Tag Archives: Air Force

Mark Collins – SNAFU, or, Canadian Defence Procurement

The start and end of a book review by Matthew Fisher, a rare Canadian journalist who is actually interested in matters military and has a real understanding of them–and note the deleterious role of our media generally:

New book pleads for fix to Canada’s dysfunctional military procurement system

The new book Charlie Foxtrot: Fixing Defence Procurement in Canada [see here] is a “cri de coeur” for political leaders to forge a bipartisan approach when deciding what to buy for the Canadian Armed Forces.

The author, Kim Nossal, is not delusional. The Queen’s University professor [more here] recognizes that for this to happen “involves a considerable leap of faith.” However, given how procurement blunders have “degraded the Canadian military,” he argues a better way must be found to replace them than the largely dysfunctional procurement system that exists at present.

Charlie Foxtrot — military shorthand for “clusterf—” — is particularly relevant today because the Liberal government is seemingly intent on equaling if not surpassing the their Conservative predecessors’ brutal mishandling of the multi-billion dollar programme to finally buy new fighter jets [see “What Stinking RCAF Fighter “Capability Gap” for NORAD and NATO?“]…

It has not only been the politicians who are to blame for Canada’s politicized procurement process. The media treat procurement as political theatre. There is little dispassionate analysis of the choices and the dilemmas involved in buying equipment that must last for decades in an environment where technological advances can render many acquisitions quickly obsolete [emphasis added, OH SO SADLY TRUE].

The government, for its part, has never hired enough procurement specialists, a problems that bogs down every purchasing process. Nossal argues that if Canada matched what its allies spend on a GNP basis, a lot of these problems would disappear. As it is, he writes, too many programs are always chasing too few dollars.

Nossal’s inevitable conclusion is that the “root cause” of Canada’s procurement failures has been an absence of political leadership. Governments have been able to get away with botching procurement for years because “the consequences of decisions made by one Parliament will not be felt until much later, usually well past the next general election.”

The only practical solution, Nossal says, is for Canada’s two leading political parties to create a bipartisan approach to defence procurement…There is zero chance that even an exceptionally brave Canadian politician would dare embrace such an obvious and honourable idea [OH SO SADLY TRUE]. Still, Charlie Foxtrot is worth reading to understand how much Canada would benefit if its leaders confounded voters and actually took the high road.

Lots more here on the constant Canadian procurement morass.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – We Have a Winner! RCAF Fixed-Wing SAR: 16 Airbus C295W for $2.4B

Initial cost, after a twelve-year process! Further to this post,

New RCAF Fixed-Wing SAR Plane Choice Real Soon?

a deal at long-last done (note at end of post additional refueling, transport roles which the government does not mention for some reason):

Airbus chosen to build Canada’s new search planes, ending 12-year procurement odyssey
16 Airbus C-295 aircraft announced by ministers, head of air force at CFB Trenton

The Canadian military will receive new fixed-wing search and rescue planes in a two-step procurement that will cost taxpayers $4.7 billion over the next two decades.

The selection of European defence giant Airbus end a 12-year, frustrating odyssey that spans three governments.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, Public Works Minister Judy Foote and the Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force, Lt.-Gen. Michael Hood, announced the deal at the country’s largest military air base in Trenton, Ont., which is also one of the principal search and rescue stations.

Conservatives made ‘political’ decision to cut military flying time in 2014, Laurie Hawn says

The first phase — with a pricetag of $2.4 billion — involves the purchase of 16 C-295W aircraft modified for search and rescue missions.

A training simulator, to be located in Comox, B.C., and 11 years of in-service support and maintenance [with a Canadian company, see below] will be included.

An additional in-service support program will have to be negotiated with Airbus. That cost is estimated at $2.3 billion.

Taken together, the combined price tag is considerably more than the $3.8 billion approved by the former Conservative government in 2011, and higher still from the original $3.1 billion price tag affixed to the plan when Paul Martin’s government first announced it in 2004.

The turbo-prop C-295 is in use in 15 countries, mostly for military transport but also for maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare…

It was Paul Martin’s Liberal government that started the competition in 2004 [as a “major priority”! see top right here]…

…the first planes are expected to arrive in 2019 and the final delivery will take place in 2022 — 18 years after they were originally ordered [emphasis added, but after procurement intention announced–no order in 2004].

