Back to news

February 17, 2021 | Local, Aerospace

Canada seeking qualified bidders for Polaris replacement

Canada seeking qualified bidders for Polaris replacement


Estimated reading time  7 minutes, 45 seconds.

The Canadian government is inviting aerospace and other interested companies to qualify for the Strategic Tanker Transport Capability (STTC) project. 

Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) posted the notice on the government Buy and Sell website Feb. 12 as a first step in a three-phase procurement process to replace the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CC-150 Polaris strategic airlift fleet.

The invitation to qualify (ITQ), which closes on Feb. 26, is intended to identify respondents able to meet the project’s security and other core requirements before moving to the tender phase. Once a qualified suppliers list is established, Procurement Canada and the Air Force will then review and refine the project requirements with companies before developing a draft request for proposal (RFP), to be issued by fall 2021. 

The review phase “is intended to be a collaborative process and may involve interactions such as workshops, one-on-one sessions (commercially confidential meetings), and written questions and answers,” according to the ITQ documents. “Canada will consider the feedback provided by qualified suppliers.” 

A formal RFP, the third phase, is expected by late 2021 or early 2022.

While the process means only qualified suppliers will be invited to submit bids, the government “reserves the right . . . to re-evaluate any aspect of the qualification of any Qualified Supplier at any time during the aircraft procurement process and change their status to ‘unqualified’ if they no longer meet the requirements provided in this ITQ,” according to the document. In addition, “Canada may, at its sole discretion, re-open Phase 1 – ITQ.” 

The RCAF is seeking a multi-role platform that can be configured for air-to-air refueling, personnel airlift, strategic government transport, aeromedical evacuations and freight movement, among other roles. The aircraft may also be used to support disaster relief, search-and-rescue and contributions to peace operations; it must also include the capacity to detect, avoid and defeat air-to-air and air-to-ground threats. In its tanker role, the aircraft must be able to refuel allied fighter jets on NATO and NORAD operations. 

Though the ITQ does not specify a quantity, the fleet must be large enough to concurrently provide support to three lines of tasking of “unrestricted global air mobility movements” over a 24-hour period.

The STTC project was outlined in the Liberal government’s June 2017 defense policy as initiative 47 to recapitalize strategic tanking and airlift with a next generation platform to replace the CC-150. The Polaris is a modified variant of the Airbus A310-300 built in the late 1980s, and operated by 437 Transport Squadron at 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario. A fleet of five was acquired in 1992 from Canadian Airlines, and two were converted to tankers in 2008. 

While the two CC-150Ts have been providing air-to-air refueling globally (their crucial role alongside other coalition tankers in the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria was highlighted in a recent RAND research brief), they only recently received full operational capability to conduct mid-air refueling on NORAD operations — a role that had previously only been done by the CC-130H Hercules tankers operated by 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron from 17 Wing Winnipeg, Manitoba, and U.S. Air Force aircraft.

Boeing and Airbus have indicated interest in the program. Boeing is offering the KC-46 Pegasus, a militarized variant of the 767 widebody, while Airbus is promoting the A330 multirole tanker transport (MRTT), a variant of the A330-200 airframe. CBC has reported the government may also be assessing “whether any deal can be found among commercial airlines that are currently looking for financial relief from Ottawa,” including Air Canada. 

“We look forward to working with the government of Canada and engaging in [the] Strategic Tanker Transport Capability project,” Boeing Defense, Space & Security said in a statement. “Boeing’s KC-46A is a wide-body, multi-role tanker, and is already certified to refuel Canadian, allied and coalition military aircraft. In addition to serving as an aerial refueling tanker, the KC-46 can be configured to accommodate cargo, passengers, or to serve as an aero-medical evacuation aircraft or any combination of all three. . . . The KC-46 offers superior interoperability, supportability and affordability benefits – coupled with a robust industry plan that will bring real, guaranteed jobs to companies all across Canada. With 183 aircraft on order and growing international interest, we expect the fleet to surpass 200 aircraft by 2029.”

“We welcome Canada’s invitation to qualify for the Strategic Tanker Transport Capability project,” said Simon Jacques, president of Airbus Defence and Space Canada, in a statement. “We believe that our A330 MRTT multirole-tanker is the best option in the market, and are confident that our offer will fulfill all current and future requirements for this key capability for the RCAF.”

Prospective bidders will be expected to provide aircrew and maintenance training programs, and establish initial sustainment and long-term in-service support “that assures operational readiness and maintains mission effectiveness of the capability throughout its service life,” according to the ITQ.

