Saturday, February 20, 2016

256 RCAF ISIS Airstrikes: A Breakdown

By: David Pugliese, The Ottawa Citizen, 

Did the 606 bombs dropped make a difference in the war against ISIL?

Defence analysts claim Canada was punching above its weight in the bombing campaign against ISIL, and that the withdrawal of the CF-18 fighter jets is a major blow to the coalition’s efforts.

Conservative MP Kellie Leitch has said the pullout makes Canadian military personnel look like “cowards” on the world stage. Other Conservative MPs argue the end of Canada’s contribution to the bombing means the country is no longer being taken seriously by allies.

But with more than 32,000 bombs dropped on Islamic State forces so far, most of those by U.S. aircraft, did Canada’s 606 bombs make a difference?

Canada’s six CF-18s stopped airstrikes in Iraq and Syria on Monday, ending their involvement in that part of the war, which began in the fall of 2014.

Outside this country the response to the mission’s end has been muted, if noticed at all.

Canadian military officers privately acknowledge Canada’s impact on the bombing campaign in Syria has been almost nil.

Since Canada joined that operation in April 2015, CF-18s conducted only five raids on targets in Syria. The U.S. has dropped around 11,000 bombs on targets in Syria. Canada’s contribution in Syria was to drop 27 bombs total.

Iraq, military officers argue, is a different matter. They note that U.S. officers have lauded Canada’s contribution to the air campaign in that country.

But not everyone in the U.S. has been won over. Republican congressman Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence committee, characterized the removal of the six Canadian jets as largely inconsequential. “Canada’s withdrawal from the bombing campaign won’t have a large effect on our military operations” against ISIL, he told the Guardian newspaper in late October.

The Liberal government has cited the low number of bombing raids as part of its reason for the withdrawal.

“There are a lot of things where Canada may be a great supporter, instead of delivering two per cent of the airstrikes,” Global Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion explained during a recent tour of NATO headquarters.

Military sources say the increase in Canadian special forces in northern Iraq has been particularly welcomed by the Pentagon, because the U.S. has more than enough fighter jets for the airstrike campaign and what has been lacking is the capacity to train and advise local forces.

For the air campaign, the U.S. was particularly interested in keeping Canada’s two Aurora reconnaissance aircraft because it needs more of that type of surveillance capability. The same went for Canada’s Polaris refuelling aircraft. The Liberals agreed to both those requests.

In Canada the debate continues. Defence analysts and pundits still point to the recent exclusion of Canada from a coalition war strategy meeting as proof the removal of the CF-18s was a blow to the country’s international reputation.

Behind the scenes, the RCAF is moving to ensure its contribution is recognized. It has briefed “stakeholders” — those defence analysts and retired military officers who appear on TV and are quoted in the news media. The RCAF message is that the CF-18s were used by the U.S. to attack ISIL leaders in moving vehicles or on other more difficult missions.

Although these claims can’t be verified independently, the stakeholders are now starting to repeat them in media interviews.

Ultimately, it may not be the bombing of armoured vehicles and fighting positions that speeds up ISIL’s demise.

World economic events have recently started to hinder the group’s operations by damaging its finances. ISIL earns an estimated $50 million per month by selling oil on the black market — money it needs to keep its combat operations going. But the significant drop in the price of oil has started to cut into that funding.

Reports coming from ISIL strongholds indicate that salaries for troops and support staff have been significantly cut or stopped altogether, and that rations have dwindled.

Canada’s CF-18s, however, did not take part in the attacks on oil convoys and infrastructure, because the U.S. determined they were not needed.

Canadian Forces spokesman Capt. Kirk Sullivan said a number of factors determined the frequency and location of Canadian airstrikes. “The U.S.-led coalition assigns tasks to coalition nations in consideration of operational capabilities, the provision of support to Iraqi security forces’ operations, the tactical level situation, and the availability of ISIL targets,” he added.

Review of RCAF anti-ISIS Air Campaign

The National Post

It is kind of sad to see them go. I realize that for your operators who fly the CF-18s ... I think they are a little disappointed because I know if I was one of them at the squadron level and much younger, I would probably be feeling the same way. We are pounding these guys so hard, once the folks on the ground show up, what you have is a skeletal force in different locations. —Lt.-Gen. Charles Brown, Commander, Air Force component, U.S. Central Command

The strikes varied from something that was very intense to others that were more routine. There were a lot of moving parts that involved a lot of co-ordination. There has never been a dull moment. This was one of the best moments of my career.
— unnamed RCAF pilot

Mosul had been in the grip of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant for almost five months when Canadian CF-18 Hornet fighter jets began appearing over the northern city — the largest occupied by the armed extremists. The CF-18s conducted one of their first airstrikes near Mosul on Nov. 17, 2014, hitting an improvised explosives device warehouse. Over the 15 months that followed, Canadian warplanes would target the Mosul area more than anywhere else. As the CF-18s prepare to return home after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to pull them out of the fight against ISIL, a Postmedia analysis of the campaign shows that almost a third of the Canadian airstrikes targeted Mosul.

Up to 10 times a month, Canadian pilots flying out of a scorching hot airfield in Kuwait struck ISIL in and around Iraq’s second-largest city, targeting everything from bunkers and artillery to vehicles and car bomb factories.

While the political debate continues over Trudeau’s decision to ground the CF-18s in favour of more training, the analysis of Canadian Armed Forces airstrike data answers a more pragmatic question: what exactly did Canada’s fighter jets do?

Figures show that the six CF-18s conducted more than 230 airstrikes — all but five of them in Iraq. The vast majority targeted what the military described as fighting positions. The attacks were concentrated around Mosul, Sinjar and Ramadi.

The latter two cities have been retaken by Iraqi forces but Mosul remains the glittering prize. The once culturally rich city on the Tigris River has been ravaged by ISIL, which has imposed its militant brand of Islamic law through executions, child recruitment and ethnic cleansing.

Crosses at churches have been replaced with black ISIL flags, and the 1,700-year-old Christian population has fled after being ordered to convert to Islam. A buildup around the city has been underway for months, in anticipation of a planned ground assault.

“To retake Mosul on the ground there has to be months of preparation before that in terms of airstrikes and other forms of planning,” said Thomas Juneau, an associate professor at the University of Ottawa’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. “It’s logical to target IS capabilities, IS defences, IS weapons depots in the Mosul area.”

Canada was not alone in its focus on Mosul — it was also the city most frequently struck by the coalition as a whole. “What our six (planes) have done has been a very small part of a big campaign,” said Randall Wakelam, an associate history professor at the Royal Military College of Canada.

The U.S.-led air coalition began to take shape in August 2014, after ISIL swept into Sinjar, committing one of the worst war crimes of the conflict. The videotaped beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley further cemented international resolve to defeat the Islamist extremists.

Canada joined the air mission in Oct. 2014, when Parliament voted to join the coalition. “We must do our part,” said then-prime minister Stephen Harper. But opposition parties stood against it, with Trudeau arguing that Canada should play a humanitarian role rather than “trying to whip out our CF-18s and show how big they are.”

The airstrikes aimed to halt ISIL’s expansion, shrink its territory and erode its capabilities, said Juneau, who called Canada’s participation “as political as military in the sense that it was a way to contribute to the legitimacy of overall operations.”

Within days of the vote, the CF18s left Cold Lake, Alta., for a base outside Kuwait City.

The first Canadian airstrike came on Nov. 2, west of Fallujah. The planes recorded six strikes that month and nine in December, but by January they were conducting almost daily bombing runs.

In Mosul, ISIL set fire to parts of the city to throw off reconnaissance aircraft, and mixed among civilians. “We follow laws of conflicts but they hold meetings in mosques, hospitals and schools,” said Col. Sean Boyle, who commanded Air Task Force Iraq between April and October 2015. “It makes it a much more complicated mission.”