It cannot have hurt Airbus that the C295W has Pratt & Whitney Canada engines whereas the main competitor, the Leonardo-Finmeccanica (company’s new name) C-27J, does not.

Image:

c295w.jpg
Canada Selects Airbus C295W for Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue
Photo Credit: Hand-out / Airbus Defence and Space

From the government’s new release–jobs! jobs! jobs!


Following a rigorous, open and transparent competition, the Government of Canada today announced the awarding of a contract for $2.4 billion to Airbus Defence and Space to replace Canada’s fleets of CC115 Buffalo and legacy CC130 Hercules aircraft. The company has partnered with Newfoundland-based PAL Aerospace for maintenance and support services [emphasis added, PAL website here].The contract will provide a complete, modern and technologically advanced search and rescue solution, including maintenance and support services up to 2043.

As part of this contract, Airbus will provide 16 C295W aircraft, equipped with advanced technology systems, to support Canada’s search and rescue operations, construct a new simulator-equipped training centre in Comox, British Columbia, and provide ongoing maintenance and support services. The contract also includes options to extend the maintenance and support services for an additional 15 years. Should Canada choose to exercise these additional options, the contract value would increase to $4.7 billion.

The new technology being acquired includes state-of-the-art communications systems that will allow search and rescue personnel to share real-time information with partners on the ground. Using integrated sensors, crews will be able to locate persons or objects, such as downed aircraft, from more than 40 kilometres away, even in low-light conditions.

As part of its proposal Airbus Defence and Space has committed to make investments in the Canadian economy equal to the value of the contract, creating and maintaining good middle class jobs. Through Canada’s Industrial and Technological Benefits Policy [website here], the company will incorporate many of Canada’s leading aerospace firms into its global supply chain and establish strategic partnerships with Canadian companies to ensure the aircraft are supported in Canada by Canadians. This work will help grow Canada’s innovative and strong aerospace sector, while providing well-paying jobs for the middle class and those working hard to join it [emphasis added, last phrase is now really hurl-worthy]…

Related Products

Backgrounder: A modern and effective search and rescue solution for the Canadian Armed Forces 
Backgrounder: Fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft procurement process
Infographic: Procuring Canada’s future fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft 
Infographic: Capability

Associated Links

Public Services and Procurement Canada: Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue Aircraft Replacement 
National Defence: Investing in Equipment 
Royal Canadian Air Force:  Search and Rescue Search and Rescue in Canada: A shared responsibility
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada: Industrial and Technological Benefits

And from the Airbus news release–note additional roles near end:


The C295W features substantial Canadian content. Every C295 is powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada engines, pilots and technicians will be trained at a new facility developed by CAE in Comox, BC, and the electro-optical systems for FWSAR will be provided by L3 Wescam of Burlington, ON. In-service support for the life of the program will be provided by AirPro, a joint venture between Airbus Defence and Space and PAL Aerospace of St John’s, Newfoundland. In-service support will be conducted by Canadians in Canada.

[Simon] Jacques [Head of Airbus Defence and Space in Canada] added: “About 20 percent of the aircraft is already Canadian, meaning that it already serves as a global ambassador for the skills, innovation and expertise of Canadians. Now it will get to serve them directly.”

Canada’s C295Ws will be delivered starting three years after contract award. In service, they will join five Airbus CC-150 aircraft used in the air-to-air refueling, transport [emphasis added–why doesn’t the government mention those subsidiary roles?], and VIP travel roles.

When the contract is finalized, 185 C295s will have been ordered by 25 countries…

Something else to keep in mind–the RCAF’s 32 older-model Hercules are being followed-on by just 17 new C-130Js, so the RCAF has always wanted the new SAR aircraft to be able to double when necessary as a tactical transport in order to keep that capability up (see e.g. 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron):


Air force Col. Dave Burt, director of aerospace requirements, said at the time [2004] that search and rescue was the priority, adding that the service wanted “something that is smaller and (more) cost efficient than a Hercules but still has some of the transport-type qualities that a Hercules has.”

Although the aircraft would be used for search and rescue, there may be room to have them perform a secondary role of airlift if that is deemed feasible, Burt added…

Something that has not been mentioned for years for no good reason that I can understand.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins- RCN Canadian Surface Combatant, Irving, Intellectual Property…and Espionage (plus fighters and Trump)

Further to these posts,

RCN Canadian Surface Combatant: Intellectual Property Brouhaha

Irving Halifax Has Lead Evaluating RCN Canadian Surface Combatant Design/Weapons Systems Bids

Irving Working with BAE Systems: Implications for RCN Canadian Surface Combatant?

some important points about the IP issue and its implications–including for new RCAF fighters too–are made in this piece (do read it all):

The Canadian Government, Defense Procurement, and Software: Out of Phase with Western Defense Development and Modernization?

