Friday, February 3, 2017

Operation IMPACT Tactical Aviation Detachment Conducts Change of Command

DND Press Release

By: Capt Matt Zalot, Public Affairs Officer, Joint Task Force Iraq Detachment Erbil (JTF-I Erbil)

Major Mathieu Bertrand assumed command of the Operation IMPACT Tactical Aviation Detachment in Northern Iraq from Lieutenant-Colonel Carol Potvin at a ceremony on January 14, 2017. Major Bertrand previously served as the detachment’s Operations Officer and Deputy Commanding Officer.

Colonel Luc Guillette, Commander of Air Task Force-Iraq, presided over the change-of-command ceremony, which took place at Canadian Camp Érable near Erbil, Iraq. During the ceremony, Lieutenant-Colonel Potvin spoke briefly about the work performed by the squadron during his watch. Major Bertrand also spoke to the attendees, noting the need to build on past accomplishments for future missions.

“The Tactical Aviation Detachment will continue to play an important role in the advise and assist mission to counter Daesh,” said Major Bertrand. “We have all made a contribution to the Coalition’s efforts and the squadron will continue to work hard and build on our previous successes.”

Major Bertrand joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1999 and has amassed significant experience in the world of search and rescue. He served at 439 Combat Support Squadron, based out of Bagotville, Quebec, before being posted to 430 Tactical Helicopter Squadron in Valcartier, Quebec. As part of 430 Squadron he served in Afghanistan and Haiti. Before his deployment to Iraq, he served as Detachment Commander and Deputy Commander for Canadian Forces Recruiting Centre Quebec.

Since October 6, 2016, when they took over from 427 Special Operations Aviation Squadron, 430 Squadron has been leading the Royal Canadian Air Force’s tactical aviation efforts in Erbil, Iraq. The CH-146 Griffon helicopters provide tactical transport of Canadian troops, equipment, and supplies.

Canada remains a committed partner to the Global Coalition against Daesh. As part of Joint Task Force-Iraq, Air Task Force-Iraq contributes to Coalition air operations against Daesh to improve security in Iraq and in the region.


DND Press Release

Canadian Armed Forces members on Operation ARTEMIS are deploying to eastern Africa and island nations in the Indian Ocean as part of Exercise CUTLASS EXPRESS (CE) 17. CE 17 is taking place in Djibouti (Djibouti), Port Louis (Mauritius), Mombasa (Kenya) and Antsiranana (Madagascar), from January 30 to February 8, 2017.

CE 17, sponsored by U.S. Africa Command and conducted by Naval Forces Africa (NAVAF), aims to assess and improve international maritime law enforcement capacity, promote national and regional security in eastern Africa, inform planning and operations, and shape Security Force Assistance efforts. CAF personnel, along with their Australian team members comprise Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 150). CTF 150 is the Combined Maritime Forces’ lead for this exercise.

CAF personnel will deploy in a variety of roles across the CE 17 locations. In addition, members of the Canadian Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Mounted Police will also participate as advisors, mentors and subject matter experts to enhance CE 17 exercise scenarios with the goal of developing enduring capacity building in eastern African nearby island nations.

SOR already written for permanent CF-18 replacement - Yet Interim Replacement Happening

By: David Pugliese, Defence Watch 

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan announced on Nov. 22, 2016 that the Liberal government would move ahead with the purchase of a permanent fleet to replace the CF-18s. This is in addition to the acquisition of 18 Super Hornet fighter jets in the interim to deal with what Sajjan claims is a capability gap.

How far along is the process on the acquisition for the permanent fleet?

This statement was recently filed in Parliament by the Department of National Defence:

“The requirements have been reviewed to ensure the Government of Canada acquires the right aircraft for Canada. A new Statement of Operational Requirement (SOR} was developed by the Future Fighter Capability Project staff to reflect Government policy. The revised requirements were derived by examining the current and potential roles and missions the fleet could be asked to fulfill. The new SOR was signed by the Commander of the RCAF on 15 September, 2016.”

So a SOR is ready and signed off, the first major step in a getting a new jet. Drawing up draft request for proposals and then the final request for proposals should quickly follow.

But don’t expect that to happen, say DND sources.

The Liberal government intends to drag this out as long as possible, they added.

Irving Shipbuilding consults with Ottawa on frigate design delay

By: Murray Brewster,  CBC News 

The Trudeau government is considering an extension to a call for bids from defence contractors interested in designing and equipping Canada's next generation of combat ships.

Last fall, the federal cabinet approved the release of a long-anticipated request for proposals for an off-the-shelf warship design and combat systems.

Pre-qualified defence companies lined up for the opportunity to participate in the program, which is expected to run up to $40 billion over three decades.

A deadline of April 27 was set for bidders to submit their plans to Irving Shipbuilding Inc., which was selected in 2015 as the prime contractor.

The Halifax-based company is the federal government's go-to yard for combat ships under the National Shipbuilding Strategy.

But almost from the outset the competition, many of the warship designers complained about what they see as a tight turnaround time, even though the project has been in the industry consultation stage for years.

The notion of an extension is being examined, said Kevin McCoy, president of Irving Shipbuilding.
Ottawa to decide

"It's something we're in consultation with Canada on," he said in an interview Thursday.

"It'll be the government's decision. They'll get a recommendation from us, but we'll arrive at the right answer."

McCoy would not say whether Irving has asked for an extension or how many of the bidders have asked for extra time.

He did, however, downplay the discord among the notoriously cutthroat contenders.

"This is normal in a complex procurement that people think they need more time for a whole host of reasons," said McCoy, who testified before the House of Commons defence committee on Thursday.

A published report two weeks ago in The National Post — citing unnamed sources — said two of the bidders had asked that the entire process be delayed, and two others were considering such a request, in the aftermath of the suspension of the military's deputy commander.

Vice-Admiral Mark Norman was ordered to hand over his duties on Jan. 13 and is apparently under RCMP investigation for allegedly leaking classified information that may be related to shipbuilding.

McCoy said Irving Shipbuilding has no knowledge about what is being investigated, nor has there been an effect on the bidding process.

"It's really not an issue in the [Canadian Surface Combatant] deliberations right now," he said.
Timing crucial

However, if the federal government does grant an extension to the bidding deadline, it raises concerns about keeping the frigate replacement program on track.

One of the questions officials are grappling with is how a delay might affect construction of the new warships, which are meant to replace the navy's 12 Halifax-class patrol frigates built in the 1990s.

