Friday, October 16, 2015

RCN In Talks To Lease Spanish AOR in 2016

By David Pugliese and Esteban Villarejo of 

Spain and Canada are negotiating a mutual logistic arrangement (MLSA) to deploy a Spanish replenishment ship with the Canadian fleet in the North Atlantic, both navies confirmed.

The ship deployed "during some periods of 2016" could be the auxiliary oiler and replenishment ship (AOR) Cantabria or Patiño, Spanish Navy sources said. The logistic arrangement is "to cover the Canadian navy's temporary need of logistic support vessels."

The Spanih AOR Cantabria Photo: Spanish Navy

The Cantabria or Patiño would support training for the Royal Canadian Navy’s Atlantic fleet starting in January. "No end date for the use of that support ship has been established," said Royal Canadian Navy spokeswoman Lt. Linda Coleman. “Negotiations are still ongoing and the MLSA is not yet finalized.”

But starting on Oct. 18, Royal Canadian Navy sailors will be serving on the Spanish Navy supply ship Cantabria. Navy spokesman Lt. Len Hickey said 28 sailors will be on the ship to conduct training during NATO's TRIDENT JUNCTURE 15 exercise. Hickey said the training is focused on replenishment-at-sea activities as well as familiarity of engineering systems on the ship. The Canadians will be on the ship until Nov. 10, Hickey said.

The Spanish AOR Cantabria deployed with the Royal Australian Navy in 2013. The government of Australia paid the expenses of that deployment during the year. The Spanish Ministry of Defense is expected to reach a similar arrangement with the Royal Canadian Navy.

This year Canada selected the German Navy's Berlin-class design to replace its two Protecteur-class supply ships, which have been removed from service.

Project Resolve: Navy Isn't Interested in 2nd iAOR

With Project Resolve now fully underway, and an official agreement reached between Davie Shipbuilding and the Government of Canada, the conversion of the Asterix boxship into an Navy AOR is taking place. The Asterix will be ready by summer 2017, and will serve as the Royal Canadian Navy's main AOR until the Queenston-Class AORs (based on the Berlin-Class) arrive sometime between 2020-2021.

Yesterday, Davie made an offer to the Navy to convert a second boxship for the Navy - a sister ship to the Asterix could be converted, and be ready for service by 2018 according to Davie.

The Royal Canadian Navy is not interested. Instead they will lease a Chilean AOR and a Spanish AOR for training purposes throughout 2016.

This almost immediate refusal of the offer comes with the question why not? The lease agreements with Davie could save the RCN money, and when the conversions only cost $400 million - less than half the cost of building an AOR (estimated to be around $1 Billion) Why would the Navy not agree to the solution? Even once the Asterix is ready, the Navy will only have one AOR; therefore one coast will be without the AOR services, unless a foreign AOR is also leased - so why not lease domestically?

Maybe a new government on October 20th will convince the Navy that this is a good deal, and should take the offer. Give jobs to Canadians.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

RCAF Doesn't Like To Admit it flew Russian Mil-17-V5s

Updated: March 2018

While Air Task Force Afghanistan stood down in August 2011, there is a part of its history that seems to have been forgotten...perhaps deliberately. The part that was forgotten...that the RCAF operated Russian Mil-17 helicopters.

Almost immediately in Canada's deployment to Afghanistan, the CAF realized that it was missing the medium-heavy lift helicopter its NATO allies had. A large percentage of casualties in Afghanistan to the ISAF forces came from IEDs. One way to deploy troops to a location and avoid IEDs along the way was through strategic medium lift helicopters. Canada did not possess such a capability - having only deployed our CH-146 Griffon escort helicopters.

Then CDS Gen. Rick Hillier called for the Conservative Government to look at acquiring a medium-heavy lift helicopter to carry troops and supplies into combat zones in Afghanistan. A modernized CAF would require such a capability for all future deployments. The government agreed, and the search was on.

Almost immediately, the then Minister of Defence Peter MacKay announced that Canada would purchase the Boeing CH-47 D Chinook Helicopter. While it waited for deliveries of new helicopters, it would lease several from the US Military.