The Liberal regime needs to be cognizant that Canada will always be a modest sized customer in the world arms market.

As such, unique and irregular Canadian requirements and unorthodox procurement processes will sharply inflate cost and create long term issues of sustainability.

Kludgey Canadian equipment that fails to meet reasonably anticipated expectations from allies raise doubts as to the credibility of Canada’s commitment to collective defense.

The Case of the Canadian Surface Combatant Program: Software Transfer as a Non-Starter

The Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) program demanded that bidders hand overtheir intellectual property (IP) and data to prime contractor Irving Shipbuilding, including “foreground and background data” and software source code.

While it is no longer a disqualifier to not do so up front, this demand raises major issues for suppliers.

Requiring a bidder’s a priori disclosure of IP and data to a private company (and potential competitor!) like Irving shipbuilding is highly irregular.

The details required are down to specifications for the last nut, bolt and screw, including tools used and part numbers. While the intent may be to deprive the vendor of follow-on revenues for maintenance and upgrades, it is far more damaging to the world shipbuilding industry.

Serious questions arise as to how (if at all) the data can be safeguarded by the contractor and/or the Canadian government, and its leakage to both adversaries and other competitors. While the intent is that provision of this data enables Irving Shipbuilding to walk away from the vendor for future upgrades and maintenance, it has many other consequences.

The IP requirement means that the prime contractor and Canadian officials will be able to become a competitor to all bidders. Because they will be the only party to see everyone’s IP, Canadians will be able to aggregate the data, cherry pick and reverse engineer IP and designs from all bidders.

This goes beyond depriving vendors of follow-on revenues.

It means that Canada, and particularly Irving Shipbuilding, will have the unfair advantage of seeing the issues, flaws and best features in all bidder’s designs.

Canada would then be in a prime position to offer maintenance and support to not just the CSC, but for all vendor’s products, potentially becoming a competitor to every bidder, not to mention building its own next generation ship from bidders’ designs.

Whether it is the intent of the Government of Canada to facilitate this is not known.

Indisputably it is an unfair competitive advantage handed to anyone who has access to the data…

Apparently no one at DND or Irving Shipbuilding thought about how they would build a CSC without access to commercial electronics like devices from Xilinx, Intel, IBM, Freescale, Siemens, TSMC, etc. None of these firms will consent to their technology being handed over and if that is a condition, they will likely bar the use of them in the CSC program, causing bidders to find new and, as yet, non-existent sources.

Even if bidders agree to these terms, only one whom will be successful will still have to deal with the likelihood of theft of their IP and the likelihood that their software, intentionally or otherwise, will be compromised. Canadian government institutions and firms have a sorry record of protecting their intellectual property in this regard.

IP Security and the Threat of Theft from Non-Liberal Regimes

The U.S. was recently victimized by a Canadian subsidiary of United Technologies who illegally handed over to the PRC software intended to be used in their Z-10 military helicopter on the pretext of bidding for a civilian helicopter contract. That incident will weigh heavily on any decision to permit disclosure of sensitive US technologies to Canadian subsidiaries.

The very fact that it is now known that bid documents will contain sensitive IP that can compromise every bidder’s product will make Canada and Irving Shipyards a high priority intelligence target for Russia, China, Iran, North Korea [emphasis added], etc. facing threats from the bidder’s home countries [see also on China: “Chicom State-Owned Firms’ Investment in US: a Good Thing?“].

Compromise of CSC bidding documents data in Canada will result in the damage not just to CSCs, but also to other operators of the same platform — potentially creating a nightmare for every country foolish enough to authorize their vendor to release the IP.

And a bonanza for Chinese military shipbuilders eager to clone the best designs…

The Fighter Case in the Broader Context

The larger question is whether such IP giveaway for the privilege of bidding will be replicated in other government procurements like the replacement Fighter program.

If so, the U.S. can make it difficult simply by refusing to allow release of APIs and other interfaces, resulting in a low level of integration into U.S. systems, making the CSC and F/A-18 Super Hornets effectively unintegrated “one off” pieces in the age of network centric warfare.