The CF-18s sometimes flew missions alone and sometimes alongside coalition partners. Boyle recalled a Canadian-led attack on a training camp near Mosul by CF18s, Saudi F-15s and planes from four other nations. “We worked seamlessly. We were on the same page,” said Chief Warrant Officer John Short, who spent six months on the air campaign.

In Sinjar, where ISIL massacred, enslaved and expelled the Yazidi minority, CF-18s struck 31 times as Kurdish forces fought to retake the city. The central city of Ramadi was the third most commonly targeted with two dozen airstrikes; Iraqi forces recently took control of Ramadi, proclaiming it their first major victory against ISIL.

The targeting reflected the fact that “we are the air force for the various opposition forces,” said professor Stephen Saideman, the Paterson Chair in International Affairs at Carleton University’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs.

Although Parliament voted last March to extend the air mission into Syria, the CF-18s struck only five times in that country — twice in the ISIL stronghold of Raqqa. The most recent sortie into Syria was Jan. 27, the target an IED factory near Palmyra.

The airstrike data suggest that preventing IED attacks was a priority for the mission. The military reported striking dozens of IED factories, storage facilities and vehicles rigged with explosives — a favourite ISIL weapon.

The tempo of Canadian airstrikes peaked from May to July 2015, the data show. During that period, CF-18s conducted 69 strikes. The pace slowed during the federal election, but Trudeau did not ground the CF-18s immediately after his October federal election victory. Almost 60 airstrikes — about quarter of the total — occurred after he was sworn in.

The air campaign has been notable for the absence of confirmed civilian casualties. That may be partly due to the lack of an independent media presence on the ground, but the airstrike data also suggest pilots were cautious.

Eight out of 10 times, Canadian fighter jets returned from their sorties without having dropped any bombs. “I reviewed every single strike with pilots, sometimes frame by frame,” Boyle said. “To the best of our ability we can confirm that there are no civilian casualties.”

He said the guided munitions, which ranged from 500 to 2,000 pounds, were “very advanced” and accurate 99 per cent of the time — although “one or two times” the bombs were duds that struck without detonating.

By contrast, the Russians — who were accused this week of bombing a hospital in Syria — have shown less regard for civilians. “The Syrians are sometimes dropping bombs from helicopters,” Boyle said.

On Feb. 8, Trudeau announced he would end the air mission Feb. 22. Saying that “our efforts should better reflect what Canada is all about,” the prime minister said his government would instead focus on aid, diplomacy and training Iraqi forces.

On Wednesday, the military announced the mission had actually ended on Feb. 15. The Canadian Joint Operations Command Headquarters said this week the CF-18s had contributed to efforts to “halt and degrade” ISIL.

Canada’s final tally: 1,378 CF-18 sorties and 251 airstrikes on 267 ISIL fighting positions, 30 IED factories and storage facilities and other targets. ( The official totals vary from Postmedia’s because some of the military’s publicly released data record multiple airstrikes as a single strike.)

“To date as a result of coalition efforts ISIL can no longer manoeuvre freely in large numbers,” said spokesman Capt. Kirk Sullivan. The ISIL leadership and its economy have been targeted, and morale is declining, he said.

Among those returning home will be military lawyers who were part of the targeting process that ensured Canada’s rules of engagement were followed.

“The coalition has been able to stop the advances of ISIL, their freedom of movement and their supply chain,” said a CF-18 pilot who flew 41 missions over Iraq last year and is now back in Canada. “This was one of the best moments of my career.”
Statement by an named RCAF CF-18 pilot who took part in OP IMPACT:

I flew 41 combat missions over Iraq. The strikes varied from something that was very intense to others that were more routine. There were a lot of moving parts that involved a lot of co-ordination. The air space was quite busy. We either flew as Canadian elements of the coalition or as parts of a large coalition package. I have the pleasure of serving the government where and when asked. This is a huge responsibility and it is a pleasure to deploy. Operating the equipment itself was an inherent challenge in the Middle East. There were heat and other effects. (Preparing the aircraft to fly) is a rigorous process. I am confident there was no collateral damage before, during and after our missions. Checking for collateral damage is an important part of what we do together. It starts before the mission takes place. It is an extensive, rigorous process that does not end until the release of the weapon. To the best of my knowledge there were no problems with any of the airstrikes during the entire mission and specifically, during my deployment.

Friday, February 19, 2016

New CAF Commander for OP REASSURANCE

DND Press Release - February 19, 2016

Department of National Defence / Canadian Joint Operations Command

OTTAWA – The new commander of the Operation REASSURANCE Land Task Force, Major Éric Beauchamp, assumed command from Major Simon Côté today in Warsaw, Poland. Hosted by Canada’s Ambassador to Poland, Stephen de Boer, the ceremony at the Canadian embassy was presided over by Colonel Pascal Demers, Canadian Defence Attaché.

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) presence in the region demonstrates Canada’s commitment to work with NATO allies and react rapidly to international crises as part of Allied assurance measures to promote security in Central and Eastern Europe.

Canadian Armed Forces simulated casualties are loaded onto a UH-60 Blackhawk medical evacuation helicopter during Exercise ALLIED SPIRIT IV at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center Training area in Hohenfels, Germany on January 30, 2016 during Operation REASSURANCE. Photo: CAF Combat Camera

Thursday, February 18, 2016

ARCTIC RAM: CAF expanded Northern Presence

Members of the CAF during part of ARCTIC RAM-16. Photo: CAF Combat Camera

By: Braeden Jones Metro Published on Wed Feb 17 2016

Less than a decade ago, the Polar Continental Shelf Program (PCSP) compound northwest of Resolute on Cornwallis Island, Nu. could support about 62 people—today it can handle as many as 240 people.

“We’ve expanded four-fold in a very, very short time,” said acting PCSP Chief of Arctic Logistics Tim McCagherty.

Rapid expansion came thanks to cooperation integral to all operations in the high Arctic.

“If you’re not all working together, nothing happens,” McCagherty said. “Nobody stands alone in the Arctic.”

In this case, the cooperation is between his the PCSP—backed by Natural Resources Canada, Environment Canada, and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans—and the Canadian Forces Arctic Training Centre (CFATC), via the Department of National Defence (DND).

In 2007, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) received “the Canada First Defence strategy,” which mandated an increase in CAF Arctic presence and sovereignty defence.

“When (that) came up… the military turned around and said, ‘Okay, we’ve got to do an assessment of where we should place (a base of operations), and what should this facility do,” said Lt.Col Luc St. Denis.

The PCSP was established—albeit smaller—conveniently in the middle of the Canadian Arctic, and has one of the longest runways this far North, bar few, allowing for the kind of air projection vital to responding to sovereign threats almost anywhere North of Churchill.

McCagherty and company also offered 53 years of experience and an extensive network of contacts, pre-negotiated agreements, an established HF radio network and fuel caches.

“When we looked at all the factors, we needed mobility, we needed reach back to the south, we needed a central location and we needed good contacts,” St. Denis said of why CAF partnered the PCSP. “It was a win-win.”

He also said “training capability” was a primary need, hence the facility plan.

A planned expansion to the PCSP compound around 2009 allowed St. Denis an opportunity to propose the partnership, when he had his mandate and a $60 million budget to achieve his goals.

“I said… ‘I’ve got money, you’ve got the blueprint, what if we did a cut and paste, flipped it over and doubled the capacity to respond to my need?” St. Denis said.
He took the plan to DND in September 2010, it was approved by April 2011. Construction began the following summer and the ribbon was cut for the multi-departmental facility in 2013.

“That is something else,” St. Denis said. “The reason it worked is because of the partnership.”

McCagherty agreed with that sentiment.

“It’s kind of the case (of), ‘if you don’t bail and I don’t row, the both of us are going to sink in the boat,” he said. “So everybody has to work together and that relationship has been spectacular with the CFATC.”