The Irving-owned yard is slated to finish work on the navy's Arctic offshore patrol ships in 2019-20 and transition to the surface combatant project.

"We're very mindful of gap," said McCoy, who added work interruption raises the possibility of losing trained shipyard workers to other industrial sectors. "It's one of things we're constantly talking to the government about."

But he said the frigate replacement program is too important to rush.

"We've got to get the procurement right," McCoy said. "We want good submissions. We want the field to be well-represented and we want industry to feel they have been treated fairly."

Liberals admit ‘interim’ Super Hornet jets may only fly for 12 years, despite costing billions

By: David Pugliese, The National Post 

The Super Hornet jets the Liberal government is spending billions of dollars to purchase could be flying for as little as 12 to 15 years before they are taken out of service.

There had been some suggestions by analysts and, privately by military officers, that the Super Hornets could be kept flying, along with the new aircraft the government intends to purchase as a replacement for the CF-18s in the late 2020s.

But the operational life of the Super Hornets, expected to arrive sometime after 2019, will be limited, unlike the current CF-18s that have been flying for more than three decades, the Liberals confirm.

“The operational life span of the Super Hornet fleet will start at the delivery and not end before the completion of the transition to the CF-18 permanent replacement aircraft,” Harjit Sajjan noted in a written response to a question asked by Conservative MP Diane Finley.

Sajjan has said the government wants to get a permanent fleet delivered as quickly as possible, with some estimates putting that by 2029 or as late as 2032.

But Conservative defence critic James Bezan said Sajjan’s answer to Finley shows the Super Hornet purchase is a waste of money. “If they are going to use them for only 12 years, then this is a very expensive option that makes absolutely no sense,” Bezan said Thursday.

He said a better move would be to dump the Super Hornet deal, estimated to cost between $5 billion and $7 billion, and immediately run a competition for a permanent fighter jet fleet.

“You could have your new fleet delivered and operating quickly without having to go this route of an interim fighter,” he said.

Sajjan announced in November the government’s decision to buy 18 Boeing Super Hornets as “interim” fighter jets until a permanent replacement for the existing CF-18 aircraft could be bought.

The Liberals said Canada is facing a capability gap because it doesn’t have enough fighter jets to fulfill its military missions, a situation Sajjan has blamed on the previous Conservative government for bungling the project to replace the aging CF-18s.

But Bezan has questioned the Liberal claim that the CF-18s are on their last legs. He has pointed out that military officers have stated those jets can operate effectively until 2025, more than enough time for a permanent replacement to be bought.

In addition, Defence department officials had earlier warned against buying an interim fighter jet. But the report containing those warnings, which had been on the department’s website for more than a year, was quietly removed after the Liberal government announced its Super Hornet purchase.

The Defence Research and Development Canada report recommended against the purchase of such “bridging” aircraft to deal with gaps in capability. “The costs involved with bridging options make them unsuitable for filling capability gaps in the short term,” according to the report. “Any short-term investment results in disproportionately high costs during the bridging period.”

The Liberal government has acknowledged the decision to buy the 18 Super Hornets will cost more in the long run but they haven’t provided details on what that amount might be.

There is currently no price tag, Sajjan said Tuesday. “Once we have gone through the right process, have all the necessary information, then we’ll have an actual price tag.”

Thursday, February 2, 2017

A Deeper look at the necessity of a mixed RCAF Fighter Fleet

By: Alexis Amini, NATO Association 

Despite the military and economic benefits of having a mixed fighter fleet composed of the 5th generation stealthy F-35 and the 4th generation non-stealthy Super Hornet, some critics argue that Canada cannot afford such an aerial force structure. Therefore, some experts suggest that the RCAF should opt for a sole purchase of either the Super Hornet or the F-35. Nonetheless, with the return of great power competition, by having a single fighter fleet, Canada will have difficulties in upholding its two mandates defined in its current defense policy: the defense of North America in cooperation with the US and contributing to international security through expeditionary operations within coalitions like NATO.

Regarding expeditionary operations, peer and near-peer competitors are looking to counter Western air forces’ supremacy by developing land and air-based weapon systems that can be used in an Anti Access/Area denial (A2/AD) fashion aimed at making an airspace off-limits to an enemy air force including stealth fighters. Indeed, it is necessary to bear in mind that stealth has been developed to avoid detection from high frequency radars optimized for targeting, against which non-stealthy aircrafts are vulnerable. However, stealth planes with tail fins like the F-35 are visible to low-frequency radars used for early warning and surveillance. Being aware of this F-35 vulnerability, revisionist countries like Russia and China are developing low frequency surveillance radars able to cue high frequency targeting radar toward the F-35’s location in the sky. Such a radar system can detect and target both non-stealth and stealth aircrafts at greater distances. It is being integrated into ground A2/AD weapons like surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) batteries as well as aerial A2/AD assets like fighters such as the Russian non-stealthy Flanker and the stealthy T-50 PAK-FA. Such a development is quite revolutionary since low frequency radars are voluminous compared to their high frequency counterparts. Usually, airborne low frequency radars are installed as radar dishes on top of large airframes acting as Airborne Early Warning (AEW) platforms such as the E-3 Sentry or the E-2 Hawkeye. That said, the Russian aerospace industry managed to miniaturize these low frequency radars and fit them on fighters in addition to their onboard high frequency targeting radar. Current Western fighters like the 4thgeneration Super Hornet and the 5th generation F-35s are only equipped with high frequency targeting radars which only permits them to detect and engage non-stealthy platforms while enemy stealth jets may operate unopposed.