Upgrading the systems ex post to U.S. standards for security to enable them to work closely together will likely be costly (if permissible at all) and be subject to stringent licensing terms — frustrating the original IP “hand over” requirement.

The U.S. may limit Canada’s access to compiled modules and ban Canada from updating mission data files altogether…

The Coming of the Trump Administration

The Trump Administration will also be zeroing in on Canadian defense procurement demands like “100% offset” requirements and take a close look at how those deals required of Boeing if the F/A-18 Super Hornet “interim” buy goes ahead [on those new fighters: “What Stinking RCAF Fighter “What Stinking RCAF Fighter “Capability Gap” for NORAD and NATO?“]…

Danny Lam is an independent analyst based in Calgary…

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – What Stinking RCAF Fighter “Capability Gap” for NORAD and NATO?

It looks like the Liberal Government cooked up a new operational requirement for RCAF fighters without bothering to consult the Air Force itself. GOOD FLIPPING GRIEF. Did the government even speak with NATO? Further to this post and “Comments”,

Now Likely? Canada to Sole-Source Some Super Hornets for RCAF After All?

and this article,

Liberal policy forcing need for new jets: RCAF head

Canada needs an interim fleet of fighter jets only because the Liberal government created a policy that increased the number of aircraft that must be available for NORAD and NATO missions at the same time, the head of the Royal Canadian Air Force says.

The Liberals invoked a long-standing “capability gap” last week to justify the sole-source purchase of 18 Boeing Super Hornets, but Lieutenant-General Michael Hood on Monday [Nov. 28] said the need for new jets was caused by the recent policy change.

“Previously … we were comfortable as an armed forces in meeting those [NORAD and NATO commitments] with our extant fleet,” Lt.-Gen. Hood told reporters after appearing at a Senate committee.

“That policy has changed with a requirement to be able to meet both of those concurrently, as opposed to managing them together, thus the requirement to increase the number of fighters available,” he said…

Lt.-Gen. Hood said the previous Conservative government’s plan to buy 65 F-35s would not meet Canada’s new policy in terms of international commitments [but that’s not what the then Chief of the Air Staff said in 2011, see below]…

The general refused for “security reasons” (scroll down here) to put numbers to those commitments. But the numbers, certainly for NORAD, have long been public and the commitments were in place before the Conservatives took office from the Liberals in 2006. A post of mine at Milnet.ca (lots of interesting reaction at the thread):

Serving (!) Air Force major in 2006, pp. 3-4 (just after Conservatives took office, clearly previous Liberal policy):

Quote

…In NORAD, the Canadian Forces are committed to provide 36 fighters for air sovereignty and homeland security. In addition to this Canada is committed to provide six or more fighters to the United Nations and/or NATO at any given time, should the need arise…
http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:AE9UsPxVGYUJ:www.journal.forces.gc.ca/vo7/no2/doc/roberds-eng.pdf+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=ca

And in 2011:

Quote

The ability to defend the skies and operate overseas at the same time would be in peril if the Harper government buys fewer stealth fighters than planned, the head of the Royal Canadian Air Force said Monday [Dec. 12].

Lt.-Gen. Andre Deschamps said the air force would have to review how much “concurrent activity” it could handle if the number of radar-evading F-35s drop below the 65 aircraft the government has promised…

“In the end, it’s all about managing risk in delivering the defence mission. The number 65 gives us the capacity to cover all our missions with confidence.”..

It is the smallest fleet the air force is able to live with given its current commitments to North American air defence, which requires at least 36 fighters to be set aside for NORAD missions [not clear if the general himself gave that number].

The initial joint-strike fighter proposal said Canada was prepared to buy 80 aircraft, replacing the current fleet of CF-18s almost one-for-one.

Deschamps said the decision to move to 65 jets was based on a mixture of “affordability” and what numbers the air force believes “it needs to deliver on our numerous defence missions.”..
http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/f-35-jet-purchase-will-be-up-in-the-air-until-2013-1.1093739

Plus 2014 (story Aug. 2016):

Quote

No fighter jet requirement for NATO: report

Canada is not required to provide a certain number of fighter jets to NATO, says a Defence Department report that’s raising fresh questions about the Liberal government’s rush to buy a new warplane.

The report, published in June 2014 by the research arm of National Defence, says that while Canada supports NATO and contributes aircraft and other military assets when possible, “there is no hard minimum requirement for the NATO commitment.”

