Friday, March 18, 2016

RCAF CF-18 Replacement: Update

Written by JDM, CAFDispatch Author
Published March 18, 2016

I have previously written and reposted on this topic before; which fighter jet best fits Canada's needs for a replacement to the ageing CF-18s.

Canada's current fleet of Macdonald-Douglas F/A-18 (known as CF-18 in Canada) began arriving in 1982. More than half the original fleet has been retired. The RCAF originally had a fleet of 138 CF-18s, but now maintains around 67 CF-18 Hornet's in active duty. This is why, whatever fighter is chosen as a replacement, the Canadian Government is only looking at purchasing 65 new fighter jets.

Personally, I believe the best choice for Canada is the made in Canada-option of the Dassault Rafael. Dassault offered to export the design to Canadian aerospace agencies to built the fighters in Canada. No only does the Rafael out-perform a number of other fighters, it also out performs the Boeign F/A 18 Super Hornert that now seems to be the front runner for the CF-18 replacement.

Doug Allen of The Best Fighter for Canada recently wrote the following:

"Most mainstream media (I hate that term) sources label the Super Hornet as the odds-on favorite to replace the CF-18. The reasoning is simple enough, it is the only obvious American alternative to the F-35. It is also seen (right or wrong) as an "upgraded" version to the current CF-18.

"The Super Hornet is bound to be the most popular choice. It is cheap (as modern fighters go), capable, twin-engined, and will see service in the US and Australia well into the 2040s. The "Rhino" is certainly the safest choice.

"It helps that both Boeing and the Pentagon would very much like to keep the Super Hornet's assembly line going. That can only happen with new orders. With the JSF being the priority right now for the USA, those orders are going to have to come from non-American buyers. This is easier said than done however. Expect the USA to push the Rhino with almost the same fervor as the F-35 if Canada passes on the latter." 

Personally while I see the political reasoning for purchase the Super Hornet - I fear purchasing an aircraft that is based on a late 1980s design update of the F/A-18. The Boeing Super Hornet, had its first flight in 1995, and entered service in 1999.  Therefore it is already nearly 2 decades old. While the US and Australian Air Force plan to fly their Super Hornet's into the 2040s, that would mean Canada would need to look at replacing its fleet again in the next twenty years...the CF-18s (by the time they are retired in mid-2020) will have flown for nearly 40 years...

We should be looking for an aircraft that will give us a 40 year lifespan; if not; a minimum of 30 years...but to go through this whole process again in 20 years seems redundant. 

Irving President fires back at Davie CEO of NSPS

Originally Published  by the Chronicle Herald on March 17, 2016.

Irving president Kevin McCoy is firing back at the CEO of Davie shipyard’s parent company for criticisms over Canada’s National Shipbuilding Procurement strategy.

In an interview with CBC, Alex Vicefield, CEO of Inocea, an international shipping conglomerate that owns Quebec’s Davie Chantier shipyard, called the NSPS a “national embarrassment” because of cost overruns and delays.

Speaking with the CBC from Inocea’s Monaco headquarters, Vicefield slammed the government for using a cost-plus approach that ensures profits based on a percentage of the cost incurred instead of fixed-price contracts, which he said are the international norm, and encourage builders to keep costs low.

In the interview Vicefield said in his entire career working in the international marine industry he had never witnessed a country so willing to spend money unnecessarily. He also called out the contractors for failing to deliver a single ship since the program was announced five years ago.

In a statement issued Thursday, McCoy said his company, which was selected as the prime contractor for largest portion of the NSPS, rejects the “outrageous” claims made by Vicefield and defended the program as being a “widely recognized as a robust, open and fair procurement strategy.”

McCoy then slammed Vicefield for spreading what he called baseless claims about exorbitant prices and incorrect information about cost incentives for the program.

