Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Canada pauses Peacekeeping Plans to co-ordinate with Americans

By: Lee Berthiaume, Canadian Press 

OTTAWA — Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan plans to talk to his American counterpart before he pursues Canada's plan to send peacekeepers to Africa, saying co-ordination with the U.S. is essential.

The government announced in August that Canada would deploy up to 600 troops on future UN peacekeeping missions, though it stopped short of saying exactly where they would go.

A decision was promised by the end of the year, after military officials and Canadian diplomats had a chance to test the waters and get a better sense of where the troops could make a difference.

But the question of where Canadian blue helmets will end up is still hanging in the air as the government tries to get a handle on the Trump administration's priorities.

Sajjan spoke to new U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis by telephone on Monday, and while they did not discuss peacekeeping, Sajjan said he intends to when the two meet in person for the first time.

That's because any troop deployment must be done with the bigger picture in mind, Sajjan said.

"It's all interconnected. For example, what's happening in Iraq right now impacts what's happening in Africa and other parts of the world," he told reporters in Calgary. "So we have to discuss this because we need to be able to maximize our impact on the ground."

The minister insisted Canada would make its own decision on when and where to send peacekeepers.

Sajjan had the distinction of being the first foreign defence minister that Mattis has spoken to after being confirmed U.S. defence secretary. The retired general was reportedly effusive in his praise for Canada.

According to a readout from the U.S. Defence Department, Mattis not only thanked Canada for its contributions to North American security, he noted the country's military contributions in Iraq and Latvia.

"Secretary Mattis thanked Minister Sajjan for Canada's strong support for our alliance," the readout says, "and expressed his personal appreciation for the professionalism of the Canadian Armed Forces."

Those words will be welcomed by Canadian officials who have been wringing their hands over whether the Trump administration plans to pressure Canada to spend more on defence.

Trump has previously railed against what he called "freeriders" within NATO, and while those words were largely targeted at European allies, critics say they could easily apply to Canada.

Canada spends less than one per cent of its gross domestic product on defence, while the NATO target is two per cent. But the federal government argues that such calculations ignore Canada's in-kind contributions to global security.

While Mattis does not appear to have raised the issue of defence spending with Sajjan, the touchy subject did figure prominently in the U.S. defense secretary's later phone call with British counterpart Michael Fallon.

Mattis reportedly emphasized the U.S.'s "unshakable commitment to NATO," according to a readout from that conversation, before thanking the UK for committing two per cent of GDP to defence.

In his own statement, Fallon said he and Mattis talked about "our joint leadership in NATO, including…how we ensure that all members meet the two per cent spending commitment alongside America and Britain."

The Liberal government is currently drawing up a new defence policy, and one of the key questions is whether it will include significant new cash for the military.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Rolls-Royce Naval Marine Canada Seeks Expanded Supply Chain for RCN CSC Program

Rolls-Royce Press Release:

Rolls-Royce Naval Marine Canada is expanding its supply chain to meet the significant opportunities created by the recently initiated Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) Program.

The company is inviting around 30 potential suppliers and partners from across Canada to its Peterborough Naval Marine Centre of Excellence in Ontario on 25 January 2017 in order to understand better their respective competencies and how these might be combined to best meet the needs of the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Government.

Bruce Lennie, Rolls-Royce, Vice President, Business Development & Government Affairs. said: “We recognize the strength of Canadian Engineering and technological expertise and believe that there is scope to utilize this strength in our Marine supply chain to support the forthcoming Canadian Surface Combatant Program.

“We strongly believe that the event on the 25th will benefit all parties, allowing Rolls-Royce further to develop and expand its Canadian Supply Chain creating valuable business for our partners, as well as further enhancing and growing the already substantial economic and technological benefits which Rolls-Royce contributes to the Canadian economy.”

Rolls-Royce Naval Marine Canada and its partners already produce world leading complex naval handling systems which are in use around the world. The company was the first to provide an integrated complex Mission Bay Handling System into a Major Combatant Program when it was chosen for the UK’s Type 26 Frigate the Global Combat Ship.

The CSC project will renew the Royal Canadian Navy’s surface combat fleet by replacing the capabilities provided by the destroyers (Iroquois-class) and the multi-role patrol frigates (Halifax-class). It is the largest and most complex shipbuilding initiative in Canada since World War II.

