Friday, May 5, 2017

Canada Needs to Boost Aurora Fleet Now & Beginning New Fleet Plan

Originally Published to Defence Watch

What is printed below is an executive summary of the document, “Preserve Canada’s Strategic Surveillance Capability” which was forwarded to the Defence Policy Review Committee by the Maritime Air Veterans Association (MAVA). It was provided to Defence Watch by the authors, retired Brig.-Gen. Duane Daly, President of the Maritime Air Veterans Association and retired Col. E.S.C. Cable, Strategic Studies Coordinator of the same organization. 

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Here is what they wrote in their document:

By: Brig.-Gen. Duane Daly (Ret.) & Col. E.S.C. Cable (Ret.)

Canada’s geography has insulated our nation from conflicts on our soil; however, our geography also presents a massive three-ocean frontier consisting of the world’s longest coastline and a massive Arctic archipelago to defend. For the past 65 years, Canada has maintained a credible maritime surveillance capability, which has significantly extended our awareness of domestic and military activities beyond our shores and has safeguarded our sovereignty.

Canada acquired a fleet of 33 Argus maritime surveillance aircraft in the late 1950s to conduct anti-submarine (ASW) patrols over the Atlantic and Pacific with periodic sovereignty forays to the Arctic. Designed and built in Canada by Canadair (now Bombardier) the Argus was the most capable ASW aircraft of its era. In the early 1980s the obsolete Argus fleet was replaced by 18 CP-140 Aurora ASW patrol aircraft and three CP-140A Arcturus Arctic and Maritime Surveillance Aircraft. However, Canada’s surveillance capability has now been reduced to an alarming level. Canada has already disposed of two Arcturus and turned the third into a permanent maintenance trainer; and is in the process of updating and extending the life of only 14 of the 18 Auroras with the intention to operate only ten aircraft in a rotatable pool of 14 to achieve a life expectancy to 2030 at a reduced pace of operations. Four Auroras are to be scrapped.

During RIMPAC 2015, a multi-national exercise in the Pacific, the U.S. Navy publically stated that the systems in the updated Aurora are performing at level they hope to attain with their newly acquired P-8 Poseidon surveillance aircraft in ten years. During the current Operation Impact in Syria and Iraq the updated Aurora is acknowledged as one of the most successful and capable ASW and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft in the world.

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An RCAF CP-140 in Kuwait

The Need

Fleet sizing studies for the Aurora procurement indicated that 24 aircraft were required to deal with the two-ocean sub-surface threat posed by the Warsaw Pact nations and their satellites. The government unilaterally reduced the number of aircraft to 18 Auroras without a commensurate reduction in tasking. The current fleet size of 14 updated and life extended Auroras to produce ten Auroras for operations is insufficient to fulfill the surveillance requirements for a country with the world’s longest coastline and largest Arctic Archipelago. In addition to the two-ocean commitment, global warming has expanded the requirement for Arctic ISR to monitor shipping activity, search and rescue, communications relay and ASW. There is also a growing need to provide ISR support for international expeditionary missions such as Libya, Syria and Iraq. Despite this increased demand for overland and maritime surveillance, the RCAF is being forced to scrap the remaining four Auroras because of budget and associated manning constraints.

Operations in Libya, Syria and Iraq have demonstrated the requirement for persistent surveillance with a stand-off weapons capability. The RCAF and Canadian industry have the capability to modify and equip the Auroras to carry any weapon currently certified on the U.S. Navy’s P-3C aircraft, including air-to-ground stand-off weapons. An Aurora stand-off, ground attack weapon capability would provide an alternative to the contentious use of armed unmanned air vehicles (UAV) against fleeting targets for the foreseeable future. Moreover, with the increasing use of surveillance UAVs, the Aurora’s communication and data management systems can be readily configured as an airborne UAV controller to provide line-of-sight, operator control of UAVs in theatre.