The lease agreement took some time to negotiate, and the leased CH-47's would not be immediately available - therefore Canada would need to find an interim solution.

That solution came with the Russian built Kazan Mil-17-V5 helicopters. In 2009 the Conservative cabinet quietly agreed to lease the "Hip" helicopters as NATO has code-named them for use in Afghanistan, according to a 2010 CBC news article.

The Mil-17-V5 is the export version of the Mil-8MTV-5. The cabinet agreed to lease 6 of these helicopters; of which the RCAF took delivery and operated 4, which was designated CH-178. The government was able to keep the deal quite until November 2010 when photos emerged of the Mil-17's flying in RCAF paint schemes for Afghanistan. The media began asking questions, and the government announced that in fact it was operating four of the helicopters as a stop-gap in Afghanistan, and had been since May/June of 2010.

An RCAF identified Mil-17-V5 (CH-178) operating over Afghanistan in 2010. (#178405)
The four Mil-17's operated by the RCAF were assigned serial numbers 178404-178407.

The government had previously leased 6 civilian Mil-8s from SkyLink Aviation of Toronto. SkyLink is known to lease its fleet internationally for peacekeeping, and humanitarian purposes. This lease agreement started in November of 2008. Unlike these 6 civilian Mil-8's which were operated by civilian crews under strict rules. The Mi-8s were only used to transport cargo. While the Mil-17s were fully outfitted with weaponry and flown and crewed by CAF members into combat situations.

What happened to these aircraft after their use in Kandahar? There are reports that at least 3 of the 4 Mil-17s were airlifted top Graf Ignatievo Air Base in Bulgaria in August of 2011, with the Canadian markings covered in tape.
An RCAF identified Mil-17-V5 (CH-178) operating over Afghanistan in 2010. (#178407)

The archived RCAF Air Task Force Afghanistan webpage does not even acknowledge that the RCAF flew Mil-17s. It only lists the leased civilian Mil-8s under its Canadian Helicopter Force Afghanistan.

Also, on the RCAF's webpage, under its Historical Aircaraft no Mil's are mentioned or listed at all. Some would say that this is because the aircraft we leased. But the CT-156T Harvard II and CT-155 Hawk flown Moose Jaw are listed and they are leased.

The only visible mention of the RCAF's use of the Mil-17-V5 CH-178 was odly on Twitter by the RCAF in October 2016 during one of it's quiz Tweets; where it stated that the Mil-17's were flown by 427 Special Operations Air Squadron in Afghanistan.

So is misplaced pride the reason why the RCAF and CAF do not recognize the fact that it operated Mil-17s between 2010 and 2011? Or is it the fact that the CAF swore not to fly "Russian" aircraft? Or is it the fact that these were the first Russian aircraft operated by the RCAF that they are not proud of?

Either way, the RCAF operated Russian built Mil-17-V5s designated as CH-178's in Afghanistan, and it is not recorded anywhere on the Canadian Forces webpage that they ever existed.

Women as Professional Soldiers


BY:  Drs. Stéfanie von Hlatky and Christian Leuprecht

On 30 April 2015, the government released the External Review into Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Harassment in the Canadian Armed Force, known as the Deschamps Report. This review, named after its external authority, former Supreme Court Justice Marie Deschamps, presented some challenging findings for the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). Acknowledging that sexual misconduct is not unique to the CAF, the Report emphasizes its endemic nature within the military, concluding “that there is an underlying sexualized culture in the CAF that is hostile to women and LGTBQ [Lesbian, Gay, Transsexual, Bisexual, and Queer] members, and conducive to more serious incidents of sexual harassment and assault.”1 Indeed, the external review was commissioned by then Chief of the Defence Staff, General Thomas Lawson, after victims of sexual harassment made their stories public as part of journalistic investigations featured in the Canadian magazines Maclean’s and L’Actualité. 

