Friday, June 19, 2015

First 6 of 28 CH-148 Cyclones Delivered...sort of

Defence Minister Kenney announced the RCAF's acceptance of the first 6 CH-148 Cyclones in Halifax.
(Photo: Canadian Press)

The RCAF has officially accepted delivery of 6 of the ordered 28 CH-148 Cyclone helicopters, however they are not 100% operational. That will come with further upgrades as more aircraft are delivered. 

The next batch of helicopters will be delivered in 2018, but they too will not be 100% operational, that will not come until the final deliveries are expected in 2021. A full 10 years after the project was supposed to be complete. 

Reports released yesterday are now saying the RCAF is already worried about the amount of engine power the Cyclone is capable of producing. Stating that it produces less than the Operational Requirements called for in a replacement for the Seaking helicopters. Sikoski says the aircraft will be able to do more as upgrades become available. 

So, despite the fact that the RCAF now has 6 new helicopters in its inventory - many are left wondering, was the delivery of helicopters political? How could it not be - why accept helicopters that are not 100% operational to the requirements established in the contract? Oh right...there is an election in October. 

Fingers crossed the RCAF doesn't begin retiring the Seakings before the Cyclones are 100% operational, or SAR may take a hit in Canada. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

RCAF to start to receive CH-148 Cyclone

The government of Canada will announce Friday, June 19, 2015 at CFB Shearwater that the RCAF will begin to accept delivery of the CH-148 Cyclone helicopters built by Sikorsky.

Not all 28 helicopters will be delivered at once, and the delivery schedule has not been completely released. It is also important to note that those that are delivered will not be 100% functional - that will happen with upgrades to systems as other aircraft are delivered.

The CH-148 is set to replace the CH-124 Seaking Helicopter's that are retiring.

The entire project has been plagued by politics; started in 2004 by the Liberal government the project fell apart - and the Conservatives renegotiated with Sikosky, who paid penalties, has also agreed to a $115 Million for future upgrades. The Liberals remain attimant that the program fell apart under the watch of the Conservatives when they took power in 2006. The RCAF was supposed to take full delivery of the 28 CH-148 Cyclones by 2011. It is now 2015, and the first deliveries are taking place.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

HMCS Goose Bay departs on mission to St. Laurence Sea Way

On June 15, 2015 - HMCS Goose Bay departed Halifax for a 5-week mission in the St. Laurence Sea Way.

The mission will focus on helping maintain a high level of crew readiness and proficiency in a large number of tasks. It will also provide a highly visible military presence in Canadian waters.

HMCS Goose Bay will also visit Sageunay, Quebec, the Port of Chicoutimi, support the Bagotville International Air Show, and stop in Montreal to represent the Royal Canadian Navy at Con Forza.

HMCS Goose Bay is crewed by both Regular and Reserve CAF members for this operation.

File photo: HMCS Goose Bay (707) 

HMCS Whitehorse Assists Pleasure craft off of B.C

Late last week, HMCS Whitehorse responded to a distress call from the Amora Mia, a 75-foot pleasure craft on June 10, 2015.

The Amora Mia was adrift without propulsion after a reported engine room fire. The four crew of the Amora Mia were brought aboard HMCS Whitehorse for safety reasons.

HMCS Whitehorse was conducting coastal operations, including surveillance off the coast of BC when it responded. The Joint Rescue Coordination Center (JRCC) Victoria was also included in the operation. HMCS Whitehorse towed Amora Mia to Port McNeill, where it was handed over to an inshore rescue boat.

CAF active in Belize

As of yesterday, the CAF is active in Belize, as part of Exercise TRADEWINDS-15 phase II. TRADEWINDS is a US led multinational exercise which takes place each year in the Caribbean. This years exercise started in St. Kitts & Nevis in May, and has moved to Belize for phase II, which began June 15, 2015 and runs to June 24, 2015.

The CAF's contribution includes both the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Army; both of which are leading and participating in land, and sea-based training.

During phase II, HMCS Glace Bay will participate in a multinational task group, whose focus will be on practising tactics in tracking, intercepting and boarding suspect vessels.

A 14 member CAF dive team from Fleet Diving Unit (Atlantic) will be working with the Belize Coast Guard and the Mexican Navy in diving tactics. Teams will conduct hull search, bottom search and recovery, and practice evidence site contamination.

The Canadian Army has 37 members participating, mainly from 2nd Battalion 2 RCR, Gagetown. 17 members will be leading a live-fire range and a simulated Urban Operations training for members of the 17 participating nations involved in TRADEWINDS.