From research to logistics

Today, the PCSP functions as a logistics provider. Originally founded in 1958, it was a base of operations for scientific research in the Canadian Arctic.

Now it provides support to more than 140 camps from the Resolute base, and has operated in more than 2,000 locations in the Canadian Arctic, touching every island there is.

It plans 18 months in advance by accepting submissions from researchers, public and government departments needing logistics support to work in their back yard. It provides flights, guides, accommodations and supplies to suit needs, and finds synergies between different operations to reduce costs.

The CFATC is managed by the Army, supports northern training to Army, Navy and Air Force members, and stages the CAF Arctic operations.

Change Needed in Canadian Defence Policy - Should we be looking at Australia?

Published in today's National Post, Matthew Fisher has written an interesting article explaining how Australia decides its matters of national security and overall defence policy. The intent of his article is to perhaps convince Canadians that we would be better off if Canada changed how it dealt with national security issues, military spending, and procurement; and took a lead from the non-partisan way Australia has been working for years.

Fisher's main arguement is that Australia has adapted a non-partisan forum for deciding issues of national security and its overall defence policy because it is geographically isolated from its allies, and therefore must make swift defence decisions. Australia cannot afford to take decades to decide on procurement; like Canada has been doing now on its FWSAR, CF-18 replacement, and the replacement fleet for the Royal Canadian Navy.

You can read his article below and decide for yourself.

Published by Matthew Fisher, National Post, Thursday February 18, 2016 Edition 

Australians figured out decades ago that national defence was too important to be left to the whims of competing political parties and their leaders.

While Canada has long dithered about what fighter jets to buy, Australia has acquired F-35s and F-18 Super Hornets with little political fuss or public outcry, Matthew Fisher writes, due to an all-party consensus that a common and consistent vision on national security is top priority.

What has evolved Down Under is an all-party consensus that robustly defending Australia is a top-level national interest. Decisions on strategic policy, defence budgets and procurement policies reflect that. A common vision on security supersedes everything.

There is a strong public expectation political parties and their leaders will set aside their differences and work together.

No matter which party is in power in Canberra, major defence policies have remained the same. There was been little parliamentary squabbling or controversy over such issues as the deployment of Royal Australian Air Force F-18 Hornets and Super Hornets to bomb the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, while training more Iraqi security forces than Canada has done or is proposing to do.

Nor do opposition parties seek election in Australia by campaigning to undo many of the outgoing government’s defence policies. Continuity in security strategy and philosophy are considered far too important. Even the media and defence analysts tend to be agreed on this. So debates on national defence often end up being about different shades of grey.

Australia provides the best straight-up comparison with Canada because both are large, thinly populated countries and share the Westminster political system and traditions. But while Canada has dithered for years about what fighter jets and warships to buy next, with little political fuss or public outcry Australia has acquired F-35s and F-18 Super Hornets. Its navy has commissioned a huge new assault ship, with another on the way, and is committed to spending more than $15 billion on a fleet of submarines to be built in Japan, Germany or France.

Such purchases often become political footballs in Canada because some politicians demand the money be spent in their jurisdictions. Australia can avoid such expensive partisan nonsense because the public has little patience for politicians trying to gain advantage from important decisions about the country’s security.

The usual explanation for Australia’s striking unity on security issues is that it is far from friends in a distant corner of the world while Canada expects the U.S. to pay most of its defence bills.

This is at least partly true, but consensus on national security has also been obvious for decades in Britain and France, and even in small Nordic countries with liberal traditions such as Norway, Sweden and Finland. In the U.S., there is still fairly broad political backing whenever a president commits troops overseas.

Canada has not had a broad public or political consensus on major military matters for some years. The most notable exception to this drift, which set in after the Korean War, was the Independent Panel on Canada’s Future Role in Afghanistan. John Manley’s report, whose recommendations were accepted by Parliament in 2008, called for combat troops in Kandahar to be provided with helicopter and unmanned aerial vehicle support, and combat help from a U.S. army infantry battalion.

Lt.-Gen. Michel Gauthier, who was responsible for the prosecution of Canada’s combat mission in southern Afghanistan during its most difficult years, points out it was not only incoming Liberal governments that tried to reverse the security policies of those they were replacing. For the first time in more than half a century the Paul Martin government decided to send ground troops to fight overseas in 2005. Within a few months, it was out of power.

“Canadians had instead elected the Harper government and its main military plank was to do more in the Arctic, not Afghanistan” he said. “The Conservatives had to immediately adjust to NATO and working in coalitions.”

Stephen Harper was no fan of peacekeeping or the United Nations. Justin Trudeau champions peacekeeping and internationalism. So does the New Democratic Party, which has a strong pacifist bent and would like the military to be defanged.

Without taking a position on these opposing views, Gauthier said, “You can’t turn around national security policy on a dime. Procurement takes 20 years and development of military capacities takes 15 to 20 years. There has to be some kind of consistency in a country’s national security vision. Defence and foreign policy derive from agreed interests and values.”

Armed forces in a democracy must abide by the decisions made by those whom the public elects. There is no question about that.

But it would be mighty helpful if Canada’s political parties understood, as Australians do, why there is a compelling need for continuity in defence policy and could forge a consensus about what the country’s strategic interests and values are. There is no chance that will happen as long as they do not regard national defence as a priority.

Comparing the FWSAR Bids for RCAF

© 2016 FrontLine Defence (Vol 13, No 1)

Sometime in the late 1990s, air force planners in the Department of National Defence began considering the next stage in fixed-wing search and rescue (FWSAR) capabilities. Whatever aircraft was selected would continue a proud heritage dating to just after World War: servicing what has evolved into one of the largest SAR jurisdiction in the world, extending to the High Arctic and well out into the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

2012 – MCpl Sean Daniell, a SAR Tech from 442 Transport and Rescue Sqn, Comox, British Columbia checks the tail of the CC-115 Buffalo aircraft for ice buildup during a SAR training scenario during Operation NUNALIVUT 2012. (Photo: Sgt Matthew McGregor, CF Combat Camera)

It would be 2002 before the new requirement would be officially identified, in 2003 the Defence Minister would announce it as “a priority” for his department. After a few drafts, the first Statement of Requirements (SOR), which DND planners did not make public, followed in 2004 and the government’s budget that March provided for $1.3 billion in initial funding. The stated goal was to have the first new aircraft entering service in 2006, however, the project became mired in controversy – originally due to complaints that the SOR had been written with a particular aircraft in mind, effectively eliminating any opportunity for competitive bids. Since then, a Request for Proposals (RFP) from industry was drafted and revised a half dozen times and the project bogged down in rewrites, bureaucratic delays and worry over political fallout. Every Defence Minister from Art Eggleton (1999-2002) to Jason Kenney (2015) has tried to push this project forward to no avail. The new minister, Harjit Singh Sajjan, will finally see it move forward.

Two decades after the need was first considered by those DND planners (most or all of whom have retired), the SOR was reportedly heavily modified, and the new RFP (deemed satisfactorily fair by industry stakeholders) was issued in March 2015 – finally setting the stage for first delivery of new aircraft.

As of the 11 January 2016 deadline for responding to the new Request for Proposals (RFP), three twin-engine aircraft (two European-built turboprops and one Brazilian jet) are in the final competition to supply the Royal Canadian Air Force with new fixed-wing search and rescue capability. Entry into service of new aircraft will end one of the longest and most controversial procurements in the history of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Although Team Spartan’s C-27J and the Airbus C-295W (the two turboprops from Italy and Spain) had long been considered the only serious contenders for Canada’s Fixed Wing SAR contract, a number of others have considered entering the competition, such as Bombardier and Lockheed Martin. Embraer’s KC-390 (the jet from Brazil) is now the newest and only other contender to seek to fill the role. Over the years, a few companies had also offered alternative solutions, such as Boeing and Viking Air. Now, however, with three contenders submitting bids, and a decision anticipated later this year, the painful procurement saga is about to end and a tantalizing new chapter of operational missions is on the horizon.