“Irving Shipbuilding is incentivized to reduce costs. If costs go up, our profit goes down,” McCoy said. “All cost estimates have been vetted and accepted by independent third parties. It appears that Vicefield has little experience in complex military shipbuilding programs and his comments are uninformed.”

McCoy also defended timelines for the project, and boasted that since being selected as prime contractor for the Arctic Offshore Patrol Vessels and Canada’s new fleet of surface combatants Irving has finished ships that were under construction at the time, demolished their old shipyard and built a new one, hired and trained 600 employees and finished the design for the patrol ships.

The spitting match comes after reports last week that Davie had presented the government with an unsolicited bid offering a Polar Class 3 icebreaker, three smaller River-class icebreakers and two multi-purpose research, border control and search and rescue ships. Due to the slowdown in oil prices, Davie claimed it could deliver the ships for a fraction of the price of the current set of non-combat vessels being built by Seaspan in Vancouver as part of the NSPS and in under 18 months.

The bid was criticized by both Irving and Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil at the time, and the federal government has since said it does not intend to respond.

Davie and Irving also butted heads late last year when the Liberals decided to go ahead with a sole-sourced $700 million proposal — originally accepted by the previous Conservative government — to convert a civilian cargo ship into a badly needed interim supply vessel for the navy while Seaspan completes construction on two new supply ships as part of the shipbuilding strategy.

McCoy accused Davie Thursday of trying to continually undermine the NSPS.

Though it is now solvent, Davie, the largest shipyard in Canada, was in bankruptcy when Seaspan and Irving were chosen as the contractors for the $39 billion NSPS in 2011.

CAF Sends More Troops to Ukraine

Written by: Murray Brewster, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — A fresh contingent of Canadian troops has arrived in eastern Europe to take part in NATO exercises meant to reassure jittery allies and the deployment follows a spike in violence between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists.

More than 100 soldiers from the 1st Battalion, the Royal 22e Regiment of Valcartier, Que., will conduct training in Poland and Romania — far from the eastern front lines — and are separate from a U.S-led training mission in western Ukraine.

Senior American officials have expressed "deep concern" about the number of ceasefire violations reported by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe in breakaway regions of Ukraine.

The Canadian commander, Maj. Eric Beauchamp, says his troops don't necessarily feel the tension, but they get a clear sense eastern European soldiers are happy to see them.

"Even if we are a small detachment that is going to train with them, they appreciate this and they want the world to know we are there," he said in a recent interview with The Canadian Press. "Because of the tension, the effect we have here is really tangible and we see it."

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and his parliamentary secretary, Liberal MP John McKay, are in the region this week, meeting officials in Ukraine, Germany and Poland.

The trip is seen as a political reassurance mission on top of the military contribution.

In a conference call from Germany late Wednesday, Sajjan said that Russia's partial withdrawl from Syria will not mean a softening of Canadian policy — or sanctions imposed in the wake of the annexation of Crimea, which began two years ago Wednesday.

"Our support for Ukraine remains solid," he said. "I'm hopeful — as I mentioned to my counterparts in Ukraine — that Mr. Putin would make a similar statement about withdrawing troops from Ukraine."

The war in that part of the world has largely slipped from the headlines in many western countries, replaced by daily accounts of the conflict with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.

Russia's annexation of Crimea was followed a few months later by an uprising in two eastern Ukrainian districts, known as oblasts.

That set off a wave of sanctions from western governments and fears among eastern European countries that Russian President Vladimir Putin's ambitions would not stop at the Ukraine border. Many of those countries are new members of NATO, who would demand help should their territory be violated.

Last year, the U.S.-based Pew Research Centre conducted an exhaustive public opinion study among the military alliance's member nations.

While many see Russia as a military threat, there is a general reluctance to send military aid to Ukraine. Even more significant, the study found at least half of Germans, French and Italians say their country should not use military force to defend a NATO ally attacked by Russia.

