Tuesday, December 20, 2016

2017 Demonstration CF-18 Revealed

The Royal Canadian Air Force has released details about the planned design for the 2017 CF-18 Demonstration Hornet.

Next year’s Demonstration Hornet will be painted to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the confederation of Canada, and will honour the history of the RCAF and Canadian Armed Forces, the RCAF noted. The image below shows the design.

The main colours are red and white, Canada’s traditional colours.

More details from the RCAF:

The official logo for Canada 150 is placed throughout the design. The logo is composed of a series of diamonds, or “celebratory gems”, arranged in the shape of the iconic maple leaf. The four diamonds at the base represent the four original provinces that formed Confederation in 1867: Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Additional diamonds extend out from the base to create nine more points. In total they symbolize Canada’s 13 provinces and territories.

On the left wing, the timespan of confederation is shown with the year of confederation, 1867, and the 150th anniversary year – 2017. The right wing bears the official name of the celebration – “Canada 150”.

US Navy Grounds all F/A-18 Super Hornets

By: David Pugliese, The Ottawa Citizen 

The U.S. Navy temporarily grounded all its Super Hornet fighter jets — the same type of plane Canada intends to purchase — after aircrew were injured in an incident last week.

A pilot and an electronic warfare officer were taken to hospital Friday after something went wrong with the canopy of their jet just before it was to take off from the naval station at Whidbey Island, Wash., some 220 kilometres south of Vancouver.

The two-seater aircraft involved was an E/A-18G, an electronic warfare plane that is a variant of the Super Hornet.

The U.S. Navy is not releasing details about the incident, but as a safety precaution it suspended flight operations for its Boeing Super Hornets and for its Boeing EA-18/G Growler jets, which are a variant of the Super Hornet.

The Liberal government intends to buy 18 of the Super Hornets as what they describe as a stop-gap measure to augment Canada’s aging fleet of CF-18 fighter jets, a measure defence minister Harjit Sajjan says is needed so Canada can fulfill its various military obligations. A competition to replace the entire CF-18 fleet will be held years later.

A search-and-resuce helicopter airlifted the pilot and the electronic warfare officer to Seattle on Friday, where they were admitted to hospital.

“We are working closely with the Navy to assist in the investigation, and our thoughts are with the aircrew and their families,” Boeing said in a statement Monday.

On Monday the U.S. Navy issued a directive that the planes have now been approved for future flight operations once individual squadrons put in place new safety and emergency measures. Some media reports, citing the navy’s safety centre, noted the closed canopy of the aircraft “exploded on flight line during normal operations.”

An investigation into the incident identified a number of different issues that likely contributed to the accident, the navy stated, but it did not provide details.

Conservative defence critic James Bezan has questioned the Super Hornet deal and the Liberal government’s claim the CF-18s need urgently to be replaced, pointing out they can operate effectively until 2025. The “Liberal suggestions that our fighters are literally on their last legs is patently false,” he added.

In June, Postmedia reported that the U.S. Navy was also trying to deal with an increase in the number of pilots reporting oxygen problems while flying Super Hornets. The problem has become so severe that a U.S. navy spokesman said it is the force’s top safety priority.

The problems with oxygen loss and depressurization, which first came to light in February, when a U.S. congressional subcommittee raised the issue. The U.S. military has since revealed that there have been dozens of “physiological episodes” since 2010 — with the rate increasing in recent years.

The issue has afflicted the U.S. Navy’s Super Hornets and its older F-18 Hornets, which are similar to Canada’s CF-18s, at an almost equal rate. While it’s believed the problem on the older planes relates to their advanced age, the issue with the newer Super Hornets is believed to be with their onboard oxygen system.

Testifying before the congressional subcommittee in February, Rear-Admiral Michael Manazir said trying to pinpoint the exact the source of the problem in the oxygen system was like “chasing a ghost.”

“We can’t figure out … whether there was a smaller oxygen content than we needed or a carbon monoxide event or poison in the gas (or) something that came off of a bearing so you’re breathing toxic air.”

Symptoms associated with hypoxia, or loss of oxygen to the body’s tissues, come on gradually. Rather than passing out right away, pilots will often feel dizzy or confused at first, as if they are drunk, before losing consciousness. That has raised fears that pilots might not recognize signs of hypoxia until it’s too late.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Canadian Special Forces to receive Ultra Light Combat Vehicles

By; David Pugliese, Defence Watch

Canada’s special forces are getting a fleet of new combat vehicles that resemble dune buggies on steroids.

The vehicles, designed with the help of NASCAR engineers, will each be able to carry up to nine commandos.

American company Polaris Industries has been awarded the $20 million contract to deliver 78 of what Canadian special forces are calling the Ultra Light Combat Vehicle, or ULCV.

Image result for DAGOR vehicle from Polaris Industries
Canadian special forces have bought the DAGOR vehicle from Polaris Industries

The first 52 vehicles will be purchased immediately and delivered in 2017, said Pierre-Alain Bujold, a spokesman for Public Services and Procurement Canada. Polaris will be providing its DAGOR vehicle to the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command, or CANSOFCOM. The additional 26 vehicles will be delivered by early 2018, Bujold said.

A weapons turret will be installed on the vehicles, and they will be used by special forces mainly for off-road operations. They can be transported by a variety of Canadian military aircraft, including Chinook helicopters and C-17 and C-130 transport planes.

Canadian special forces currently operate a fleet of U.S. built High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicles or Humvees. Those vehicles are located at Garrison Petawawa in the Ottawa Valley but can be used by various CANSOFCOM units, including the Ottawa-based Joint Task Force 2 counter-terrorism unit.

CANSOFCOM has upgraded the Humvees but wants eventually to buy replacement vehicles.

The contract with Polaris includes technical support services and integrated logistics support for two years, involving everything from spare parts to driver training.

Polaris Industries will be using the services of Black’s Corners Motorsports (BCM), from Carleton Place, Ont., for post-delivery support, Bujold said. That includes support for the life of the vehicles, repairs, the warehousing of spare parts and any warranty support as needed.

The DAGOR was designed with the help of a company that builds vehicles used in NASCAR events, and is also used by U.S. and Australian special forces.

John Olson, vice president and general manager of Polaris Government and Defence, said in a statement that the firm is “pleased to have been selected to provide our DAGOR vehicles to CANSOFCOM as this major international program award builds on our strong current domestic base.”

“We are proud to partner with Canadian government and industry to deliver this ground mobility capability and the lifecycle support to smartly sustain it,” he added.

Earlier this year, the Canadian Army bought another type of ultra-light vehicle from Polaris as well as trailers. Those vehicles are to be used by three light infantry battalions.

Sajjan: Aleppo is a Tragedy; But Canada Not Getting Involved in Syria

By: David Pugliese, National Post 

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says that though what is happening in the city of Aleppo is a tragedy, Canada will not be getting involved militarily in the Syrian civil war.

Aleppo had been under siege by Syrian government troop with support from Russian forces, leading to massive casualties and widespread destruction of the once-bustling city.

Under the terms of a new deal, up to 4,000 rebel fighters and their families will be allowed to leave parts of the city Thursday, which is now mostly under control by Syrian government forces after a four-year battle.

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“What is happening in Aleppo is tragic and it needs to change,” Sajjan told journalists Thursday on a conference call from the London, where he attended a meeting of defence ministers from the nations contributing to the war against ISIL.

But when asked whether Canada would join other nations in training moderate Syrian forces, who are fighting both the Syrian government as well as troops from the extremist Islamic State, Sajjan said the Liberal government has no plans to get involved.

“Our focus has always been in Iraq and that is our focus now,” he said. “Right now we have no plans to be militarily involved in Syria.”

Canada is contributing surveillance aircraft and a refueling plane to the coalition fighting ISIL in Iraq. It also has around 200 Canadian special forces on the ground, advising Kurdish forces involved in advance on the ISIL-held city of Mosul. Canadian special forces have taken part in the fighting, firing anti-tank missiles at ISIL forces and engaging in gun battles.

Sajjan said Canada’s involvement in the Iraq mission will continue in 2017 but there could be changes to that contribution once Mosul is retaken.

Battle for Mosul will shape Canada's ground commitment in Iraq

Canadian special forces launch a mission from a base in Erbil, Iraq, on Nov. 14, 2016
Canadian special forces launch a mission from a base in Erbil, Iraq, on Nov. 14, 2016 (Murray Brewster/CBC)
By: Murray Brewster, CBC News 

Canada will continue to have a military mission in Iraq through 2017, but the size and scope of it have yet to be determined, the country's defence minister said in advance of an international meeting with allies battling ISIS.

Defence planners have been spinning various scenarios for months, but the Liberal government committed — when it overhauled the mission against ISIS last February — to reviewing the deployment of special forces, helicopters, surveillance planes, an air-to-air refueling jet and a military field hospital.

The assessment is due by March of next year, but the last budget numbers put before Parliament have set aside only $41 million for the operation, less than one-third of what's being spent in the current budget year.