The Opportunity

There is an urgent requirement to allocate incremental funding to the RCAF to take advantage of the narrowing window of opportunity to update and life extend the four Auroras currently to be scrapped. This will restore the Aurora fleet to its original size of 18 aircraft. A decision is urgent because Lockheed-Martin will likely close the wing and horizontal tail production line necessary to life-extend the four remaining Auroras if there are no follow-on orders. Also, restoring the fleet to 18 aircraft will require additional RCAF manning and funding to operate the last four Auroras.

As an alternative to acquiring armed UAVs, a modification program, already implemented by the U.S. Navy, should be considered to provide the Aurora a stand-off ground attack capability. Also, any future program to acquire surveillance UAVs should include the modification to the Aurora software to provide line-of-sight control of in-theatre UAVs.

The enhanced life expectancy of the updated Aurora will enable operations to at least 2030 when the Aurora will require replacement. The Boeing P-8 Poseidon surveillance aircraft would be a viable replacement candidate. However, liaison with industry is recommended to assess if a maritime version of the Bombardier C-Series airliner could be a home-grown option in much the same manner as Canadair developed the Argus from the Bristol Britannia airliner.


The Government of Canada is rightly concerned about the opening up of the Arctic due to global warming. A full fleet of 18 updated and life-extended Auroras would provide an extensive capability to meet that requirement in the near term with minimal investment. It would also provide a viable counter to the ever growing submarine threat in the Atlantic and Pacific.

Canadian defence industry innovation and partnership with the Government of Canada has delivered a state-of-the art alternative to the more expensive Boeing P-8. The Aurora update solution is sufficiently scalable and flexible to garner the attention of foreign governments, particularly with the Canadian capability to life-extend hundreds of foreign P-3C aircraft as part of a systems upgrade. This represents an immediate export opportunity, which could create and maintain high paying jobs in Canada.

Modifying the Auroras to carry air-to-ground stand-off weapons and to provide direct, line-of-sight control of UAVs in-theatre could provide a near-term solution to the debate over the acquisition and use of weapon-capable UAVs.
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USN P-8 Poseidon 

It is recommended that update and life extension modifications be completed on all 18 Aurora aircraft before the window of opportunity closes.

It is recommended that RCAF manpower and associated funding be increased to restore the Aurora fleet to its full 18 aircraft capability.

It is recommended that planning be initiated now to replace the 18 aircraft Aurora fleet by 2030 with a fully ASW/ISR capable aircraft with sufficient range and endurance to meet Canadian strategic (sub-surface and overland) surveillance requirements. Such planning should consider the possible development of a maritime version of the Bombardier C-Series airliner in the same manner that Canadair developed the Argus from the Bristol Britannia airliner.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

CAF Guards Ferry Against Pirates During Vancouver Island Exercise

By: Chris Bush, Nanaimo News 

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Royal Canadian Navy coastal patrol vessel HMCS Brandon and an RCFA CP-140 Aurora aircraft that tracks surface and underwater threats escorted the 10:30 a.m. B.C. Ferry sailing from  Departure Bay Tuesday, May 2nd.

Why? Pirates.

The ferry was taking part in Operation Ready Angle 17, a military exercise to hone the Canadian military’s proficiency at evacuating Canadian citizens from a hostile zone to safety. In this case, from Vancouver Island – called "Macedemia" for the purposes of the exercise, a country that has suffered severe social upheaval after a major earthquake and tsunami. It’s chaos with gun-toting gangs roaming the streets and pirates lurking in its coastal waters.

The mission for about 240 Canadian Armed Forces members were tasked with the job, with discretion and a minimal amount of fuss, get Canadian citizens out of the region.

“We send in guys in civilian clothes. They kind of find out where all the Canadians are and they bring them to a processing centre where the government takes over – Global Affairs Canada,” said Capt. Jeff Manney, a public affairs officer for Canadian Forces.

Civilian-clothed troops reconnoitre the area to find safe routes to get Canadians to processing centres where Global Affairs Canada takes over.

“A huge part of it is discretion,” Manney said. “No government wants to see foreign soldiers wandering around in its territory, so we try and be discrete and we work with our allies as well.”

