

“Canadian industry has played a key role in shaping capabilities onboard the CP-140 and I would see that role continuing on our replacement manned aircraft. It’s less about the platform, [and more about] the brains of that platform.”

Robbin Laird is an international defense analyst based in Virginia.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Canada Suspends Aid to Iraq and Kurdish-Peshmerga

By: David Pugliese, The National Post 

Canada has suspended the assistance its special forces were providing to Iraqi security forces as Iraqi and Kurdish forces battle each other.

Canadian commandos have been working with the Kurds and some assistance has been provided to the Iraqis.
Canadian special forces look over a Peshmerga observation post, Monday, February 20, 2017 in northern Iraq.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

But, “given the fluidity of the current situation, Canada’s Special Operations Task Force has temporarily suspended the provision of assistance to various elements of Iraqi security forces,” Canadian Forces spokesman Col. Jay Janzen said Friday.

“Once more clarity exists regarding the interrelationships of Iraqi security forces, and the key priorities and tasks going forward, the Task Force will resume activities,” he said. “In the interim, they will continue to monitor the situation and plan for the next potential phases of operational activity.”

The Ottawa Citizen reported Wednesday that Canada is also reviewing its program to supply the Kurds with small arms.

Canadian special forces have been providing assistance to the Kurds and Iraqis in their war against ISIL. But with ISIL in retreat, Iraqi and Kurdish forces are now fighting each other. The Kurds want to separate from Iraq and, during the war against ISIL, they seized large portions of the country. That included the city of Kirkuk and nearby oil fields, which hold an estimated 40 per cent of Iraq’s oil.

The Iraqi government declared the recent Kurdish referendum supporting independence illegal and sent troops to retake Kirkuk and other territory.

The Kurds offered on Wednesday to put any drive towards independence on hold, but that was rejected by the Iraqis.

However, on Friday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered a 24-hour ceasefire. That “should allow a joint technical committee to work on the deployment of federal Iraqi forces in all disputed areas, including Fish-Khabur, and the international border,” Abadi said in a statement.

The Kurds have welcomed the pause in fighting.

Janzen said the Canadian Forces will continue to support the U.S.-led coalition battling ISIL. That includes the provision of transport helicopters, a medical facility and surveillance and intelligence gathering capabilities.

“Only the provision of assistance to various elements of Iraqi security forces has been temporarily suspended,” Janzen said.

The previous Conservative government sent Canadian special forces to northern Iraq to train the Kurds starting in 2014. That program was continued by the Liberals.

But the issue of training and arming the Kurds has been highly controversial from the start. Kurdish leaders openly acknowledged their intent was to eventually create an independent state. The arms were needed both to fight against ISIL and to defend an independent state, they said.

The Kurds say at least 30 of their soldiers have been killed and another 150 wounded in ongoing clashes.

Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, the Kurds’ top diplomat in Washington, said it’s past time the international community end its “laser focus” on ISIL and begin to address Iraq’s many underlying problems.

“’We are laser-focused on (ISIL).’ That has been the mantra of the past few years,” Abdul Rahman told The Canadian Press. “But to continue to say we’re laser-focused on (ISIL) is missing the obvious truth of what is happening in Iraq.”

Quebec Wants More Federal Shipbuilding Contracts

By: ANDREA GUNN, The Chronical Herald

Quebec is formally calling on the federal government to rejig its massive shipbuilding strategy in order to give the province a bigger share of the multibillion-dollar pie.

Members of the Quebec National Assembly unanimously passed a motion Wednesday requesting that the federal government adjust Canada’s national shipbuilding strategy so Quebec gets what it believes is its fair share of federal contracts. The motion also asked Ottawa to “grant Quebec the contracts necessary” for the replacement of coast guard and Royal Canadian Navy ships, including the acquisition of a second Resolve-class tanker.

Responding to the motion, the province’s major shipbuilder, Chantier Davie Canada Inc., issued a news release commending the Quebec government.

“The federal government is going to invest almost $100 billion over the next 20 to 30 years on its fleet renewal,” Alex Vicefield, chairman of Davie Shipyard, said in the release. “Quebec represents 50 per cent of Canada’s shipbuilding capacity and 23 per cent of Canada’s tax base, yet it is receiving less than one per cent of federal spending on shipbuilding.

“Today, Quebec is at risk of losing a significant number of middle-class jobs due to bureaucratic intransigence and road-blocks within a broken procurement system, despite the clear and obvious need for Canada to urgently renew the entirety of its fleet.”

Bloc Québécois MP Michel Boudrias sought to put forward a similar motion in the House of Commons on Wednesday but was denied the unanimous consent required for the point of order.