'We need to make sure that troops we have trained are up to the level where they can hold the gains they have [made].'
- Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan

Earlier in the fall, the country's operations commander, Lt.-Gen. Steve Bowes, said the military had been given orders, but its "posture is not oriented towards" an extended mission.

Asked on Wednesday whether the military commitment would continue, Sajjan told CBC News: "Absolutely."

Iraqi security forces are still involved in the battle to retake Mosul, the country's second-largest city, from deeply entrenched ISIS fighters. Iraqi forces are being aided by Canadian and allied special forces soldiers, who are providing not only advice, but covering fire.

"We need to make sure that troops we have trained are up to the level where they can hold the gains they have [made]," Sajjan told CBC News.

Whether the Kurds and the Iraqis can effectively provide security is a fundamental question and consideration, he said.

"We entered when Iraqi security forces couldn't hold the ground and do what they are supposed to do. So, the last thing you want to do is just leave without making sure you've answered that question."
Teaching new lessons

If you listen to the Kurds, whom Canadians have been training since the fall of 2014, the answer is they need a different kind of support once Mosul has been cleared of extremists.

One of the Kurdish Peshmerga commanders taking part in the battle, Brig. Adel Rash, recently made a pitch to Canada's deputy commander of special forces for specialized training in counter-insurgency warfare.

The training Canadian special forces have provided to the Kurds thus far involves traditional combat skills, not the intelligence-driven shadow warfare that characterized the decade-long combat commitment in Afghanistan.
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Most military planners, including many at the Pentagon, expect ISIS to revert to a guerrilla war once it has been driven out of Mosul.

"We are in need of training courses," Rash said in an interview with CBC News. "ISIS activity is changing towards an insurgency and we need to be prepared. We expect Canadians to play a good role."
A CH-146 Griffon lands in a field northwest of Erbil. The helicopter detachment is a recent addition to Canada's mission in Iraq. (Murray Brewster/CBC)
Government ministers from countries taking part in the campaign to defeat ISIS will get an update on where the fight could be headed at a meeting in London on Thursday.

Sajjan was asked whether he is laying groundwork within the Liberal government for an extended mission that would involve preparing the Kurds for a guerrilla war, in much the same fashion that Canada trained Afghan forces to take on the Taliban.

He left the door open to that possibility.

"The goal is always to eliminate the threat," Sajjan said. "That is the goal, but we will have to assess, at the time, what is needed."

A liberated Mosul will need police forces, reconstruction and development to get back on its feet, and those will be major considerations in the upcoming assessment, he added.

If it is any indication, military engineers recently put the finishing touches on a semi-permanent military camp in Erbil, which houses different elements of the mission.

Major construction only started in June and some barracks just opened last month at the $3.75-million centre.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

RCAF Trainign Contract Delayed until 2017

By: David Pugliese, Defence Watch 

A $1.5 billion project to train Canada’s fighter pilots, touted by the Liberal government as an example of how it is improving defence procurement, has gone off the rails.

Discovery Air Defence aircraft training with RCAF CF-18s.
Discovery Air Defence aircraft training with RCAF CF-18s. (Photo courtesy Discovery Air)
A private company was to have been selected by the end of December to provide aircraft and pilots to act as adversaries in training for Canadian fighter pilots, as well as provide planes to act as the enemy for Canadian land and naval forces.

But the Liberal government has quietly pushed the contract award date to next year, an extension that could see the deal announced as late as October.

Sources say government procurement specialists don’t have the resources to review the information from the bids on the Contracted Airborne Training Services (CATS) project and the process is still limping along.

Earlier this year Liberal government officials, including Procurement Minister Judy Foote, highlighted how CATS and other projects were benefiting from a new “win-win evaluation process.” The process was supposed to streamline and simplify defence equipment purchases.

But the Liberals have now delayed the CATS contract. Bids were submitted from various aerospace firms in February 2016 and were valid for a one-year period. That period has now been extended to Oct. 31, 2017 although there is the possibility the contract could be awarded sooner, sources say.

“We are not in a position to provide an announcement date for the awarding of the CATS contract, as we are still in the evaluation phase,” noted a statement from Public Services and Procurement Canada to the Ottawa Citizen. “The Request for Proposals, as it was initially posted in 2015, did not include a commitment to have a contract in place by December 2016.”

The Citizen, however, has obtained the tender documents from both 2015 and 2016 and they clearly state the contract is to be awarded by Dec. 2016. In addition, the Department of National Defence acquisition guide states the contract would be awarded by the end of 2016.

Earlier this year, Public Services and Procurement Canada spokesman Pierre-Alain Bujold released the following statement about CATS to the Citizen: “The evaluation, which includes aircraft inspection, is expected to take up to five months. The contract is expected to be awarded by the end of 2016.”

It is unclear why the department now claims that is not the case.

Discovery Air Defence from Montreal, Que., has been providing such services for the Canadian military since 2005. It has also expanded its operations internationally and was recently hired to do the same thing for Germany’s armed forces.

But the Canadian government wanted to open the competition up to other firms.

Two firms have publicly acknowledged they submitted bids; one from Discovery Air, the other from CAE, also from Quebec, who has allied itself with Draken, a U.S. firm.

Garry Venman, vice president of business development and government relations at Discovery Air Defence, said the company looks forward to the announcement of the winning bid and working with the Canadian government in the future. He said the firm pioneered the concept in Canada of such airborne services and is now considered a leader in the industry throughout the world.

Chris Stellwag, spokesman of CAE, said the firm is also eying potential international business for such services. “We have a bid in and we await the Canadian government’s decision,” he said.

CATS will provide aircraft to the Canadian Forces to simulate hostile threats for ground and naval forces as well as fighter pilots. The winning firm also provides aircraft to tow targets and carry electronic warfare systems for various training scenarios, according to the information supplied by Public Services and Procurement Canada to industry.

CATS will run over an initial 10-year period, followed by the option to continue for another five years.

The winning bidder is required not only to provide planes and pilots but also maintenance crews and engineering support. The Canadian government estimates that aircraft operated by the winning bidder will have to fly between 2,500 and 3,500 hours a year.

The majority of services will be provided in Victoria, BC; Cold Lake, Alta; Bagotville, Que; and Halifax, NS. Other training flights could take place outside Canada, including in the U.S. and Mexico.

Ottawa delays decision on overseas military deployment


OTTAWA—An announcement on the deployment of Canadian soldiers on an overseas peace mission has been postponed until after the holidays as Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says the government wants to take the time to “get this right.”

Sajjan said the decision — originally expected before Christmas — is taking time because of the complexity in organizing a mission that involves more than just the Defence Department but foreign affairs and development, too.

“This is a whole-of-government effort in terms of where we’re going to be doing peace operations,” he told reporters on Parliament Hill Tuesday.

“A lot of work has been done. But you know, there’s still work that needs to be done in terms of making sure that we co-ordinate and synchronize our efforts within as a government, and also within international partners as well,” Sajjan said.

The Liberal government is weighing options for the deployment of up to 600 soldiers and 150 police officers.

The Star has reported that the Canadian mission is likely headed to Mali in West Africa, where French forces and a United Nations mission are already on the ground. That mission ranks as the most deadly for the UN as peacekeepers have found themselves targeted by insurgent fighters.

“We want to make sure that we get this right. It’s a very big decision as a country when we send troops anywhere in the world. I also want to make sure that we can have the right impact,” Sajjan said.

In the Commons Tuesday, Conservative MPs pressed the Liberals to follow the example of the Dutch government, which presented its Parliament with a detailed outline of its proposed mission to Mali in 2013.

The 14-page letter given to Dutch lawmakers outlined the strategy, cost, risks, goals and challenges for that mission.

In a recent report, the Senate defence committee cited the Dutch letter and said the federal government should table a “statement of justification” containing similar facts about the upcoming Canadian mission.

On Tuesday, that call was echoed by Conservative MPs, who pressed the Liberals to be forthcoming about the deployment.

“In the Netherlands the government is open and transparent about missions of this nature. A letter explaining the minute details of the mission are shared with Parliament, and there is a debate,” said Pierre Paul-Hus.

“Will the Liberals commit to as much transparency,” said the Conservative MP (Charlesbourg — Haute-Saint-Charles).

James Bezan (Selkirk-Interlake-Eastman) demanded to know whether the Liberals will submit the proposed deployment to Parliament for debate and vote. In his response, Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion didn’t rule it out.

“It is a very serious decision. The government is considering it very seriously. We are working with our allies to see in which way Canada will fulfill its responsibility for peace in the world, and we are also considering in which way we will engage Parliament about it,” Dion told MPs.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Surge of Afghanistan veterans to test Canadian mental-health care resource

By: LES PERREAUX, Globe and Mail 

For the first time since Canada went to war in Afghanistan, the number of soldiers who served there and retired will outnumber those still in the military, a tipping point that will shift a significant mental-health care burden from the army to overstretched provinces and Veterans Affairs.