To counter this rising A2/AD threat in the context of expeditionary operations, a mixed fighter fleet composed of a single type of stealth jet and a series of non-stealth aircrafts is essential. The non-stealth component would include Electronic Warfare (EW) aircrafts, airborne missile platforms (or arsenal planes) and dedicated AEW planes equipped with low frequency radars capable of detecting both stealthy and non-stealthy enemy jets. The stealth component would be composed of the F-35 that will mainly act as a survivable Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) platform as well as an airborne Command and Control (C2) node. Indeed, since near peer and peer competitors will possess a vast amount of military capabilities employed in an A2/AD fashion, stealth fighters cannot destroy those in a swift manner given their limited payload due to their stealth design. The F-35 would be armed with missiles for mostly self-defense. Therefore, to degrade these A2/AD military capabilities in the swiftest way possible, a non-stealthy platform that can act as an arsenal plane is required. As a first step to degrade the air defenses, an EW aircraft operating at a safe distance from the A2/AD envelope will jam low-frequency surveillance radars equipping SAM batteries and airborne enemy fighters. Once the low frequency radars are jammed thus preventing the cueing of high frequency targeting radars designed to guide missiles launched from opposing SAMs or jets, the F-35 can safely enter the A2/AD envelope and identify land and airborne non-stealthy targets (ISTAR role) whose coordinates will be transmitted to far-flying arsenal planes armed with long-range missiles (C2 role). Parallel to that, an AEW platform equipped with a low-frequency radar would be operating at a safe distance from the A2/AD envelope and would be tasked with searching and detecting airborne stealth fighters and then cue in F-35s and non-stealthy arsenal planes’ high frequency targeting radar toward the enemy stealth jet’s location so that they may eliminate them.

Despite the advantages of such a mixed fighter fleet in facing the A2/AD threat posed by revisionist powers, critics argue that Canada cannot afford such a force structure. Indeed, a mixed fighter fleet entails high costs given the need for distinct supply chains and training regimens, something Ottawa can ill afford with a limited defense budget. Therefore, the case is being made for a RCAF exclusively composed of either the 4thgeneration non-stealthy Super Hornets or the 5th generation F-35. However, in developing a single type force structure, Canada will not have the full spectrum of capabilities mentioned above that are necessary to degrade an A2/AD envelope. The RCAF would have to rely on other partners for certain capabilities it will not have in its arsenal. Thus, Canada will only be a second-tier partner in any future coalition in the context of expeditionary operations. Such an outcome would dash Canada’s aspiration to be an invaluable coalition partner by having military capabilities in high demand.

In addition, a single type fighter fleet would complicate Canada’s task in defending North American airspace in the context of NORAD. Since Russian aerospace forces possess 4th generation Flankers and 5th generation T-50s are equipped with a low and high frequency radar able to detect and engage both non-stealthy and stealthy jets at great distances, a single type RCAF fighter fleet composed exclusively of either the F-35 or a Super Hornet will be unable to effectively counter Russian incursions thus warranting American intervention as per the NORAD treaty.

Nonetheless, Canada can afford a mixed fighter fleet composed of a single type of stealth jets and a series of non-stealth planes if it’s a combination of one manned platform and several types of Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAV) given the relative low cost of drones compared to their manned counterparts.
Alexis Amini – editor for the Canadian Armed Forces program – is a graduate student in public and international affairs at Université de Montréal (UdeM), Québec. He has a BSc in political science from the same university. Having lived in Djibouti and the United Arab Emirates where he witnessed major geopolitical events, Alexis developed a passion for international security. His research focus revolves around geopolitics, defense policies and political risk analysis. Upon completion of his master’s program, Alexis intends to join the strategic intelligence industry.

Replacing Canada’s CF-18s: A Case for the Swedish SAAB Gripen E/F

By: Léo-Paul Jacob, NATO Association 

SAAB JAS-39C Gripen, the predecessor of the Gripen E/F (2012), by Oleg V. Belyakov-AirTeamImages (Wikimedia Commons. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0)
In late 2016, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) announced a plan to replace its ageing fighter jet fleet of CF-18 aircrafts, which is more than thirty years old. The Trudeau government will initiate an open competition to replace the CF-18s, while the RCAF is currently in the process of acquiring 18 new Boeing F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets to serve as an interim fleet to bridge the ‘capability gap’. This breaks away from the promise made by the Harper government in 2010 of buying 65 F-35s from Lockheed Martin. Among the fighter aircrafts which are likely to be considered is the Swedish SAAB Gripen E/F, which would be a great fit for the RCAF if used along with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.

Canada’s Missions

Before exploring the reasons the Gripen would be an effective replacement for the CF-18s, it is necessary to analyze the crucial missions for which Canada is currently using its CF-18s. First, is Canada’s commitment to NORAD, which is tasked with monitoring and protecting North American airspace. Canada also contributes to NATO operations across the world, and is currently active in Eastern Europe. In 2014, Canada was responsible for monitoring the Baltic countries’ airspace as the head of the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission (BAP). In addition, Canada has recently deployed a battalion in Latvia in order to reinforce the country’s defences in the face of Russia’s bellicosity. Finally, Canada has used some of its CF-18s to contribute to the Global Coalition against ISIS in Iraq and Syria (Operation IMPACT).

In these missions, Canada is faced with both conventional and unconventional threats in varying weather conditions. Therefore, the RCAF must be ready to face conventional armies and fighter fleets, to effectively operate against insurgents or terrorists, and to render anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) strategies ineffective. In order to accomplish all these tasks, the RCAF must acquire a mixed fighter fleet made up of F-35s and Gripens.

Mixing the Fighter Fleet

Forming a mixed fighter fleet combining F-35s and E/F Gripens is the best option for Canada if it wants to face the challenges of today and tomorrow. The F-35 is currently the finest jet fighter on the market when it comes to stealth missions. If employed by the RCAF, it would be capable of countering A2/AD bubbles, and to penetrate enemy defenses with greater ease than the Gripen. Furthermore, if facing an enemy fleet unable to spot the F-35, the latter would ensure Canada’s domination of the sky.

In turn, the Gripen is more versatile than the F-35, and has great weapon flexibility. It may even be equipped with the MBDA Meteor BVRAAM missile, which can shoot down airborne threats from more than 100km away. The Gripen may be used in various operations, whether in air-to-air or air-to-ground combat, in the Arctic or in the Middle East. Its small size, its speed, and its 27 mm Mauser BK27 cannon coupled with the Gripen’s Electronic Warfare System and Infrared Search and Track abilities, make it particularly lethal when it comes to dogfights and air-to-air fighting. In addition, the Gripen is highly interoperable and fit for reconnaissance missions thanks to its data link system. Choosing the Gripen to replace the ageing CF-18s would bolster the NORAD and Canadian NATO deployments.

Seeing the challenges Canada is soon likely to face, it seems necessary for the RCAF to develop a mixed fighter fleet. Only relying on F-35s, or on Gripens will not suffice to counter tomorrow’s challenges.

Why the Gripen?

