Thursday, April 20, 2017

Sikorsky and RCAF no closer to finding fault on Cyclones


The Royal Canadian Air Force and Sikorsky appear no closer to finding the root cause of a failure with a flight control computer that has left its fleet of CH-148 Cyclone maritime patrol helicopters grounded since 10 March.

Sikorsky has delivered 11 Cyclones to the RCAF, with three operating as test and evaluation aircraft. The commander of the Canadian Air Division ordered an "operational pause" with the helicopters after a failure in the flight control computers on one test aircraft caused a momentary, uncommanded pitch change during a 10 March training sortie.

The incident marks yet another hurdle for the Sea King replacement programme, which has faced ballooning costs and technical glitches over its lifetime.

While the incident did not affect core operations, operational test and evaluation has been suspended during the investigation. The air force does not know when the grounding will be lifted and test and evaluation will resume, Ottawa's Department of National Defence (DND) tells FlightGlobal.

“In the meantime, RCAF pilots are doing increased ground training and simulator work, but the temporary flying operations pause will delay the overall pilot training program,” it says. “The extent of that delay, and any subsequent impacts, are not yet known.”

It addition, until the root cause of the fault is identified, it is too early to say if Sikorsky will be liable for any penalty, the DND adds.

Maintenance training on the CH-148 is unaffected, it adds.

The first 11 helicopters comprise the Cyclones’ Block 1 configuration. The RCAF expects Block 2 deliveries to begin next June and wrap up in 2021, with the final fleet of 28 helicopters also scheduled to be complete that year.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Sophie Grégoire Trudeau to be sponsor of HMCS Harry DeWolf

Royal Canadian Navy Press Release

The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) has announced that Ms. Sophie Grégoire Trudeau has agreed to become the sponsor of Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Harry DeWolf, the lead ship in the RCN’s upcoming class of Arctic and Offshore Patrol Vessels.

Image result for hmcs Harry DeWolf
Artist's impression of the Harry Dewolf-Class Arctic/Offshore Patrol Vessel
The appointment of a ship’s sponsor is a long and storied naval tradition. The function of a sponsor is to be part of the naming of a ship, typically breaking a bottle of champagne across the ship’s bow during its naming or launching ceremony. Sponsors are often prominent women who have served their communities in a variety of capacities. Many sponsors continue their relationship with their ship for many years and remain key stakeholders and supportive members of the RCN family.

Ms. Grégoire Trudeau is a volunteer, speaker, and long-time champion for a variety of important causes such as gender empowerment, mental health, self-esteem, and equality issues relating to women and children. She has raised the profile of many causes that focus on the health and well-being of families.

“I am honoured to serve as the sponsor of HMCS Harry DeWolf. Vice-Admiral Harry DeWolf was a true Canadian hero who is remembered for his legacy of service, courage, and determination. I am confident that this ship, and all those who serve on it, will continue to build on that legacy—one that all Canadians can be very proud of. I have great respect for the men and women who serve in the Royal Canadian Navy, and I’m very eager to meet the sailors and their families,” said Ms. Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, sponsor of HMCS Harry DeWolf.

Construction of HMCS Harry DeWolf is now underway by Irving Shipbuilding Inc. in Halifax. The ship is expected to be launched in a naming ceremony that will involve Ms. Grégoire Trudeau in 2018.

All of the RCN’s commissioned ships have sponsors and many prominent women have served or are currently serving as sponsors, including Ms. Aline Chrétien, the sponsor of HMCS Shawinigan; and Ms. Mila Mulroney, the sponsor of HMCS Halifax, lead ship of the Halifax Class Canadian Patrol Frigates.

The Arctic and Offshore Patrol Vessels will be large, ice-capable ships, more than 100 metres long, and designed to conduct a variety of missions in Canada’s waters, including in the Arctic. The vessels will be capable of conducting armed sea-borne surveillance, providing government situational awareness of activities and events in these regions. They will also be able to cooperate with partners in the Canadian Armed Forces and other government departments to assert and enforce Canadian sovereignty, when and where necessary.

Vice-Admiral Harry DeWolf was a decorated naval commander in the Second World War. He took part in numerous Atlantic convoy escort duties, in the rescue and evacuation of Allied troops from Dunkirk after the fall of France in 1940, and was known as a fearless and bold tactician throughout the war. During his 14 months in command of HMCS Haida, VAdm DeWolf led in the sinking of many enemy ships, earning him a Distinguished Service Order for gallantry, and a Distinguished Service Cross for courage and skill in action against German destroyers. In 1956, upon promotion to the rank of Vice-Admiral, he was appointed Chief of the Naval Staff, a position he served in until his retirement in 1960.