This was not the first sex scandal for the CAF. The military went through a similar ordeal in 1998, when incidents of sexual harassment made the news and caused public outrage. Why has the CAF been so complacent? How might the Department of National Defence focus its efforts post-Deschamps? Can Canada’s action plan restore the excellent reputation it achieved when it was among the first countries to remove all barriers to women across military trades? In response to these questions, we highlight the key factors at the domestic and international levels to understand the CAF experience with gender integration. We conclude by offering some modest suggestions. 

Women in the Military: Arguments for Greater Integration 

The integration of women in the armed forces has proven controversial, especially in the combat arms (infantry, armoured reconnaissance, artillery, engineers). There are at least three good reasons for their inclusion: institutional legitimacy in a democratic society; the functional imperative; and recruitment. 

First, the citizen-soldier ideal in democratic societies holds that military organizational culture should be in line with the expectations of Canadian society and the government: If women face no professional restrictions in other fields, the military should follow suit. A CAF that is broadly representative of Canadian society is likely to be more closely aligned with that society, which translates into greater support from taxpayers who ultimately float the armed forces and its mission. Gender diversity, then, is a proxy litmus test of civilmilitary relations: How proactive is the institution as opposed to diversifying largely in response to external pressure, such as legislative change and parajudicial adjudication? 

Second, there is a case to be made for operational effectiveness and mission success. Recent military experiences in Kosovo and Afghanistan confirm that including female teams in combat units is key to fulfilling mission objectives. For cultural reasons, reaching deep into communities and including women in political activities could not have been achieved without the presence of female soldiers. Having a man search a woman at a checkpoint would be an inconceivable contravention of cultural norms in these societies. Institutional diversity also offers operational advantages by increasing the skillsets required in postmodern society and warfare.2 Hybrid wars of the future are likely to fuel demand for more women to fulfill some of these essential military tasks. However utilitarian, such instrumental arguments make a strategic case for greater integration of women, along with minorities and other underrepresented Designated Group Members (DGMs), within the CAF.

 Finally, there is the recruitment argument. Broadening the military’s applicant pool by removing barriers to certain trades will boost recruitment efforts. More applicants mean greater competition, which should result in more qualified recruits overall. Over the course of two world wars and the Cold War, the military gradually removed restrictions on the service of women until a decision by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) in 1989 opened up all ranks and trades to women (except for submarine service, which took until 2000). Nondiscrimination legislation aside, Canada’s 1995 Employment Equity Act (EEA) actually requires federal institutions to be proactive about remedying disadvantage and under representation among DGMs: women, visible minorities, Aboriginal peoples, and persons with disabilities.

After unsuccessfully trying to negotiate exemptions to the EEA, the CAF was successful in delaying the lifting of restriction until 2002. The EEA has since resulted in the Canadian Armed Forces Employment Equity Relations, which, along with the CHRT decision, prompted the CAF to develop a methodology to establish annual recruiting targets. Still, the recruitment targets for the CAF, when compared to other security organizations, are not overly ambitious – so much so that the CAF recently altered the methodology so as to ensure that recruitment targets would not escalate. The target for women is 25.1 percent, compared to the RCMP’s target of 30 percent. Yet, the CAF falls well short of this and other DGM targets: in 2015 women make up 17 percent of officers and 13.4 percent of non-commissioned members of the Regular Force, for a total of about 14.3 percent (16.6 percent in the Reserves, for a CAF total of 15 percent). 

The delta between already conservative employment equity representation targets and actual representation rates suggest that there is room for the CAF to aim higher and do more. However, that arguably runs counter to deeply engrained premises of force cohesion and a tight institutional culture that values homogeneity and conformity. Yet, a tightening labour market due to population aging is raising the specter of stiffer competition for talent. The CAF’s functional imperative thus hinges on it becoming an employer of choice for all Canadians. 

A CAF that fails to accommodate by drawing more extensively on a more diverse recruit pool under conditions of population aging and a tightening labour market may either end up having to lower standards of recruitment – if it tries to recruit from the same yet shrinking cohort on which it has conventionally drawn – or shrinking the size of the force if it cannot find the requisite quality of recruit within its conventional yet shrinking recruit pool, neither of which are desirable. As the CAF contemplates more ambitious change, the post-Deschamps taskforce, which is mandated with implementing the core recommendations, has been looking internationally for best practices.