The ultimate question is whether Canada will choose the Gripen over other fighters such as the Super Hornet to complement its mixed fighter fleet. In comparison to other jet fighters, the Gripen has important advantages. It is relatively cheap compared to the French Rafale or the F-35, and its operational costs are lower than that of all other Western fighter jets. The Gripen may be deployed to areas where military facilities are underdeveloped, since it can take off from small runways due to its high flexibility, and can operate in all types of weather. This makes the Gripen a perfect fit for Canadian military missions, especially in the Arctic and for deployments abroad as part of NATO. In addition, it is possible to refuel the jet in the air through a “probe and drogue” system, as currently used for the CF-18s. This ensures greater autonomy when conducting operations. The Gripen’s high weapon flexibility also means it can adapt its payload depending on the mission, and can thus excel in surveillance missions, or air-to-air and air-to-ground combat.

In 2013, Brazil ordered 36 Gripens E/F from SAAB, which will be built jointly in Sweden and Brazil. The industrial cooperation and transfer of technologies from SAAB Industries to Brazil, along with the creation of a Gripen E/F maintenance centre in Brazil, is a long-term source of jobs for Brazil’s industries. Canada could benefit greatly from such a deal, as it would boost its aerospace industry while at the same time ensure total operational independence once the Gripens are combat-ready.

The Gripen is a perfect candidate for the open-competition initiated by the Trudeau government, and acquiring a joint fleet made up of F-35s and Gripens E/F would ensure Canadian control of the skies for decades to come.----
Léo-Paul Jacob is a Junior Research Fellow at the NATO Association of Canada(NAOC), currently in his third year of B.A(Hons) in Political Science at Concordia University. Prior to working at NAOC, he wrote for the ‘Political Bouillon’, an inter-university journal based in Montréal. His research interests include the Nordic and Baltic regions, along with European and Russian foreign politics. He is most interested by the existing relationships between Sweden, Finland, NATO and Russia. Those interests led him to study Swedish and Russian. After completing his B.A, Léo-Paul plans to pursue his Graduate studies in International Security or International Affairs in Europe. You can contact him via email-

Trump’s vow to use torture against ISIL won’t affect how Canada fights in Iraq

By: David Pugliese, Defence Watch 

U.S. President Donald Trump’s vow to use torture if necessary in fighting ISIL won’t impact the Canadian Forces, which intend to follow the rule of law and their own values, says a top Canadian general.

Trump declared Wednesday he believes torture works and he has no qualms in using it in the war against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Asked specifically during an ABC News interview about the simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding, Trump cited the extremist group’s atrocities against Christians and others and said: “We have to fight fire with fire.”

Trump said he would consult with new Defence Secretary James Mattis and CIA Director Mike Pompeo before authorizing any new policy, but said he had asked top intelligence officials in the past day: “Does torture work?”

“And the answer was yes, absolutely,” Trump said.

That could pose problems for troops working with U.S. forces in Iraq if it became known that detainees captured on the battlefield could end up being sent to CIA prisons or other locations to be tortured. The Canadian Forces hospital in northern Iraq has treated at least two detainees for their wounds. Their current status is not known.

Canadian Forces Brig.-Gen. Shane Brennan, commander of Joint Task Force — Iraq, said at a briefing Thursday he couldn’t speculate about how Trump’s views might affect the overall battle against ISIL.

But he vowed that Canadian military personnel would always follow the rule of law when it came to prisoners. “We will be not be going to any type of activity like that,” he said, referring to torture and enhanced interrogation techniques. “We know what our values are.”

Canadian commanders, however, declined to provide an update on what Canadian special forces were doing in Iraq. That update is supposed to come at some point, but military officers didn’t even know in what month that might happen.

During the last mission update, in November, the Canadian military revealed Canadian special forces had engaged in a substantial number of clashes with ISIL gunmen, had fired anti-tank missiles and exchanged gunfire.

Iraqi security forces, as well as Canadian-backed Kurdish troops, have been involved in assault on the ISIL stronghold of Mosul and have engaged in heavy combat.

The number of such clashes involving Canadian commandos was “substantial” and involved several dozen incidents, special forces commander Maj.-Gen. Mike Rouleau said at the November briefing. Canadian special forces used anti-tank missiles on three occasions to destroy ISIL suicide vehicles, Rouleau noted.

At Thursday’s briefing, Canadian officers said they didn’t have any information about when Kurdish forces will receive the military equipment promised by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Trudeau said last February that Canada would be providing the Kurds with lethal military equipment but nothing has happened since then.

“The intent remains to deliver the equipment as quickly as possible once the government of Canada has completed the administrative arrangements in securing an end-user agreement with the government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq,” Maj. Mark Peebles said. “Concurrent to these efforts, the process of equipment acquisition has commenced. The exact time lines for the acquisition are still to be determined as they are dependent on industry’s ability to secure the quantities sought.”

RCAF to Face Challenge with Old and New fighter Fleets

By: Murray Brewster, CBC News

A team of U.S. warplane experts has been invited to brief Canadian officials on what the Royal Canadian Air Force can expect when it takes delivery of a fleet of Super Hornet jets.

The briefing, expected to take place this week at the Canadian embassy in Washington, D.C., is crucial for the Liberal government as it grapples with introducing a new fighter jet into service and its impact on Canada's air defences.

The Trudeau government has begun talks with the Pentagon for a foreign military sale of 18 Super Hornets, at a cost of $5-$7 billion.

The Super Hornet is a larger, more advanced version of the CF-18, which the Liberal government hopes to replace entirely starting in the early 2020s.

"It's the same kind of jet with much different stuff connected to it," said Capt. Steve Boyle, wing commodore of the U.S Navy Strike Fighter Wing, Atlantic.

Read More:
Stopgap Super Hornet purchase could cost $5–$7B
New Liberal policy means there aren't enough fighter jets to go around

CBC News had the opportunity to speak with U.S. Navy pilots and commanders last week about what the RCAF can expert operating different generations of what is arguably the same fighter.

It will take a CF-18 pilot about three months to learn to fly the new fighter, while training an entire squadron of pilots will take about six months — relatively short time frames, which is considered one of the advantages of the Super Hornets over the rival F-35.

"From the pilot's perspective, it's easy to fly a legacy Hornet [like a CF-18] in the morning and a Super Hornet in the afternoon," said Boeing executive Steve Brennan, who commanded the same fighter wing as Boyle over a decade ago.

The two aircraft have different maintenance needs but Brennan and other Boeing executives said the Super Hornet costs less to operate than any other tactical aircraft in the U.S. military.
Maintenance workers service a U.S. Navy Super Hornet. (CBC News/Murray Brewster)
Even so, there will be extra costs for the RCAF — an important point because the Trudeau government promised to properly fund the air force, something that did not happen under the previous Conservative government.

