Thursday, September 24, 2015

HMCS Nanaimo Celebrates Achievement in Arctic

While OP NANOOK 2015 has been done now for nearly a month, one of the Royal Canadian Navy ships that took part deserves a Kudos! shout out.

The HMCS Nanaimo made the 3,875 nautical mile journey from its home port of CFB Esquimalt to Nunavut. In doing so, Nanaimo became the first RCN West Coast vessel to sail past the Arctic Circle since 1949; and also became the first RCN vessel to sail in all three territorial Oceans during its seven week deployment.
HMCS Nanaimo sailing off the coast of California; part of RIMPAC Exercise 2014. Photo: US Navy 

Nanaimo worked with the US Coast Guard in a number of training activities, and also visited several northern communities along its route. Most notably, it visited the village of Ulukhaktok for a Community Day - and hosted 90 locals on board the ship; nearly 20% of the local population. This visit marked the farthest east any Canadian Pacific fleet ship has ever deployed in the Arctic.

So a huge Kudos to the crew of HMCS Nanaimo for their exceptional journey from Coast to Coast - Literally!

Fixed-Wing SAR Bids Extended

The search for a new fixed-wing SAR aircraft for the RCAF has been delayed again... this time at the request of the 'industry' who asked for more time to prepare their bids.

The RCAF has been looking to replace its fixed-wing Buffalo aircraft, which were purchased in 1967, since 2004. The bidding process has been started and postponed several since since then. Bids we originally due September 28, 2015, with a contract to be awarded at some point in 2016, and deliveries taking place by 2023.

According to the Ottawa Citizen, the RCAF have extended the bidding process to January 11, 2016 at the request of the industry. The RCAF did not say which companies have asked for the extension. Earlier this year Lockheed-Martin was concerned their C-130J Super Hercules was too large to fit the requirements of the RCAF FWSAR program, and considered not bidding - so perhaps the extension is being granted for Lockheed-Martin if they choose to bid anyway. Boeing-Bell have announced that they will not bid with the V-22 Osprey, even though they believe it is the best suited for SAR.

Several companies have been interested in the contract, and have been ready for several years, just waiting for an opportunity to bid.  To see which companies are expected to bid, please see my original post when the bidding process was re-opened earlier this year. RCAF Hopeful for New SAR

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

France announces sale of Mistral-Class ships to Egypt

Earlier this week news came out that Canada had been actively persuing the purchase of the two Mistral-Class Heli-Carriers from France for the Royal Canadian Navy. These vessels, once converted to Canadian Navy standards could have been thhe backbone to humanitarian missions around the word for the next thirty to forty years. That will not happen now.
France announced today that they have come to terms with Egypt to sell the two warships. This deal comes a little more than 6 weeks after France finalized the repayment of $1.2 Billion Euro deal with Russia, after the West entered a Cold War like standoff with Russia over the Ukraine last year.

As the warships are being sold to Egypt, a close ally of both Russia and the West, the Russian technology that was installed on the two Mistral's will most likely be left aboard the ships. This technology would have been removed if they were sold to a NATO member, like Canada.

So the Royal Canadian Navy will continue to suffer waiting for its Canadian Surface Combatant Fleet, which are not yet fully designed, and not set to be in the water before the mid to late 2020s.
This would have been a huge bargain for the RCN, and it missed out because of the early call for the 2015 Election.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

RCN Expecting to Receive Fewer Ships than Promised

The procurement of new ships for the Royal Canadian Navy dates back to 2007, when the initial replacement program was announced. The problem with that program is its fixed budget.

The Navy announced a $26 Billion fund to build 15 new surface vessels for the navy - the problem is the budget is fixed. Due to inflation, the Navy is losing about $1 Million/Day of that.

What does that $1 million loss per day do to the plan? It limits the number of ships the Navy can build.

The original announcement called for 15 new surface vessels for the RCN, now it is estimated that they will only get 8 to 10. Those will only happen if building starts soon - or the number will continue to shrink.