"Americans and Canadians are the only publics where more than half think their country should use military action if Russia attacks a fellow NATO member (56 per cent and 53 per cent respectively)," said the study published on June 10, 2015.

The report also said that NATO members were more receptive to sending economic, rather military aid to Ukraine.

Sajjan said the issue of sending lethal aid to Ukraine did not come up in his meetings with officials.

Murray Brewster, The Canadian Press

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Seaspan's gets $65M to build Navy AOR and Science Vessels

Written by: Lisa Johnson, CBCNews 

Seaspan's Vancouver Shipyards will receive $65.4-million in federal money to start building two non-combat vessels for oceanographic research and navy supply, the procurement minister announced today.

This is the latest injection of federal dollars for the North Vancouver shipyard, which in 2011 won the $8-billion contract for seven non-combat vessels, including these two, as part of the government's 30-year National Shipbuilding Strategy.

So, today's announcement is no surprise but does allow the company to start buying steel, motors, propellers, shafts and scientific equipment for the ships.
Halifax and Vancouver yards win shipbuilding work

"Canada needs a well-equipped navy and Coast Guard, and we are committed as a government to making this happen," said Minister of Public Services and Procurement Judy Foote in North Vancouver.

Replacing Canada's oldest science vessel

Up to $30-million of the money announced today will go toward building a new offshore oceanographic science vessel, which will replace the CCGS Hudson, Canada's oldest science vessel, Foote said.

The Hudson, which has its own Facebook fan page, "has put in over half a century of service for our country and is desperately in need of being replaced," she said.
Scientific ship's replacement delayed

The new vessel is estimated to cost $144.4-million and will be used to conduct geological surveys, fish habitat studies and other research into the biology and chemistry of the ocean.

"Evidence and research are vital to our country's environment and to the fishery on which so many coastal communities depend for their well-being," said Foote, who represents the riding of Bonavista-Burin-Trinity in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The famed research vessel, CCGS Hudson, has been in service since 1962. (John Darrell David/Facebook)

Naval supply ship

The other $35-million of today's announcement is for one of two joint support ships, which will help supply Royal Canadian Navy ships to let them stay at sea longer without returning to port.

The two vessels are estimated to cost a total of $2.3-billion.

"I am pleased we are now one step closer to ... delivering on a critical capability needed by the brave naval men and women of our Royal Canadian Navy," said Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan in a statement.

The North Vancouver shipyard has already started building one of three offshore fisheries science vessels, and will also build a polar icebreaker.

An artist's rendering of the Offshore Fisheries Science Vessel, another one of the seven non-combat vessels being built by Seaspan's Vancouver Shipyards. (Seaspan Shipyards)

Canadian General to Command coalition team in Iraqi

By: Mathew Fisher, National Post 

Canadian Brigadier-General David Anderson is to command a coalition team — including as many as 12 other Canadians — that is to work with Iraq’s security ministries in Baghdad as they prepare battle plans for the long-anticipated offensive to drive the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant out of Mosul and northwestern Iraq.

Lt.-Gen. Steve Bowes — who commands all Canadian troops on operations at home and abroad — revealed the key appointment, during an interview with the National Post, in which he discussed details of what Canada’s new mission in Iraq and the region will look like when it becomes operational in July.

Anderson’s name was later confirmed to the Post by Commander Nathalie Garcia.

Anderson served with the infantry in Afghanistan before commanding an army brigade in western Canada. He is to be responsible for ensuring that “the lines of communication and the intents and actions fire both ways,” said Bowes, who runs Canadian Joint Operations Command.

Four RCAF Griffon helicopters being sent to Iraq are to be deployed exclusively with elite Canadian Special Forces Operations Command troops who are advising and mentoring Kurdish peshmerga forces, Bowes said.

Canada was conducting “a ground-air threat assessment” so the helicopters would be able to react to whatever ISIL might try to do to them, said the three-star general, who served two tours in Afghanistan. “They will certainly go with a defence suite.”