About the Mission Bay Handling System

The Rolls-Royce Mission Bay Handling System is one of the critical features which sets the Global Combat Ship apart from comparable vessels.

Designed with modularity and flexibility in mind the Mission Bay Handling System allows the use of a wide range of payloads; everything from disaster relief stores through to surface and underwater vehicles, or high-speed special boats for maritime security. Naval vessels have long service lives, so the system can be developed and adapted to handle payloads as yet unanticipated by naval customers.

The innovative design also enables the safe launch and recovery of vehicles from both sides of the ship in conditions up to sea state 6. The Rolls-Royce system enables the self-loading of the mission bay without the need for a dockside crane. As a result ship’s crew can rapidly load from any port in the world. Once on board the system’s telescopic luffing boom unit allows safe and efficient management of the equipment being stored and deployed.

The system uses proven technology derived from the company’s experience of meeting the demanding requirements of the North Sea’s offshore oil and gas industry.

About Rolls-Royce Canada

Rolls-Royce is celebrating its 70th year in Canada in 2017. The company employs approximately 1200 people in six provinces across Canada – undertaking both high technology manufacturing and sustainment activities in its Civil and Defence Aerospace, Marine (Commercial and Naval) and Nuclear businesses.

Rolls-Royce’s Canadian supplier base is valued at approximately Canadian $150 Million per annum.

C295 performs refuelling support with Helicopter

Airbus Press Release 

In December 2016, Airbus Defence and Space successfully demonstrated refuelling contacts between a C295 transport aircraft and a H225M Caracal helicopter. In the trial, performed jointly with Airbus Helicopters from Marignane, France in December, contacts were executed at speeds of 105-115kt and both crews reported smooth and simple operation.

This followed a recent successful demonstration of air-to-air refuelling between two C295W medium transports, proving capability for support to both fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft.

The refuelling system is now being offered to existing and prospective C295 operators. Possible applications include special operations and extending the range of search and rescue aircraft.

Video of the trials can be downloaded at:

The Government of Canada has announced it is purchasing 16 C295W aircraft equipped with advanced technology systems to support Canada’s search and rescue operations. The aircraft will be based where search and rescue squadrons are currently located, in Comox, British Columbia; Winnipeg, Manitoba; Trenton, Ontario; and Greenwood, Nova Scotia.

These aircraft will replace Canada’s current fleet of CC-115 Buffalo and CC-130H Hercules, which have served Canada well over the last 20 to 40 years. They perform over 350 missions annually and are responsible for saving the lives of thousands of Canadians every year.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Companies Request Bidding for Surface Combatant Fleet be Delayed

By: David Pugliese, National Post 

Two companies looking to bid on the multibillion-dollar project to build a new warship fleet for Canada have asked that the process be delayed as controversy swirls around the removal of a top military commander.

And at least another two companies are also preparing to make similar requests to the Canadian government and its prime contractor, Irving Shipbuilding, industry sources have told the Ottawa Citizen.

While the removal of Vice-Admiral Mark Norman from his command for allegedly leaking sensitive shipbuilding information has sent shock waves through the maritime industry, the main reason for the requested delay is because the Canadian Surface Combatant project is poorly structured and allows little time for firms to properly prepare bids, sources say.

But some industry representatives say the removal of Norman has only contributed to their worries that the warship project, worth more than $26 billion, is in trouble.

Norman, the former head of the Royal Canadian Navy, was the vice-chief of the defence staff until Jan. 13, at which point he was removed from command.

Chief of the Defence Gen. Jon Vance, who originally selected Norman for the VCDS position, made the decision to remove him.

Vance has refused to provide any details about the situation and his office claims all aspects of the case — including whether taxpayers are still paying Norman — are covered under federal privacy provisions.

Suspension of high-ranking military officer casts clouds over Canada’s $35B shipbuilding plan
Second-highest ranking officer in military relieved of command in unprecedented move
Leak of information about shipbuilding plans behind removal of senior military officer, sources say

The mystery surrounding Norman’s removal, and allegations from sources that it was linked to the unauthorized leak of information about the Canadian Surface Combatant program, has only further raised questions about the project, company representatives contend.

The Liberal government announced Oct. 27, 2016, that Irving Shipbuilding had issued a request for proposals from companies on the design of the new warships.

The firms have until April 27 to provide those bids, which must not only include the design but details of teaming arrangements with Canadian firms.