The C-295W, built in Spain by Airbus Defence & Space, and the C-27J Spartan, built in Italy by the Aircraft Division of Finmecchanica (formerly Alenia-Aermacchi), are both similar in basic configuration to the six remaining deHavilland C-115 Buffalos, which entered service with the RCAF in the 1960s as tactical transports and were retasked for SAR work in 1975. Those six remaining “Buffs” currently operate on the West Coast at RCAF Base Comox. While still capable aircraft, having been extensively upgraded a decade ago, they now cost millions annually to keep in service, and spare parts are increasingly difficult to find. The third and newest contender, the KC-390 built in São Paulo by Embraer, is a latecomer to the FWSAR competition.

CC-115 Buffalo goes through the bird-bath to remove any residue that may have accumulated on the airframe as a result of the hours flown over salt water. Buffalos, Hercules and Twin Otters have been handling all FWSAR flights over the years.(Photo: Sgt Eileen Redding)

When the extended bidding process finally closed for the $3.1-billion contract to supply around 17 missionized aircraft (which will also replace 11 older Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules aircraft used for SAR work), Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) would say only that three companies had responded to its 2,000-page Request for Proposal (RFP), which also provides for an initial 20 years of in-service support (ISS).

While PSPC declines to identify the bidders as a matter of policy, FrontLine Defence had already confirmed their identities. Lockheed Martin had been rumoured to be considering bidding new J models of its C-130, which would have had fleet commonality with the RCAF’s current core transport, but the company was neither confirming nor denying that it had bid even two days after the deadline had expired.

A week after the bids closed, Lockheed Martin confirmed to FrontLine that although it had been a “potential” bidder, the company had opted to drop out after “an extensive and thorough analysis of the RFP’s requirements.” Spokesperson Cindy Tessier said the company preferred to focus on supporting the RCAF’s fleet of newer J-model Hercules.

Each of the RFP bidders were requested to provide a digitally-signed master and six printed copies, the latter weighing at least a couple of hundred kilograms each. “The master copy . . . takes precedence,” PSPC explained. “Additional paper copies are required to support bid evaluation teams that will be working in parallel across three departments.” PSPC retained two copies, the Department of National Defence received three for distribution to its evaluation teams, and the other copy went to the Department of Innovation, Science & Economic Development, which assesses industrial offsets proposed for Canadian companies in the various bids.

“Verification of the proposals will be conducted by the bid evaluation teams . . . and there is a process in place where bidders may be requested to clarify information or correct any inadvertent errors or omissions,” PSPC said. “Bid evaluation, which includes aircraft (ground and flight) testing, is expected to take about six months and a contract award is anticipated sometime in the late 2016, early 2017 timeframe.”

September 2015 – Search and Rescue Technicians aboard a CC-130 Hercules aircraft from 435 Squadron, watch out the spotter window for their ground target during in SAREX 15, in Comox, British Columbia. (Photo: Cpl Ian Thompson, 4 Wing Cold Lake Alberta)

The original target date to meet a need anticipated by the RCAF in the 1990s and officially identified in 2002 is long past. History shows that after a few drafts, the first official version of the Statement of Operational Requirements (SOR), which was signed off in March 2004, was greeted with accusations that DND had written it with a specific aircraft in mind (the C-27J) rather than the mission. Controversy delayed the issue of an RFP and subsequent revisions (versions 2 and 3) of the SOR, issued in April and August 2005, did not resolve the complaints. The increasingly rancorous political debate went on for years and confounded numerous Defence Ministers.

Despite attempts to “fast-track” the program, it continually found itself at the bottom of the “to do” list due to the political quagmire. In late 2009, in an attempt to get out from under the multi-layered accusations, the department of Public Works & Government Services, as it was known then, asked the National Research Council Flight Research Laboratory in Ottawa to review the SOR.

The NRC’s test pilots and engineers concluded in their March 2010 report that the SOR had effectively limited the RCAF’s options by, among other things, specifying an “off the shelf” aircraft which lacked integrated SAR sensors such as electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR), search radar and night vision imaging. This represented a need for extensive modifications involving significant risk, expense, and delay (otherwise known as “Canadianization”). The NRC team recommended avoiding the use of this terminology “unless it is anticipated that aircraft may be procured in the form they are currently produced with no design changes.

Sept 2015 – WO Norm Penny parachutes out of a Twin Otter aircraft as Sgt Chad Hildebrant and MCpl Ashley Barker look on during SAREX15 in British Columbia. (Photo: Sgt Halina Folfas, 19 Wing Imaging)

The review team also balked at the SOR’s specification of an unrefueled range of 1,699 nautical miles (nearly 3,150 kilometres) with a 3,130 kg payload, which they said was “inconsistent with the stated core objective of […] maintaining or improving the SAR level of service.” The current Buffalos have a range of 2,240km with a maximum load of 2,727 kilograms. It should be noted that the standard SAR payload for the Buffalo is just under 1,000 kg, and the minimum payload, as stated in the RFP, is reportedly 3057 lbs (1,387 kg).

Another comparison to utilize is “Ferry range” which implies a lightly-loaded aircraft with full tanks (the minimum payload cited in the SOR likely would be close). FrontLine gathered the following ferry range data on the contenders: C295W: 5750km; C-27J: 5926km; KC-390: 6019km.

More critical to the issue of transparency, and what may have kick-started the accusations of impropriety, was the SOR’s mandatory requirement of a minimum cabin height of 83 inches. This eliminated the competition as, at the time, only the C-27J conformed to that specification. In its review of the SOR, the NRC team noted that both the Cormorant and Buffalo cabin heights are significantly less than 83 inches, and that none of the SAR techs they interviewed were uncomfortable with the cabin heights of those aircraft. NRC concluded that the stated requirement of 83 inches cabin height was “not supported”.

Lauded as a fair and unbiased assessment by the NRC, this report created the much-needed whiff of transparency that finally unlocked the shackles, allowed the SOR to be revised, and the program finally saw the light of day after more than a decade of controversy.

Captain Matt Adam steers his CC-130 Hercules aircraft from 435 Sqn in a tight orbit around the ground target during SAREX 15.(Photo: Cpl Ian Thompson, Imagery Technician, 4 Wing Cold Lake)

Airbus C-295W
The revised SOR enabled Airbus to keep the C-295 in contention. A tactical transport developed from the proven CN-235, it features a stretched fuselage, Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127G engines (which afford longer range, a higher operational ceiling, and heavier payloads), and the now-ubiquitous winglets (which improved its aerodynamics – performance and fuel efficiency – significant enough to add the W to the designator).

In bidding for the contract, Airbus has set up AirPro SAR Services, a joint venture with Provincial Aerospace Ltd. (PAL), which is headquartered in St. John’s, Newfoundland and has a track record of providing ISS and other services to customers in Caribbean and Middle East markets as well as at home, racking up more than 250,000 hours of flying time. PAL Chief Development Officer Keith Stoodley told FrontLine at a bid-day briefing that all C-295W in-service support will be done in Canada.

Other partners added to the C-295 team include CAE (training provider), Pratt & Whitney Canada(engine provider), and L-3 WESCAM (for their world-renowned electro-optical/infrared turrets). The company has indicated it will release a list of second tier suppliers at a later date.

Pablo Molina, Head of Airbus’ Military Aircraft Division in Canada, told the briefing that the C-295W is the “market leading aircraft” in its category, capable of handling any conditions the Canadian SAR mission can throw at it – and at the lowest cost. Airbus advises that since the RFP was launched in March, there have been sales of an additional 13 aircraft, bringing the total C-295 sales to more than 165. Antonio Rodriguez-Barberan, Senior Vice-President Commercial, Special Projects for Airbus, noting that 15 years had passed since he first visited Canada to discuss the FWSAR project, added that their proposal was “fully compliant” with the “very, very demanding requirement” set out in the RFP.

