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February 4, 2021 | Local, Naval

Ultra Electronics : awarded Canadian Surface Combatant subcontract to provide Variable Depth Sonar

Ultra Electronics : awarded Canadian Surface Combatant subcontract to provide Variable Depth Sonar

02/03/2021 | 09:06am EST

Ultra is delighted to announce a contract award to commence work on the key Variable Depth Sonar (VDS) system for the Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) program - named the Towed Low Frequency Active Sonar (TLFAS). This subcontract moves the development of CSC's anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capability from the program definition phase into the full manufacture and delivery of the vessels suite of sonars.

The TLFAS is a world-class towed sonar solution, optimized for the detection and tracking of stealthy submarines in challenging ocean environments. When delivered it will represent a step-change in Canada's anti-submarine warfare assets and will provide a level of sonar capability never before enjoyed by the Royal Canadian Navy.

The TLFAS system is fully designed and manufactured by Ultra in Nova Scotia, Canada. Its design also includes components built by other Canadian companies, such that the industrial benefit of this system selection is spread across multiple Provinces. The selection of this system for CSC therefore means that Canadian industrial content is maximized in the delivery of the initial systems, and that the skillsets and facilities required to maintain the system through its operational life are also resident in Canada.

More broadly, Ultra is proud that its work on the CSC program is proving to be an important vector for growth of Canadian jobs, innovation and investment. In the two years since having been originally awarded program definition studies for CSC, working in close partnership with Lockheed Martin Canada and Irving Shipbuilding Inc., Ultra's Canadian team has grown by over 150 employees, with another 80 high-tech roles expected to be made available in 2021 alone.

The program is also triggering major Canadian investment decisions by Ultra in terms of facilities, inward technology transfer and research partnerships which will be announced through the course of 2021. Overall, Ultra's role on CSC is a very good example of the Industrial and Technological Benefits that the program is providing to Canada, and of the enduring impact that the program will have on sovereign naval capability for the nation.

Bernard Mills, President of Ultra Maritime Sonar Systems commented: 'Ultra recognizes our responsibility to provide, through CSC, the highest possible level of ASW capability to the Royal Canadian Navy. We are therefore immensely proud of this contract award, especially because it is grounded in Canadian innovation and ingenuity, and because it will be an enduring driver of both operational capability and national industrial benefit. Most importantly, this is not just a success for Ultra but is one for the entire CSC enterprise, and I want to thank our strong partners in Lockheed Martin Canada, Irving Shipbuilding Inc., and all our peers on the CSC team who are as dedicated as we are to the delivery of a world-class naval capability to Canada, built by Canadians'.

The Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of Public Services and Procurement, noted: 'As we work to build the future fleet of the Royal Canadian Navy, we are pleased to see companies like Ultra stepping up to provide leading-edge technology for our shipbuilding projects. The National Shipbuilding Strategy continues to provide opportunities for Canadian businesses of all sizes, from coast to coast to coast.'

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health and Member of Parliament for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, Darren Fisher, highlighted the benefit of this contract award in his riding: 'I am delighted to see the positive economic impact of the National Shipbuilding Strategy across Nova Scotia. Companies like Ultra are playing an important role in the CSC program, while providing good quality jobs here in Dartmouth. Ultra's highly skilled employees will produce the technology needed to help ensure the capability of the Royal Canadian Navy's future fleet.'

On the same subject

  • Canadian military to contract out some maintenance work on aging CF-18s to free up front line technicians

    December 7, 2018 | Local, Aerospace

    Canadian military to contract out some maintenance work on aging CF-18s to free up front line technicians