The names of five of six Arctic and Offshore Patrol Vessels have been announced to-date, each one named after Canadian naval heroes: HMCS Harry DeWolf, HMCS Margaret Brooke, HMCS Max Bernays, HMCS William Hall, and HMCS Frédérick Rolette.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

RCN's MTOG Completes Activities in Tunisia, Liberia and Sierra Leone

By MTOG and Lieutenant-Commander Kelly Williamson

The Royal Canadian Navy’s Maritime Tactical Operations Group (MTOG) is increasingly engaged in international capacity building activities as a means of fostering relationships, encouraging mutual understanding and contributing to maritime safety and security across the globe. MTOG recently completed a series of activities in Tunisia, Liberia and Sierra Leone as part of the navy’s engagement strategy.

MTOG conducts training
The Royal Canadian Navy’s Maritime Tactical Operations Group (MTOG) conducts training alongside the 51st and 52nd Regiments Commandos Marines (RCM) of the Tunisian Navy in Bizerte, Tunisia.
“Capacity building is important to MTOG because, not only does it give our operators rare and unique opportunities to be exposed to new cultures while developing their leadership and instructional skills, but it also allows the unit to contribute to the stabilization and development of the countries we visit,” said Lieutenant-Commander Will Lund, MTOG’s Commanding Officer. “At an individual level, MTOG operators feel like they are making a difference in the world.”

In late February, the MTOG detachment embarked in HMCS St. John’s conducted a week of training alongside the 51st and 52nd Regiments Commandos Marines (RCM) of the Tunisian Navy in Bizerte, Tunisia. The training provided sailors from both countries with a chance to acquire knowledge, establish relationships and hone their skills.

“By noon on the first day of training, it was clear that we had a lot more in common than we initially thought,” said Lieutenant (Navy) Jacob Killawee. “Like MTOG, the RCM sailors come from a variety of backgrounds like marine engineers, logistics and operations personnel, and go through a selection process before they join their specialized regiments.”

To help break the ice, the first day of training with the Tunisians focused on small arms training. Sailors from both countries took turns demonstrating weapons handling drills to build the speed and accuracy that operators from all countries require when conducting maritime interdiction operations in complex and confined environments onboard ships at sea.

As the week progressed, MTOG and the RCM transitioned from the range to other training events including close-quarter battle (CQB), insertion and extraction techniques using high speed rigid-hull inflatable boats, and rappelling. During the CQB training, sailors reviewed procedures on how to safely clear room and confined spaces on ships. During insert and extract drills, sailors enhanced their ability to quickly insert and extract from target vessels.

Sailors learned that while tactics, techniques and procedures between countries may differ, the principals on why and how the teams conduct their operations was consistent. Both groups found common ground and were able to develop a shared understanding that contributed to mission success.

In March, MTOG deployed two detachments, one to Monrovia, Liberia, the other to Freetown, Sierra Leone, in support of Obangame Express 17, a U.S. Naval Forces Africa-led training event with participants from more than 20 nations with an interest in West African maritime security. In Monrovia, the MTOG team worked as mentors to the Liberian Coast Guard Boarding Team, and in Sierra Leone MTOG mentored the Joint Maritime Committee Fisheries Inspection and Boarding Team.

MTOG worked in both countries to enhance partner capabilities in planning, command and control, tactical movement and combined operations with foreign nations. Training commenced ashore and progressed into more complex at-sea scenarios leveraging the presence of Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Moncton in Liberia and HMCS Summerside in Sierra Leone, also supporting Obangame Express 17.

“It’s a capability we’re excited to employ,” said LCdr Lund. “It’s great to be able to send my operators out to learn from and mentor maritime security partners from across the globe. Not only does it enhance our situational awareness with respect to the challenges associated with maritime security in different environments, we’re able to share knowledge and experiences that can be used by are partners to help refine and enhance their own operational effects.”

He added, “Working with other nations enables us, in our uniquely Canadian way, to have a positive impact in regions where democracy and stability are still new and relatively fragile. It’s also an opportunity for us to be exposed to different ideas and ways of doing business. Not only do the countries we work with benefit from the engagement, we learn a lot as well.”