20 Infantry and 1 Medical Officer are participating in Jungle Training, which is being led by the Belize Defence Force. They will be learning navigation (while in a canopied terrain), and how to survive in a challenging environment. While 2 members are working in Command and Control mentorship in the Joint Operations Headquarters.
Information in this article is taken directly from a DND press release, put together by Captain Carrie Pluck, a Public Affairs Officer with the CAF.

Canada in Iraq: RCAF CF-18's Target ISIS near Mosul

DND announced today that yesterday, June 16, 2015, two CF-18 fighter jets, while taking part in coalition operations in support of Iraqi ground troops successfully targeted an ISIS fighting position North East of Mosul.

No further details were released.

As of June 15, 2015 - Air Task Force Iraq has completed 1,054 sorties.
An RCAF flight technician watches a CF-18 during pre-flight inspection at Camp Patrice Vincent, Kuwait. June 11, 2015. Photo: CF Combat Camera, OP IMPACT, DND

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Fuel Leak on HMCS Winnipeg - Contaminates Food

HMCS Winnipeg just recently left port for a 9 Month deployment to OP REASSURANCE, and a fuel leak over the weekend, has left the crew scrambling to find new supplies before the vessel deployed.

The value of the contaminated food stands at around $65,000 according to DND. The break down according to the Navy, $48,000 in dry goods, and $17,000 in beverages had to be destroyed. The Navy says a valve allowed 7,000 litres of fuel to leak into a storage department, contaminating all food inside.

Supplies from other Vessels in Halifax were transferred or purchased for the Winnipeg and crews helped remove the goods and repaint the storage room, so the ship could depart on time.

Predator C 'Avenger' for the RCAF? A Possibility

As the RCAF restarts its search for unmanned aerial surveillance vehicles, General Atomics, a US based company that builds the Predator drones is very interested in bidding on the project.

The RCAF and Canadian Government expect a contract to be awarded by 2019 for the program they have named JUSTAS (Joint Unmanned Surveillance Targeting and Acquisition System).

General Atomics had previously announced that it would offer Canada the Predator 'B' propeller driven drone - however it will not meet all the program requirements for the JUSTAS bid - so now it says it will also offer the Predator C 'Avenger' which is jet powered.

General Atomics Predator C 'Avenger' - Proposed as part of the RCAF's JUSTAS program

General Atomics says the Avenger is powerful enough to fly through the jet stream where required, and will have a high level of operability in the Arctic regions of Canada, while the Predator 'B' can be used in other jurisdictions, both the 'B' and 'C' are NATO compatible, so Canada would be able to use them interchangeably on international operations.

Monday, June 15, 2015

HMCS Winnipeg Deploying on OP REASSURANCE

HMCS Winnipeg deployed today for a 9 month mission throughout the Mediterranean and Black Sea as part of OP REASSURANCE, as a member of NATOs Standing Maritime Forces.

HMCS Winnipeg will replace HMCS Fredericton, which has been deployed in the region since January 2015.

255 Sailors and Air Crew aboard the Winnipeg will spend the next nine months promoting security and stability in Central and Eastern Europe.

RCAF continues Airstrikes in Iraq against ISIS

The RCAF has continued its increase in airstrikes in Iraq against ISIS militants.

On June 11, 2015, Two RCAF CF-18's successfully targeted an ISIS fighting position Northwest of Tal Afar.

On June 12, 2015, two CF-18's successfully struck an ISIS fighting position in the vicinity of Mosul.

And, on June 14, 2015, two CF-18's struck three ISIS fighting positions throughout the day. One was West of Kirkut; one Northwest of Tal Afar' and one Northwest of Mosul.

Lockheed Martin C-130J to too large for RCAF FWSAR?

Bids for the replacement of the RCAF's 40 year old Buffalo fixed wing search and rescue (FWSAR) aircraft are due in September 2015, and Lockheed Martin has not yet decided whether or not to offer a bid on the project.

Alenia (offering their C-27J Spartan) and Airbus (offering their C295) are both keen to have their bids for the project. Both have been advertising their perspective aircraft for years to industry experts.

It is not because of the two competitors that Lockheed Martin might not bid, but the size of their C-130J Hercules aircraft.  Lockheed Martin is currently going over the 4,000 page request from the Canadian Government and the RCAF for operational requirements.

Many inside Lockheed Martin feel the size of the C-130J will disqualify it from the competition, and when millions of dollars go into investing in a competition, one wants their aircraft to have a legitimate change at winning the bid. Both the C-27J Spartan and C295 are considerably smaller aircraft, which would give them a higher level of manoeuvrability in the mountainous regions of Canada where the FWSAR would be expected to operate.

So, at the moment, Lockheed Martin, has not yet decided to enter a bid into the FWSAR project.