Airbus is proud to point out that, despite the development of the KC-390s, the Brazilian Air Force purchased three new Airbus C-295 aircraft (configured for SAR with mission system and sensors), to augment the 12 basic-configuration C-295s the country has been operating since 2006. Although they have opted out of the winglet configuration for reasons of fleet commonality, the mission ­systems and sensors of the new aircraft are similar to what is required for Canada, the company says. The first aircraft for the 2014 contract will be delivered to the Brazilian government later this year.

Airbus C-295W

Airbus points out that all “Canadianization” will be incorporated into the C-295 at the manufacturing stage, not added after delivery. The mission system, sensors, engines, EO/IR turrets and other components are all installed on the assembly line in Seville as part of the manufacturing process and facilitating quality control. This “eliminates the need to modify the aircraft after final assembly,” says a company representative. It also creates more accountability based on control of the process and allows Airbus to reduce risk and cost, while ensuring the aircraft is delivered on schedule, as contracted.

Like its two competitors, the C-295W requires a minimum crew of two, pilot and co-pilot, but SAR missions also can involve sensor operators, spotters, SAR Technicians and a load master as needed. Measuring 24.4 metres in length with a 27.59 m wingspan, its maximum speed is 480 kilometres per hour, with a range of over 5400 km (over 2,900 nm) with the required minimum SAR payload of 3,057 lbs (1,387 kg).

Finmeccanica C-27J
The other top contender, Finmeccanica, brought its C-27J Spartan to Gatineau-Ottawa Executive Airport for a two-hour briefing in December 2015. A multi-mission variant for la Fuerza Aérea del Perú, one of more than a dozen military and paramilitary services around the world which fly the Spartan, it was being flown by company pilots to Lima from Italy via Canada and the Bahamas.

The C-27J was developed from a 1962 design for the Fiat G.222 and is, hence, effectively a contemporary airframe to the Buffalo. Its engine, propeller and flight deck equipment were originally Hercules-based, however, Lockheed has publicly stated that there are no remaining flight deck commonalities between the C-130J and the C-27J. Team Spartan’s FWSAR configuration would be an upgraded version of the one acquired by the U.S. Coast Guard. The cockpit would feature the latest avionics, and extra power from the Rolls Royce AE-2100-S2A turbines would increase its maximum takeoff weight.

Paratroopers prepare to jump from the rear ramp of a Polish C-295.

Team Spartan consists of numerous aerospace defence companies ready to supply their specialized expertise. For example, Finmeccanica Aeronautics would supply green aircraft for outfitting at IMP Aerospace in Nova Scotia. Others include Airdyne (spotter windows, seats and flare launcher); DRS Technologies Canada (courseware and training aids); Esterline CMC (flight management system and electronic flight bag); Flyht Aerospace Solutions (Iridium satellite communications); General Dynamics Mission Systems – Canada (ISS integrator); KF Aerospace (maintenance, supply chain and repair engineering ISS, pilot and maintenance training, management support); L-3 WESCAM (EO/IR turrets); Rockwell Collins (radios); and Selex-ES (search radar).

On the key element of industrial offsets, Team Spartan said in a statement that it has committed to delivering “100 per cent of contract value […] benefits in the form of hundreds of long-term jobs and far-reaching investments in Canadian firms and technology.”

DND’s former Chief of the Air Staff (2005-2007), Steve Lucas, is now Canadian spokesman for Team Spartan. He told a media briefing at the Gatineau airport that “thanks to its exceptional speed, size, endurance and manœuverability,” the C-27J “can reach austere and remote locations […] from Canada’s existing main operating bases.”

Although similar in length and manœuvrability to the Buffalo, the C-27J’s speed, pressurized cargo compartment and circumference are more similar to the Hercules than the Buffalo. Shorter than the Airbus platform at 22.7 m, it has a significantly higher and wider cabin. The C-27-J also features a greater wingspan and 25% more wing area, which facilitates searching at slower speeds. Its maximum speed is 602kph, its range is nearly 1,852km with a full payload of 11,500kg. Based on the minimum SAR load specified in the RFP, Team Spartan puts the C-27J’s range between 2,300 and 2,600 nautical miles (4,260 to 4,815 km), depending on the conditions.

Both aircraft offer, like the venerable Buffalo, exceptional short-field take-off and landing capability.


IMP’s “Canadianization” would involve a range of government-mandated hardware, including the chin-mounted L-3 WESCAM turret, belly-mounted radar and extraordinarily large bubble spotter windows which would take up almost the entire rear doors on each side of the aft fuselage. Coupled with a modular “palletized” interior, all mean increased weight and drag and, when asked whether that was why winglets have been added to the design, Lucas replied that it was “certainly one of the reasons.” Noting that many newer commercial aircraft feature them, he added that in the case of the C-27J, “in a number of flight environments, the winglets will either completely or partially offset those particular drag components.”

Embraer KC-390
As for the third contender, the KC-390, Embraer is touting its speed, range, payload and lifecycle costs as key attributes for the RCAF. Conceived as a clean-sheet design in 2006, it was still in early development when FrontLine Defence visited São Paulo in late 2012, but the company rolled out the first of two prototypes in just two years.

Geraldo Gomes, vice-president of international business development for Embraer Defense and Security, said the company managed to fast-track the program by drawing on nearly a half-century of civil and military design, development and production expertise. “Development of the KC-390 made extensive use of advanced digital modeling technologies, test rigs and advanced manufacturing processes in order to anticipate any issue,” he explained to FrontLine while attending the AIAC conference in November 2015.

The first flight of the KC-390 was in February 2015 and that aircraft, about to be joined by the second prototype, now is approximately halfway through 2,000 hours of flight test evaluation. Certification is expected in the second half of 2017, entry into service in 2018. Embraer’s heaviest model to date, the KC-390 is by far the largest candidate for the Buffalo replacement at 33.43m in length with a 33.94m wingspan. It can carry up to 23.6 tonnes some 1,400km at a top speed of 850kph. Its range, based on the minimum SAR payload of 3,057 pounds, is 6,278 km (3,390 nm); this range includes reserves for 100 nautical miles alternate and 45 minutes hold.

According to Embraer, the certification strategy for the KC-390 is based on a dual approach: civil certification, under Part 25 (transport category), by ANAC, the Brazilian Civil Certification Authority, for the “green aircraft” (basic aircraft), complemented by IFI, the Brazilian Military Certification Authority, military certification, for the full certification of all systems and capabilities of the aircraft.


“In the case we are selected for the FWSAR Program, the Canadian Military Certification Authority is expected to issue the FWSAR configuration type certificate, based on the Brazilian full military certification,” explained corporate spokesperson Valtécio Alencar. “For the moment,” he continued, “there is no identified need for a civil certification with the FAA (USA) or Transport Canada. The KC-390 development planning and schedule allow us to assure full compliance with all certification requirements on the FWSAR request for proposals and we are very confident about our ability to deliver the best solution for the Canadian SAR needs.”

As for specialized technologies, Gomes said the KC-390 features the latest avionics, electro-optic/infrared and radar sensors, full night-vision-goggle capability, and fly-by-wire technology, which enables the crew to focus on the mission. It would, he said, be “the ideal aircraft” for the Canadian SAR mission because it can be flown not only ‘high and fast’ but also ‘low and slow’ (which is a Brazilian Air Force requirement for paratrooper drops and inflight refueling of helicopters). He said it is “SAR-ready from the initial concept” and “fast reconfiguration allows the plane to act as a fast transport for injured victims with litters and life-support equipment.”

He pointed out that the BAF’s SAR environments are similar to Canada’s, including dense forest, mountains and large maritime areas. “The sooner you get to the search area, the higher the chances of success,” reminds Gomes.