Benchmarking: What Are Canada’s Allies Doing?

Canada was among the first NATO allies to remove almost all professional barriers to women subsequent to the CHRT decision in 1989. Today, the CAF is actually more representative of society on a per capita basis than most NATO allies, save Hungary (20.3 percent), the United States (18 percent) and Latvia (16.5 percent), which all have more female uniformed members of their armed forces. However, allied data may not be readily comparable to Canada due to policy differentials: some countries have gender segregated roles that may affect female representation while denying men access to “feminized” occupational roles. 

The Alliance has been collecting data from each of its 28 member states through a questionnaire, the Annual National Reports to the NATO International Military Staff Office of the Gender Adviser. NATO recently enhanced data collection from its member states in the hopes of generating best practices for the Alliance on gender integration in the armed forces of NATO members.3 Comparing national legislation and policies, human resources trends, how gender is integrated in military operations, as well as sexual misconduct and harassment, NATO’s Science for Peace and Security Program – collaborating with external stakeholders and experts – concluded: (1) professional restrictions still exist for women in the  military in seven NATO member states, though all of them allow women to join the national armed forces; (2) about half of NATO’s member states support women’s integration in the military through targeted efforts by the ministry of defence; (3) over three quarters of NATO states have incorporated gender training as part of operational or pre-deployment training; (4) most if not all of NATO’s member states face significant challenges when it comes to addressing incidents of sexual misconduct and harassment.  

A non-NATO ally, Australia, has been at the forefront of establishing best practices. In 2009, the Australian Defence Force took on ambitious reforms called Pathway for Change that aimed to transform the national military culture to eliminate predatory behaviour and establish a new professional standard that is safe for all service members, regardless of gender or background. Canada has a similar opportunity with the Deschamps report and the CAF Action Plan on Inappropriate Sexual Behaviour. With Lieutenant-General Christine Whitecross at the helm of implementing this Action Plan, momentum is building to embark on an effort similar to Australia’s.  

Key to this effort will be strong ownership of the process, from the military’s top brass and all the way down, and to make the link explicit between the need for organizational culture to make policies on diversity stick and effectively change the CAF’s institutional culture. If the first few speeches by Chief of the Defence Staff, General Jonathan Vance, are any indication, he appears committed to the kind of transformative leadership that worked in the Australian Army, under their Chief, (now retired) LieutenantGeneral David Morrison.  


Within the CAF, the removal of formal restrictions to service has met with some success at improving recruitment trends outside of the military’s traditional recruit pool of rural white heterosexual males. However, these incremental improvements have been spawned by outside pressure and parajudicial intervention, be it legislative or policy change, as with the 1992 Douglas case on homosexuals in the military. By and large, then, the military has been reactionary on matters of diversity. Moreover, improvements in representation are not keeping pace with the changing demographics of Canadian society. That is, inroads on improving the recruitment and representation of women remain tepid, and the delta of diversity in Canadian society relative to representation in the CAF is actually growing. As the 1989 CHRT, multiple lawsuits, and Justice Deschamp’s 2015 report suggest, the military leadership had hitherto underestimated the extent of the equality gap and the external societal, political, and legal expectations to remedy it. 

As compared to the 1990s, the CAF no longer has retention issues among DGMs: women who opt to serve appear to be no less dis/satisfied than men. And for the first time in the history of the Royal Military College of Canada, four of the top five cadets are women. So, there is some evidence to suggest that the CAF is on a positive trajectory. Nor is there robust comparative evidence that issue of harassment and sexual assault are any more pervasive in the CAF than in other workplaces or sectors of Canadian society. However, the CAF appears to have underestimated the extent to which Canadians have higher expectations of civil servants in general, and those who serve in uniform in particular.  