Retired navy commander and defence analyst Ken Hansen said, looking at the historical context it’s easy to see why Quebec is miffed: Previously all shipbuilding for the government was done on a regional apportionment basis. But, he said, that was inefficient and contributed to the “boom and bust” cycle the government was trying to avoid by developing the national strategy.

“The strategy was designed to provide continuous work so that they wouldn’t go through these startup and shutdown cycles which cost money and cause chaos in the workforce,” he said.

After initial analysis, Hansen said, Ottawa concluded there wasn’t enough money or work to sustain long-term employment at more than two shipyards, so the national strategy approach was born, and Davie did not make the cut.

In 2011, Irving Shipbuilding in Halifax was named prime contractor for the combat portion of this strategy and is building six Arctic and offshore patrol vessels, the first to be delivered in 2018, and up to 15 Canadian surface combatants to be built in the 2020s.

The contract is expected to cost around $60 billion and create hundreds of long-term, well-paying jobs in Halifax

Seaspan on the West Coast was awarded the non-combat portion of the shipbuilding strategy and is building a number of science vessels for the Canadian Coast Guard as well as two joint support ships, the first to be delivered in 2020.


Though Davie was in bankruptcy when the national shipbuilding strategy contracts were awarded to the other two yards, the company is now solvent and is in the process of converting a commercial container ship into an interim auxiliary naval replenishment for the Canadian navy.

The MV Asterix has been hailed as a success and is expected to be delivered before the end of the year.

Known as Project Resolve, Davie pitched the idea to the previous Conservative government as a way to bridge the gap in tanker capabilities from the loss of the Protecteur class while Seaspan completes its support ships. The Tories accepted the bid and the Liberals considered reviewing it when they took power in 2015, but ultimately the contract remained in place. The vessel will be leased to the federal government for five years at a cost of about $700 million, with an option to renew for an additional five years.

On Wednesday, the federal Conservatives issued a release urging the government to accept Davie’s proposal to build a second Resolve-class interim vessel.

Davie has also pitched a series of other unsolicited bids to the Liberal government — in 2016 the company offered to deliver icebreakers and support ships, claiming they could do so faster and cheaper than what is already planned, but those bids were rejected by the government.

As for whether Quebec has a leg to stand on with new demands to Ottawa, Hansen said it depends on political pressure.

“The big concern is the Liberal caucus from Quebec and how much pressure they can bring to bear on the prime minister and cabinet about this issue, so we’ll have to wait and see.”

Central Nova Liberal MP Sean Fraser told The ChronicleHerald he cannot see a realistic scenario where the government changes the shipbuilding strategy to favour Quebec because of political pressure from a provincial legislature.
“We’ve got 32 Atlantic Canadian MPs who are great advocates for their region, and we have the expertise and technology capacity to win any merit-based competition,” he said.

In an emailed statement, Christine Michaud, spokeswoman for federal procurement minister Carla Qualtrough, said the Liberal government remains committed to the shipbuilding strategy.
“As set out in the National Shipbuilding Strategy, $2 billion in small ship construction is set aside for competitive procurement amongst Canadian shipyards other than the yards selected to build large vessels. Chantier Davie is eligible to compete for small ship construction projects (under 1,000 tonnes), as well as ship repair, refit and maintenance requirements,” she said. “Our government is committed to consulting the marine industry on other requirements that may arise following an open and competitive procurement process.”
Irving Shipbuilding declined comment on the Quebec motion or the statement by Davie, but a spokesperson provided some information about economic benefits the strategy is already leveraging across Canada via major suppliers, including more than $250 million in Quebec.

For Canada's SAR Planes 'tactical grey' is the new yellow

By: David Pugliese, The National Post

Canada’s new search-and-rescue aircraft will abandon their familiar yellow paint scheme, instead getting a makeover that will allow them to be used in other missions, including combat.

The Royal Canadian Air Force has requested that its new fleet of 16 search-and-rescue planes be painted tactical grey and have asked for a change in the original contract which stipulated a yellow colour scheme.

The C-295W, being built by Airbus, will replace the main search-and-rescue fleet of six Buffalo aircraft as well as the Hercules transport planes which are also used at times in a search-and-rescue role.

The Buffalos are painted yellow, as are Canada’s other fully dedicated search-and-rescue aircraft such as the Cormorant helicopters.
Royal Canadian Air Force staff board a Brazilian C-295W plane Wednesday, July 26, 2017 at CFB Trenton, Ont. Luke Hendry/Belleville Intelligencer/Postmedia Network

“The RCAF has made the decision to use a grey colour scheme for the C-295W fleet to enable surging flexibility for the very wide range of missions the RCAF is required to conduct, from humanitarian and disaster relief missions, to security missions with partners, and all the way to full spectrum operations,” Department of National Defence spokesman Daniel Le Bouthillier said Thursday.

He noted that the Hercules used in the search-and-rescue role are painted grey so they can be used in missions other than rescue.