That means the only actual requirement Canada must meet in terms of providing fighter jets is its obligation to defend North America along with the U.S.

The government has repeatedly stated in recent months that the military does not have enough CF-18s to both defend North America and fulfil its obligations to NATO. It says that is why a new plane is needed sooner rather than later.

But neither the government nor the Defence Department have said how many jets Canada actually needs, saying that to reveal the numbers would jeopardize national security…

The Defence Research and Development Canada report suggests that a maximum of 36 aircraft are required to be operational at any time to help defend North America, and that “anything beyond this number is in excess of the current requirement.”

Those planes don’t all have to be on high alert waiting for an attack, the report says. Some can be involved in training or NATO operations, and would be called back if required.

Canada currently has 77 CF-18s, but Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has said only about half of them are operational at any given time. The report confirms those numbers, but also says the military can make do with 65 [surprise!] fighter jets…
http://www.therecord.com/news-story/6795095-no-fighter-jet-requirement-for-nato-report/

The jiggery-pokery of the government is a wonder to behold. And this major defence policy change was made without even waiting for the results of its much ballyhooed defence review being in. Open and transparent my tushie. And the Conservatives were just as bad. Help.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – New RCAF Fixed-Wing SAR Plane Choice Real Soon?

Further to these January and February posts respectively,

RCAF Fixed-Wing SAR Bids In: No LockMart But Embraer
[links to the contending aircraft at the post]

New RCAF Fixed-Wing SAR: Evaluation of Bids Starts

it looks like we’ll have a winner (this now twelve-year old acquisition process–a “major priority” in 2004!–having been rather lost in the new fighter hoo-hah, more on that here):

Canada to take December decision on SAR aircraft -sources

Canada’s federal government is expected to take a decision in early December on new fixed-wing search-and-rescue aircraft, with Airbus Group SE’s C-295 and Leonardo Aircraft’s C-27J Spartan emerging as front-runners [as in forever], two aerospace industry sources familiar with the matter said.

The federal Treasury Board is expected on Dec. 8 to authorize the government to enter into a contract with the winning bidder for the purchase and in-service support of aircraft, a third industry source said on Thursday [Nov. 24].

All three sources spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal is not public and the timing of the Treasury Board decision could be changed.

The value and number of aircraft in the procurement have not yet been made public, a spokesman for Canada’s National Defence Department said. The value of the deal, including the acquisition and in-service support, has been estimated in media reports at about C$3 billion ($2.22 billion).

Embraer’s KC-390 is also part of the competition, but the aircraft is not expected to win because the program is still in development and Canada’s government wants an aircraft that is already certified, two of the sources said.

The Canadian government has said the SAR aircraft procurement will allow the Royal Canadian Air Force to replace its current fixed-wing fleet of six CC-115 Buffalo aircraft and 13 CC-130H Hercules aircraft that are being used in Canada for search-and-rescue missions…

Note from the end of the first link at the top of this post:

Something else to keep in mind–the RCAF’s 32 older-model Hercules are being followed-on by just 17 new C-130Js, so the RCAF has always wanted the new SAR aircraft to be able to double when necessary as a tactical transport in order to keep that capability up (see e.g. 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron):

“…
Air force Col. Dave Burt, director of aerospace requirements, said at the time [2004] that search and rescue was the priority, adding that the service wanted “something that is smaller and (more) cost efficient than a Hercules but still has some of the transport-type qualities that a Hercules has.”

Although the aircraft would be used for search and rescue, there may be room to have them perform a secondary role of airlift if that is deemed feasible, Burt added…”

Something that has not been mentioned for years for no good reason that I can understand…

And I’ll bet you dollars to Timbits–air-droppable to those in needImage result for timbits
Image result for timbits
–that the tactical transport role won’t be mentioned now.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Now Likely? Canada to Sole-Source Some Super Hornets for RCAF After All?

Further to this post, keep your eyes open during my blogging break for a week beginning tomorrow, November 22–whole lot of anonymice being sources:

Cabinet could decide fighter jet plan as early as Tuesday [Nov. 22], industry sources say

Industry sources expect the Liberal government to decide as early as Tuesday whether to purchase a new fighter jet without a competition.

Federal cabinet ministers are reportedly considering three options for replacing Canada’s CF-18s, one of which they are expected to pick during their weekly closed-door meeting on Parliament Hill.