Rather than lagging behind, the federal government and the CAF – as the country’s single largest institutional employer – should model employment equity to the rest of Canadian society as well as our allies. But becoming an employer of choice for all Canadians will require more than the 10 recommendations outlined in the Deschamps report. First, past precedent of the CAF’s handling of gender issues suggests that those well-intentioned efforts are bound to fizzle unless federal politicians of all political stripes commit to holding the CAF and it leadership’s feet to the fire. Second, the CAF’s institutional culture will prove difficult to change unless and until there is an unwavering commitment to improving the representation of DGMs. The CAF habitually justifies under representation by observing that apparently “they don’t want to join.” If that is, indeed, the case – we are not necessarily convinced that “they” do not want to join – then perhaps the operative question to ask is: Why would they not want to join? Finally, the CAF will fundamentally have to reassess its approach to civil-military relations. Old sergeants like to say: “We’re here to defend democracy, not to practice it.” But Canadians have been clear: the CAF’s unique mission notwithstanding, they expect the CAF to reconcile the defence of democracy with democracy’s fundamental norms and values. 

Dr. Stéfanie von Hlatky is an assistant professor of political studies at Queen’s University and the Director of the Queen’s Centre for International and Defence Policy (CIDP). Her new book, The Future of US Extended Deterrence (coedited with Andreas Wenger) analyzes US security commitments to NATO (Georgetown University Press, 2015). 

Dr. Christian Leuprecht is Professor of Political Science at the Royal Military College of Canada and Senior Fellow at the Macdonald Laurier Institute. He is crossappointed to the Department of Political Studies and the School of Policy Studies at Queen’s University where he is also a fellow of the Institute of Intergovernmental Relations and the Queen’s Centre for International and Defence Policy


Election 2015: Kenney - Conservatives to Increase CANSOFCOM

In an election promise that was made about 2 weeks ago - but went unnoticed by many - Defence Minister Jason Kenney who is running for re-election in Calgary-Midnapore announced in Regina that if the Conservatives are re-elected, they will increase the size of the Canadian Armed Forces Special Forces by 35% over the next several years.

Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 8.41.33 AM
CAF JTF2 Members in Jamaica; helpin train the Jamaican Military on counter-insurgency engagement. Photo: Ottawa Citizen December 2014
The Canadian Armed Forces Special Operations Command (CANSOFCOM) is currently made up of five units; composed of just over 1,900 personnel. The Conservatives want to increase the Special Forces community by some 665 members by 2022. 

Such a plan, according to Kenney would require $75 million over the next four years. Kenney said that the Conservatives would invest $10 million in 2016-17, increasing to $30 million in 2019-20. Once the expansion was complete, the new CANSOFCOM would require $50 million a year to maintain the troop levels. 

Increasing the Special Forces community would help the CAF meet all its operational requirements, within Canada and Internationally. "Expansion of the Special Forces units will ensure that our Armed Forces are prepared to respond to the terror threat posed by groups such as the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)," Kenney said. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

RAF "Green Lights" Attack on Hostile Russian Jets in Syria

Will the world clash over Syria? The Possibility of World War Three erupting over the Middle East just go a little scarier, as the RAF have given their pilots the green light to shoot down hostile Russian fighters in Syria.
A RAF Voyager KC2 refuels two RAF Tornado GR4 Aircraft over Iraq, March 4, 2015. Photo: USAF Staff Sgt. Perry Aston

(Below Written by Romil Patel of

As relations between the West and Russia steadily deteriorate, Royal Air Force (RAF) pilots have been given the go-ahead to shoot down Russian military jets when flying missions over Syria and Iraq, if they are endangered by them. The development comes with warnings that the UK and Russia are now "one step closer" to being at war.

RAF Tornado pilots have been instructed to avoid contact with Russian aircraft while engaged in missions for Operation Shader – the code name for the RAF's anti-Isis work in Iraq and Syria. But their aircraft have been armed with air-to-air missiles and the pilots have been given the green light to defend themselves if they are threatened by Russian pilots.

"The first thing a British pilot will do is to try to avoid a situation where an air-to-air attack is likely to occur — you avoid an area if there is Russian activity," an unidentified source from the UK's Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ) told the Sunday Times. "But if a pilot is fired on or believes he is about to be fired on, he can defend himself. We now have a situation where a single pilot, irrespective of nationality, can have a strategic impact on future events."