Sources inside DND, however, have raised concerns about what they say is a unilateral decision by the RCAF leadership. They worry the RCAF used the opportunity to replace the search-and-rescue aircraft as a way to instead outfit itself with a new fleet of multi-mission transport planes.

They said at the time that it provided the high visibility needed for search-and-rescue, both for those in the air and on the ground

When the Liberal government awarded the contract to Airbus in December 2016, cabinet ministers highlighted the importance of having the right aircraft for the search-and-rescue job. “With this technology, we are giving our women and men in uniform the tools they need to continue to deliver effective and essential search and rescue operations,” defence minister Harjit Sajjan said at the time

RCAF insiders defended the change in the paint scheme, saying any aircraft can be called upon to be used in a variety of missions, including in an overseas war zone.

Defence analyst Martin Shadwick said it was the Canadian Forces that decided to switch to the yellow paint scheme in the 1970s because it aided in search-and-rescue. “They said at the time that it provided the high visibility needed for search-and-rescue, both for those in the air and on the ground,” said Shadwick, who teaches strategic studies at York University.

The Buffalos, first purchased in 1967, are key to search-and-rescue on the west coast and in parts of the Rockies and the yellow paint scheme was deemed to be an advantage in those situations.

Shadwick said the decision to have the new fleet of planes available for potential overseas missions raises new questions. Under the existing contract, private-sector employees are going to play the main role in maintaining the planes.

“So, if you are now going to use the C-295 in a front-line role, maybe even as combat transport, does that mean your private-sector workers go along on the overseas mission?” Shadwick said.

The project to buy new search-and-rescue planes took more than a decade. In 2004 the then-Liberal government announced the program as a priority. The project was re-announced by the Conservatives in 2006; the contract was supposed to be awarded in 2009 but continued being delayed for years.

Other questions have also been raised about the purchase. After the contract was awarded, it emerged that the Canadian government made a last-minute change to the amount of money available to spend on its new fleet, but didn’t bother informing the bidders trying to win the contract. Though the program’s budget jumped from $3.4 billion to $4.7 billion, the losing bidder, Italian aerospace firm Leonardo, was still under the impression Canada could only afford to spend the lesser amount and cried foul after tailoring its bid based on that information.

Monday, November 6, 2017

RCAF CF-18s to Fly past 2030?

By: David Pugliese, The Ottawa Citizen 

Image result for RCAF CF-18

Some sources in industry as well as at the Department of National Defence are now suggesting that the country’s CF-18 fleet could be flying until 2030.


The purchase of interim Super Hornets from Boeing is stalled, if not dead in the water. That is the result of Boeing’s decision to go after Bombardier on its C-Series commercial aircraft and the resulting duties from the U.S. of almost 300 per cent.

The potential acquisition of fighter aircraft from Australia is a possibility. But that won’t happen overnight. Australia will respond by the end of December but that is just the beginning of the process, if it does proceed.

The CF-18s will be upgraded to allow them to keep flying to at least 2025.

But even Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has acknowledged in the past that the planes could remain in the air much longer. In November 2016 on CBC Radio’s As It Happens, Sajjan said the jets might be required to keep flying until 2032. (And that was before the issues emerged with the purchase of interim Super Hornets from Boeing).

This is all despite the fact that DND stated, "An ELE extension to 2030 is assessed as a high risk option in terms of cost, schedule and technical factors" in its now Archived CF-18 Hornet Estimated Life Expectancy document.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Will Airbus-Bombardier Alliance Pave the way for Canada to purchase Eurofighter?

By: David Pugliese, Defence Watch 

Airbus officials made a pitch yesterday at a Quebec aerospace forum for a Canadian purchase of the Eurofighter Typhoon.

Airbus Canada President Simon Jacques, like his counterparts at Lockheed Martin Canada, called for an open and fair competition for the fighter replacement.

“We have a very good plane,” he said, referring to the Typhoon. “If the tender comes out with criteria that are fair to everyone – that is to say that no matter the company – it’s open and fair, if it’s a real competition, absolutely we have a chance to win.”

Airbus currently has the contract to provide the RCAF with a fleet of new search and rescue aircraft. Jacques has noted that Airbus is associated with a number of Canadian firms, such as CAE. A Canadian team would be designed to offer the Typhoon to the RCAF, he added.

With the takeover of the Bombardier CSeries by Airbus, the European consortium is now in a favorable position for any fighter jet competition, the Quebec newspaper Le Devoir has suggested.

But Jacques declined to comment on what may come because of the deal with Bombardier.

European aerospace firms, BAE, Leonardo and Airbus are partners in the Typhoon program.

Eurofighter Typhoon has become the backbone of the air forces in the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria and Saudi Arabia, the companies point out.