Power is from International Aero Engines V2500-E5 turbofans, and this is the first military application of the units used in the larger Airbus A320s. While test evaluation is “progressing well”, none of it has involved austere airstrips. Even so, Gomes said “the ability to operate from unpaved or contaminated runways has been an integral part of the design requirements.”

Other key suppliers to Embraer include two U.S. majors – Rockwell Collins (avionics and cargo-handling and aerial delivery system) and Goodrich Corp. (primary fly-by-wire) – as well as the venerable Czech firm Aero Vodochody (aft fuselage). Although Embraer has talked with potential Canadian partners about spinoffs from the RCAF procurement, Gomes would say only that Embraer would deliver “a competitive, custom-made solution for Canada and this will certainly include local participation.”

As for lifecycle costs, Gomes insisted that the KC-390’s are the lowest in its class. “The latest maintainability processes and tools allow the aircraft to operate with longer time between inspections and reduced maintenance downtime. The KC-390 uses mature solutions like proven engines, commercial off-the-shelf basic avionics, and integrated fault monitoring. It also introduces new technologies to the medium airlift category such as Prognostic Health Monitoring and Advanced Structural Health Monitoring.”
There currently are 28 firm orders from the BAF, which also will acquire the two prototypes, having put up the equivalent of $1.5 billion in initial funding. Argentina, the Czech Republic and Portugal (which also contributed to the $2-billion development cost) have signed letters of intent, as have Chile and Colombia. If all translate into firm orders, the total would be 60 aircraft, excluding the prototypes.

A Canadian selection would give Embraer a foothold in North America, which is a key element of its goal of securing “a good share” of what Gomes called the “addressable replacement market” of some 700 medium-airlift transports worldwide by 2030.

Selection of any one of the three contenders would be a significant step toward a long-overdue reinvigoration of Canada’s overall SAR capabilities in what is acknowledged at home and abroad as one of the most demanding environments in the world.

Ken Pole is a contributing editor
at FrontLine magazines.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Canada in Iraq: RCAF Ends Airstrikes

Written by David Pugliese, Ottawa Citizen
Published February 17, 2016

Canada’s CF-18 fighter jets stopped their bombing in Iraq and Syria on Monday, days before MPs started debating the value of the new military mission against the Islamic State.

The debate in the House of Commons on the Liberal government’s new Iraq mission started Wednesday. But the six fighter aircraft had finished their mission two days before.

“In accordance with Government of Canada direction, the Chief of the Defence Staff ordered the Canadian Armed Forces to cease airstrike operations in Iraq and Syria on February 15, 2016,” Canadian Forces spokesman Capt. Kirk Sullivan confirmed late Wednesday.

“The Hornets will depart the region in a phased approach in the coming weeks,” he added.

The Liberals unveiled Feb. 8 their revamped “non-combat” mission to battle ISIL in Iraq, including their plan to triple the number of Canadian special forces in the north of the country and withdraw the six fighter jets.

The Liberals had said the fighter jet mission would end by Feb. 22. The last bombing runs took place on the weekend in Iraq.

On Feb. 14, two CF-18 Hornets bombed an ISIL fighting position in the vicinity of Fallujah using precision-guided munitions. Four days earlier, two CF-18s attacked an ISIL weapons cache in the vicinity of Al Habbaniyah. The same day, two CF-18s bombed an Islamic State fighting position north of Ramadi.

The CF-18s flew their first mission on Oct. 30, 2014. They conducted 251 airstrikes, dropping 606 bombs, Sullivan noted. Only five of the bombing runs were in Syria, the rest were in Iraq.

Military officials said Wednesday night that the bombs destroyed 267 ISIL fighting positions, 102 vehicles or other pieces of equipment, and 30 improvised explosive device factories or storage facilities.

Canada will leave an aerial refueling tanker and two CP-140 surveillance aircraft assigned to the coalition bombing mission.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has faced criticism in the Commons for ending the fighter jet combat mission.

But Trudeau has insisted that Canada can make a more meaningful contribution through providing humanitarian aid and training Kurdish security forces fighting the Islamic State. That training will include directing airstrikes and if necessary eliminating enemy positions using other weapons.

That part of the mission hasn’t changed from when the Conservatives committed special forces to northern Iraq in the fall of 2014. But the Liberals have expanded in size of the commitment, increasing the number of commandos from 69 to a little more than 200.

The Canadian military is also looking at sending helicopters to Iraq to help with transport.

In the Commons Wednesday, Trudeau acknowledged the criticism from the Conservatives, who don’t believe the Liberal plan is doing enough to fight ISIL, and the NDP, who are worried Canada could be drawn into a war on the ground.

“We have one party that wants us to do much more in the fight against the so-called Islamic State, and the other party who wants us to do much less against ISIL,” Trudeau said.

But he noted Canada’s allies are happy with the Liberal government’s plan. That plan would see the number of Canadian military personnel increase from 650 to 830.

The Conservative’s interim leader Rona Ambrose said the Liberal plan falls significantly short. “The prime minister is wrong when he says his plan to deal with ISIS reflects Canadian values,” she said in the Commons. “Canadians value standing with our traditional allies, Canadians value helping the vulnerable and the threatened, and Canadians value showing true resolve against a brutal enemy.”

The revamped mission has earned kudos from coalition allies. The Pentagon’s chief spokesman, Peter Cook, praised the mission, describing it as the kind of response U.S. Defence Secretary Ashton Carter had been looking for from coalition members. “The secretary sees these as significant contributions,” Cook told reporters, “and he appreciates the decision by the Trudeau government to step up Canada’s role in the campaign at this critical time.”

Dallaire: ISIS cannot be Defeated without strategy for Child Soldiers

Written by: Murray Brewster, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — One of Canada's most famous former soldiers says the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant cannot be defeated without a strategy to deal with legions of child soldiers being indoctrinated into the violent, extremist cause.

Retired lieutenant-general — and former Liberal senator — Romeo Dallaire recently introduced a program of recruiting veterans to help train local security forces in the world's hot spots in anti-radicalization techniques and recovery efforts.

His goal is to have at least 200 former soldiers trained and ready to give instruction anywhere in the world and to that end last week received $175,000 in seed money from Wounded Warriors Canada to get a cadre of veterans trained in a pilot program.

But separately, he says, some of the training regime may be adopted as doctrine by the Canadian Army and possibly even delivered on the ground to Kurdish fighters by special forces.

Unlike Africa, where child soldiers have long been an issue, Dallaire says ISIL represents a more insidious problem because of the ruthless tactics the group employs and the fact the children are more isolated from the rest of the world.

A series of reports, including one from the United Nations, say children have been hauling weapons, acting as human shields and even becoming suicide bombers. Videos posted online show them watching beheadings as a part of their training to become jihadis.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said late last year that between January and August 2015, 1,100 children under the age of sixteen were recruited by the Islamic State — something Dallaire says cannot be allowed to continue.

"There is no doubt in my military mind that the sustainment of that conflict is based on the early recruitment and massive use of young people," said Dallaire, who has been meeting senior members of the Trudeau government, and the country's top military commander to persuade them to get behind the effort.

The Liberal government's retooled anti-ISIL strategy last week did not touch on the issue of child soldiers, despite a commitment of hundreds of millions of dollars in humanitarian and development aid.

Dallaire met officials at the White House and elsewhere last week in Washington, where the perception of the issue is evolving.

"The Americans are concerned because they have now finally captured the fact that child soldiers — and the use of children — in these conflicts is far more than a humanitarian problem," he said. "It is far more than a social-economic problem. It is a threat, and that is starting to sink in."

Since leaving the Senate, Dallaire, who encountered child soldiers in his ill-fated 1994 Rwanda peacekeeping mission, has focused on the issue through The Romeo Dallaire Child Soldier Initiative. His group estimates that 250,000 children have forced to fight in armed conflicts around the world.

He said he hopes Veterans Affairs will see the wisdom of further supporting the training program for ex-soldiers, which he describes as training the trainers.