One of the pressing questions on the minds of Canadian defence officials is so-called interoperability with allies, mostly the Americans.

The U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Marine Corps and eventually the U.S,. Navy will all fly the advanced F-35 stealth fighter. So will many of Canada's other allies.
Data sharing

Many of the concerns relate to the ability of the F-35 to share electronic data and surveillance with older designs, such as the Super Hornet, said former Canadian chief of defence staff, retired general Tom Lawson.

"New aircraft like the F-35 come furnished with some residual ability to be interoperable with legacy aircraft such as the F-18 and other older fighters — a responsibility the designers of new systems share with those who maintain and upgrade older systems," said Lawson, a longtime supporter of the stealth fighter purchase who used to work for F-35 maker Lockheed Martin.

Equipment and software upgrades will be crucial for the jets to maintain "as much relevancy as possible," he said.

The issue of data sharing is crucial for the modern battlefield, said Ricardo Traven, a former Canadian fighter pilot, now working for Boeing.
A U.S. Navy flight line technician prepares a Super Hornet for flight.
The Super Hornet does have the ability to receive certain data and target imaging from the F-35 and the F-22 Raptor, but there is need for improvement.

Traven placed the onus on Lockheed Martin to ensure better protocols are developed, not only for other aircraft but for communication with ships and ground troops.

"It's always like trying to start a monopoly by saying: 'OK, the only way to communicate with us is if you are one of us,'" said Traven.

"The reality is, the whole world isn't going to be one of them." Traven says they're going to have to use common protocols with the rest of the world "or they're not going to be communicating with anyone."

Boyle said the U.S. Navy is also seized with the issue and has been pushing the Pentagon to ensure there is a solution because the Super Hornet is slated to keep operating with the navy, alongside the F-35, until at least 2040.
Tainted fighter debate

The previous Conservative government, under Stephen Harper, said the F-35 was the "best" choice to defend the country's sovereignty and fight in overseas missions.

The Liberals disagreed, and during the last federal election campaign promised to buy a "cheaper" aircraft and plow the savings back into rebuilding the navy — a plan Harper described as "living in a dream world."

The recent decision to wait until the early 2020s to fully replace the current fleet of CF-18s and to sole-source the purchase of up to 18 Super Hornets in the interim almost certainly means there will be no savings.

Proponents of the F-35 have argued the fighter is a generational leap forward in terms of technology and the ability to operate seamlessly with Canada's allies, and provides added protection because its stealth technology makes it less visible on enemy radar than so-called legacy fighters, such as the Super Hornet.

‘National interest’ to guide Future CAF Deployments

By: Steven Chase, The Globe and Mail 

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is being instructed by Justin Trudeau to ensure any future deployment of troops is in Canada’s “national interest” – just as questions swirl over whether Ottawa will still send a big contingent of peacekeepers to Africa in the Donald Trump era.

Master Corporal Maxime Daneau,left, of the 1st Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment, confirms plans to delay an enemy advance with a Polish and two Latvian soldiers during a multinational anti-tank exercise, in Pabrade, Lithuania on May 14, 2016. (Captain Mark Ruban/Operation Reassurance Land Task Force)
Master Corporal Maxime Daneau,left, of the 1st Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment, confirms plans to delay an enemy advance with a Polish and two Latvian soldiers during a multinational anti-tank exercise, in Pabrade, Lithuania on May 14, 2016.
(Captain Mark Ruban/Operation Reassurance Land Task Force)
The Prime Minister released new mandate letters Wednesday with fresh marching orders for ministers who received new jobs in his January cabinet shuffle. Ms. Freeland’s letter contains instructions for synchronizing foreign policy and military missions at at time when Canada’s biggest ally is led by President Trump, a populist who wants to rewrite trade relations in the United States’ favour and complains that allies are not contributing enough to collective defence.

In her letter, Ms. Freeland is told she must work with Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan to ensure that any deployment of the Canadian Armed Forces aligns with “Canada’s national interest.” That benchmark comes first in a list of criteria for overseas missions that also includes “multilateral commitments and the government’s policy objectives.”

This instruction about future military deployments was not in the mandate letter given to Ms. Freeland’s predecessor Stephane Dion when he was handed the foreign affairs post in late 2015.

Defence analyst David Perry says the new assignment to focus on Canada’s “national interest” when dispatching troops appears to reduce the emphasis on peacekeeping as a key goal for Canadian military operations and suggests any deployment will be more carefully aligned with this country’s most important ally: the United States.

Sources in Ottawa say that the Canadian government has paused a decision, originally expected in December, on where it will deploy peacekeeping troops until it gets a better sense of what the Trump White House expects of allies. Mr. Trump has yet to roll out his plans for security and defence but the U.S. President has repeatedly accused Western countries of falling short on defence spending and has said he wants the NATO military alliance to focus more on counter-terrorism.

The Canadian government, which has already committed to a 450-troop-strong deployment to Latvia to help deter Russian expansion, wants to ensure it has military assets in reserve until it determines whether Mr. Trump’s military and foreign policies could place more demands on Canada, said Mr. Perry, a senior analyst with the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

“The reason we haven’t put the peacekeeping mission out the door is they are trying to wait and see how we best fit in and establish a positive relationship with Washington,” he said. “It doesn’t mean we’re not going to do things we want to do, like peace support operations, if we can, and if it makes sense, but if you only have so many arrows in your quiver you don’t want to shoot one now and not maybe have it for use later.”

It was during this past August that Ms. Freeland’s predecessor, Mr. Dion, originally announced Ottawa would commit 600 troops and 150 police officers to peacekeeping missions in what the Liberals billed as a return to Canada’s role as a big backer of peace-support operations. Countries such as Mali, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo are among the locations where Canada has been considering a significant deployment. Colombia was another option on the table.

Five months later, Mr. Sajjan says he’s still trying to determine which peacekeeping deployment would be most effective. “We want to make sure that we get this decision right because any time, I’ve always stated, when we send troops, we want to make sure that they can have a meaningful impact on the ground,” the defence minister told reporters in Ottawa earlier this week.

Separately, in Ukraine, where Canada has 200 soldiers deployed on a training mission, Kiev is coping with with a significant uptick in violence that has generated the most casualties in its war with Moscow-backed militants.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called on Russia Wednesday to use its “considerable influence” with rebels in eastern Ukraine to end what he described as “the most serious spike in violations” of a shaky truce there in a long time.

