Thursday, February 19, 2015

HMCS Toronto to receive US Navy Meritorious Unit Award

HMCS Toronto after returning from OP REASSURANCE in Jan 2015. Photo: CF Combat Camera, L/S Dan Bard. 

The top US Navy Admiral will present a US Navy Meritorious Unit Award to HMCS Toronto on February 20 2015.

Admiral Johnathan Greenert, will present the award to HMCS Toronto in Halifax, Nova Scotia on the 20th.

A Non-US naval force receiving this US Navy decoration is a rarity, and this marks only the 5th time such an instance has occurred in the past 45 years.

HMCS Toronto was part of Combined Task Force (CTF) 150, and provided continued support to the US lead operation in disrupting the flow of drugs, criminal activity, and terrorist activities in the US Central Command Area of responsibility.

Among the long list of accomplishments during HMCS Toronto's deployment which began back in February 2013, was seizing 6 caches of illegals drugs, including 1300 kilograms of heroin and 6 tons of hasish.

Original News Release:

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

CAF Upgrades Leopard-2 Tanks for Germany

It was in April 2007 that the CAF agreed to purchase/lease 120 Leopard-2 Tanks from Germany and the Netherlands. At the time, the purchase of the second-hand tanks and shipping them to Afghanistan from Europe, was cheaper than shipping the ones Canada owned back in Canada.

Part of the purchase/lease deal, Canada would upgrade 20 of the the tanks and return a number of them to Germany. These tanks were under a government-to-government use agreement and used for direct support operations while in Afghanistan.

The first upgraded tanks began to arrive in Germany in December and other are to follow very soon. The upgrades where completed by the original Leopard-2 manufacturer, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann.

Desert conditions have a way of deteriorating military equipment, and to be able to return the leased Leopard's in the same quality as they borrowed them, Canada agreed to pay for the work to convert the tanks into serviceable condition.

Some may ask why we are paying to upgrade and not just ensure they are in 100% operating condition - Germany paid to upgrade the Leopard-2 A6M tanks to the A7 variant before lending them to Canada in order to better support Canadian troops while in Afghanistan. Canada agreed to complete further upgrades once they finished using the tanks.

The upgrades Canada has paid for include:

  • auxiliary power units to help cool the turret and crew and ensure operations continue with the main engine running. 
  • A new drivers hatch
  • All-electric turret control equipment 
  • Modifications to fire fuse-programmable high explosives (use against Bunkers and fortifications) 
Original Source: Ottawa Citizen 
15 October 2010
Panjwa'i District, Afghanistan

A Leopard 2A6M Main Battle Tank from The Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) and part of the 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group, provides over-watch during recent operations in the volatile Panjwa’i and Zhari Districts of Kandahar Province. The sheer size and firepower of the Leopard 2A6M Main Battle Tank makes it a formidable force and a huge deterrent to enemy insurgents. 

In close cooperation with Afghan National Security Forces, 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group provides security by conducting counter-insurgency operations throughout Panjwa’i District located south-west of Kandahar City. The Battle Group conducts partnered operations with the 2nd Kandak of the 1st Brigade, 205 Corps of the Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police and the Panjwa’i District Governor in order to advance governance, reconstruction and security in the area.

Operation ATHENA is Canada’
A Canadian Leopard A6M tank in Panjwa'i District Afghanistan in October 2010. Photo: DND Combat Camera

Canada in Iraq - CF-18s Bomb ISIS IED Factory

DND Released this afternoon that RCAF CF-18's bombed an ISIS Improvised Explosive Device factory on February 13 2015 near Hit, Iraq.

A RCAF CC-130 Polaris refuels an RAAF (Australian Air Force) Super Hornet F/A-18 on Feb 13 2015. Photo: CF Combat Camera DND

CAF and Exercise Unified Resolve

DND released information yesterday on Exercise UNIFIED RESOLVE 2015, which is taking place in Valcartier, Quebec, home of 5 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group.

Approximately 550 Members of the 2nd Canadian Division (all part of 5 CMBG) and part of 2 CMBG (Petawawa) along with British Army Troops are training in Simulated environments as part of UNIFIED RESOLVE 2015.

The exercise is running from February 10 through February 27 2015. It is a key step in the training cycle and Road to High Readiness, part of the CAF's policy.

The training is specific to helping train command and control capabilities of an Army Brigade. Participants are using computer-generated scenarios which simulate realistic and complex situations including attacks and mobile defense.

The original release can be read here:

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Updated: RCN Seeks Supply Vessel Lease

Originally Published Feb 15, 2015
Updated: May 24, 2015

So with Canada's plan for a new fleet of Navy Vessels still on the drawing board, while more and more of its ships are forced into retirement, including the last of its supply vessels earlier this year, Canada will not have to lease the missing pieces it requires to operate the Royal Canadian Navy efficiently. The replacement fleet will not be ready until 2021 at the earliest.

The Government of Canada will look at domestic or international companies to lease commercial vessels that can act as resupply ships so the RCN can resupply warships at sea.

Originally the government intended to purchase surplus US Navy ships but that is likely no longer an option based on the cost and the low availability of the surplus ships.

There are specific requirements the commercial supply ships must meet - but the most important according to DND is that they must be able to refuel vessels at sea and moving.

The US Navy has kindly offered assistance, and the RCN is working to better coordinate the movement of its ships to be within US Supply range when needed - but that convenience also has a cost. Just think of the increased cost of goods when you visit a convenience store.

This solution is limited, because the RCN is not always operating within range of the US ships, and then must put the burden on other Allies in the region.

The Navy will not operate these leased vessels, they would be run by commercial crews, but with Navy personnel managing the communications equipment and the refuelling/restocking systems.

Canada has selected the German Navy's Berlin-class design for its new supply ships, which as more than 20,000 tons and 600 feet long. They will carry two helicopters and medical facilities, but they will not be complete until 2020 and not operational until 2021.

On Friday May 22, 2015, DND released hints that the Government of Canada will most likely announce this coming week that they are seeking commercial ships to fill the void left by HMCS Preserver  and HMCS Protecteur. The commercial tanker ships will require modification to fit the needs of the Royal Canadian Navy - a process that will be expedited by removing equipment that is still usable (and parts are still available) from the two retired supply ships.

The lease or purchase of two commercial ships would allow for the Navy to at least be refuelled at sea - something that it currently is relying on its Allies in deployment regions for. Naval supply ships allows a Navy to operate for upwards of six months without heading into a port for supplies and fuel. It also helps ships when working out of a battle group, or in a region of the world where allied ports are unavailable.

The Conservative government is taking heat over its "Made in Canada" rebuild of the Navy. While the process will create jobs, it will also likely run over budget and be delayed. This is because there is no large ship building firms in Canada. No corporate memory for such projects. Critics point to the United Kingdom who are acquiring four commercial supply ships for the Royal Navy from South Korea - at a much cheaper cost than the Queenston-Class ships Canada is planning on building. (And they are getting four vessels not three as planned in Canada)

Norway is planning a similar purchase. The release states that several companies have already come forward with options for the Navy's supply vessel problem.

Original Source: Defence News