It will give veterans a renewed sense of purpose and put to use some of the skills they've learned over a lifetime in uniform, he added.

Some of the instruction ex-soldiers can give to local security forces involves getting into classrooms in at-risk countries and preventing radicalization in the first place.

Women, Dallaire says, have an important role to play in the programs because in Muslim countries they are often the only ones who can talk with the mothers of child soldiers. They even have a role in disarming the young people, because research shows boys respond more positively to a female influence.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Former Vice-Admirals state RCN Needs at least 12 Surface Combatants

Surface Combatants
How Many, and What Capabilities?
© 2016 FrontLine Defence (Vol 13, No 1)

There has been significant recent media coverage about the renewal of Canada’s Surface Combatant fleet and what number of ships and the capabilities they should have. In its Speech from the Throne, the Government announced that an open and transparent defence review will be undertaken and should answer the fundamental question “What does the Government expect of its Navy”. Along with an approved program budget, the answer to numbers and capabilities will be determined.

Spanish combat ship Blas de Lezo and Portuguese multi-purpose ship Dom Francisco de Almeida sail with Canadian ship Winnipeg (foreground) during Operation Reassurance as part of Canada’s commitment to NATO assurance measures in Central and Eastern Europe.

Canada has three coasts, and having naval capability in the Atlantic and Pacific that can deploy to the Arctic along with some support facilities would meet a bare minimum sovereignty capability. The Arctic requirement will soon be met by the new Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships which are focused upon Canadian sovereignty.

The Liberal Platform stated: “These investments will ensure that the Royal Canadian Navy is able to operate as a true blue-water maritime force”. This means the ability to operate not only in our sovereign waters but throughout the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean with a capability to deal with more than constabulary threats.

The question then, is whether the Government wishes to maintain a naval role in contributing to global peace and security; a capability that has been used consistently over the past few decades by both Liberal and Conservative Governments. Based upon the Liberal Platform, it would seem highly likely that the Government would want the ability to make a significant contribution internationally.

Minimum Requirements
To calculate minimum ship numbers, there are two important contextual concepts that need to be understood.

First, to have a fully trained and ready ship/crew available for immediate tasking realistically requires a minimum of four ships/crews. The reasons, while complex, have been proven time and again. Anything less will either badly erode the institution (the Navy) or will result in not being able to meet assigned commitments.

Second, in terms of international naval operations, it is generally accepted that a nation providing one warship will have limited ability to lead/influence. If a nation provides more than one, it has frequent opportunity to lead, and much greater ability to influence mission objectives. The RCN has shown over recent decades that it is not only capable but is a preferred Alliance and Coalition leader.

The calculation then becomes: one Surface Combatant ready in the Atlantic and a second in the Pacific, plus a minimum of one Surface Combatant available for international tasking but realistically two to allow greater influence and to be able to simultaneously deal with major events in differing geographic areas. This result is a minimum of three – but more realistically four – Surface Combatants available on an ongoing basis. Based upon the 1:4 ratio this means the Surface Combatant fleet size must be between 12 and 16. Anything below these numbers will result in Canada’s ability to play any rapid and long term international role is severely impacted and could also potentially result in a loss of operational capability in either the broader Atlantic or Pacific.

Why this Capability?
These ships will be the only surface class that will be able to deal with more than rudimentary constabulary threats. This means they must be of sufficient size, sea worthiness, combat capability and endurance to deal both with sophisticated threats within our sovereign waters and throughout the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean.

The increase in capability required to seamlessly work with our allies is not large, but would translate into more than a self defence capability – to include the ability to command an Alliance or Coalition task force. These latter capabilities need only be fitted in three or four of the total ships.

Based on the Liberal Platform’s stated desire to contribute in a meaningful way internationally, the minimum Surface Combatant fleet size is clearly between 12 and 16; anything less would not meet Government commitments and would be a major reduction in Canadian naval capability.

Vice-Admirals Gary Garnett and Ron Buck both served as Commander of Canada’s Navy and as Vice Chief of Defence Staff before retiring from the Canadian Armed Forces.

Cayouette: Statement of Requirements for CF-18 Replacement

Fighter Replacement
The Need for a Statement of Requirements
© 2016 FrontLine Defence (Vol 13, No 1)

There is no doubt that Canada needs a replacement for its ageing CF-18 fleet – the airframe, avionics and weapon systems are getting old and obsolete. What are our future needs? Have new technologies and threats been considered? Can we make the replacement program a success story for Canada’s economy?

The RCAF CF-18 has been life-extended twice - now until at least 2025; and there is no definitive replacement plan yet.
Photo: RCAF 
The CF-18 was a ground-breaking (should say air-breaking) feat of technology when it was selected. A force multiplier, its multi-role capability is still impressive by today’s standards. The same order of magnitude of technological leap that was achieved in the early 80s is non-existent in 2016.

When we hear about manœuverability, agility and ease to fly, our military pilots express their “want’’ for a single seat aerial sports car, not a military system. Nowadays the pilot is the limiting factor in air-to-air combat as he/she is limited to pulling an 8g turn; a few will admit it. Think of all the hardware and systems needed to interface with and keep a pilot alive: cockpit, stick, throttle, pedals, visual instruments, ejection seat, liquid oxygen, redundant systems... A pilot on board means much more weight and drag for a given design; it makes the fighter jet inefficient and very expensive. Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles (UCAVs) do not have these restrictions, they can be built at a much lower cost and can easily outturn and defeat any manned aircraft.

Highly skilled pilots are needed to command the platforms but not necessarily to be inside the platforms. Consider this scenario: Upon detection of an air threat in the Canadian Air Defense Identification Zone (CADIZ), C-130s, C-17s or other aircraft take off from various Canadian air bases. Each aircraft carries multiple UCAVs which they launch as they approach the interception point (in a best case scenario, the UCAVs takeoff on their own from small airports near the CADIZ, thereby cutting response time). Airborne intruders will see UCAVs coming at them from all azimuths, each pinging with their radars, each having multiple “all aspect’’ missiles on board locked-in for the intercept. That is a deterrent that would be fatal to ignore.

This is akin to the Bomarc tactics but the nukes are replaced with a swarming and cooperative engagement artificial intelligence capability, sophisticated communication systems, long-range detection and identification sensors and very smart and precise guidance software.

Would that scenario fulfill the NORAD air defence role? Definitely, yes.

The required technology and expertise already exists in Canada for design and construction of such a solution. Maybe a non-stealth, remotely-piloted F-35 variant with no cockpit and vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) capability is the answer.

The element of surprise can be advantageous. The F-35 does not have long range capability in the Canadian context but we could deploy many of them near our border in very isolated, very camouflaged shelters from which they would take off vertically; the “shell game” tactic would be very hard to counter as no conspicuous runway is needed. VTOL fighters could be a real tactical advantage. We are about to buy F-35s without that capability. Why?

That brings me to the question of stealth. Stealth aircraft are needed for invasion, for deep penetration strikes where destruction of enemy air defence and ground assets is the primary goal. That is why the B-2 and the F-117 were developed. Does Canada need a stealth aircraft? Not unless our defence strategy includes invading foreign nations.

The primary operational role for Canada’s F-18s is NORAD air defence: the sovereignty of our airspace and borders. The enemy should see many of us coming at them fast and from far away outside the CADIZ, with the right weapon: that is the deterrent. There are many excellent options in operation around the globe. Let the discussion be about the sensors, speed and range and other capabilities of the platform, and about the weapon’s performance and quantity, not about showmanship.

Why is there a machine gun on the F-35? It does not fit the air defence scenario. The “sport’’ connotation springs again. All that is needed is a long range missile for intercept and, for self-defence, an all-aspect missile that can engage an enemy on its tail.