Allowing only six months to compile bids for one of the largest procurements in Canadian history doesn’t make sense, say representatives of some of the companies. The extent of the technical data and other information the Canadian government requires is overwhelming, they added.

Jean-François Létourneau, a spokesman for Public Services and Procurement Canada, confirmed Thursday that Irving has received two requests for an extension to the closing date for the bids.

He did not provide the names of the firms requesting the extension.

“Irving Shipyards and the Government of Canada are considering these requests,” Létourneau noted. “Responses to these requests will be provided to all bidders.”

Twelve firms have been pre-approved to bid on the surface combatant program.

Over the past several months, various firms have highlighted to the Liberal government their serious concerns about the project and are frustrated Procurement Minister Judy Foote has not acted to deal with those issues, industry sources added.

The project will provide a future warship fleet for the Royal Canadian Navy.

Norman has not commented on his removal from command.

But the senior officer has been vocal in his concerns that the federal government seriously misjudged on the amount of money needed to build the Canadian Surface Combatants. In addition, he has privately raised concerns that the Royal Canadian Navy might not get enough ships in the future because of how the shipbuilding plan is devised.

Norman’s concerns are well known inside the Liberal government.

In December 2015, he told CBC journalist James Cudmore that the Canadian public had not been given accurate information about the growing price of the surface combatants. He said just the warships alone will likely cost $30 billion. With added costs, that price tag could climb to $42 billion.

Cudmore is now a procurement advisor for Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan.

Public Services and Procurement Canada declined to comment on whether Norman‘s removal will have any impact on the Canadian Surface Combatant program. It referred that question to the Department of National Defence.

DND refused to comment.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has refused to provide any additional details about Norman’s removal. But he and Sajjan said they supported Vance in his decision to remove Norman.

Lawson fears Liberals Fighter Jet plan too Pricey

By: Laura Payton, CTV News 

The former head of Canada's military says the Liberal government’s plan to buy an interim fighter jet fleet will be expensive and difficult to carry out.

Retired general Tom Lawson, who served as chief of the defence staff from 2012 to 2015, says he believes Canada will end up buying Lockheed Martin's F-35 fighter jet to replace the current fleet of CF-18 Hornets despite the government choosing Boeing's Super Hornet to beef up the current air craft.

"There are hundreds of these things flying now and they've been declared combat-capable in the United States," Lawson said in an interview with Evan Solomon, host of CTV's Question Period.

Retired general Tom Lawson appears on CTV's Question Period on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2016.

"And they'll be getting better and better for years to come. The F-35 is the way forward, not only for the United States but all the members and the partners who have bought into that program."

Lawson, a long-time supporter of the F-35, is now retired from the Canadian Forces. In an email to, he said he has done several days of work for Lockheed Martin as a strategic adviser, but noted his support for the F-35 dates back to his time as assistant chief of the Royal Canadian Air Force.

The F-35 was the source of considerable controversy during Lawson's time as Canada's top soldier, after the auditor general and parliamentary budget officer found a range of problems with a planned purchase of the Lockheed Martin jets. The problems included national defence not telling the government about the aircraft's potential drawbacks or the full costs of the program, as well as not having documents to support some of the decisions defence officials made.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised, during the 2015 election campaign, to hold an open competition to choose the CF-18 replacement, but pledged at the same time not to buy the F-35.

Last November, the government announced it was working on buying 18 Boeing Super Hornets as an interim measure while holding a five-year competition to choose a long-term replacement for the CF-18s.

Lawson, a former pilot, said that decision caught him off-guard because he believes Canada will eventually purchase the F-35.

"Every time the F-35 is in competition, it is the top -- in many cases the only choice out there, and it's becoming cheaper and developing an excellent reputation," Lawson said.

"So I think what caught me by surprise is that this putting off of that decision will of course be expensive and very difficult for the RCAF to carry out."

The current fleet of CF-18s is more than 30 years old and down from 138 planes to 76, according to numbers provided by the government.

During the 2015 election campaign, the Liberals estimated the cost of an F-35 at $175 million per plane, with the Super Hornet coming in at $65 million.

Canada has obligations to NORAD and NATO that require a specific number of jets to be "mission-ready," although officials won't say how many planes that means. Defence officials say there aren't enough mission-ready planes, but admit that is due to a change in policy under which they started counting the combined NORAD and NATO commitments. That policy changed on the day they announced the plan to purchase an interim fleet, a defence spokeswoman told