HMCS Winnipeg as part of OP REASSURANCE July 2015. Photo: CF Combat Camera
To get the original 15, the Canadian Surface Combatant Fleet will run over budget - and the program is at risk of doing so just to get the 8 to 10 ships it can currently afford.  Liberal leader Justin Trudeau says he will cancel the F-35 program and spend the extra money on the Navy - which is in desperate need of more money.

Canada in Iraq: August 2015 Airstrikes

With the 2015 Election ongoing, and less media attention following OP IMPACT, my coverage has also dwindled, and is a little out of date.

Here are the August 2015 airstrikes undertaken by RCAF CF-18s in Iraq. No strikes in Syria.

Information from

Monday, September 21, 2015

Harper Claims F-35s Needed to Defeat ISIS

Over the weekend the F-35 debate was brought into the 2015 Canadian election. Justin Trudeau said that the Liberal Party would scrap the plan to purchase the JSF F-35; whose budget continues to go overboard, and continues to prove not to be the aircraft it claims. The NDP have said they would reopen the bidding process, and if the F-35 wins that process, than it is fair game.

Prime Minister Stephen Haper shot back at the Liberals by saying Canada needs the F-35 to defeat ISIS, and replace the aging CF-18 Hornets that are currently being used against ISIS. (Lets rewind about a year) What happened to the Government shelving the replacement of the CF-18s until a later date, and committing to spend the hundreds of millions to upgrade them to fly until at least 2025? Obviously Harper is back peddling yet again...and his statement that the F-35s are needed to defeat ISIS is ridiculous.

Why is it ridiculous? There are NO F-35s currently deployed by any coalition member against ISIS. The F-22's have only just deployed on their first combat support roles in both Eastern Europe and Iraq/Syria. So how can one claim the F-35s are needed to defeat ISIS? Also, if the life extension of the CF-18s will allow them to fly until well past 2025, will we still be fighting ISIS in 10 years? If so, maybe that is the bigger problem.

If the Americans (or any other ally who has already agreed to purchase the JSF) were using the F-35s against ISIS with a higher success rate than our CF-18s then I could potentially agree - but there are none deployed.

For a list of coalition aircraft currently involved against ISIS, please see my previous post "Continue to Support Air Task Force Iraq"

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Canada was Actively Pursuing Mistral Purchase

A recent report to the Canadian Press the Canadian Government was actively pursuing a purchase of the French built Mistral class helicopter carriers. The plan has been put on hold due to the election.

This 'hold' puts the Royal Canadian Navy in a tough spot - as it might lose an opportunity to bid officially on the Mistral ships, as France has begin taking bids from other interested parties for the 220,000 ton ships.

According to the Canadian Press, Canada has been seriously negotiating at a political level with the French with regards to the two Mistral ships originally built for Russia.

The source spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter said that Conservative Minister of Defence Jason Kenney was actively engaged in sounding out the French. This also included a face-to-face exchange at the most recent NATO meeting in June. This has all stopped now since the Election Call.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Singapore have all expressed interest in the two Mistral ships. Canada has long been short listed by many nations as a potential buyer. The issue was France was not able to take monetary bids until the issue with Russia was officially settled. Now that has happened, France can start receiving bids - and Canada is in an Election.

The Two mistrals can sell for anywhere from $1.6 to $1.9 billion - and would then need hundreds of millions of dollars for upgrades to bring them in line with the Royal Canadian Navy Standards. The problem is Egypt and Saudi Arabia are extremely interested and considered in the running to buy them very shortly.

While the Mistrals are technically Heli-carriers, the French Navy has exclusively used theirs for humanitarian and evacuation missions since 2006. This is something the RCN could clearly use. The Mistrals are capable of carrying 16 helicopters, 59 armoured vehicles, and 450 troops (inclusive of its crew).

The Mistral class ships saga continues. What is clear is the Conservative Government has made a serious pitch to the French Government, and has allowed the French shipyard DCNS to set up an office in Ottawa, as they want to be part of the RCN frigate replacement program. Maybe that will be enough for France to hold off selling the Mistrals, and wait for Canada to say yes.