As part of the STTC project, the Air Force will improve infrastructure for 437 Squadron. In December, the government released an advanced procurement notice for a new or renovated hangar at the main operating base in Trenton, as well as upgrades to the apron and taxiways. A request for proposals is expected by summer 2021.

Contenders will also have to comply with Canada’s Industrial and Technological Benefits policy, which requires the successful bidder to make investments in Canadian industry and academic research equal to the value of the contract. With STTC, the government will be seeking investments that align with key industrial capabilities, including aerospace systems, systems integration, in-service support and training and simulation.

On the same subject

  • RCMP's ability to police digital realm 'rapidly declining,' commissioner warned

    September 24, 2018 | Local, C4ISR, Security

    RCMP's ability to police digital realm 'rapidly declining,' commissioner warned

    Catharine Tunney · CBC News Organized crime is moving online and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is struggling to keep up, according to a briefing note prepared for RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki when she took over the top job earlier this year. The memo, obtained by CBC News under access to information law,​ may launch a renewed battle between the national police service and privacy advocates. "Increasingly, criminality is conducted on the internet and investigations are international in nature, yet investigative tools and RCMP capacity have not kept pace," says the memo tucked into Lucki's briefing book. "Growing expectations of policing responsibilities and accountability, as well as complexities of the criminal justice system, continue to overwhelm the administrative demands within policing." In 2016 nearly 24,000 cybercrime-related cases were reported to Canadian police, up 58 per cent over 2014. The report's authors note that cybercrime tends to be under-reported. Encryption of online data has a been a persistent thorn in the RCMP's side. Lucki's predecessor lobbied the government for new powers to bypass digital roadblocks, including tools to get around encryption and warrantless access to internet subscriber information. "Approximately 70 per cent of all communications intercepted by CSIS and the RCMP are now encrypted ... 80 organized crime groups were identified as using encryption in 2016 alone," says the 274-page document. Some critics  have noted that non-criminals — journalists, protesters and academics, among others — also use encryption tools online and have warned any new encryption legislation could undermine the security of financial transactions and daily online communication. Ann Cavoukian was Ontario's privacy commissioner for three terms; she now runs Ryerson University's Privacy by Design Centre of Excellence. She called the RCMP's push for more online policing power "appalling." "I guess we should remind them that we still live in a free and democratic society where people have privacy rights, which means that they should be in control of their personal information," she said. "If you're a law abiding citizen, you get to decide how your information is used and to whom it's disclosed. The police have no right to access your personal information online, unless of course they have a warrant." Lucki was specifically warned about criminal suspects "going dark," a term used to describe the gap between the lawful ability of police forces to obtain online evidence and changing technology. She also was advised the RCMP's court-authorized arsenal (things like court orders and "computer network exploitation techniques," which cover hacking) are "rapidly declining." "Get more efficient," said Cavoukian. Parliamentary committee promises to study issue A spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said that "encryption is critical to safeguarding our cybersecurity, privacy and the digital economy." "However, it has also created gaps for law enforcement and national security agencies," wrote Scott Bardsley in an email. Earlier this year, the House of Commons' public safety and national security committee released a 76-page report that recommended "no changes to the lawful access regime for subscriber information and encrypted information be made." But the committee didn't shelve the issue, promising instead to study the evolving challenges. "The government will support the standing committee on national security and public safety in its continued work to study these and other emerging technological issues related to cybersecurity," wrote Bardsley. "It will also continue to examine options to ensure agencies have the resources necessary to gain access to decrypted data required to address criminal activity." Cavoukian predicts "a real fight" over the issue. Bardsley says the government has pledged $116 million over five years, and $23.2 million per year after that, to help create the national cybercrime coordination unit, which would help "provide digital investigative advice and guidance to Canadian law enforcement." The RCMP didn't meet CBC's deadline for a comment. Attrition issues  The briefing binder also flags the RCMP's persistent problem with replenishing its ranks when officers retire or otherwise leave the force. "The RCMP has a growing vacancy rate that exceeds its present ability to produce regular members at a rate that keeps pace with projected future demands," it warns. As of April 2018, there were 1,122 funded vacant regular member positions —a vacancy rate of 5.6 per cent. That's down slightly from the previous year, when the vacancy rate was 6.6 per cent. The briefing note says that in the last five years, there has been a "dramatic" increase in the number of new recruits needed to fill operational vacancies and evolving program requirements. About 1,280 cadets were expected to be enrolled in 2018-2019, up from 1,152 the previous year. In 2016, CBC News reported that the RCMP was dropping its requirement that applicants be Canadian citizens, and that it would accept applications from permanent residents. The RCMP also loosened entrance requirements to deal with a wave of retirements, low pay and the need to expand its pool of potential new officers. Starting this month, the RCMP is dropping its requirement that applicants must be Canadian citizens. It will now accept permanent residents. Post-secondary graduates no longer will have to write an entrance exam that measures aptitude for police work and the force will no longer require a physical abilities evaluation before people submit an application. With files from the CBC's  Kathleen Harris.