Trudeau Hasn't Ruled Out Military Role In Syria

By: Althia Raj, The Huffington Post 

The Liberal government isn’t ruling out a military contribution in Syria, a government spokesman told Follow-Up, The Huffington Post Canada’s political podcast, this week.

And it won’t say whether it will back further unilateral action in the region by the United States to help remove Bashar al-Assad.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland repeated last week that the Syrian president “has to go.”

Chrystia Freeland leaves after a family picture on the second day of a meeting of foreign affairs ministers from the G7 countries on April 11, 2017 in Lucca, Tuscany. (Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images)

“Assad cannot remain in power in Syria,” she told reporters after a G7 foreign ministers’ meeting in Italy. “We do not see a future for Syria with Assad ruling the country.”

Freeland’s comments came on the heels of U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to drop 59 Tomahawk missiles on an airfield allegedly linked to last week’s deadly chemical attack in Syria.

Matt DeCourcey, Freeland’s parliamentary secretary, told HuffPost that Canada’s support for further military action in Syria will depend on the circumstances.

“I think those are discussions that we would prefer to have with our allies, through the G7, through the U.N., through our allies in other coalition efforts,” he said on the Follow-Up podcast.

“I wouldn’t want to comment on what hypothetical action the U.S. might take wherever, but I would want to assure Canadians that our close relationships with the U.S. allies is to be knowledgeable and in the loop on their ongoing plans and actions as it relates to some of the conflict zones around the world.”
“I think those are discussions that we would prefer to have with our allies, through the G7, through the U.N., through our allies in other coalition efforts.”

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan told reporters early this week that using chemical weapons against human beings is “something that has to be stopped.” He said the decision to drop missiles had been “supported by good intelligence” and was intended to send “a message to Assad that actions like this is not going to come without consequence.”

But what those consequences will be remains unclear.

While Canada is urging Russia to sever ties with the Assad regime, DeCourcey said the country’s participation in pushing the leader out is yet to be determined. Canada is a taking an active part in diplomatic talks, the parliamentary secretary said, but the Liberal government is not ruling out the possibility of military engagement.

“Oh I really can’t say at this point, and I think we all need to be reasonable in our expectations of the length of time we are talking about to come to a peaceful solution in Syria. This isn’t going to happen tomorrow, it’s not going to happen after the long weekend,” DeCourcey said.

“We continue to be deliberate in building good relationships with our allies in strengthening the bond with the U.S. administration and continuing to invest in humanitarian aid, in the diplomatic efforts that we are already tremendously involved in, as well as coalition efforts that we are already involved with militarily to defeat Daesh, which is another horrid wrinkle in this whole situation.

“We will continue to be involved. And we will continue to espouse our values and we will continue to support that stabilized region of the world.”

A senior government source told HuffPost Canada that the cabinet is not considering any military contribution but is keeping options open, in part, because it doesn’t know what requests may come from the Trump administration.

DeCourcey spoke on Follow-Up as part of a larger discussion on the Liberals’ foreign policy agenda and the impact of the Trump presidency. Listen to the latest episode here.

He suggested the close relationship the Trudeau government has sought to build with the Trump White House has “already paid dividends.”

“We have seen the president express, I think, views that are more closely aligned to ours with around multilateralism, around the importance of NATO, around the importance, once again, of finding that lasting peace for the Syrian people,” DeCourcey said, claiming credit for influencing Trump’s about face on Syria and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

“We understand that the United States … is a significant actor in the world and our relationship with them is vital,” he said.

Edmonton Helicopter Squadron Deploys to Iraq

The Canadian Press 

EDMONTON—The Canadian military has deployed 60 members of an Edmonton-based helicopter squadron to Iraq as part of Operation Impact, a mission to fight Daesh militants in the country’s north.

The Department of National Defence says the Royal Canadian Air Force’s 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron will take over from their counterparts from Valcartier, Que., who have been providing tactical support since October 2016.

The 408 squadron operates out of 3rd Canadian Division Support Base in Edmonton.

They will fly and maintain up to four CH-146 Griffon helicopters at Camp Erable near Erbil, Iraq.

Maj.-Gen. Christian Drouin, commander of 1 Canadian Air Division, says the squadron will provide support to both Canadian and coalition partners.

There are currently 830 Canadian military personnel based in both Iraq and Kuwait as part of Operation Impact.

“The men and women of 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron will continue to provide agile, reliable and dedicated service that Canada’s Special Operations Forces and our coalition allies have come to expect from the RCAF,” Col. Jeannot Boucher, commander 1 Wing, said in a news release.