Personnel tasked with evacuations must be proficient at a wide range of tasks and coordination between multiple agencies to pull off missions like the one in 2006 when 14,000 Canadians were evacuated from Beirut, Lebanon.

On Monday, armed troops guarded a “processing centre” at HMCS Quadra Cadet Summer Training Centre in Comox while genuine citizens were sorted from imposters, put on a bus for Nanaimo and evacuated to a naval reserve base in Vancouver, which is also part of Macedemia.

While much of the exercise took place in Comox, military reconnaissance personnel have met with police and local governments in Nanaimo and Port Alberni to test procedures.

“They’ve been, basically, all around the area in the country of Macedemia,” Manney said.

Ready Angle 17 follows Operation Ready Renaissance, a Disaster Assistance Response Team exercise on the Island in February to the simulated earthquake and tsunami that triggered Macedemia’s demise.

Tuesday’s ferry sailing to Vancouver meet with HMCS Brandon about 30 minutes into its voyage.

“In this scenario, there are pirates operating in this vicinity where we need to get the Canadians out of. The Aurora will be in the air providing surveillance of the area as well to see these Canadians off safely to the safe haven,” Manney said.

Manney said Ready Angle 17 is an annual exercise and not in response to “any particular incident going on in the world today.”

Canadian Armed Forces suffering from Years of Underfunding

This article was published yesterday by the Toronto Star. For a more in-depth analysis of where the CAF is underfunded - please read - If the Government is Thinking Stimulus; Invest in Defence - published in September 2016 - outlining the $100B needed for the CAF in the next 5-10 years.

By: Bruce Champion-Smith, Toronto Star 

OTTAWA—Years of underinvestment are taking a toll on Canada’s military with no funding earmarked for key capabilities such as new surveillance aircraft, helicopter upgrades and bulldozers and tank transporters.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan will use an Ottawa speech Wednesday to paint a stark picture of the financial crunch facing the military — a message that could reinforce Washington’s call on Canada to boost defence spending.

The speech is meant as a prelude for a Liberal announcement expected in the coming weeks that will lay out a new defence policy for the country and with it, the promise of long-term spending.

That new policy was meant to look ahead at the kind of threats Canada’s military needs to be ready to cope with in the future.

But the review will also confront a less well-known challenge facing the military — “the hollow state of affairs that are not about tomorrow’s threats,” a government official told the Star.

Sajjan’s event on Wednesday will serve as a reality check and could set the stage for a national debate on funding for the military — and how much more the armed forces should get.

“We’re starting from a hole that is not commonly understood,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The evidence of that is the list of “core, bread and butter” capabilities within the Canadian Armed Forces that need to be upgraded or replaced and yet have no funding set aside.

These include a projects for a new “multi-mission aircraft” to replace the CP-140 Aurora surveillance aircraft by 2026; a mid-life upgrade for the Cormorant helicopter; future aircrew training program; bulldozers, forklifts and other ancillary equipment for the army; logistics vehicles such as tank transporters; enhanced satellite communications in the Arctic.

While political debates rage over big-ticket purchases of new fighter jets and warships, defence department officials warn that many other required projects have yet to be funded. Those add up to “tens of billions of dollars” for existing capabilities that the military does and “must continue to do.

“There’s been insufficient investment and insufficient long-term planning,” the official said.

Sajjan’s message won’t be framed as a partisan jab as the Liberal government acknowledges that funding woes for the military have developed “over a long period under successive governments.”

The new Trump administration in Washington has been leaning on NATO allies, including Canada, to boost their defence spending.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson used his first NATO summit in Brussels in March to press allies to detail their strategies to reach the goal of spending two per cent of GDP on defence.

Tillerson wanted NATO member nations to have those plans developed by the time leaders, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, meet for a summit later this month.

Canada spends about 1 per cent of GDP on defence, which would mean having to double its $19-billion military budget to the NATO target.

But the Liberal government is hoping to release its defence policy review — and the pledge of more defence spending — before the NATO summit, giving Trudeau a good news message to take to the meeting.