The RAF Tornados aircraft will be armed with heat-seeking Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missiles (Asraams, also called AIM-132 missiles). These weapons, which cost £200,000 each, can reach triple the speed of sound and have a longer range than other air-to-air missiles, allowing RAF pilots to shoot down enemy aircraft without being targeted themselves.

The Sunday Times' report quoted a defence source as saying: "Up till now RAF Tornados have been equipped with 500lb satellite-guided bombs — there has been no or little air-to-air threat. But in the last week the situation has changed. We need to respond accordingly."

"We need to protect our pilots but at the same time we're taking a step closer to war," said another source. "It will only take one plane to be shot down in an air-to-air battle and the whole landscape will change."
Russia in Syria

The move comes after Russia's entry into the civil war in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad's government forces. The US has branded Russia's involvement as "fundamentally flawed", with the Kremlin facing accusations that it is ignoring IS fighters to go after al-Assad's opponents.

According to a report in the Sunday Times, an appraisal carried out by UK defence officials said: "It took six days for Russia to strike any Isis targets at all. Their air strikes have included moderate opposition groups who have been fighting to defend their areas from Isis. Among the targets hit were three field hospitals."

In the past 24 hours Russia's Defence Ministry said that it has continued its air strikes on IS positions in Hama, Idlib, Latakia and Raqqa. It reported that the attacks resulted in the "complete destruction" of "53 fortified areas and strong points with armament and military hardware", seven ammunition depots, four field camps of "terrorists", one command centre, and artillery and mortar batteries.

On 28 September, when speaking to the US state-run Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Putin ruled out sending ground troops to Syria, saying it was "out of question".

CAF Counter-Terrorism Exercise Planned Oct. 15-16

Some 400 members of the Canadian Armed Forces will partake in a counter-terrorism exercise off the coast of Nova Scotia on October 15 & 16  2015.

The exercise, FRONTIER SENTINEL will be jointly run with the United States; will include Joint-Task Force Atlantic, and the civilian ferry Princess of Acadia which will act as a vessel of "interest."

The RCN HMCS St. John's is scheduled to be part of the exercise, which will encompass elements of the Coast Guard, RCMP, Transport Canada, and Health Canada, plus our American counterparts.

FRONTIER SENTINEL started in 2006, and works with the US Coast Guard and US Navy to practice, evaluate, and make recommendations to enhance capabilities when responding to threats to North American Maritime Security.

In this years exercise, participants will respond to a hijacking and waterborne terrorist threat in the Yarmouth area.

The CAF will have approximately 400 members involves. 150 members will be on the ground, 250 members from HMCS St. John's and the CP-140 Aurora Crew of 15.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Election 2015: Will Determine Canadian Role in F-35 Program

David Pugliese of has published the following on the F-35: 

(Written by David Pugliese)

VICTORIA, British Columbia — Whether Canada withdraws from the F-35 program will be decided next week as Canadians select a new political party to form the country’s next government.

Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau says if elected on Oct. 19, his government would remove Canada from the F-35 program and select a less costly aircraft to replace the Royal Canadian Air Force’s CF-18 fighter jets. The savings from such a move would be redirected into naval shipbuilding, according to Trudeau.

The Conservative Party, led by Stephen Harper, has been in power for nine years and would continue the country’s partner status in the F-35 program, although it has not yet committed to buying the aircraft.

The Liberals are in a hotly contested two-way race with the Conservatives, with opinion polls showing the election too close to call.

The Liberals released an 88-page election platform Oct. 5, which included some details about how it would proceed with replacing the CF-18s.

“The primary mission of our fighter aircraft should remain the defence of North America, not stealth first-strike capability,” the platform noted. “We will make investing in the Royal Canadian Navy a top priority. By purchasing more affordable alternatives to the F-35s, we will be able to invest in strengthening our Navy.”

But Harper warns that Trudeau’s plan would seriously damage Canada’s aerospace industry.

“The Liberal Party is living in a dream world if they think we could pull out of the development project of the F-35 and not lose business,” Harper told journalists Sept. 21.