A Canadian soldier walks during a patrol at the village of Bazaar e Panjwai in Kandahar May 29, 2009. (JORGE SILVA/REUTERS)
A Canadian soldier walks during a patrol at the village of Bazaar e Panjwai in Kandahar May 29, 2009.
As of late November, 22,059 of the 40,026 military personnel who served in Afghanistan remained in the Canadian Armed Forces, according to the military. At the recent rate of retirement, the number will slip below half in 2017 and fall rapidly from there.

Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr says his department is ready for the sudden increase in volume of former soldiers with recent combat experience. Advocates and mental-health experts doubt the department’s preparedness, noting civilian patients already face long waits for mental-health treatment.

A Globe and Mail investigation into suicide by men and women who served in the Afghanistan war confirmed 71 cases up until November. Among those people, 15 had been released from the military, but advocates like Mr. Harding say many more than 15 have died this way and gone undocumented. A study of Canadian veterans using data from a 2010 survey found 6 per cent had suicidal thoughts. Other surveys have found 25 per cent have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or drug and alcohol abuse.

The Canadian Armed Forces invest heavily in the well-being of its personnel and has made progress screening, tracking and studying mental-health issues in the ranks – particularly suicide rates that seem to be growing among soldiers who fought in Afghanistan. But care shifts to overburdened provincial and territorial health-care providers as people leave the military and are no longer CAF’s responsibility. Meanwhile, Veterans Affairs still has no comprehensive system for monitoring veterans’ health.

“The day a soldier takes off the uniform, they cease to be systematically tracked,” said Brian Harding, a veterans’ advocate who is a member of Mr. Hehr’s mental-health advisory group. For several years, Mr. Harding and others have been pushing Veterans Affairs to produce data on the scope of the suicides. “Canada did not previously have a reckoning of mental-health issues among veterans in any sizable cohort in modern history. We didn’t have Vietnam. We had to deal with this fresh,” Mr. Harding said.

Veterans Affairs officials say they are in contact with 250,000 of Canada’s 600,000 military veterans, most of whom never served in Afghanistan. Under current legislation, veterans must initiate contact with the department. Veterans Affairs is setting up a system to collect statistical data on suicide among veterans from outside agencies. Details have not been released, and the first annual report is not expected until late 2017.

Veterans Affairs’ share of caring for Afghanistan combat veterans has accelerated rapidly in recent years. In 2013, only 21 per cent of soldiers who served in Afghanistan had been released. In 2016, that figure reached 45 per cent, and will pass 50 per cent by the fall of 2017.

Mr. Hehr said his department is ready. “I believe we are,” he said in a recent interview. “We understand that the people who served in Afghanistan will be coming out. We started mapping this out, that many will need mental-health support and physical support when they leave their service.”

While Veterans Affairs cannot force veterans to get help or submit to public-health tracking, he said the department must continue to improve communications. “What we have to do as Veterans Affairs Canada is say we’re open for business,” he said. “We’re here for support. But we can’t force anybody to come through our doors.”

Soldiers have a host of health advantages over veterans and other civilians, Mr. Harding said. “They have easy access to health care, better access to mental-health resources than civilians, and ready access to peer support,” he said. “They get specific training in mental resilience. Leadership is trained to watch for signs of struggle. Sick-leave benefits are excellent.”

Five veteran suicide cases examined in detail in The Globe investigation bolster the point that access to services drops when soldiers retire. The parents of retired private Tyler Hulme described how he overdosed on medication about a month after his release. He had been told it would be a four-month wait for a civilian psychiatrist in Ontario. Retired sergeant Raynald Côté did seek and receive treatment, but fell into isolation and despair with little of the peer support he had in the army.

Retired sergeant Claude Emond had a civilian psychiatrist and massage therapist. “He had services, but when he’d come back from sessions, he felt it was superficial. They didn’t understand his military background and seemed to just be checking boxes,” said his wife, Sylvie Duchesne.

Veterans Affairs provides an array of services from 1-800 crisis hotlines to education funding and mental-health treatment. The department started funding new clinics for operational stress injury in major centres in 2007. They have slowly spread across the country and are operated by provincial health authorities.

Most front-line services are provided by insurance companies, private contractors, service groups and the health ministries and social services of the provinces and territories. The system can be a bewildering tangle for vets.

Alexandra Heber, the newly appointed chief psychiatrist for Veterans Affairs, said untangling that web is one of the keys to planning for the biggest cohort of combat vets since the Korean War in the 1950s. “Over the years, we’ve had one service added on top of something else and something else. We are creating more organization for all of those services,” she said.

But Deborah Harrison, a psychologist and retired professor, has studied the effects of deployment on military families and recently co-wrote a book on military children called Growing up in Armyville. She says Canada is unprepared for the mental-health burden the war will place on provinces already short of psychiatrists, psychologists and other providers.

“We don’t always grasp how historically significant the Afghanistan deployment was,” Dr. Harrison said. “It was the longest military engagement in Canadian history. It was a very dangerous deployment and much more stressful for soldiers and families than previous deployments.

“It was known there would be casualties, but nobody was prepared for the unmeetable demands on Canada’s mental-health care system from that deployment.”

National Shipbuilding Behind Schedule

By: Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

Reports reveal construction of supply ships, polar icebreaker is behind schedule.

OTTAWA—The federal shipbuilding program has hit another setback, as government documents show more delays in the construction of the navy’s new supply ships and the Canadian Coast Guard’s highly anticipated polar icebreaker.

The delays, revealed in departmental reports recently tabled in the House of Commons, are expected to cost taxpayers as the navy and coast guard are forced to rely even more heavily on stop-gap measures to address their needs.

The two supply ships, which together will cost $2.6 billion, and the $1.3-billion polar icebreaker, dubbed the John G. Diefenbaker, are to be constructed one after the other in Vancouver by shipbuilding company Seaspan.
A replacement for the 50-year-old  icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent will be delayed until at least 2022.
A replacement for the 50-year-old icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent will be delayed until at least 2022. (JONATHAN HAYWARD / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
All three vessels are desperately needed as technical problems recently forced the navy’s two existing supply ships into early retirement, while the coast guard’s 50-year-old Louis St-Laurent heavy icebreaker was supposed to retire next year.

National Defence and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans reported last year that the first new supply ship would enter the water in 2020, while the Diefenbaker would arrive in 2021 or 2022.

But the departments’ most recent timetable says construction of the first supply ship won’t be finished until at least 2021, with completion of the Diefenbaker similarly delayed until 2022 or 2023.

When the federal government’s $35-billion national shipbuilding plan, which includes construction of new Arctic patrol vessels and a fleet of warships in Halifax, was first announced in 2010, it was expected the supply ships and icebreaker would all be finished by 2018.

National Defence spokesman Evan Koronewski blamed “challenges associated with completing the detailed design and organizing the entire supply chain” for the delay in the supply ship schedule.

Those challenges were also responsible for pushing back construction of the Diefenbaker, as work on the icebreaker can’t start until the supply ships are finished.

The federal government has already committed millions of dollars in recent years to extend the lives of the current icebreaker fleet.

But the new delays help explain why the coast guard started looking last month at whether it can lease between one and five icebreakers from the private sector for the foreseeable future.

They also mean that the navy will be forced to rely more on allies as well as a converted civilian cargo ship to provide fuel, food and other supplies to Canadian naval ships at sea.

There have been questions over the years about Seaspan’s ability to construct complex military vessels, given that its previous shipbuilding experience has largely revolved around ferries and tugboats.

The company referred questions to the government.

But defence analyst David Perry of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute suggested bad planning is to blame, as government officials were overly optimistic — or wholly unrealistic — about the shipbuilding plan’s various timelines.

“The whole enterprise is very behind schedule,” he said.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Airbus to be Awarded $2.3B Canadian FWSAR Project

By: David Pugliese, Defense News 

VICTORIA, British Columbia — Canadian Cabinet ministers will announce Dec. 8 that the Airbus C-295 has been selected as the country’s new fixed-wing search-and-rescue (SAR) aircraft, according to multiple industry sources.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and Procurement Minister Judy Foote will release the details that morning at the Royal Canadian Air Force base in Trenton, Ontario.

The deal will be worth around CAN$3 billion (US $2.3 billion) and would include long-term, in-service support.

The Airbus Defense and Space C-295 was selected over the C-27J aircraft from Leonardo (formerly Finmeccanica ), according to the industry sources.

Image result
The Airbus C295 (Photo Credit: Airbus Defence & Space)
Embraer of Brazil also bid the KC-390 for the Canadian program.

Airbus officials declined to comment, referring questions to the Canadian government.

Sajjan’s press secretary, Jordan Owens, declined to confirm any details on the contract award set for Thursday. “ ‎I can say that we look forward to giving our women and men in uniform the tools they need to continue to deliver effective search-and-rescue operations ‎,” she said.

Airbus Defence and Space has teamed with key Canadian firms for the project and other ventures on the C-295. Those include PAL Aerospace on in-service support, Pratt & Whitney Canada for engines, CAE for training and simulation, and L3 Wescam for the electro-optic sensors.