The defence policy review will be a significant announcement for the government and plans are underway to have cabinet ministers speak at events across the country to lay out details of the review.

Sajjan Faces Continued Criticism Over MEDUSA Claims

By: David Pugliese, Defence Watch 

It was another tough day for Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan.

He tried to change the channel Wednesday with a speech that bluntly outlined the problems that the Canadian military and the DND face as far as money and resources.

But most of the questions he faced from journalists were still about his Op Medusa claims.

As readers know, in an April 18 speech during his trip to India, Sajjan made this claim about Operation Medusa: “On my first deployment to Kandahar in 2006, I was kind of thrown into an unforeseen situation and I became the architect of an operation called Operation Medusa where we removed over, about, 1,500 Taliban fighters off the battlefield. And I was very proud to be on the main assault of that force,” he said.

Claiming to be the architect of Medusa was seen as an embarrassing exaggeration by some and by others as a blatant lie. Over the last several days Sajjan has been called out by military personnel as well as members of the public. Sajjan issued a clarification/statement of regret but that didn’t seem to quell the anger.

On the weekend he issued an apology on his Facebook page.

That hasn’t done much to ease the situation.

The Conservatives are continuing their strategy of raising questions about Sajjan’s credibility. They have pointed to the Op Medusa “architect” claims and statements that Canada’s allies had no issues with the pull-out of CF-18s from the Iraq campaign, when they clearly did.

The NDP have raised questions about conflict of interest in regard to the Afghan detainee issue. As minister, Sajjan, an Afghan war veteran, decided against an inquiry into allegations of abuse of detainees. But the NDP argue he may have had indirect/direct knowledge of detainee issues so he could be in a conflict of interest on making a decision against an inquiry.

Parliament’s ethics commissioner gave Sajjan a clean bill of health on this file.

But the commissioner is now reviewing a request by NDP leader Tom Mulcair to reconsider her decision.

All this means that Sajjan will be in the news for the next little while.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is said to like Sajjan and has, for now, stood behind him.

How long will that last?

One potential scenario is that Sajjan will stick around long enough to deliver the Liberal government’s new defence policy. And then a short time later he will leave in a cabinet shuffle.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Change of Command for Op KOBOLD

DND Press Release

The new commander for Operation Kobold, Lieutenant-Colonel Kenneth Mills, assumed command from Lieutenant-Colonel Simon Poudrier today during a ceremony at the NATO headquarters in Pristina, Kosovo.

The ceremony marks the transition between Rotations 15 and 16 of Operation Kobold, Canada's contribution to the Kosovo Force (KFOR), the NATO-led peace-support operation working to develop a capable Kosovo Security Force.

This deployment demonstrates Canada’s commitment to NATO, to solidarity with our allies, and to peace and stability for this region of Eastern Europe.

As commander of Task Force Pristina, Lieutenant-Colonel Mills commands four Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) personnel. These experienced CAF members serve in a variety of staff roles at the Kosovo Force headquarters, including assisting the development of the Kosovo Security Force, as well as coordinating logistical support for the NATO force.

Canada has supported Kosovo Force periodically since its establishment in June 1999. CAF originally deployed a Task Force until June 2000 as part of Operation Kinetic. In August 2008, CAF committed staff officers to Kosovo Force headquarters, which continues to this day.

The Kosovo Force (KFOR) was established in June 1999 when NATO’s 78-day air campaign against Slobodan Milosevic’s regime, aimed at putting an end to violence in Kosovo, ended. KFOR derives its mandate from UNSCR 1244 (1999) and the Military Technical Agreement between the International Security Force (KFOR) and the Governments of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Republic of Serbia.