Mr. Sajjan on Wednesday was asked whether Canada will extend this Ukraine mission beyond its March, 2017, expiry date and he said Ottawa was still studying how it could best support Kiev. “I want to make sure that Canadians also know that we are committed to the Ukraine because … the action that Russia has taken is completely unacceptable.”
With files from Reuters

As Ukraine violence continues, Ottawa considers Expanding Military Presence

By: Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press 

Government forces and Russian-backed rebels have traded heavy fire in eastern Ukraine over the past few days, killing at least 19 people and injuring dozens more.
Ukrainian Government-back forces and Russian-backed rebels have stepped up the fighting in Eastern Ukraine in the past week., killing at least 19. (E. Maloletka/AP) 
OTTAWA—Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says the federal government is concerned about a new outbreak of fighting in Ukraine and is looking at ways to “improve” Canada’s military support to the country.

“I’m looking at the options right now in terms of how we can improve our support, what changes that we need to make,” Sajjan said Wednesday.

“But one thing is for sure, that Canada remains committed to Ukraine.”

Government forces and Russian-backed rebels have traded heavy fire in eastern Ukraine over the last few days, killing at least 19 people and injuring dozens more.

The surge in violence is threatening to overturn a ceasefire in the three-year-old civil war that has been repeatedly broken by both sides, but is still seen as the best chance for peace.

It also comes amid uncertainty over U.S. intentions in the region, including whether it will continue to stand with Ukraine given President Donald Trump’s comments about mending relations with Russia.

Canada first deployed about 200 troops to Ukraine in the summer of 2015 to help train government forces after Russia annexed Crimea and began supporting separatist forces in Ukraine’s Donbass region.

The mission, which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau toured during a visit to the country in July, has so far resulted in 2,600 Ukrainian troops being trained primarily in the basic soldiering.

But the mission is set to expire at the end of March and the Liberal government had been noncommittal on an extension despite public appeals from the Ukrainian government.

Sajjan’s comments, coming a few weeks after the British extended their own training mission, are the strongest indication yet that Canada will maintain, and may even expand, its military presence in Ukraine.

“I’ve always said when we send troops, we want to make sure they have a meaningful impact,” Sajjan said. “And we are having a meaningful impact in Ukraine.”

Conservative defence critic James Bezan said he hopes the Liberal government not only extends the current training mission, but expands military support in other ways.

That includes providing military equipment to the Ukrainians and satellite imagery, as the previous Conservative government did.

“At some point in time we have to make a decision that Ukraine needs our help,” Bezan said.

“They’re fighting a war against Russian imperialism and if they fail, then it’s right on NATO’s doorstep. So they definitely need the support and training. They definitely need the support with satellite images. They should at the very least be supplying nonkinetic equipment.”

Canada’s large and influential Ukrainian community has also made it clear that it wants the government continue to provide military assistance to the eastern European country.

But there have been misgivings inside the Canadian Forces, with some grumbles the military is being stretched thin as it prepares to send troops to Latvia and Africa while also supporting the mission in Iraq.

There are also concerns about ongoing problems with corruption among the Ukrainian military, particularly at the top levels.

Sajjan said he was confident, based on defence chief Gen. Jonathan Vance’s assessment, that the Canadian Forces is not being overstretched.

And while he acknowledged corruption remains an issue, Sajjan said Canada will continue to work with Ukrainian authorities to ensure the problem is addressed.

“We have to make sure we have the confidence of the population,” he said.

“I’m confident that we’ll keep moving in that direction, and we’ll also make sure that as we move forward, that we’ll help them with any efficiencies that they need as well.”

Sajjan did not say when a decision would be made on whether to extend the mission, though officials say options have been drawn up by the military and will be presented to cabinet in the coming weeks.

Andriy Shevchenko, Ukraine’s ambassador to Canada, expressed frustration in an interview last month with how long things were taking.

“Those people who sit in the Kremlin and plan their other terrible activities in Ukraine, the sooner they learn that the West and Canada is serious about future co-operation, the better it is,” he said.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

New RCAF Deputy Commander looks to the Future

By: Amanda Connolly, iPolitics 

For the first time in Canadian history, the Royal Canadian Air Force will have a female deputy commander.

But for Maj.-Gen. Tammy Harris, whose career has been marked by firsts, the honour she feels heading into her new post goes beyond being a symbol of women’s advancement in the military. It’s more about using her new responsibilities to champion the need for broader diversity and inclusion in the Canadian Forces — particularly when it comes to young people.

“The language that we use doesn’t resonate with the youth of today so we need to get better at messaging that and hearing them,” she said in her first sit-down interview with iPolitics. “I think the military is known for talking in acronyms and talking in short sentences, and you kind of have to be more active listening on what it is that our values remain the same. These young men and women were talking about empowerment, about other people, talking about being the activists or the voice of those who don’t have a voice, serving their country. All the things that we hopefully represent to Canadians in what we do.”

Harris first joined the Canadian Forces as an air traffic controller at 1987, two years before the milestone Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling that allowed women to take on combat roles.

Since then, her Air Force career has seen her posted to Lahr, Germany, as well as bases across Canada.

In 2007 she was named the first female wing commander at 9 Wing Gander and in 2009, was deployed to Afghanistan as chief planner for NATO at the Kandahar Airfield.

Harris made headlines again in 2012 when she was named commander of CFB Borden, Canada’s largest training base, and in doing so became the first woman to head a Canadian Forces base.

She left for Ottawa a year later to take on a new role as senior military advisor to the Privy Council Office’s foreign defence policy secretariat, and then joined the office of the Chief of Defence Staff as General Jonathan Vance’s chief of staff.

Now, her latest appointment will see her taking on the challenges of her new role at a time when the Canadian Forces are facing significant challenges in recruiting new members, and as public and political pressure for a culture change within the military grows more intense.

March 2017 will mark two years since former Supreme Court justice Marie Deschamps issued a damning report on sexual misconduct in the Canadian Forces that found evidence of a “highly sexualized culture” — where degrading remarks about women and LGBT members often went unchecked and allegations from harassment to abuse often went unreported because of a lack of faith in the military chain of command.
Maj.-Gen. Tammy Harris, deputy commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force sits down for an interview with iPolitics journalist Amanda Connolly in Ottawa on Friday, January 27, 2017. iPolitics/Matthew Usherwood
That report prompted the launch of Operation Honour, the military’s mission to stamp out sexual misconduct and harassment.