The new planes will replace the Royal Canadian Air Force’s 40-year-old Buffalo aircraft and older-model C-130s currently assigned to search-and-rescue duties.

Airbus previously said it will build a new training facility in Comox, British Columbia, if it wins the contract.

“For us, it’s a logical location for it, as there’s ready access to a variety of environments where SAR crews operate, including over the ocean, in the mountains and the North,” Michael Powell, an Airbus spokesman, said earlier this year.

The Fixed Wing Search and Rescue (FWSAR) aircraft project is divided into a contract for the acquisition of the aircraft and another contract for 20 years of in-service support.

The Air Force expects all aircraft for the FWSAR program to be delivered by 2023.

The FWSAR project originally envisioned acquiring 17 aircraft. But that has now changed and will be capability based, according to government officials. The aerospace firms submitted in their bids the numbers of aircraft they believe are needed for Canada to handle the needed SAR capability.

In the bids, the firms were required to submit prices and aircraft numbers for a fleet to operate out of four main existing bases across Canada. Information was also requested for having planes operating from three bases.

The Canadian government originally announced its intent in the spring of 2004 to buy a fleet of new fixed-wing SAR aircraft, but the purchase has been on and off ever since.

The FWSAR project was sidelined over the years by more urgent purchases of equipment for Canada’s Afghanistan mission as well as complaints made in the House of Commons by domestic aerospace firms and Airbus that the Air Force favored the C-27J aircraft for the fixed-wing SAR plane.

The Air Force strenuously denied any preference for an aircraft.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Bezan: Liberal’s fighter jet capability gap becomes a credibility gap

Conservative Party defence critic James Bezan submitted this opinion piece on the Liberal government’s decision to purchase Super Hornet fighter jets as an interim measure to deal with what they say is a fighter aircraft capability gap:

By James Bezan

As the Liberals attempt to rationalize their sole-source deal of Boeing’s Super Hornet fighter jets, their credibility gap on the file continues to widen.

Justin Trudeau’s credibility on the issue first took a hit when he made an impossible campaign promise. He committed to holding an open and fair competition to replace Canada’s CF-18 fighter jets while simultaneously excluding the F-35. Aside from the fact that this promise is self-contradicting; to directly inject politics into a decision of this magnitude is disheartening.

In June, the National Post revealed that the Liberals intended to purchase an interim fleet of fighter jets to fill a so-called ‘capability gap’. However, in April, Lieutenant-General Hood, the Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force, confirmed to Members of Parliament that Canada’s fleet of CF-18s are able to meet our current NORAD and NATO commitments and will be able to do so confidently until 2025.

The day before the Liberals announced their intention to enter into negotiations with Boeing, officials from the Department of National Defence reconfirmed Lieutenant-General Hood’s comments in writing.

However, in a recent Senate appearance before the Senate, Lieutenant-General Hood attempted to clarify the government’s position, confirming what critics had long expected – the Liberals created their own capability gap. Prior to concluding the Liberals’ Defence Policy Review, Prime Minister Trudeau gerrymandered the policy of jet requirements to fit with his own political views.

The commander of the RCAF was not privy to the decisions behind this policy change as it was a purely political move enforced by the Prime Minister’s office.

By purchasing the Super Hornets now, the Liberals have jeopardized any hope of a fair competition moving forward. Of course with 18 of their jets already purchased by the Government of Canada, Boeing will have a guaranteed edge over any competitor.

The Liberals have promised to launch a five-year ‘open and transparent’ process to replace the entire fleet of fighter jets. Experts agree this amount of time is unnecessary. In fact, The Netherlands, Norway, and South Korea each ran an open and fair competition for their fighter jets and not one lasted more than two years.

Not only is the Liberals’ decision to sole-source the Super Hornet unnecessary, their approach to the process has been unethical.

In the lead up to the Liberal’s announcement, Boeing representatives appeared to have been given preferential access to Cabinet Ministers. Lobbyists from Boeing met with members of the government seven times more often than any of their competitors. Other companies had their meeting requests denied.

To make matters worse, Prime Minister Trudeau is forbidding federal employees from speaking out against this cynically political process. He has placed an unprecedented life-time gag-order on all 235 individuals working on the Future Fighter Capability Project. This is a blatant attempt on the part of the Liberals to silence their own critics so that they can move ahead with this politicized partisan procurement.

This uninformed campaign promise could also impact Canada’s reputation as a reliable ally. As more than 10 of Canada’s allies have committed to 5th generation fighters in the F-35, Canada will be one of the last developed nations to be flying 4th generation


With fewer capabilities and less in common with our allied partners, the RCAF will be less likely to be called upon for international operations.

A key component of the Liberal’s misguided campaign promise was that they would buy a cheaper alternative to the F-35. But we don’t know the price of the Super Hornets.

Prime Minister Trudeau is giving Boeing a blank cheque. Operating an interim fleet comes with significant additional costs on infrastructure, training, and maintenance.

If the Liberals continue with their commitment to operate a mixed fleet of fighters, the RCAF’s capabilities and interoperability will be reduced for years to come. The Liberal’s plan would force our current fleet of fighters to fly beyond their current 2025 life expectancy into 2030, which the Department of National Defence has accessed as a high-risk option.

This highlights the Prime Minister’s naïve approach to the needs of our military and his inability to manage our country’s finances. Earlier this month Kuwait purchased 40 Super Hornets at $335 million apiece, five times more expensive than the $65 million the Liberals promised during the election.

In addition to hitting every taxpayer’s pocketbook, the Liberals’ political strategy could cost thousands of Canadian aerospace workers their jobs. There are currently 70 companies across Canada that have already benefited from over $1 billion worth of contracts under Lockheed Martin’s F-35 program. If executed, the Liberals’ sole-sourced deal with Boeing could put these jobs in jeopardy.

By ignoring the experts, in a desperate attempt to fulfill a campaign promise, the Liberals have created a political mess of their own doing. Prime Minister Trudeau needs to acknowledge that fighter jets are not just for simply ‘whipping out to show how big they are’. They serve an integral part in maintaining our national security and sovereignty, and are essential to our status as a reliable ally.

The Prime Minister needs to realize that this decision is larger than himself. He should listen to the experts and cancel this sole-sourced deal before his credibility gap has consequences for Canadian taxpayers, aerospace workers, and our military.

Monday, December 5, 2016

CAF to get Guidelines on Dealing with Child Soldiers


OTTAWA—Canada’s top soldier is issuing the first-ever guidelines for Canadian military personnel on how to deal with child soldiers in advance of deployment to Africa, the Star has learned.

Gen. Jonathan Vance, the chief of defence staff, and senior military officials have consulted with the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative and others on how to best prepare troops for a soon-to-be decided UN “peace operations” mission.

In September, Vance issued a draft version of the new guidelines which was expected to be finalized this week.

Called the CAF Child Soldiers Doctrine, it is not country-specific but will provide overarching principles to military personnel, no matter what the mission or mandate. The Star reported last week that Mali has emerged as the likely destination for a large contingent of up to 600 Canadian Armed Forces personnel, but the federal cabinet has not yet given its nod.

According to information obtained by the Star, excerpts of the new guidelines say the “aim is to provide the interim guidance required to address and mitigate the broad challenges posed by the presence of child soldiers in areas where we may undertake missions.”

The United Nations in 2005 identified six categories of grave violations against children that include killing and maiming of children, the recruiting of children as soldiers, sexual violence against children, attacks against schools, denial of humanitarian access to children, and abduction of children.

The military’s guidelines will make clear that all Canadian Armed Forces personnel have a legal duty to report any such violations, and it recognizes that the issue of child soldiers “needs to be better addressed within Canadian Forces doctrine.”

“It is important to ensure our soldiers are prepared to respond to the presence of children and vulnerable populations while on operations. Implementation of such steps will greatly contribute to the operational effectiveness of the CF when reinforced during developmental and pre-deployment training,” it says.

“It will also help prepare troops for the tactical and psychological challenges found in modern theatres.”

The move was hailed by the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, a global partnership based at Dalhousie University. Executive Director Shelly Whitman said “it means essentially that the military’s efforts, or the training, have to be guided by the doctrine; it’s like a bible of the military.”

“When you have a doctrine note come out and it says in it that we’re going to have to understand what this means operationally, strategically, tactically for how our forces address such issues, it’s a huge step forward,” Whitman said in an interview.

Canadian Armed Forces doctrine spells out everything from fundamental principles to details on how to execute operational tasks “to achieve a specific aim,” according to the military’s website.

More specific how-to operational guidelines such as when and how to engage with child fighters would be set out in the rules of engagement of a mission, which are usually classified information.

The guidelines have been a long time coming.

More than seven years ago, former army commander Andrew Leslie, now a Liberal MP, appointed now-retired colonel Jake Bell as the army’s liaison officer with the Dallaire Initiative “to essentially look at this issue to see the things that we could do to incorporate that knowledge into what we do,” Bell said in an interview with the Star.