  • Laflamme Aéro reçoit 2 millions de dollars en capital de risque

    January 29, 2020 | Local, Aerospace

    Laflamme Aéro reçoit 2 millions de dollars en capital de risque

    Un produit novateur développé au Québec Saint-Joseph-de-Coleraine, 29 janvier 2019 — L’entreprise Laflamme Aéro, située dans la région de Thetford Mines, annonce la conclusion d’une ronde de financement de 2 millions de dollars à laquelle participent Investissement Québec, Anges Québec et Anges Québec Capital. Des investissements qui tombent à point pour l’entreprise qui s’apprête à commercialiser son drone LX300 dès 2020, le premier appareil au monde de type hélicoptère sans pilote capable de transporter des charges de 90 kilos. « Le LX300 est l'un des plus gros drones civils au monde. Avec ses 300 kilos, il se distingue principalement par sa polyvalence, sa capacité à transporter de lourdes charges et son autonomie de vol de huit heures. Cet investissement de 2 millions de dollars nous permet à présent de propulser et de faire connaître notre produit vers les grands marchés nationaux et internationaux », explique Enrick Laflamme, ingénieur, cofondateur et président de Laflamme Aéro, entreprise qu’il a fondée avec son frère David également ingénieur et vice-président ingénierie de l’entreprise en pleine croissance.   Outre le déploiement commercial du LX300, les nouveaux investissements annoncés aujourd’hui permettront de soutenir l’amélioration des infrastructures de l’entreprise et l’implantation d’une chaîne de montage, l’ajout de nouvelles ressources pour soutenir la croissance de Laflamme Aéro, ainsi que la continuité en recherche et développement de nouveaux produits.   Développé par l’entreprise familiale depuis 2013, le LX300 est un produit novateur destiné tant aux secteurs privé que commercial, militaire ou gouvernemental. Très versatile, l’appareil peut être muni de caméras de surveillance ou encore transporter du matériel sur de longues distances, pour approvisionner un secteur difficilement accessible par exemple. Le LX300 a relevé avec succès les nombreux essais en vol et autres manœuvres délicates de décollages et d’atterrissages au cours des deux dernières années.   « Il a tous les avantages d’un hélicoptère, mais sans avoir besoin d’un pilote. Il est muni d’un système de rotor en tandem (deux hélices), permettant le décollage et l’atterrissage à la verticale et une grande stabilité. Tous ces éléments et la qualité de conception en font un produit extrêmement fiable et dont les coûts opérationnels sont compétitifs », ajoute M. Laflamme.   Soutenir l'innovation en région   « Laflamme Aéro a développé une technologie efficace et unique, qui démontre l’excellence du Québec en matière d’innovation. Nous sommes fiers de soutenir une jeune entreprise aéronautique de pointe établie dans la région de Chaudière-Appalaches, afin de lui permettre d’être compétitive dans les différents secteurs ciblés afin de tirer son épingle du jeu dans un marché mondial de plusieurs milliards de dollars », soutient M. Pierre Fitzgibbon, ministre de l’Économie et de l’Innovation.   « Un secteur fort compétitif comme l’aéronautique exige des investissements majeurs en recherche et développement de la part des entreprises, et ce, sur plusieurs années, avant d’en arriver au stade de précommercialisation. Dans le cadre du mandat élargi que lui confie le gouvernement, Investissement Québec entend déployer des efforts particuliers pour financer et accompagner les entreprises des régions non urbaines comme Laflamme Aéro. Nous souhaitons faire la différence afin d’atténuer les lacunes décelées lors des stades critiques où les niveaux de risque-rendement sont souvent jugés trop élevés pour intéresser certains acteurs privés », précise M. Guy LeBlanc, président-directeur général, Investissement Québec.   Précisons que Laflamme Aéro bénéficie du soutien de Transport Canada dans le développement d’une certification adaptée selon les plus hauts standards, ainsi que de l’entreprise General Dynamics Mission Systems, une des plus grandes entreprises de défense et de sécurité au Canada, avec qui l’entreprise de Chaudière-Appalaches a récemment signé un accord de coopération afin de promouvoir le LX300 auprès des grands joueurs en défense et en sécurité au Canada et à l’international.   À propos de Laflamme Aéro   Fondée en 2006, Laflamme Aéro est une entreprise familiale située à St-Joseph-de-Coleraine dans la région de Thetford Mines au Québec dirigée par les frères David et Enrick Laflamme, tous deux ingénieurs et passionnés d’aviation. L'entreprise se spécialise dans le développement d'hélicoptères à rotors en tandem, dont le LX300 qui sera commercialisé dès 2020. Laflamme Aéro possède également une division de génie-conseil, Laflamme Ingénierie, qui réalise des projets d'ingénierie mécanique en sous-traitance pour des entreprises du secteur aérospatial, énergétique et manufacturier.   À propos d'Investissement Québec   Investissement Québec a pour mission de favoriser la croissance de l'investissement au Québec, contribuant ainsi au développement économique et à la création d'emplois, et ce, dans toutes les régions. La Société met au service des entreprises une gamme complète de solutions financières, notamment des prêts, des garanties de prêt et de l'investissement en capital-actions, afin de les soutenir à tous les stades de leur développement. De plus, elle est responsable de l'administration de mesures fiscales et de la prospection d'investissements à l'étranger.   À propos d'Anges Québec   Fondé en 2008, Anges Québec est un réseau de plus de 250 anges investisseurs qui ont pour mission d'investir et de s'investir dans des entreprises québécoises innovantes. Les membres du réseau d'Anges Québec ont, à ce jour, investi plus de 100 M$ dans l’économie québécoise, totalisant plus de 265 investissements dans plus de 137 entreprises innovantes. Grâce à son centre de développement professionnel, Anges Québec soutient ses membres dans l'acquisition constante de nouvelles connaissances et compétences inhérentes à l’investissement.   À propos d'Anges Québec Capital   Fondé en 2012, Anges Québec Capital est un fonds d'investissement de 86M$, commandité par Investissement Québec, via ses fonds propres et à titre de mandataire du Gouvernement du Québec, la Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), le Fonds de Solidarité FTQ et des membres d'Anges Québec. Il a pour mission d'accompagner les 250 membres d’Anges Québec dans leurs investissements. À ce jour, Anges Québec Capital a investi plus de 47M$ dans 53 entreprises innovantes, totalisant 112 transactions.   Pour recevoir les communiqués d'Investissement Québec en temps réel, inscrivez-vous au fil RSS suivant :     Information Investissement Québec 1 844 474-6367