While Harris noted it was too early to talk about specific priorities for her new role since she has not yet taken command, she did stress that continuing her predecessor’s work in supporting that mission will be a top focus.

Having the chance to work more directly with RCAF members is something Harris said she is particularly looking forward to.

“Going back into the air force is exciting for me,” she said. “Now I have a very busy job but my job is to facilitate Gen. Vance’s ability to meet with the troops and make that happen, so this will give me the opportunity to spend some time with some extraordinary men and women and see the great things they’re doing and spending time with their families and getting to know them.”

Harris, a native of the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia, said being able to help others find ways to succeed has been an important thread throughout her career — because she has witnessed the powerful effects of mentorship first-hand.

Now, she sees her new job as an opportunity to support others who may be struggling to get to where they want to go, or to balance their careers with their families.

“That’s how I lead,” said Harris, who is married to Brig.-Gen. Shane Brennan, soon-to-be-named commanding officer of the military’s Joint Personnel Support Unit, and a stepmother to three grown children. “We can accomplish the mission but how do I help people get to where they want to go and achieve the things that they want to do, and get that balance, which is kind of hard. And it’s okay to have a balance of wanting to have a family and wanting to have a successful career.”

A recent report by Auditor General Michael Ferguson cast doubts on the military’s ability to meet many of its recruitment targets. Harris pointed to the need for the military to do a better job telling its own stories and showing how a career in the Canadian Forces can be a way of achieving many of the goals and desires driving young Canadians’ career choices.

According to surveys and polls conducted over the past several years, young workers repeatedly list factors like the ability to make a difference, to travel and to take on multiple roles and types of occupations throughout their careers as among the most important considerations when choosing a career.

Harris said she had the chance to take part in the recent Prime Minister’s Youth Council meeting and that what she heard from the young people there made her even more committed to pushing for the military to get better at sharing its own stories.

“You can say you’re a mediator, you’re an activist, you’re a leader, you’re a follower, you’re a counsellor, you’re a judge, you’re a disciplinarian, you’re a mentor,” she said. “All these things come together throughout your career. They were surprised by that, so we haven’t kind of shown them you don’t really have one career, you have many careers in one.”

She also said that the military needs to make sure the work environment is one that is attractive and supportive for all, particularly in light of the Statistics Canada survey in November that found that even since the launch of Operation Honour, 960 force members had still experienced harassment over the past year.

“It just means we need to keep working and everybody is still committed to that going forward,” Harris said. “If you can breathe, you have a voice and if you have a voice, I’m listening. That’s my message to people, and I will act on your behalf if you are afraid to act.”

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

New Canadian Naval Security Team prepares for deployment

By: David Pugliese, Defence Watch 

The Royal Canadian Navy has created a new unit, largely staffed by reservists, who will provide protection for RCN ships.

The Naval Security Team or NST expects to be ready for an Initial Operational Capability phase sometime in the spring, with its first deployment overseas at that time, according to the RCN website.

Lieutenant-Commander Jeff Chura, officer in charge of the unit, writes on the RCN website that the organization is currently based within Canadian Fleet Pacific. Orders are making their way up the CAF’s chain-of-command for “eventual Minister of National Defence signature, and at that point NST will become an official unit of the RCN,” he added.

The NST will deploy a small force protection team to defend RCN ships and assets overseas. The unit is mainly made up of reservists, with the idea of strengthening fleet protection and aiding the ship’s company on its watch rotations. The unit will also be able to provide a tactical boat section and intelligence support.

A team of between 30 and 50 military personnel is planned, according to information provided earlier by the RCN.

Chura noted that in November 2016 the Naval Board and the Royal Canadian Navy Dress Committee approved a new “morale” qualification badge for the fledgling unit. “Members of NST’s core leadership team have already begun to wear the badge, and new members will be presented with it once they successfully complete the team’s Collective and Validation training,” he wrote.

Stopgap Super Hornet purchase could have $5B to $7B price tag

By: Murray Brewster, CBC News

The Trudeau government has begun talks with Washington about the sole-source purchase of up to 18 Super Hornet jet fighters.

The measure, intended as a stopgap solution to ease pressure on the air force's aging fleet of CF-18s, could cost taxpayers between $5 billion and $7 billion over the lifetime of the aircraft, according to data circulating within the Department of National Defence and shared with CBC News by sources who insisted upon anonymity.

The figures are only preliminary, but they are backed up by U.S. congressional budget information.

CBC News was granted rare, extraordinary access to officials and facilities belonging to Boeing, the U.S. manufacturer of the Super Hornet, and to the U.S. navy's principal air base where the fighters operate and train. During that visit, Boeing officials confirmed Canada has begun talks with the Pentagon to buy the planes.

The decision to buy 18 warplanes in a sole-source deal, originally announced last fall, is meant to address what the Liberal government describes as an urgent "capability gap."

But it also lands Canada squarely in the middle of the Trump administration's showdown over the future of the Super Hornet's rival, the oft-maligned F-35.
1st delivery by 2019?

There are questions about what kind of deal Canada will get on the Super Hornets, especially with the new U.S. administration.

A final agreement, which requires congressional approval, will take about a year to negotiate, but CBC News has learned the Liberal government has already signalled it would like to see the first aircraft arrive in 2019, which would coincide with the next election.

A Boeing official, when asked, confirmed both the timeline and anticipated delivery date, and said the company is currently waiting for formal, written notice — known as a letter of request — from the Canadian government, which will be submitted to the U.S. Pentagon within the next few weeks.
CBC News was granted access to U.S. Naval Air Station Oceana at Virginia Beach to see U.S. navy Super Hornets in action. (Murray Brewster/CBC)
Dan Gillian, Boeing's vice-president of the F-18 programs, said the company is looking at how production of Canadian jets can be slotted alongside existing orders from the U.S. navy and Kuwait. Boeing currently produces two Super Hornets a month.

"We think we can build all of those airplanes in time to meet the customer demands," said Gillan. "We may have to increase production rate, but that is very doable."
U.S. navy costs a benchmark

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government promised in the last election not to buy Lockheed Martin's F-35 when it came time to replace Canada's entire 1980s-vintage CF-18 fleet.

