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  • Integrating Australian Jets into the Current Royal Canadian Air Force Fighter Fleet

    December 12, 2017 | Information, Aerospace

    Integrating Australian Jets into the Current Royal Canadian Air Force Fighter Fleet

    Backgrounder From National Defence December 12, 2017 – Ottawa, Ontario – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces Canada recently announced its decision to purchase Australian F-18 aircraft to supplement the current fleet of fighter aircraft. These aircraft are of similar age and design to Canada's CF-18 fleet and can be integrated quickly with minimal modifications, training and infrastructure changes. In order to integrate these aircraft into Royal Canadian Air Force's (RCAF) operations, the following steps will be taken. Once complete, the aircraft purchased from Australia will integrate seamlessly with the current CF-18 fleet. Life extension and upgrade The Australian F-18 aircraft will be modified and undergo the technical work to be brought to a similar configuration to Canada's CF-18 aircraft, and to ensure that they will be available to supplement the CF-18 fleet until the future fighter fleet is procured. Canada has extensive experience doing this with our current fleet of fighter jets. Modifications and maintenance of the current CF-18 fleet will continue to be required. The Government of Canada has evaluated the required work and associated costs to sustain the current fleet and these additional aircraft. Over the years, both Australia and Canada have made significant investments in the development of structural modifications and capability that have allowed the structural life of our respective F-18s to be extended. More recently however, Canada invested in the development of additional structural modifications that Australia did not. These modifications are currently being applied to Canadian aircraft, and will also be applied to Australian aircraft acquired by Canada thereby allowing a further life extension. These aircraft are currently being employed in operations. Inspections have confirmed that they can be life extended and upgraded to the level of our current fleet. Acquiring spare parts Part of the purchase from the Australian government will include spare parts to help sustain these additional aircraft and the existing CF-18 fleet until the future fighter fleet is operational. Canada also has an existing supply chain for F-18 parts that we will continue to use. Training and personnel Training for the Australian F-18 is identical to that which is required for the present fleet of CF-18s. More aircraft will require more pilots and more technicians to maintain the aircraft. As outlined in Strong, Secure, Engaged, energized retention and recruitment efforts are underway to meet these personnel requirements. Operations Canada's defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged, requires the Canadian Armed Forces to fulfil missions at home, in North America, and elsewhere in the world, concurrently. With respect to Canada's fighter capability, the Royal Canadian Air Force must be able to provide a number of mission-ready planes to fully and simultaneously meet Canada's commitments to both NORAD and NATO. Canada does not currently have the aircraft or personnel to fully meet these commitments simultaneously. The supplementation of additional aircraft will provide required capacity to meet our obligation in a seamless way with our current fleet. The first supplemental aircraft are expected to be available for operational employment in the early 2020s, after structural upgrades are completed to match the CF-18 fleet. Infrastructure The aircraft will be employed at 3 Wing Bagotville and 4 Wing Cold Lake. DND is currently reviewing infrastructure requirements to accommodate the additional aircraft. Any modifications are expected to be minimal as the supplemental jets are of similar age and design to the CF-18. Related Products News Release: Canada announces plan to replace fighter jet fleet Backgrounder: Engagement with Industry and Allied Partners Backgrounder: The Procurement Process Defined: Replacing Canada's CF-18 Fleet Backgrounder: Ensuring Economic Benefits for Canada Backgrounder: The Role of Canada's CF-18 Fighter Fleet Associated Links CF-188 Hornet Contacts Media Relations Department of National Defence Phone: 613-996-2353 Email:

  • AIA’s Fanning: Civil aviation’s nosedive endangers Pentagon supplies

    September 24, 2020 | Information,

    AIA’s Fanning: Civil aviation’s nosedive endangers Pentagon supplies

    Joe Gould WASHINGTON ― The Pentagon's shared supply chains with battered commercial aviation companies will suffer if Washington doesn't provide that sector with aid soon, the Aerospace Industries Association warned Wednesday. The trade group released its recovery plan for the broad aerospace and defense sector as Congress has begun a fierce Supreme Court replacement battle, shifting attention away from passing another stimulus package to defray the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. But AIA President and CEO Eric Fanning suggested some aviation companies have little time to wait. “If the commercial side doesn't get some relief, you are going to see companies in the supply chain go out of business, and that will impact the defense side,” Fanning said in a teleconference with reporters. “We're going to see bankruptcies, consolidation, closures in the supply chain, and she of them are single points of failure.” The defense subsector, declared essential at the pandemic's start, enjoys steady demand from the Pentagon, which has accelerated payments to prime contractors and directed stimulus funds toward its suppliers. However, sagging demand for commercial air travel will fuel a $100 billion revenue loss in the U.S. this year, Fanning said. AIA's analysis concluded another 220,0000 civil aviation jobs are at risk beyond 100,000 already lost. The study and its recommendations were prepared by Avascent, Boston Consulting Group, and McKinsey & Company, combined with input from AIA member companies. Beyond any federal aid, the civil aviation industry, the agency said, can highlight the steps it's taken to make air travel safer; increase communication between original equipment manufacturers, prime contractors, and suppliers, and support flexibility in the supply chain if private companies offer balance-sheet support and share inventory risk. The report called for stable Defense Department funding from Congress, but also said DoD can relieve stress on the industrial base by accelerating procurements of systems and services, with a focus on suppliers with notable commercial aerospace exposure. DoD can also keep making increased payments against ongoing contracts as they reach development and production milestones. AIA also continues to advocate for industry reimbursements for costs incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, as authorized by Section 3610 of the CARES Act. Defense officials have said they need roughly $10 billion, and that without added funding from Congress, the Pentagon would have to dip into modernization and readiness funds. AIA's call comes a day after key House progressives, Reps. Marc Pocan and Barbara Lee, demanded an investigation and public hearings into the use of economic stimulus funding for defense contractors, calling it a “Pentagon misuse of COVID funds.” The Pentagon, which reported its intent to Congress in May, refuted that characterization. When asked, Fanning said it was important for the Pentagon to shore up previously identified supply chain weaknesses that the pandemic might exacerbate. “This money was put into contracts, so the war fighter is getting something for that,” Fanning said. “But I think the important thing is the critical nature of this industrial base, not just to the nation's economy, which is the health and safety of American's citizens writ large, but also to our nation's security.” A larger obstacle to winning further aid for the sector is that Congress has deadlocked over continued stimulus funding overall. AIA's report proposed that the government establish an investment fund that would send government-backed capital to civil aerospace suppliers; subsidize the airlines' major maintenance, repair, and overhaul visits, and continue to payroll assistance to support employees. Fanning told reporters that AIA found bipartisan backing for the idea of a payroll cost-share program, but there has been no legislative vehicle behind it. “The real problem is there's no bill,” Fanning said. “Congress hasn't been able to come together with the administration and itself to get a bill in place.”

  • Avoiding past mistakes: Are the Army’s modernization plans on the right course?

    August 27, 2019 | Information, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR, Security

    Avoiding past mistakes: Are the Army’s modernization plans on the right course?