Trudeau has countered that Canadian aerospace firms would receive equal or more work on a new fighter jet project that would invite bids from a variety of firms.

The other potential contenders to replace Canada’s CF-18s are the Eurofighter Typhoon, the Dassault Rafale, Boeing’s Super Hornet and Saab’s Gripen.

Thirty-three Canadian firms have active contracts on the F-35 program totaling US $637 million.

Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s undersecretary of defense for acquisition, raised questions about Harper’s claims when he told reporters Sept. 22 that Canadian firms involved in the F-35 program would likely continue to supply components.

“I believe those suppliers are part of the team, I don’t see any reason why they would not continue to be part of the team whether Canada [buys jets] or not,” Kendall said during a ceremony to celebrate the roll out of Norway’s first F-35.

“We make our decisions on participation based on best value, and if Canadian firms are still best value, then they will be part of the program.”

Alan Williams, who signed the original memorandum that brought Canada into the F-35 program in 1997, also questioned Harper's claim.

"Those Canadian companies were selected because they provided the best product at the best value," said Williams, who is the former assistant deputy minister for materiel at Canada’s Department of National Defence. "They weren't selected because they were Canadian."

Williams said holding an open competition for a CF-18 replacement would ensure Canadian aerospace firms have the best chance at obtaining work on such a project.

Lockheed Martin has not commented on Trudeau’s plan. But in the past, company representatives warned that if Canada doesn't buy the F-35, it might not continue using Canadian firms on the project.

On Sept. 25, Canadian firms involved in the F-35 program released a joint statement emphasizing the program had already created long-term high technology jobs.

The firms noted that the F-35 program could create CAN $11 billion (US $8 billion) in work for Canadian companies as well as future opportunities to be involved in supporting the aircraft.

“If Canada does not buy the F-35, these opportunities and future technological advancements, will be in jeopardy of being lost to other countries,” said the statement from the Canadian JSF Industry Group. “Current and future jobs will be lost to countries that buy the F-35.”

Although Harper supports Canada’s continued involvement in the F-35 program, he stopped short of saying the country would purchase the fighter jet.

Harper had previously committed his government to buying 65 F-35s.

But in December 2012, the Conservative government, under fire over questions about the increasing cost of the F-35 program and how the procurement process had been handled, announced it would put the acquisition on hold. The procurement process has yet to restart.

"No decision has been made on the CF-18 replacement at this point," said Conservative Party spokesman Stephen Lecce.

Harper dismissed Trudeau’s plan to provide further funding for Canadian naval programs, adding that his government has launched the largest shipbuilding program in the country’s peacetime history. But most of the projects, announced in 2006 and 2007, have been delayed and no new ships have been built.

In the meantime, the Royal Canadian Navy has taken out of service its only two supply and refueling ships as well as two of its three remaining destroyers. The ships were decommissioned because of their age as well as mechanical issues.

Trudeau said his government’s increase in funding to shipbuilding would speed up the construction process. “We are going to build the ships and prevent the kind of delays on hiring and training and investment in infrastructure in order to deliver those ships in a timely way and on budget,” Trudeau explained to journalists.

The New Democratic Party, which at one point was in a three-way tie with the Liberals and Conservatives, said if elected it would hold a competition for the CF-18 fighter replacement.

Canada in Iraq: 4 RCAF Thanksgiving Airstrikes against ISIS

This Thanksgiving Weekend, the RCAF has struck 4 ISIS positions. 

On 11 Oct 2015, while taking part in coalition operations in support of Iraqi security forces, two CF-18 Hornets successfully struck an ISIS fighting position northeast of Tal Afar using precision guided munitions.

On 10 October 2015, while taking part in coalition operations in support of Iraqi security forces, two CF-18 Hornets successfully struck two vehicle-borne Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) northeast of Ramadi using precision guided munitions.

On 10 October 2015, while taking part in coalition operations in support of Iraqi security forces, two CF-18 Hornets successfully struck an ISIS fighting position northeast of Tal Afar using precision guided munitions