  • ‘Hard decisions are going to have to be made’: can vital defence procurements survive in a post-pandemic world?

    May 13, 2020 | Local, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR, Security

    ‘Hard decisions are going to have to be made’: can vital defence procurements survive in a post-pandemic world?

    By NEIL MOSS      MAY. 13, 2020   'When you are trying to fix a fiscal problem, inevitably national defence is part of the way governments have tended to try and fix that,' says defence procurement expert David Perry. In the midst of critical procurements that will set the framework for the Canadian military for years to come, questions remain on how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect the oft-delayed projects. The pandemic has already impacted the two most high-profile defence procurement projects with another delay in the replacement of Canada’s fighter fleet as well as a reduced capability at the shipyard that will be building the 15 new warships that will serve as the backbone of the Canadian Navy for decades to come. “Companies and government are always generally working hard trying to meet [the] schedule, and make up time wherever they can afterwards, but there’s a limit what you can do to replace a few lost weeks of work,” said David Perry, a defence procurement expert and vice-president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute. “The impacts are going to be tangible,” Mr. Perry said, adding that the picture is still murky about the final impact on the current procurements as defence companies are still trying to get a handle on the pandemic. The high-profile $19-billion project to replace Canada’s fleet of CF-18 fighter jets was delayed a second time in 100 days last week, over a bidder’s concern over completing its bid on time, according to a Canadian Press report. Irving Shipbuilding’s Halifax shipyard, which has been tasked to build two central pieces for the future of the Canadian Navy in six Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships and 15 Canadian Surface Combatants, is running at half capacity with around 650 people working at the shipyard and 300 remotely, according to a CTV report. The two projects are projected to cost upwards of $4.3-billion and $60-billion, respectively. Mr. Perry also said the impact on the procurements will depend on what stage the project is in, with less effect for those still in design and requirement phases and more impact on projects in the midst of construction. He added that the impact will also depend on where the facilities are located, as the Irving shipyard in Nova Scotia faced a three-week shutdown, opposed to the Seaspan shipyards in B.C., which has continued relatively normal operations. A spokesperson for the Department of National Defence told The Hill Times that progress is still being made “where possible” on current and future equipment for the Canadian Forces. “While our focus must be on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, we remain committed to the National Shipbuilding Strategy and other defence projects under Strong, Secure, Engaged,” the spokesperson said in an email. “We continue to meet regularly with PSPC [Public Services and Procurement Canada] to address the delivery of ongoing and future major procurement projects, and to assess and address the impact of the pandemic on these projects. However, given that the extent of COVID-19, or how long this situation will last, cannot be assessed at this time, it is not yet possible to determine the impact this situation will have on our projects,” the statement read, adding that the focus remains on continuing essential services, which include “domestic operations and search and rescue.” Former Air Force pilot Alan Stephenson said that there is “no doubt” that there will be “a huge impact” to defence procurement caused by the pandemic, pointing to the government’s ballooning spending. Mr. Stephenson, a retired colonel who is now a senior associate at David Pratt and Associates, said the problem with the fighter jet procurement is being compounded by successive governments’ use of military spending to solve other problems. “Now we find ourselves with … fighters that will be over 50 years old,” he said. “And we’ll be flying [the CF-18s] into the future.” “COVID has changed the game,” Mr. Stephenson said, adding that the focus on the Liberals’ 2017 defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged, will still be present, but there will be fiscal questions of its feasibility. “Hard decisions are going to have to be made,” he said, as the government will balance military requirements with economic needs. Mr. Perry said historically when the government has needed to slash spending, it has looked at the military. “When you are trying to fix a fiscal problem, inevitably national defence is part of the way governments have tended to try and fix that,” he said, adding that given the size of the defence budget, it is “virtually impossible” to address an economic situation without making some fiscal changes at the Department of National Defence. But he said that historical pattern may not continue as it’s a different kind of fiscal problem for the government. “In a dynamic where you have real big impacts on consumer confidence and there’s also, I think, fairly serious concerns about the availability of financing and liquidity in the civilian economy, potentially there’s more of a room for DND and the Government of Canada writ large to be part of the economic solution here and not just part of the fiscal problem,” Mr. Perry said. Former naval officer Norman Jolin, who served in the Canadian Navy for 37 years and commanded the Halifax-class HMCS Montréal, said the last thing the government will want to do is cancel projects that it has already announced at the expense of Canadian workers. “The last thing [the government] would want to do in a world where we’ve lost so many jobs is to cause more people not to have jobs by cutting things,” he said. Mr. Jolin compared the National Shipbuilding Strategy to the construction of a trans-Canada railway in the 19th century. “This is jobs across Canada,” he said, adding that it is not just jobs at shipyards but throughout the supply chain including manufacturing jobs in southern Ontario. Mr. Jolin said with the procurements under the National Shipbuilding Strategy, the lengthy timeline will mitigate the pandemic’s impact. For the Canadian Surface Combatant procurement, the first ship isn’t projected to be completed until the mid-2020s and the final delivery date for the entire fleet is in the late 2040s. He said while there may be minor delays in the short term, it shouldn’t have much impact on when the ships are delivered in the end. But he said there is still much unknown about how the pandemic has affected the procurement process. Charles Davies, a retired colonel in the Armed Forces who spent time as the senior director responsible for procurement and equipment management policy at the Department of National Defence, also said the long timeline on projects should reduce the impact of any delay. “In the inherently long gestation periods of the major programs, the net impact should be limited,” he said. Mr. Davies, a CDA Institute fellow, said now can be a time for the government to look to make key investments in capabilities that will be needed in the future to defend its borders while at the same time keeping the economy afloat. He said unlike in the mid-1990s during the budget cuts under then-prime minister Jean Chrétien, Canada is not in the geopolitical position to allow its defence budget to dissipate. “We’re in a different world now,” he said, citing the “strategic environment” with more aggressive behaviour being seen from the Chinese and Russian governments.

All news