    By: Jen Judson WASHINGTON — To avoid past mistakes that have all but crippled the Army's ability to procure new equipment, the service should ensure its top modernization priorities are aligned with its emerging warfighting doctrine, which could mean rearranging some of its top efforts, conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation is arguing in a new report. The assessment comes at a time when the Army is preparing to release a new modernization strategy in short order. “From 2002 to 2014, for a variety of reasons, nearly every major modernization program was terminated,” the report's author Thomas Spoehr writes. Spoehr is the director of the Center of National Defense at Heritage. His former Army career was partly spent helping to develop the service's future year financial plans. Spoehr acknowledges that with the advent of a new four-star command — Army Futures Command — the programs envisioned to modernize the Army “are well-conceived,” but urges the services to look through a lens of how its priorities measure up in Multi-Domain Operations — a concept under development that will grow into its key warfighting doctrine. Spoehr also warns the Army's leaders that there needs to be a balance “of the lure of technology with the necessity" to buy new equipment. The service is steadfastly marching down a path to modernize and develop its capability in Long-Range Precision Fires, Next-Generation Combat Vehicle, Future Vertical Lift, the network, air-and-missile defense and soldier lethality, in order of importance. But Spoehr is proposing to drop NGCV and FVL to the bottom of the list because they would serve less effective roles when carrying out operations in an environment where territory is well defended against enemies like Russia and China. “The need for long-range precision fires and a precision-strike missile with a range of 310 km, for example, is grounded in the need to strip away Russian surface-to-air missile batteries and gain access,” Spoehr writes. “The linkages of other programs and initiatives are not as obvious and would benefit from an Army effort to make the connections either more explicit or reconsider requirements.” Spoehr points out that it's not clear, for example, how a Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft and a Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft “might survive against near-peer sophisticated integrated air defense capabilities like the Russian's capable Pantsir-S1 SA-22 system. “Even if the aircraft's speed is doubled or tripled, it will not outrun the Pantsir's 9M335 missile,” he writes. “Nowhere in the MDO concept is a compelling case made for the use of Army aviation, combined with a relative youth of Army aviation fleets,” he adds. Instead, Spoehr said, the priorities “should be based on an evaluation of current versus required capabilities, assessed against the capability's overall criticality to success, and all tied to a future aim point-2030, by a force employing MDO doctrine.” This means, he argues, that the Army's network should be prioritized just below LRPF, followed by AMD and soldier lethality. Ranked at number five and six would be NGCV and FVL, respectively. According to Spoehr, “nothing has come forward to suggest that there is a technological advancement that will make a next generation of combat vehicles significantly better.” Additionally, the Army should not try to force the key requirement of making its Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle replacement — the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle — robotically operated or autonomous until the network matures to support the capability, the report notes. The Army needs a network “that is simple, reliable and less fragile than its current systems,” Spoehr says. “These capabilities may need to come at the expense of capacity,” which the Army appears to be doing, he notes. Spoehr also suggests that the Army invest less in hypersonic offensive capability and more in defensive capability. But ensuring effective modernization of the force and avoiding past failures is just as much a management challenge as it is overcoming technological and cost hurdles. One of the phenomena Spoehr observed during his time serving in the military, particularly at the Pentagon, is what he calls “groupthink,” where those who spend time together begin to think alike and make decisions without those around them questioning actions. Additionally, subordinates tend to avoid disagreeing with those in charge. Groupthink has been the culprit when it comes to major failure in development and acquisition programs in the past, so the Army should “zealously promote critical thinking and avoid groupthink,” Spoehr writes. The service should “promote a free and open dialogue in journals and forums” and “exercise caution when senior leaders endorse specific system attributes or requirements to avoid closing down discussion.” The report acknowledges that the Army “is making a concerted effort to change to meet the future,” such as standing up AFC and aligning its future doctrine with materiel solutions more closely. It's important the Army keep sight of what it's actually trying to do with its future capability, the report warns. “Rather than seeking to match and exceed each of our adversary's investments, the Army must focus on enabling its own operational concepts and seeking answers to tough operational and tactical problems,” it states. Elsewhere in the overarching analysis, Spoehr recommends growing the force, as well ensuring its effective modernization to include roughly 50 Brigade Combat Teams and an end-strength of at least 540,000 active soldiers. He suggests reducing investment in infantry brigade combat teams in favor of armored BCTs, but also to keep capability to fight in a counter-insurgency environment as well, such as keeping the Security Force Assistance Brigades. The third such formation is preparing to deploy to Afghanistan. The Army also needs to grow faster and must find ways to resolve recent problems with recruiting, Spoehr said, recommending that the service grow at a rate faster than 2,000 regular Army soldiers per year. And force allocation should also be reconsidered, Spoehr argues, recommending that the Army should create a new field headquarters in Europe and, when appropriate, do so in the Indo-Pacific. Overall, “the task for the Army is no less than to develop a force capable of deterring and defeating aggression by China and Russia, while also remaining prepared to deal with other regional adversaries (Iraq and North Korea), violent extremist organizations, and other unforeseen challenges,” Spoehr said. What's hard for the Army is that it lacks “the certainty of a single principal competitor” — the Soviet Union in 1980s, during the last buildup, for example, he noted. Because of the complicated global environment, Spoehr advocates for the Army to shift from thinking about a 20-year lead time for new, transformative capabilities and instead take a constant iterative and evolutionary approach to building the force. Under AFC, the Army is attempting to do just that. The Army can't wait “until the future is clear before acting,” he adds. “When dealing with a 1-million-person organization, equipping, training, and leader development typically takes at least a decade to make any substantive change,” Spoehr said. “The Army must therefore make bets now to remain a preeminent land power.”

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