Griffons that Canada deployed to Afghanistan were armoured and equipped with lethal Gatling guns manned by door gunners.

Matthew Fisher/Postmedia NewsLt.-Gen Steve Bowes

Bowes confirmed that, as has been the case since the Harper government first sent military advisers to Iraq in late 2014, only elite and secretive Canadian special forces commandos — rather than conventional forces — would assist the Peshmerga, whose front-line troops are dug in on a strategically important ridge that looks down on Mosul and the Tigris River Valley.

Although the Trudeau government withdrew the RCAF’s Kuwait-based CF-18s from combat operations over Iraq and Syria last month, the number of Canadians helping Iraq fight ISIL is to grow to 830 from about 600. The exact locations and jobs of those Canadians who are to be based in Iraq and neighbouring countries was discussed recently at a conference with U.S. Central Command and partner nations.

“A lot of positions were vacant within the coalition structure. We are picking up some of them,” Bowes said.

“At the moment, in what they call the building partner capacity sites, they are oversubscribed in trainers and undersubscribed in troops to train, but the mission will evolve. So, in a year’s time, who really knows.”

The Canadian Forces were aware of reports ISIL has been using chemical weapons but his troops had excellent equipment and training to deal with such threats, the general said.

“The enemy, ISIL, Daesh (its acronym in Arabic), has shown an ability to metastasize and change tactics and we try to keep abreast of them,” he said.

“For example, how they have been converting dump trucks, putting armour plates on them and creating vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices. That shows the degree to which they are capable of taking anything and changing it into a weapon.”

Brig.-Gen. Shane Brennan, who led a Canadian team that mentored Afghan security forces in Kandahar, is to be the next public lead of Joint Task Force-Iraq. Like the previous three JTF-I commanders, who were from the RCAF, Brennan, who is an army officer, is to be based at an airfield in Kuwait that serves as the joint coalition headquarters.

Some of the Canadians being sent to the Middle East are to join another Canadian Afghan vet, Brig.-Gen. Greg Smith, on the staff of a U.S. army major-general in Baghdad. Others are to be part of an expanded Canadian intelligence capability or tasked with supporting troops in Iraq by expanding the logistics footprint in Kuwait.

Sgt Donald Clark, Army NewsFour RCAF Griffon helicopters being sent to Iraq are to be deployed exclusively with elite Canadian Special Forces Operations Command troops who are advising and mentoring Kurdish peshmerga forces, Bowes said

“The mission is complex, as you can imagine, with people all over the place,” Bowes said. “What we have to go through is a very human process of identifying the people and matching them to the positions and then giving themselves sufficient time to prepare themselves professionally with pre-deployment training.”

As well as weapons and other specific military training, those troops selected for what the defence department calls Operation Impact would undergo cultural training specific to their assignments with the Iraqi Kurds or Iraqi Arabs.

“Be mindful that ours is a small mission,” that should not be compared with the much larger combat operation that Canada undertook in Kandahar, Bowes said, adding that not only the military was involved in Iraq but there were “significant whole-of-government initiatives underway in Ottawa to support the mission.”

Bowes was upbeat about the somewhat expanded ground duties that Canada was taking on in Iraq.

“No fears and nothing that keeps me awake,” Bowes said. “What I think about a lot is whether I am doing everything I can to enable the chief (Gen. Jon Vance) and other leaders to ensure that our (political) leadership in this country understands the environment in which we have deployed personnel.”

The general’s mornings began early, reading reports from international news organizations such as Al-Jazeera before attending classified briefings with his staff who monitor everything from volcanoes to terrorist attacks and conflicts and potential conflicts worldwide, especially in eastern Europe and the Middle East.

“You can’t just look at northern Iraq, or Baghdad or Kuwait in isolation,” he said. “You have to be able to look at the region. You have to be able to monitor what is going on around it and understand how things can shift. On the political level this is an extraordinarily complex part of the world.”