Ok, we have NATO and coalition requirements for ground support where only a pilot in the cockpit can make the fast decisions required by its counterpart on the ground, the Forward Observer Officer. In this mission scenario, having a big machine gun, a large number of bombs and some agility and survivability are a big plus. So why not get the drawings and build, in Canada, a bunch of A-10s with modern avionics? That would be formidable! Such designs do not require export-forbidden and foreign-owned technology like stealth and “smart skin’’, which means there is no reason we cannot build 100% of it here.

In my opinion, the F-22 Raptor is the best air-to-air combat aircraft. If we still need a manned air-to-air superiority fighter for visually identifying a commercial aircraft in distress or an unknown intruder, let’s buy a few Raptors to do that mission.

Aircraft, and all its components: engines, airframe, software, avionics, can be designed and built – right here in Montreal. Companies here produce the best military simulation and training systems in the world. All the required competencies are in our own country. We must design and build it here in Canada to own the capability and cost-effectively support platforms throughout their long life cycle. Not just in Montreal, but everywhere in Canada where the skilled labour is available.

In summary, the operational requirements for replacing the F-18 fighter jets have to be reviewed with future missions in mind. I am convinced that once completed, the Statement of Operational Requirements (SOR) will have effectively torn down the barriers preventing design and production of the platforms and weapon systems here in Canada.

Canada needs an effective air-to-air defence platform and some manned ground support fighter jets, like a modernized A-10 and a very few Raptors for exception handling (a mixed fleet mostly designed and built in Canada but only the best in class for each tactical scenario).

The focus of replacing the CF-18s should be about our safety, the health of our economy and, correspondingly, about Canadian pride.

Richard Cayouette is the President of Martello Defence Security Consultants Inc., based in Bromont, Quebec.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Canada in Iraq: RCAF Target ISIS Fighting Position in Fallujah

Valentine's Day was a busy day for the RCAF and Air Task Force Iraq. In a press release on its OP IMPACT webpage, DND announced that on n 14 February 2016, while taking part in coalition operations in support of Iraqi security forces, two CF-18 Hornets successfully struck an ISIS fighting position in the vicinity of Fallujah using precision guided munitions.

No further details were released. 

Sajjan Hints at Possible CAF Mission in Libya

Written by CBC News
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says Canada could soon join a military coalition to take on ISIS in Libya, a country beset by a civil war and mounting Islamic terrorism.
"I had a good meeting with my counterpart, the minister of defence from Italy, [on military intervention in Libya]," Sajjan said following a NATO defence ministers' meeting in Brussels..

"Italy is willing to take the lead on this; once we have a good understanding of the political situation, that will allow us to figure out what we need to do," said in an interview with Chris Hall on CBC Radio's The House.

More than four years after Moammar Gadhafi was deposed — in large part due to Western military intervention — Islamic State militants have taken advantage of the resulting political vacuum to establish themselves in Libya's coastal cities.

An estimated 3,000 ISIS fighters are in the country, which has been attracting more foreign recruits in recent months as the journey to Iraq and Syria has become more difficult with Turkey tightening its border with Syria.

Italy has said it wants a leadership role in stabilizing Libya — one of its former colonial possessions — because it is located less than 300 km from the Italian island of Lampedusa.

ISIS-backed elements have carried out several attacks on oil installations, and at least 60 were killed by an suicide bombing against a Libyan police training center earlier this month.

"Before we can actually say 'Yes we're interested,' 'Yes we can do this,' we're doing what all responsible coalition partners should do [asses the political and security situation] and then decide if we have the right capabilities to assist in this mission.

"We will be part of that conversation," Sajjan said.

The defence minister said that any military action in Libya would be based on lessons learned from Canada's experience in Afghanistan.

"It's all about fighting smarter ... there needs to be a political structure in place that you can reinforce so that when you have the military gains you then have a political structure," to safeguard peace and quell ethnic tensions, he said.
'State of emergency' in Libya

At the recent anti-ISIS meeting in Paris — Canada was not invited — Roberta Pinotti, Italy's defence minister, said action must be taken to beat back advances made by the Islamic State.

"We cannot imagine waiting until spring while the situation in Libya is still frozen," she said. "Efforts to resolve the Libyan crisis must be coordinated internationally," Pinotti added, warning that "it is impossible for the international intervention to wait until the upcoming spring."

Pinotti said that there was "total agreement" among the coalition partners at the Paris meeting that Libya's government should ask the West for help to fight ISIS, to avoid fuelling "jihadist propaganda" of yet another "Western invasion."

She went on to say that the so-called Islamic State was strengthening in the current political vacuum, prompting Italy and its allies to prepare for an "emergency," adding that the United States recently has expressed "a greater concern" over ISIS militants in Libya.

With files from Reuters

Sunday, February 14, 2016

HMCS Edmonton and Saskatoon depart on OP CARIBBE 2016

DND Press Release
February 12, 2016

OTTAWA – Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships (HMCS) Edmonton and Saskatoon will depart Esquimalt today to participate on Operation CARIBBE 2016, embarking on Canada’s 10th year of contributions to Op MARTILLO – the multinational campaign against transnational criminal organizations in the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean.
Slide - HMCS Edmonton and Saskatoon Depart for Operation CARIBBE
HMC Ships Edmonton and Saskatoon are the second of several Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) ships that will participate on Operation CARIBBE 2016. Throughout the year, the Royal Canadian Navy will deploy warships from both the East and West Coasts, while the Royal Canadian Air Force will provide CP-140 Aurora aircraft from various long-range patrol squadrons, all in support of Operation MARTILLO.

As part of Operation CARIBBE 2015, the CAF contributed four CP-140 Aurora surveillance aircraft, five Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels (HMC ShipsBrandon, Goose Bay, Nanaimo, Shawinigan and Whitehorse), two Halifax-class frigate with their embarked CH-124 Sea King helicopter (HMCS Winnipegand Vancouver), and one Iroquois-class destroyer (HMCS Athabaskan) with her two embarked CH-124 Sea King helicopters.

HMC Ships Edmonton and Saskatoon will look to follow-up on the success of HMC Ships Brandon and Whitehorse. The ships assisted in the seizure and disruption of more narcotics during a 44-day deployment in the fall of 2015 than any other duo of Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels in the history of Operation CARIBBE, with a combined total of approximately 9,800 kilograms.

Operation CARIBBE is one of the many activities undertaken by the Government of Canada and DND/CAF as part of Canada's broader commitment to engagement in the Americas. This annual operation directly supports the CAF's mission to defend against threats and security challenges to Canada, North America, and our defence and security partners.

The CAF has conducted Operation CARIBBE since November 2006 and remains committed to working with Western Hemisphere and European partners to address security challenges in the region to disrupt illicit trafficking operations.

RCN Welcomes Spanish AOR on East Coast

DND Press Release 
February 12, 2016

Rear Admiral John Newton, Commander of Maritime Forces Atlantic, issued the following statement February 12, 2016, regarding the arrival of SPS Patiño:

“It is my great pleasure to welcome the Spanish replenishment ship SPS Patiño to Canada and to Halifax, Nova Scotia, today.

SPS Patiño will operate at sea, February through March, with the Canadian Atlantic Fleet, conducting replenishment and combat serials that will test all levels of ship and fleet readiness. SPS Patiño’s involvement with the Royal Canadian Navy highlights a special relationship developed and perfected through decades of operating together as enduring NATO Allies in coalitions and operations around the world. Just as HMCS Protecteur refuelled Spanish warships during operations to liberate Kuwait 25 years ago this month, SPS Patiño will now play an important role in support of the Royal Canadian Navy by helping my sailors retain the expertise necessary to work with replenishment ships in the demanding conditions of the wintertime North Atlantic.

I look forward to meeting with the command team and crew of SPS Patiño, and learning from their operational experiences, tactics and technologies in the best traditions of our trans-Atlantic security alliance." 

Arrival of SPS Patino
The Spanish AOR - SPS Patiño in Halifax on February 12, 2016.