The Liberals said they would buy a cheaper alternative and plow the savings back into rebuilding the navy, but Trudeau has since said the F-35 stealth fighter will not be excluded from an open competition for replacement jets.

Federal officials, including the head of the Royal Canadian Air Force, have taken pains to describe the process with Boeing as tentative and exploratory.

But Canadian military planners visited the company's St. Louis, Mo., engineering facility two weeks ago to scope out the customized features they want in the fighter.

That, along with a series of other factors, will determine how much Canada pays for what the Liberals insist is an "interim" solution to the problem of not having enough jet fighters to meet all of the country's military commitments.

A cost breakdown of the Super Hornets is provided in U.S. Department of Defence estimates:
The base price for a Super Hornet, according to U.S. Department of Defence 2015 budget estimates, was $85 million ($65 million US) per aircraft.
On top of that, there is what's known as government-furnished equipment, which can be anything from engines to radar and other electronics, depending on what the air force says it needs. That could add $26.2 million ($20 million US) per fighter — although those fees can sometimes be negotiated.
Washington also levies what is known as a foreign military sales charge of about 3.5 per cent, but other costs for research and development could boost U.S. service charges to as high 11 per cent, according to Pentagon records.

"What an airplane costs depends upon configuration, timing of deliveries and quantities. The U.S. government documents are a good reflection," said Boeing's Gillian.

That all means the final cost of each individual Super Hornet could range from $115 million ($88 million US) to $123 million ($94 million US), bringing a total purchase price of between $1.9 billion ($1.5 billion US) and $2.1 billion ($1.6 billion US) for 18 jets.
Canada has begun talks with the U.S. Defence Department to buy up to 18 Boeing Super Hornets. (Murray Brewster/CBC)
But the Liberal government would also have to negotiate an in-service support contract and consider buying training simulators, which can add billions.

When those costs are added in, the total price tag for the "interim" Super Hornet solution could run between $5 billion and $7 billion over the life of the planes.
Economic benefits

If the Liberal government buys the planes entirely through a foreign military sales deal, it means Boeing will not automatically be required to provide what are called industrial offsets — essentially, guaranteed work for Canadian companies.

"It gets tricky," said Dave Perry, an analyst with the Canadian Global Affairs Institute. The Liberals would have to negotiate benefits separately under such a deal, he said.

"It doesn't mean you can't get an economic offset, it just a little murkier."

But late Monday, Boeing officials said the company was prepared to deliver an offset equal to the purchase price the U.S. navy pays, roughly $85 million ($65 million US) per aircraft.
The Trump factor

U.S. President Donald Trump has also added an unexpected wrinkle to the Liberal government's plan.

Prior to taking office, Trump tweeted that he'd asked Boeing to "price out a comparable F-18 Super Hornet" to the F-35 in response to rising costs in the stealth fighter program.
U.S. President Donald Trump signs executive orders at the U.S. Department of Defence in Arlington, Va., last week. There are questions about what kind of deal Canada will strike with the Trump administration to buy Super Hornet jet fighters. (Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)
Lockheed Martin said last week it was confident it would soon get the price of an F-35 down to $111 million ($85 million US) per plane. Canada would not have to pay the foreign military sales charge because it has already contributed toward the development of the project.

Much of the public debate in Canada has revolved around the enormous cost of the F-35. In fact, the Liberal government's distaste for the stealth fighter was formed partly by the former Conservative government's refusal to be more transparent about the price tag.

Perry said it would be ironic if Trump succeeded in quickly driving down the cost to the point where both fighters were competitively priced.

"If Trump is able to gets some extra savings out of Lockheed … my guess is you're looking at a 10 per cent cost difference [between the Super Hornet and the F-35]," he said.

Interim Fighter Jet report to Remain Secret

By: David Pugliese, Defence Watch 

A report which warned against buying an interim fighter jet for the Canadian military will remain secret, even though it had previously been on the Defence department’s website for more than a year.

The report was quietly pulled down from the site after the Liberal government announced its decision to purchase 18 Boeing Super Hornets as “interim” fighter jets until a permanent fleet for the existing CF-18 aircraft could be bought.

The Defence Research and Development Canada report recommended against the purchase of such “bridging” aircraft to deal with gaps in capability.

The Liberal government has said Canada is facing a capability gap because it doesn’t have enough fighter jets to fulfill its military missions. Because of that it needs to buy the Super Hornets.

But the 2014 report that had been on the Department of National Defence website questioned that type of strategy. “The costs involved with bridging options make them unsuitable for filling capability gaps in the short term,” according to the report. “Any short term investment results in disproportionately high costs during the bridging period.”

The report was carefully reviewed for security issues before being put on the DND website, defence sources say. The report cited data that was in the public domain and there was no use of secret information.

It was pulled from the website the day the Liberal government announced it was purchasing the Super Hornets.

At one point, the DND was looking at putting the report back on its site, with certain revisions, but that won’t be done.

“It is judged that given the current threat environment, the aggregate of the information contained in the report speaks to the capability of the Canadian Armed Forces and is sensitive in nature,” the Department of National Defence stated in an email to the Ottawa Citizen. “For this reason, the report cannot be easily excised and will no longer be made available to the public.”‎

The statement did not explain how the “threat environment” in 2014-2015, when the report was public, was different from the situation in 2016 when the report was pulled down.

The analysis also determined that whatever aircraft Canada selects in the future to replace the CF-18, it should go with a single fleet of the same type of planes. “The analysis found that a mixed fleet of 38 higher capability aircraft, chosen for their ability to fulfill the most challenging of the NATO missions, and 34 lower capability aircraft, capable of fulfilling Canada’s NORAD obligations, could not provide the same capability as the single fleet of 65 higher capability aircraft,” it added.

The Liberal government has acknowledged the decision to buy the 18 Super Hornets will cost more in the long run but it has blamed the previous Conservative government for bungling the CF-18 replacement.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says Canada is facing a fighter capability gap when it comes to dealing with its commitments to NORAD and NATO.

But the head of the Royal Canadian Air Force has said the gap was created in 2016 when the Liberals changed defence policy, requiring the RCAF to meet both its NATO and North American air defence commitments at the same time.

Lt.-Gen. Mike Hood said he wasn’t privy to why the policy changed.

“That demands a certain number of aircraft that our present CF-18 fleet is unable to meet on its day-to-day serviceability rate,” Hood said before a senate defence committee in late November. “They’ve (the Liberals) changed the policy of the number of aircraft I have to have.”