During his military career, Bell was posted to Bosnia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and in 2012-13 was chief of operations for the United Nations mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Now a consultant for the Dallaire Initiative, he recently travelled to Congo to work with the Congolese army on developing a training curriculum on child soldiers for its officers and non-commissioned troops.

He believes it’s important for the Canadian military and other armed forces to have realistic, practical and scenario-based guidance in dealing with children in a operational theatre, and says “where you can really make an impact is in the prevention of recruitment of child soldiers.”

The Dallaire Initiative consulted with Vance, the chief of defence staff, and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan in March about the issue.

Whitman said military leaders learned many lessons from “challenging situations” in the past, including the war in Afghanistan, dealing with detainees and “also the chai boys, the tea boys.”

That’s a reference to allegations that Canadian soldiers turned a blind eye to abuse of boys by Afghan troops. An inquiry reported to Vance on the issue shortly after he took the top job in Canada’s military.

Earlier this year in response to that inquiry, Vance assured Canadians the military has changed how it trains soldiers for overseas deployments, with more focus on ethical issues, cultural differences and addressing human rights violations.

The Canadian Armed Forces do not identify a specific motivation for this new doctrine.

In an emailed response to the Star’s questions, a military spokesperson said the forces “continually revise and update doctrinal documents in order to ensure operational effectiveness and relevance. Providing our members with a better understanding of issues is therefore critical to mission success.”

“We are doing the responsible thing and recognizing that issues — such as the recruitment of child soldiers by illegal armed groups — can and do occur,” wrote Daniel Le Bouthillier, head of media relations.

“This is why we plan, prepare and ensure our members uphold our legal requirement to report any grave violations against children, as identified by the UN secretary general. The protection of the most vulnerable populations is of the utmost importance.”

He said the Canadian Armed Forces “takes its international obligations extremely seriously and will continue to help ensure our proud men and women have the tools required to carry out their mandates responsibly and with the ethos expected of them by Canadians.”

The concept of child soldiers is defined broadly by the United Nations.

The UN says “a child associated with an armed force or armed group refers to any person below 18 years of age who is, or who has been, recruited or used by an armed force or armed group in any capacity, including but not limited to children, boys and girls, used as fighters, cooks, porters, spies or for sexual purposes.”

Whitman said she hopes the military will now focus part of its pre-deployment training on the kinds of “moral dilemmas” soldiers will face, and how best to deal with them.

“Our hope is by doing that it means a) it more success overall in their mission and b) we protect children better and c) when our troops come back home we are reducing levels of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and operational stress injury because we will have emotionally and practically prepared them for that and have it not be the first time that they thought about it—the first time they saw it on the battlefield.”

Whitman hopes to offer support and training for military trainers at the military’s Peace Support Training Centre in Kingston. It trains over 1,000 members of the CAF and other government personnel each year, prior to deployment on operations.

In each of the countries to which Canada has looked at deploying — South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic or Mali, children are recruited by military forces, whether to act as fighters, intelligence gatherers, sex slaves or domestic labour. In Mali, in particular they have been used by Islamist groups as suicide bombers, says Whitman.

Canadian Forces firm on anti-malaria drug ahead of Africa mission

By: Gloria Galloway, The Globe and Mail 

Val Reyes-Santiesteban is convinced she lost a military son to the neuropsychotic side effects of the anti-malarial drug mefloquine, and she fears some of the Canadian soldiers who are about to deploy to Africa could meet the same fate.

Members of the Canadian Airborne Regiment get into position as they arrive to assume responsibility for the airport at Bali Dogle, Somalia, on December 15, 1992. Senior medical officials in the Canadian Forces say there is not enough scientific evidence to remove mefloquine as an option for troops who go to countries where malaria is a threat. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)
Members of the Canadian Airborne Regiment get into position as they arrive to assume responsibility for the airport at Bali Dogle, Somalia, on December 15, 1992. Senior medical officials in the Canadian Forces say there is not enough scientific evidence to remove mefloquine as an option for troops who go to countries where malaria is a threat.
(Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)
“It makes me sick. They’ve got to stop them from taking this drug,” Ms. Reyes-Santiesteban, of Welland, Ont., told The Globe and Mail. “Everyone in the government should take this pill once a week for a month and let them see what happens.”

Her son, Corporal Scott Smith, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on Christmas Day of 1994 in Rwanda, where he had been sent after taking part in the 1992 Somalia peacekeeping mission. Military doctors prescribed mefloquine for him on both deployments.

The army says he was “killed in action” even though his death, at the age of 23, was clearly suicide.

But, more than two decades later, as the government determines where its next peacekeeping mission in Africa will be, senior medical officials in the Canadian Forces say there is not enough scientific evidence to remove mefloquine as an option for troops who go to countries where malaria is a threat. They remain dubious of claims it can cause permanent damage, despite a Health Canada warning and veterans who say the medication ruined their lives.

Military brass said the same after allowing more than 1,000 Canadian Forces members in Somalia to be part of a poorly monitored clinical trial. Two of the soldiers on that mission were charged in the beating death of a Somali teen, and many others complained of alarming dreams, hallucinations and depression.

Even after doctors on the front lines implicated mefloquine in the troops’ violent behaviour, officers in Canada reassured the commission of inquiry into the Somalia affair that the drug could not cause the psychotic side effects being reported.

The current Liberal government has rejected calls from an all-party committee of the House of Commons and Somalia veterans for more research on mefloquine. And a previous Liberal government shut down the Somalia commission just before the issue of mefloquine was to be addressed.

As a result of recent media coverage, the chief of defence staff asked the military’s surgeon-general to take another look at the scientific literature about the drug. It is now prescribed to just a small fraction of Canadian troops.

The use of mefloquine in Somalia was unorthodox and possibly illegal. The drug had not been approved in Canada in 1992, but National Defence obtained it from Health Canada as part of a clinical trial in which military personnel were supposed to receive the informed consent of the users and to monitor the efficacy and the adverse reactions. They did neither.

The military chose mefloquine over other options because, unlike most anti-malarial drugs, it is taken once a week instead of daily and the Forces determined it was the best option for the Somalia theatre.

Ms. Reyes-Santiesteban does not doubt the drug killed her son.

As he was on his way to Rwanda in the fall of 1994, Cpl. Smith told a reporter for what is now called Canadian Shipper magazine that the malaria medication gave him hallucinations. A few months later, he was dead.

In the hours before he shot himself, Cpl. Smith took part in a convoy in which he was laughing and joking with his colleagues. Then he called his mother, his father and his best friend to wish them a Merry Christmas.

“He was coming home, we were going to have a late Christmas in February,” Ms. Reyes-Santiesteban said. “Nothing seemed to add up.”

Ms. Reyes-Santiesteban wrote to the military and politicians to demand they examine the role mefloquine may have played in the tragedy but, she said, she was never taken seriously.

That was also the response when Barry Armstrong, one of the military doctors who took part in the Somalia mission, expressed concerns about the drug’s effects on the troops.

In a post-deployment analysis he wrote for a 1993 conference, Dr. Armstrong said the failure of the United Nations forces in Somalia was “rather exceptional,” and “I believe that a simple reason may exist. Canadian and American troops may have been impaired by the use of mefloquine.”

Of the three military people who presented papers about the Somalia mission at the conference, “two of us had minor neuropsychiatric problems which occurred regularly in the 24 to 48 hours after our weekly mefloquine doses. If there are two of us, these reactions aren’t so rare.”

Greg Passey, a military doctor who was deployed to Rwanda in 1994, had similar concerns, and wanted to make them known to the Somalia inquiry. Despite a forces-wide communication that said any member of the military who had pertinent information should step forward, Dr. Passey said his decision to testify drew anger from senior officers.

Dr. Passey said one of his colleagues told him “the surgeon-general [then Major-General Wendy Clay] was very upset with me.” He said he decided to testify at the commission anyway, but it was shut down the week before his scheduled appearance.

Dr. Clay said in a telephone interview that she has no recollection of the incident, given that it took place nearly 20 years ago, and it would not have been her place to stop someone from testifying.

She was deputy surgeon-general during the Somalia mission and “certainly, at the time, you weighed the risks and the benefits and there seemed to be no doubt that mefloquine was an appropriate drug to give at that time,” Dr. Clay said. “Whether I would say the same thing now, I don’t know.”

Additional background material for the Somali inquiry includes a 1994 memo from Dr. Clay to the chief of defence staff saying she did not mean to “deny the perceptions of those who served in Somalia,” but the weight of scientific evidence suggests “that the probability of there being adverse effects severe enough to have an impact on the behaviour of our troops, and to constitute a contributing factor to the tragic events that occurred, is very low indeed.”

Some of the troops who believe they suffer long-lasting effects from the drug have started a class-action suit against the government and Hoffman-LaRoche, the drug’s manufacturer.

“The management of the soldiers’ mefloquine use was not at all what would constitute an approved trial,” Dr. Armstrong said in an e-mail. “Considering the dangers of mefloquine, its unapproved status in 1992 and the promise of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to guarantee Canadians’ rights to life, liberty and security of the person, I consider the military orders about taking mefloquine to be wrong.”