    LEE BERTHIAUME OTTAWA THE CANADIAN PRESS PUBLISHED DECEMBER 3, 2018UPDATED DECEMBER 3, 2018 The Canadian military is looking to contract out some maintenance work on the country’s aging CF-18 fighter jets as well as training to help address a shortage of experienced technicians. Defence officials revealed the plan during a Commons committee meeting on Monday, in which they also defended the time needed to pick a new jet for the air force and faced calls to reveal how much it will cost to upgrade the CF-18s’ combat systems. The technician shortage was first revealed in an explosive auditor general’s report last month in which the watchdog took aim at the Liberals’ plan to buy second-hand Australian jets by warning the air force needed more technicians and pilots – not planes. A number of measures are being introduced to address both shortfalls, air force commander Lt.-Gen. Al Meinzinger told the committee, including the contracting out of more involved maintenance that usually takes place away from the front lines as well as some tech training. The initiatives will free up about 200 experienced aircraft technicians so they can work directly on planes in the field and keep them flying, Meinzinger said, adding in an interview after the meeting that the move would not affect combat readiness. Initiatives are also being introduced to better support military families, which Meinzinger identified as a key contributing factor in why many pilots and technicians are leaving, while the air force is looking at a new training model to produce more pilots. Even with these measures, Meinzinger said he expected it to take between five and seven years to have a full complement of pilots and technicians in time to start transitioning from the CF-18s to new state-of-the-art replacements. “We’re putting our shoulder to the wheel,” Meinzinger told The Canadian Press. “This is a top priority. But it’s going to take some time, obviously.” Defence officials faced pointed questions from members of Parliament on both sides of the table during Monday’s committee meeting about the length of time it is expected to take for those new replacements to be selected and delivered. A request for proposals will be released in the spring, with bids due in early 2020. Another full year has been set aside to evaluate those bids and another for negotiations with the winner. Delivery of the first aircraft is expected in 2025 and the last in 2031. The Defence Department’s head of procurement, Patrick Finn, underscored the complexity of the $19-billion project, which has been plagued by delays and political mismanagement for more than a decade as Canada has sought to choose a new fighter. Those complexities include the usual challenges evaluating and negotiating the capabilities of each of the four aircraft that are expected to compete, Finn said, as well as the industrial benefits to Canada and intellectual-property rights. At the same time, he added, the process for actually purchasing each of the planes is different given, for example, that Canada is a member of the F-35 stealth fighter project while the U.S. government would need to officially sign off on buying Super Hornets. In fact, Finn said the government has only limited flexibility in its schedule given that most manufacturers can only start delivering aircraft three years after an order is made – though he remained confident that the timeline would be met. The length of time was nonetheless a clear concern to some committee members. Officials were also grilled over the cost of upgrading the CF-18s’ sensors, weapons and defensive measures after the auditor general found $3-billion in planned investments over the next decade was only to keep them flying and did not include their combat systems. The Defence Department’s top bureaucrat, deputy minister Jody Thomas, told the committee that an analysis is underway, which includes consulting with the U.S. and other allies, and that a plan is expected in the spring. But opposition members challenged Thomas when she suggested that the department would not be able to provide cost estimates to the committee before being presented to the government, saying even if it is a matter of security, they are entitled to the information. “A unilateral declaration by a deputy or anybody that a parliamentary committee cannot have information is unacceptable,” NDP MP David Christopherson said. “There needs to be one more step to pursue that so that question, which is entirely legitimate in my opinion, can be answered in a way that respects the security and defence issues but also upholds the right of Parliament to demand any information they so choose.”

  • ‘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.

  • Defence department still wounding anesthetized animals in ‘live tissue training’

    January 8, 2019 | Local, Security

    Defence department still wounding anesthetized animals in ‘live tissue training’

    David Pugliese, Ottawa Citizen The Defence Department has cut down on its use of rodents and pigs for research and experiments but says realistic instruction for its medical personnel still requires live animals to be wounded during training and later killed. In 2018 the department used 882 animals, such as mice, rats and pigs, for training and experimentation, down from the 4,000 animals used in 2009, according to figures provided by the Department of National Defence and government records obtained by Postmedia. The animals are used by Defence Research and Development Canada for assessment of emerging chemical and biological threats and by military personnel for what is known as “live tissue training,” according to a 2016 briefing for Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jon Vance. In such a scenario the animals are anesthetized and then wounded. Military medical staff treat the wounds in order to gain experience. After the training the animals are killed. “The Department of National Defence currently uses live tissue where necessary to provide advanced military medical training for specific operational requirements,” the department stated in an email to Postmedia. But the DND is trying to reduce the use of animals as much as possible by using different experimental techniques and making use of simulators that can replicate a human patient, according to the 2016 briefing note. That has allowed for the drop to 2,000 animals in 2015 from 4,000 in 2009, the documents noted. “The life-saving experiences, confidence and skills acquired by our young medical technicians using live tissue remain critical components of their curriculum,” Vance was told. Various animal rights groups have been trying over the years to convince the DND and Canadian Forces to stop any kind of testing on animals and to use the simulators instead. The Animal Alliance of Canada has an on-going letter-writing campaign to try to convince Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan to put an end to using animals. The organization noted that Canada is one of the few NATO nations that continues to use animals. Most NATO countries are using high-tech simulators which, unlike animals, accurately mimic human physiology and anatomy. In its response to Postmedia the DND stated that it is “actively working to assess and validate the effectiveness of simulation technologies as part of our objective to find equal or superior alternatives to live tissue training in casualty care training.” It noted that Health Canada regulations stipulate that new drugs or medical techniques can’t be used on humans without going through pre-clinical trials “that scientifically test their efficacy and toxicity using non-human models.” The Canadian military has a long history of experimenting on animals, exposing them to various chemical and biological warfare agents and more recently developed weapons. In the 1980s the use of animals became controversial after details of a number of military experiments were made public. Monkeys were used at defence facilities in Suffield, Alta., for experiments involving nerve gas antidotes. In 1983 researchers at the University of Ottawa made headlines after their experiments for the DND on dogs became known. Twenty specifically bred beagles were exposed to high levels of radiation to make them vomit. They were then killed and their organs removed for study. The DND research was aimed at finding a cure for nausea. In 2012, Defence Research and Development Canada subcontracted testing of a new taser projectile to a U.S. university. The projectiles were fired at pigs, according to documents obtained by Postmedia outlining experiments on “conducted energy weapons.” That same year, a study in the journal Military Medicine revealed that Canada was only one of six NATO countries still using animals in its experiments.

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