As of October 2016, KFOR comprises approximately 4,600 troops from 30 nations, of which 21 are members of NATO. It is organized as two multinational battle groups supported by a reserve battalion, a specialist unit, a joint logistics group, and a headquarters. KFOR works closely with the European Union (E.U.), especially the E.U. Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX), the United Nations, and many non-governmental organizations.
Outgoing Commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Simon Poudrier (left), and incoming Commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Kenneth Mills (right), as well as the Commander of the Kosovo Force (KFOR), Major-General Giovanni Fungo (centre), signed the transfer of authority documents on April 27, 2017, in Pristina, Kosovo, for the command of Op Kobold. Op Kobold is Canada's contribution to the KFOR, the NATO-led peace-support operation working to develop a capable Kosovo Security Force.

Sajjan facing criticism over Operation Medusa comments

By: Gloria Galloway, The Globe and Mail 

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has apologized for embellishing the role he played in a significant and deadly battle in Afghanistan, but opposition MPs say the mea culpa was insufficient and that Mr. Sajjan's fabrication has punched holes in his credibility.

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A Canadian LAV-III during the 2006 Canadian-led Operation MEDUSA, in Afghanistan
The Conservatives say they will be demanding a more heartfelt acknowledgment by Mr. Sajjan of his misrepresentation and suggest the Minister's statements are part of a larger pattern of untruthfulness.

The New Democrats, meanwhile, say they will be asking whether Mr. Sajjan's description of himself as being pivotal to the battle known as Operation Medusa means he diminished the importance of his role in Afghanistan when Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson briefly examined whether he had a personal interest in scuttling a public inquiry into the treatment of Afghan detainees.

"He has said he was involved in combat and planned combat missions, he has said he was an intelligence officer, and he apparently told the Conflict of Interest Commissioner he was just there doing police capacity building. So we have three different stories," Randall Garrison, the NDP defence critic, said Sunday.

Mr. Sajjan said during a speech in India in April that he was the "architect" of Operation Medusa, a land battle between NATO and 1,400 Taliban that took place over two weeks in the late summer of 2006. Roughly 550 insurgents and 12 Canadians were killed along with a number of others.

The Minister, who was an intelligence officer in the Canadian reserves, has been praised by senior military officers for his role in that combat. But he conceded on Saturday, after two days of criticism and an ambiguous statement on Friday, that he had "made a mistake" in describing himself as the operation's key planner.

"I wish to retract that description and apologize for it," Mr. Sajjan said Saturday in a post on Facebook. "What I should have said is that our military successes are the result of leadership, service and sacrifice of the many dedicated women and men of the Canadian Forces."

The India speech was not, however, the first time that Mr. Sajjan has talked about his part in Operation Medusa in that fashion. In July, 2015, when he was a Liberal candidate, he said on a British Columbia podcast called Conversations That Matterthat General Jonathan Vance, the Chief of the Defence Staff, "said I was the architect of Operation Medusa."

The Conservatives also point out that Mr. Sajjan told reporters in December that the issue of Canada withdrawing its CF-18 jets from the fight against the Islamic State was not raised during his meetings with Iraqi ministers in Baghdad – an assertion that was later debunked in a summary by Global Affairs that said the Iraqis had asked Mr. Sajjan to "reconsider the decision on numerous occasions."

The Minister's Facebook climb down for claiming to be the architect of Operation Medusa is not enough, James Bezan, the Conservative defence critic said in a telephone interview on Sunday.

"I expect him to offer a full, sincere apology in the House of Commons at his earliest possible convenience," said Mr. Bezan. "I also think that this is a disturbing pattern of embellishing stories and misrepresenting the facts and making up alternative facts, and that this pattern is something that all of us need to critique even more."

While he did not call for Mr. Sajjan's resignation, Mr. Bezan said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will have to decide if the Minister still has his confidence.

For his part, Mr. Garrison said Mr. Sajjan's claim to have been the architect of Operation Medusa "does raise questions about both the confidence of the Canadian military in our minister and also of our NATO allies."

In March, Ms. Dawson dismissed concerns brought to her by Craig Scott, a former New Democrat MP, that Mr. Sajjan may have contravened the Conflict of Interest Act when he announced in June, 2016, that the government would not conduct an inquiry into the treatment of Afghans who had been captured by Canadian troops and turned over to Afghan security forces.