Early studies of mefloquine conducted by Hoffman-LaRoche put the risk of even mild side effects at about one in 10,000. Those statistics were recently quoted to The Globe and Mail by Brigadier-General Hugh MacKay, the current military surgeon-general.

But Hervey Blois, a medic on the Somalia mission, estimates that 300 or 400 troops who took part in that deployment were affected in one way or another.

“It was an extreme topic of conversation,” Mr. Blois said. The soldiers would say: “Holy cow, was I ever loopy the other night,” he said. “I would have some really vivid and real dreams. I got into a state of paranoia later on.”

A medical report from HMCS Preserver, a navy support ship stationed off the coast of Somalia at the time, said mefloquine was a problem. “Ten patients experienced nightmares with one patient having feelings of unease and paranoia,” it said. “One patient heard voices and talked to himself. All were switched to Doxycycline with no subsequent problems.”

In March, 1993, Clayton Matchee and Kyle Brown were charged in the beating death of Shidane Arone, a 16-year-old Somali. Mr. Brown was convicted of manslaughter and served a third of a five-year sentence. Mr. Matchee suffered brain damage when he tried to hang himself and was found unfit to stand trial.

When news of the crime hit the papers, an employee of the drug approvals branch of Health Canada walked into the office of Michele Brill-Edwards looking worried. Dr. Brill-Edwards was the senior physician at the department in the late 1980s, when Hoffman-LaRoche began the process of obtaining approval for mefloquine in Canada and, although she was no longer in that role, her former staff still came to her for advice.

“He said: ‘We allowed access under a clinical trial and all of this is going on and it clearly reflects possible mental derangement and we’re not getting any information back. We have no idea whether they are following the protocol that’s been set up and this is basically a big mess,’” Dr. Brill-Edwards said.

Several years later, Dr. Brill-Edwards decided to check the claim that just one in 10,000 people experience mefloquine’s side effects. She said she found those results were obtained from questionnaires handed to travellers on airplanes returning from Africa.

That is no way to collect data, she said, because those who had killed themselves or were in jail over a mefloquine-induced crime would not be counted, and people who had a psychotic episode abroad might be reluctant to divulge it on a card collected by a flight attendant. “If you think about it,” Dr. Brill-Edwards said, “it is the perfect way not to collect the experience of people who have had adverse effects of a mental nature.”

Health Canada, which still says “the benefits of mefloquine outweigh its risks when it is used as directed,” updated its warning labels in August. The department says mefloquine can cause adverse neuropsychiatric reactions that can persist after it is discontinued, and that permanent damage has been seen in some cases.

Nearly 1,000 British soldiers have required psychiatric treatment after taking the drug.

And the Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee of the European Medicines Agency says that, due to the long half-life of mefloquine, adverse reactions may occur or persist up to several months after discontinuation, or become permanent.

Val Reyes-Santiesteban, who found her son riding a bicycle down a hallway of her home in the middle of the night while he was on leave from his deployment to Somalia, does not need more proof of mefloquine’s long-term psychiatric damage.

“I blame it now. I blamed it then,” she said. The government and the defence department “don’t admit fault. It’s not their job to admit fault. But I knew right away.”

Williams: 3 ways the Liberals are making a mess of Defence Procurement

By: Allan Williams,

The government’s strategy to replace Canada’s CF-18s is reflective of a government that either has no comprehension of how to conduct the business of defence procurement, or understands the business all too well but has put political expediency ahead of the best interests of the military.

There are three fundamental problems with the decision to sole-source for 18 “interim” Super Hornets:

• First, whether or not you believe there is a “capability gap,” the fact is that an open, fair and transparent competition can be concluded within one year. Normally, a competition could take up to four years: two years for the military to prepare its statement of requirements (SOR) and two years for the civilian authorities to conduct the competition.

In this instance, a shortened time period is feasible. The military’s SOR has already been prepared. In its current form, it is wired or fixed so that only the F-35 could bid successfully to replace our current jets. However, these biased criteria are few in number and easily modifiable to ensure fairness to all suppliers. As such, it would take no more than a few weeks to redraft the SOR. In addition, over the past six years, the potential suppliers have been visited, have filled out questionnaires and have been subject to inspection ad nauseam. This consultative time need not be repeated. The process can easily be concluded within 12 months.

• Second, the “interim” solution is illegal. The government is wrong when it claims that an “urgent” need allows it to bypass competition. The specific wording in article 506.11(a) in the Agreement on Internal Trade reads in part: “Where an unforeseeable sense of urgency exists …” Note the word “unforeseeable.”

Bad planning is not an excuse for sole-sourcing. A “capability gap” that was allowed to grow over many years is hardly “unforeseeable.” The article was designed to allow for sole-sourcing in the event, for example, that the government announced that it was sending our troops into a theatre of operation and there would be insufficient time to conduct competitions to provide the troops with the goods and services they require. Surely, it is not unreasonable for us to hold our government leaders accountable for obeying the law.

• Finally, a problem with acquiring the Super Hornets is the incremental cost of such an option. The capital budget of the Department of National Defence is already stretched to its limit. To impose upon it an extra burden of billions of dollars is unconscionable and unnecessary.

It’s very easy to identify the losers in this flawed strategy. The government, for its galling hypocrisy; the military, as its capital budget is pressured and it is forced to endure another decade without a long-term replacement of its jets; us taxpayers, as it is our billions of dollars being squandered; and Canadian industry now deprived of high-quality jobs that would have been guaranteed under a competition.

However, this delaying tactic does produce two winners. First, Boeing and its shareholders for having been given a multi-billion dollar gift. Second, ironically and undoubtedly much to the chagrin of the prime minister, Lockheed Martin. The F-35 would have a much harder time winning a competition now than it will in five years. While it has been declared operational by the U.S. Marines and Air Force, the fact is that not all software has been installed. Five years from now, I have little doubt, all the software will have been implemented with the bugs worked out.

Furthermore, in five years the unit price for the jet will have continued to decline.

To borrow from Shakespeare, the Liberal party may find itself “hoist with (its) own petard.”
Alan Williams is a former assistant deputy minister of matériel at the Department of National Defence. He is now president of The Williams Group providing expertise in the areas of policy, programs and procurement. He has authored two books, Reinventing Canadian Defence Procurement: A View From the Inside; and Canada, Democracy and the F-35.

Allan: Gov't delay tactic isn't helping the RCAF

By: Alastair Allan

The responsibility of government is to set policy and budget for Canada’s National Defence in terms of domestic and international policy. The selection of weapon systems to meet these requirements should be left to the military professionals who must risk their lives operating these systems in combat.

Years ago, the government of the day agreed, without any commitment to purchase the aircraft, to invest in the development of the USA’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program – to the tune of millions of dollars.

In return, the U.S. authorities enrolled Canada in its F-35 Industrial Benefits Program (Canadian firms would be invited to compete for program sub-contracts) and, by all accounts, it has paid off handsomely. To maintain this position, Canada recently agreed to increase its funding by approximately $30 US million dollars. The Canadian Government also chose to initiate two expensive and questionable purchase programs: A sole source contract for 18 Super F-18 Hornets as an interim measure; and a future international competition (which will include the F-35) for the balance of the requirement.

Apparently, this is supposed to satisfy election concerns that: without a competition the F-35 would be too costly; secondly, that the aircraft had not yet been certified for operational duty; and finally, that this would push any decision to the NEXT election mandate, giving the government time to re-evaluate and potentially re-spin the choices.

However, the question remains, why is a sole source contract acceptable for the purchase of Super Hornets and not the F-35? No aircraft on offer can compete operationally with the F-35. It was designed for NATO countries and literally thousands will be produced; and it has recently been certified as combat (operationally) ready. Choosing the F-35 will simplify logistics, inter-operability and fleet maintenance. Our multi-million dollar down payment would not be wasted, nor our industry penalized, as it will if a different airplane is chosen. The international competition will be seen to be a phony exercise as none of the aircraft to be considered can outperform the F-35. Other aircraft (may or may not) be cheaper, but their operational performance will be second or third rate at best.

If a sole source contract is deemed acceptable all of a sudden, the professional thing to do is to proceed with negotiations to purchase the F-35. Prices and costs can be verified by comparing US/Danish/Norwegian purchase costs. Overhead and labour costs can be confirmed by audit and a reasonable profit can be negotiated in accordance with government supply policy. This will eliminate gouging and ensure a reasonable and defensible price. If Canada is seen to be insincere in considering the F-35 aircraft it will risk losing its place in the F-35 industrial benefits program. This would be a severe blow to Canadian industry and to our reputation as a reliable business partner around the world.
Alastair Allan, (Retired) Assistant Deputy Minister, Science and Engineering Procurement, Department of Supply and Services (1961 to 1982). He was responsible for the procurement of the original CF-18 Fleet and the Long Range Patrol Aircraft Program (in Joint Ventures with DND and DOI).