The options include holding a competition, buying a new warplane without a competition, or purchasing an “interim” aircraft as a stop-gap measure until a future competition.

The government was eyeing the third option in the spring, with the intention of buying Boeing Super Hornets, until an outcry from industry and the opposition forced them back to the drawing board.

But while Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan held consultations with different industry players in the summer, industry sources say the interim option is back as the preferred choice [i.e. a limited number of Super Hornets–perhaps some of the Growler persuasion (good expeditionarily)?].

Sajjan’s office refused to comment on Monday, with a spokeswoman saying only that a decision still has not been made…

Sajjan would only say that the government had done “a considerable amount of work” on the file.

“We will make a decision on replacing the fighters and will pick a process that will meet the needs of Canada.”..

Perish the thought that the Liberal Party’s political needs might be another consideration.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Canada to Sole-Source Some Super Hornets for RCAF After All?

Further to these posts,

Cabinet Committee to Take Sting out of Sole-Sourcing RCAF Super Hornets? CF-18 Life Extension? [June]

New RCAF Fighter: Consult, Consult, Consult (with industry)–Why Not Just Compete? [July]

here we go again, perhaps–things are getting embarrassingly ridiculous as the government twists desperately to distance itself from the F-35, at least for now:

Liberals again considering sole source purchase of Super Hornet fighter jets to replace CF-18s

A Liberal government proposal to buy Super Hornet fighter jets as a replacement for the air force’s aging CF-18s is back on the table.

But whether it will move ahead is still unclear.

In June [see link at start of post] the government proposed the purchase of Boeing Super Hornets as an interim measure, but that option disappeared as it faced intense criticism from the aerospace industry and opposition MPs.

Aerospace industry officials say they believed the Liberals were moving towards an open competition for a fighter replacement. But the option to buy the Super Hornets on a sole source basis and forgo a competition until around 2030 has again resurfaced [that would be impossibly late with CF-18s supposed to go out of service around 2025], industry sources now say.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office, with advice from Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, has been pushing the option, despite opposition from some leaders in the Royal Canadian Air Force, sources add.

Jordan Owens, a spokeswoman for Sajjan, said Thursday [Nov. 17] that no decision has been taken yet on replacing the CF-18s…

The acquisition of an interim fleet of 20 Super Hornets would push off the need to acquire a new fleet of fighter jets for more than a decade [actually just a decade or less if that 2025 date for retiring CF-18s holds–and a decision on the further new fighter would have to be made well before that to get the jets into service in time]…

Oh dear. Relevant:

New RCAF Fighter: Debate on F-35 vs Rest, esp. Super Hornet

RCAF and F-35: New Fighter Requirements, NORAD and Overseas

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Canada and Missile Defence plus Russian Cruise Missile Threat

The conclusion of a November 14 presentation by CGAI Senior Analyst Dave Perry to the Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defence (the sort of serious discussion of broad defence issues we rarely see reflected in our media with their focus on procurement and scandal, real or potential):


With respect the Canada’s ability to counter possible air or space based threats to Canada, I think we do face some operational capability gaps.

Ballistic Missiles

Canada has no defence whatsoever against ballistic missiles. North Korea has been developing this technology for several years and is now working to launch these missiles from their submarines. While the United States has developed, a Ground Based, Mid-Course Defence against these missiles, and previously asked Canada to participate in that system, Canada declined to do so, and has subsequently never formally revisited that decision. This decision should be revisited. We should discuss the possibility of Canada joining Ballistic Missile Defence with the Americans, and if the terms are favourable, formally join.

Russian Air and Sea-Launched Cruise Missiles

The Russian military has significantly upgraded its air and naval forces in recent years and continues to do so. Over the last two years, the Russians have demonstrated this new equipment’s effectiveness as well as their willingness to use it to advance their own interests.

Russian forces successfully employed in Syria a new class of sophisticated conventional air and sea launched cruise missiles that have greatly enhanced range, are difficult to observe and are capable of precision targeting. Three aspects of this development are problematic. First, these weapons come in both nuclear and conventional variants. Second, they can be carried by Russian Long Range Patrol Aircraft and their newest and most capable submarines. Third, because of the increased distances at which these new missiles can successfully hit targets and their low observability characteristics, the current arrangements for defending North America, based on NORAD and the North Warning System, must be upgraded to counter them effectively [see “The Bear’s Bears: New NORAD Radars for Canadian North…“].