Canadian Weapons Arriving to Kurdish Fighters

By: Scott Taylor The Chronicle Herald 

It was with very little fanfare that Canada announced last week that the Iraqi government has finally agreed to let us provide weapons to Kurdish militiamen. The weapons were originally promised by Prime Minister Trudeau back in February, but that’s when things got a little bit sticky.

In the fall of 2014, the Harper Conservative government sent Canadian Special Forces trainers to Iraq for the purpose of combating the spread of the then-rampant Daesh evil-doers. Canadians were told that our troops were going to Iraq because it made things seem a little simpler than was actually the case. Our Special Forces Operatives were sent to the city of Erbil and when they stepped off the plane, they were greeted by a sign reading Welcome to Kurdistan.

It has indeed been Kurdish fighters that our soldiers have been training and assisting for the past two years. These Kurds are very open about their desire to establish an internationally recognized, independent nation. They already consider themselves to be a separate state; they fly their own flag and sing their own anthem.

Yes, they have proven to be motivated and effective fighters against Daesh, but they have also clashed with Iraqi security forces loyal to the Baghdad regime and their Shiite militia allies. Canada’s official position is that we are supporting a unified Iraq under one central Baghdad government. Naturally, that same Baghdad regime did not like the idea of Canada supplying weapons to Kurdish troops, whose openly stated, and oft repeated aim, is to break away from Iraq.

That sentiment of not providing more weapons to the Kurds was echoed by the Turkish government. Turkey is a NATO ally and they are presently dealing with a full-scale insurgency by Kurdish separatist forces in their eastern provinces. The revolt in Turkey is spearheaded by the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), which is recognized by Canada, the U.S and the European Union to be a terrorist organization. Given the blurred lines between the various Kurdish militias, there are no doubt grave concerns on the part of the hard-pressed Turkish security forces that Canadian-supplied weapons will end up in the hands of the PKK, or worse, the Al-Qaeda Kurdish Battalions (AQKB).

While Canadian officials have not yet identified exactly which type of weapons we will provide the Kurds — or at what cost — their shipment has admittedly not yet been sent.

Which means there is still time to rethink this flawed logic.

The allied campaign to recapture Daesh-held Mosul is now well underway. Progress has been slow and Daesh defenders have been determined, but the end result is not in doubt.

So if Canadian-supplied weapons will not arrive in time to assist in driving Daesh from Iraq, that means that they will only reach the battlefield in time to assist in the post-Daesh mayhem that will inevitably ensue.

Iraq has been engulfed in a horrific orgy of inter-factional bloodletting for the past 13 years and somehow the Canadian answer to the problem is to send in more weapons and to specifically train just one of the warring factions? Is training more young men to be soldiers the pathway to peace? Human Rights Watch recently reported that the Kurdish militias trained by the Canadians, and loyal to warlord Massoud Barzani, have been engaging in the ethnic cleansing of non-Kurdish minorities. This, of course, is not being done under the watchful eye of Canadian trainers — the Kurds are too clever for that.

Off the record, Canadian officers have admitted their Kurdish fighters are not angels, but they are the best of a bad lot.

Unlike those factions already involved in the conflict, Canada does not need to compromise its values or align with dubious allies. Thankfully, we have no dog in this fight and ultimately we will have no say in the final resolution. Which makes it all the more ludicrous that we would start pouring more weapons and munitions into an already raging conflagration over which we have zero control.

Canadian veteran fighting ISIL has been arrested in Iraq, his mother says

By: Stewart Bell,  Globe and Mail 

TORONTO — A Canadian military veteran who has spent the past six months fighting ISIL alongside Kurdish forces has been arrested in northern Iraq, his mother said in an interview Sunday.

Michael Kennedy, 32, was on his to Sulaymaniyah, trying to make it home to Newfoundland for Christmas, when he was taken into custody by Iraqi Kurdish authorities, said his mother Kay Kennedy.

“All I know is he’s been arrested and he’s in Erbil,” she said from Saint Vincent’s, Nfld. She said she got the news from a Kurdish friend of her son’s. “He said nobody knows the reasons.”
Family handout Michael Kennedy is a military veteran
He has been held since Tuesday in Erbil, said Kennedy, adding the affair has been hard on her because she lost another son, Pte. Kevin Kennedy of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, to a roadside bomb in Afghanistan on April 8, 2007.

Michael Kennedy was taken into custody Tuesday, his mother says
Michael Kennedy was taken into custody Tuesday, his mother says. Seen here in a family photo - at the KAF Cenotaph while on deployment to Afghanistan. 
It is not unusual for the Kurdistan regional government of Masoud Barzani to arrest Western volunteer fighters as they are leaving Iraq on the grounds they have overstayed their visas and must pay fines.

But Kennedy’s visa was valid until January, said his mother. She said she last spoke to her son Monday when he was in Dohuk and he told her he was coming home through Sulaymaniyah, Dubai and Toronto.

She said he was at a restaurant with friends and sounded upbeat but when she called him back later that night, his mood had changed. “I could tell by his voice there was something off.”

Several dozen Canadians, many of them military veterans, are among the hundreds of foreign volunteers assisting Kurdish militias on the frontlines against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Ottawa has verbally discouraged Canadians from taking up arms against ISIL but has not stopped them from traveling or arrested them upon their return, although some have been questioned by the RCMP.

Kennedy served in the Canadian Forces for 13 years, including a Navy deployment in the Gulf of Aden, she said. Three months after leaving the military in March, he made his way to northern Syria.

“He decided to go over there in June. He decided to go fight ISIS after reading about what those Kurdish people were going through,” his mother said. “Michael decided to do this as sort of a humanitarian thing.”

He fought initial with the YPG militia in northern Syria. About a month ago, he crossed into Iraq and has been fighting around Shingal, his mother said. The area is where ISIL kidnapped and murdered hundreds of Yazidis.

“Then he decided, ‘After six months there, mom, it’s time for me to come home, I’m exhausted,’” she said, adding he had told her, “’I’ll be home for Christmas, mom.’”

She said she had contacted Global Affairs Canada over the weekend and was told “they’d get back to me.”

A report released last summer by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue said the hazy legality around foreign anti-ISIL fighters has led to confusion and uncertainty. The study found that military veterans fighting with the Kurds were motivated partly by a desire to “finish the job” they had started in their respective armies.

Friday, December 2, 2016

DND Pulls Fighter Jet Study Down from Webpage

By: David Pugliese, Defence Watch 

The Department of National Defence is now figuring how to dig itself out of the problems it created when it pulled down from its website a study on fighter jets.

The study dismissed the option of buying “interim” fighter jets because of “significant additional costs.”

“The costs involved with bridging options make them unsuitable for filling capability gaps in the short term,” the DRDC study noted. It pointed out that 36 fighter jets were required to be operational at any time for North American air defence duties. Any more is in excess of the requirement, it added.

The study was embarrassing for the Liberal government which is moving ahead with buying 18 “interim” Super Hornets. So it had to go.

DND claims it was pulled down from its website because it was found to contain classified information and not because the department was doing damage control for the government.

But DND sources say there was no classified information in the study. It had already been carefully screened, and classified information was indeed removed before it had been posted on the DND website.

So what was the reason for the removal from the internet? It was embarrassing to the Liberal government.

But this attempt at limiting information has blown up in the government’s face.

Now DND senior officials are trying to figure out what to do next?

“We are reviewing whether a redacted version can be reposted,” the DND noted in a statement.

Majority of CF-18s will fly beyond 'certified safe life' date according to internal report

By: Murray Brewster, CBC News 

The Liberal government's plan to keep a number of its CF-18 fighters flying through the 2020s — possibly up to 2032 — is a "high-risk" and "costly" option, according to an internal government report obtained by CBC News.

Related image
RCAF CF-18 Fighter jets will undergo a 3rd life-extension program, to keep them flying as long as 2032...well beyond their "Certified Safe Date" acording to a new report by the CBC. 
The technical engineering assessment was written for the material group at National Defence in the run-up to the former Conservative government's decision two years ago to extend the life of the front-line jets until 2025.

It raises questions about the serviceability and survivability of the aging fighters at the crucial transition time when the Liberal government hopes to bring a replacement on line.

The report takes on fresh relevance in light of the government's decision last week to postpone holding an open and transparent competition for a new fighter. Bidding is not expected to start until next year after the new defence policy has been released and could take up to five years.

The analysis has the Opposition Conservatives wondering why the Liberal government is not proceeding directly to the competition it promised in the last election.

New Liberal policy means there aren't enough fighter jets to go around
Boeing met federal officials 7 times as often as Lockheed Martin in lead-up to fighter deal
Canada's fighter jets running out of airframe life, according to data tabled in Parliament

National Defence says it intends to buy up to 18 Boeing Super Hornets as a stopgap measure until a brand-new fleet arrives.

The analysis is also significant considering this week's fatal crash of a CF-18 at a training range near Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake in Alberta.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan last week said permanent replacements for the '80s-vintage jets "will be fully operational in the late 2020s."

That is further into the future than the former Conservative government had planned.

"That means we must continue to fly the legacy CF-18s throughout the 2020s, no matter what," Sajjan said during the news conference announcing the government's decision.
'A high-risk solution'

The Conservatives had planned to refurbish the fighters to keep them operational until 2025, something the internal analysis says results in "a reasonably low to moderate technical and operational risk" in light of the fact the U.S. navy intends to keep flying some of its F-18s and Super Hornets during the same timeframe.

It is after 2025 that the significant concern emerges.

The CF-18s would require a major overhaul — known as a Control Point 3 life extension — to remain operational after that date.

"This option is a high-risk solution, from both a technical and operational perspective," says the 13-page, unredacted evaluation.

"A majority of the fleet (50 aircraft) would need to be flown beyond the currently certified safe life."

The assessment goes on to list the components that would need replacing, and the list is extensive.

"A large and costly procurement of new wings and flight controls would be required to support this effort, as the structural lives of these components would expire for many of the fleet's aircraft."
Shortage of spare parts, weapons

The report also notes, among other things, that the fighter jets' transponders, which identify them as friend or foe to other aircraft, will have to be upgraded.

The avionics system will be considered outdated by the early 2020s and won't meet U.S. requirements for encrypted communications, which threatens operations with the Americans and the North American Aerospace Defence Command (Norad).

"From an operational perspective, the fleet will be exposed to a more lethal threat environment," says the analysis. "In addition there will be decreased interoperability with newer aircraft flown by Canada's allies."

The further into the decade the fighters operate, the more concern there will be about access to weapons and spare parts, the report adds.
$400-million upgrade needed

In an interview with CBC News, Sajjan downplayed the analysis, saying the Liberals have conducted their own, more recent studies that give them comfort.

"The engineers have assured us the life extension can be done in high confidence and we can meet our needs," he said, adding that concern about the overall condition of the fleet is one of the things that drove the Liberals to recommend the interim purchase of Super Hornets.

"Yes, we can extend our fighters to 2025. After that time they will be slowly graduated out."

Conservative defence critic James Bezan said the Liberals are stalling.

"We know Denmark just did a competition in 11 months. Norway did theirs in about a year and a half. Japan did theirs in a year and 11 months," he said. The Liberals "could do an open and fair competition right now and get a plane faster than they can in five years' time."

The refurbishment to 2025 is estimated to cost $400 million, but Sajjan was unable to say how much more it will be to keep the fighters flying beyond that date.

Unpublished, internal defence estimates shown to CBC News suggest the total overhaul cost could rise to $1.3 billion depending on the upgrades selected by air force planners.

In the last election campaign, the Liberals promised to buy a cheaper fighter in an open competition and plow the savings back into rebuilding the navy.

With an interim purchase of Super Hornets and a life extension program, the government will be hard-pressed to find savings.

"Yes, we are investing more. This option costs more money, but this is the situation we were dealt with," said Sajjan.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Den Tandt: Super Hornet purchase leaves CAF Members last on the list of priorities

By: Michael Den Tandt, National Post 

It’s truly remarkable, given how Liberal and Conservative MPs speak so often and sincerely of their sacred covenant with the “brave men and women in uniform,” that this country’s air force is obsolete and decrepit, and has been so for as long as anyone now living can remember.

You’d think, given the volume of talk in the House of Commons over the past decade on their behalf, that RCAF pilots – one of whom died Monday, tragically, in a training accident in Cold Lake, Alta. – would be flying X-wing fighters out of Star Wars by now, and not a ragtag fleet of 1980s-vintage refurbs that were new when many members of the current parliament were children.

The Liberal government, with Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan leading the charge, has pledged redress with a sole-source purchases of 18 Boeing Super Hornets – the updated version of Canada’s CF-18. So grievous is the “capability gap,” of the Royal Canadian Air Force, we’re told, there’s no time for competitive bids. That’s for later, perhaps as many as five years hence when, with due deference to best practices and Treasury Board guidelines and other such guff that means a lot until cabinet decides it means nothing, the actual next RCAF fighter will be chosen.

Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II fighter-bomber will be among the competitors at this pageant, gainsaying the Liberals’ 2015 election pledge to nix the vaunted “fifth generation” stealth fighter entirely. But never mind: Five years from now is another term, another cabinet, possibly another government. In political terms it may as well be another universe on another planet.

Politically, it is all quite clever – which is why the howls of outrage have been muted to non-existent, unlike the state of affairs in late 2012, when the former Conservative government got mauled over its own sole-source plan to buy 65 F-35s, and later shelved it. The reason for the soft landing is twofold.

First, the RCAF really does badly need new fighters. In an increasingly uncertain geopolitical climate, the opposition Conservatives are in no position to argue forcefully against any purchase that makes the Canadian military more capable in the short-term. Second is the aerospace contracts, tied to Canada’s continuing membership in the F-35 consortium.

Those contracts, held by more than 30 Canadian companies that contribute to Lockheed-Martin’s supply chain, are worth more than $600-million. Any final decision to ditch the F-35 would put them at risk – particularly now, we have to assume, with a protectionist U.S. Congress and a protectionist U.S. president on the ascendant.

Kicking this can further down the road keeps Lockheed in the game, at least technically: Since last year, the U.S. weapons manufacturer has lobbied simply for inclusion in an eventual competition, a guarantee it now apparently has.

Political cleverness aside, this is egregiously dishonest, on several fronts.

First, the “capability gap.” It emerged this week that the cabinet, not the RCAF, had arbitrarily changed the definition of how many planes it needed in order to fulfill its basic mandate of protecting Canadian air space and meeting NATO commitments.

Political cleverness aside, this is egregiously dishonest, on several fronts

This makes sense when you consider the 77 functioning CF-18s are up for another refurb, price tag about $500-milion, that will keep them flying until 2025. There may indeed be a looming emergency that requires Canada to have 95 working fighters (77 plus 18) heading into the next decade. If so, what emergency? And at what budgetary cost?

Had the Conservatives dared to quietly grow the RCAF fighter fleet by 23 per cent, at a cost of $65-$70-milion per plane, the Liberals would have called them warmongers and spendthrifts. To be sure, the Liberals may be embarrassed by the very mention of the CF-18 – having made such a to-do about withdrawing them last spring from the war against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Having beaten swords into ploughshares, they’re now buying more swords. How awkward.

More disingenuous still is the claim that a proper, open fighter competition is impossible in short order. The five possible selections are the F-35, Boeing’s Super Hornet, the Eurofighter Typhoon, Saab’s Gripen, and Dassault’s Rafale. The specs, per-unit and operating costs of all these aircraft are known. Given an abridged new statement of requirements, a competition could have been run and a new fighter selected in 2017, industry sources tell me.

Follow the Liberal strategy to its conclusion and you end up with this: A mixed fleet, comprising some CF-18s, 18 newish Super Hornets, and years hence, long after the punters have forgotten Campaign 2015, the F-35 – by which time it, too, will likely be obsolete.

It boils down to this: The “brave men and women in uniform” will get the barest minimum the government can get away with providing, until another military crisis on the scale of the Afghan war forces its hand, after which it will buy whatever equipment it can find, in a panic. It’s how we roll, here in Canada.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Name of Royal Canadian Air Force pilot killed in CF-188 crash released

RCAF Press Release

A head and shoulders photo of a man wearing a tan flight suit and a blue air force “wedge”-style hat.
Shortly after 11 a.m. Mountain Standard Time, on November 28, 2016, a CF-188 Hornet from 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta, crashed inside the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range in Saskatchewan, not far from the Primrose Lake Evaluation Range.

Emergency services from 4 Wing, including 417 Combat Support Squadron, responded to the crash. Tragically, the pilot, Captain Thomas McQueen of Hamilton, Ontario, did not survive.

“We are deeply saddened by this incident and express our deepest sympathies to the family, friends and loved ones of Captain Thomas McQueen,” said Colonel Paul Doyle, the commander 4 Wing / Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake.”We now turn our attention to providing whatever support we can to his family and to our men and women here in Cold Lake, who are deeply saddened by the loss of Captain McQueen.”

The thoughts and prayers of 4 Wing, the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Canadian Armed Forces are with the family, loved ones and friends of Captain McQueen during this difficult time.

“On behalf of the men and women of 1 Canadian Air Division, I would like to extend my deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Captain McQueen,” said Brigadier-General David Lowthian, the acting commander of 1 Canadian Air Division. “The Royal Canadian Air Force is a tight-knit community and we are all mourning the loss of one of our own today.”

"‎We have lost a member of our RCAF family, and it hurts,” said the commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force, Lieutenant-General Mike Hood. “We will support the family of Captain McQueen, and his squadron, to the fullest. And while the investigation determines the cause of this incident, I commend our men and women who through their grief will continue to serve Canada to their fullest.

“Thomas, we will miss you."

A flight safety investigation will be conducted to determine the cause of the accident.