Because of this increased Russian activity around North America, we also need to enhance our ability to know what it happening in all three of our coastal approaches, and especially in the Canadian arctic. Since 2007 the Russians have conducted long range aviation patrols towards Canada’s Arctic airspace, and done so in ways that indicate an inclination on their part to link this activity to strategic confrontations with Canada elsewhere in the world. Similarly Russian submarine patrols in the Atlantic have recently reached levels not seen since the Cold War. We therefore need an expanded mix of air and space based Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance platforms [see “RADARSAT Constellation: New Canadian Satellites and Maritime, Arctic Surveillance, Part 2“].

As well, we need to maintain our ability to respond to aerial threats to North America. As Russia continues to modernize its air forces, this will require Canada to keep pace with improvements in Russian technology. As such, we need to move quickly to purchase a fleet of fighter aircraft capable of detecting the most modern Russian aircraft and sharing that information with the rest of the North American defence system [emphasis added, i.e. the F-35 which would be most compatible with the USAF]…

Very relevant:

NORAD and Russian Cruise Nukes: “de-escalation”?

US Worrying Seriously About Russian Cruise Missiles

NORAD Note: Russian Bomber (with cruise missiles) Strikes in Syria

USN “Admiral Warns: Russian Subs Waging Cold War-Style ‘Battle of the Atlantic’”–and RCN?

NORAD and Russian Cruise Nukes: “de-escalation”? Part 2

Canada Should Just Say “Yes” to Missile Defence, Cont’d (plus Russian cruise missile threat)

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – RCAF and F-35: New Fighter Requirements, NORAD and Overseas

A Canadian Global Affairs Institute tweet of a pro-F-35 piece:

But see from 2014:

F-35 and Canada: Good for “Discretionary” Missions, But…

…its “capabilities…are not a good fit for Canada’s non-discretionary missions.” So writes (near end of link) a recently retired RCAF major-general…

Recent and very relevant, note further links:

F-35 JPO PEO Goes to Ottawa

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – RCAF Chinook Helos for UN Peacekeeping Mali? Canadian Army?

Further to these posts,

Canadian UN Peacekeeping in Mali? RCAF Helicopters?

Africa: UN’s CAR MINUSCA Mission to be Canadian Forces’ Schwerpunkt?

a Canadian Forces’ operation in Mali is looking ever more likely. Besides CH-147F transport helos will some armed CH-146 Griffons be sent? Though not attack helicopters, they could certainly provide fire support for today’s killer peacekeeping (more here on that)–but how off-putting might such a quasi-combat role be for our government? And will there be a significant Army contingent? Remember the government has committed to supplying some 600 Forces’ personnel to the UN:

Sajjan heads to Mali, Germans consider attack helicopters, Canada might provide Chinooks

There are reports in the German media that the country’s military is looking at providing Tiger attack helicopters [see here] to accompany RCAF Chinooks for an upcoming mission in Mali.

But the Liberal government says it still has to decide on whether those Chinooks, based in Petawawa, Ontario, – or any other units for that matter – would be heading to a mission in Africa.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Press is reporting [story here] that Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan will travel to Mali and Senegal later this week as the Liberal government considers where to send hundreds of Canadian peacekeepers.

International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau visited Mali in September. Sajjan visited the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania.

In September, the Canadian government sent a team to Mali to do a reconnaissance mission for a potential UN operation in that country. The reconnaissance team included members of the Canadian military, Global Affairs Canada and the RCMP.

The UN mission currently involves around 10,000 military personnel taking part in an effort to stabilize Mali [MINUSMA, website here]. Various armed groups, including Islamic insurgents, have been conducting sporadic attacks in that country. The UN plans to boost the mission by around 2,500 personnel.

The UN has also made it known it would like attack helicopters and transport helicopters to fill the void left by the withdraw of Dutch Chinooks and Apaches [attack helos] from Mali.

“We have decided to continue the Mali mission, but with a reduced capacity,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told reporters Oct. 7. “Dutch helicopters will be withdrawn.”

Sajjan has said that by the end of the year the government expects to make its decision on the next peacekeeping mission. But in his interview with the Canadian Press, he appeared to retreat somewhat on his previous statements. “We need to go into this eyes wide open,” Sajjan said. “So based on that, I have not set a deadline as I want to make sure that we do all the necessary work, so that we can have the meaningful impact.”

The French would certainly welcome as large a Canadian contribution as possible, as would the UN.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds