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  • Chief of the Defence Staff announces Canadian Armed Forces General and Flag Officer senior appointments, promotions, and retirements

    February 13, 2019 | Local, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR

    Chief of the Defence Staff announces Canadian Armed Forces General and Flag Officer senior appointments, promotions, and retirements

    February 12, 2019 – Ottawa – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces General Jonathan Vance, Chief of the Defence Staff, issued a CANFORGEN announcing the list of Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) General and Flag Officer senior appointments, promotions, and retirements that will occur in 2019. General Officers (Canadian Army and the Royal Canadian Air Force) and Flag Officers (Royal Canadian Navy) lead the CAF in defending our country's values and interests, here at home and abroad. They share the responsibility for the stewardship of the entire institution, and for the profession of arms as a whole. For 2019, the total number of permanent General Officer and Flag Officer positions required to meet the demands of the Canadian Armed Forces is 116 (105 Regular Force and 11 Reserve Force). The number of senior staff fluctuates as a result of the needs of the military to meet Government of Canada and institutional objectives, which is constantly changing. Certain positions have been created to help us meet the following commitments found in Canada's defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged: supporting health and resilience, investments in the Royal Canadian Navy, enhancing cyber capabilities, transforming innovation for defence excellence and security, and continued global defence engagement. Biographies of senior officers may be made available upon request by contacting Media Relations. Quotes “The role of a General and Flag Officer in the Canadian Armed Forces comes with enormous responsibility. Those selected demonstrate they are capable of surmounting the significant challenges associated with leading and improving Canada's armed forces. For those leaving the Forces, they should do so proudly, as they are a testament to the qualities required to keep Canada's military strong and effective.” – General Jonathan Vance, Chief of the Defence Staff Quick facts In order to align authorities, responsibilities, and accountabilities with the US NORAD, Major-General D.W. Joyce will be appointed Deputy Commander Continental US NORAD Region, in Tyndall Florida, in a position that has been up-ranked to Major-General. To lead the modernization and growth of the Canadian Forces Health Services Group, Brigadier-General A.M.T. Downes will be promoted to the rank of Major-General and will continue to serve in his current appointment as Commander Canadian Forces Health Services Group / Surgeon General for the CAF, at NDHQ in Ottawa, in a position that has been up-ranked. Colonel J.G.M. Bilodeau will be promoted to the rank of Brigadier-General and appointed to a new position as Director General Clinical Services / Deputy Commander Canadian Forces Health Services Group, in Ottawa and will become the Department Health Advisor to the CDS. In order to enhance continental maritime command, control, and cooperation with the US Navy, Commodore S.M. Waddell will be promoted to the rank of Rear-Admiral and appointed to a new position as Vice Commander 2nd Fleet United States Navy, in Norfolk Virginia. To develop CAF/DND data strategies, policies and to lead data management governance, Brigadier-General A.T. Benson will be appointed to a new position as Deputy Director General Data Strategy and Innovation, in Ottawa. Additional capacity is required to focus on key departmental initiatives. As such, Brigadier-General S.T. Boyle will be appointed to a new position as Deputy Director General Continental Policy, at NDHQ in Ottawa.

  • Leonardo signs contract with NATO to extend cyber defence partnership

    February 13, 2019 | International, C4ISR

    Leonardo signs contract with NATO to extend cyber defence partnership

    Leonardo has signed an 18-month contract with the NATO Communications and Information (NCI) Agency which will see the company continue to deliver cyber incident detection and management capabilities. The new NATO computer incident response capability (NCIRC) cyber security support services (CSSS) contract provides continuity of service to the NCIRC – full operational capability (FOC) contract which ends in February 2019. Since February 2012, Leonardo has worked in partnership with the NCI Agency to protect NATO's Communications and Information System (CIS) infrastructure from cyber attacks, thus significantly assisting in the support to NATO missions. A combined Leonardo and NCI Agency staff of around 200 digital security experts provide cyber incident detection, management and rapid-response capabilities around the clock, covering NATO staff in 29 countries. Protection extends from portable devices up to networks at 75 sites including NATO headquarters. NCIRC-FOC has also been operationally employed to successfully protect the NATO summits in 2014, 2016, and 2018. The NCIRC CSSS contract follows the successful operation of the NCIRC-FOC over a number of years and a deepening relationship between Leonardo and NCI Agency. In 2015, NCIRC-FOC expanded under the 10 Additional Sites contract to cover newly-opened European headquarters. This contract was completed to budget, specification and on schedule in 2017. In 2016, the two organizations signed an industrial partnership agreement (IPA) to share cyber security information, with the mutual goal of better understanding threat patterns and attack trends. In addition to delivering cyber security expertise to NATO, Leonardo also supports individual nation states, large corporations including defence companies and financial institutions. In September 2017, the company announced that it had been selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) as the cyber security partner for the Galileo European navigation satellite program. Leonardo is also active in the Gulf and South-East Asia, working with government and industry customers. Leonardo continues to invest in its cyber expertise. The cyber services and products in the company's portfolio are designed to evolve in-line with the ever-changing cyber battlefield. To ensure its customers maintain their cyber skills, Leonardo offers certified training as well as Cyber Academy and Cyber Range design and delivery, allowing specialists to exercise against new and emerging threats. Demand continues to increase and, in June, Leonardo tripled the size of its cyber and electronic warfare capacity in Lincoln, U.K., to allow 150 students to train at any one time.

  • Government of Canada announces call to launch intellectual property collective

    February 13, 2019 | Local, Other Defence

    Government of Canada announces call to launch intellectual property collective

    Pilot project will help Canadian companies reap the full benefits of IP to grow their business February 13, 2019 – Ottawa, Ontario When Canadian companies put intellectual property (IP) at the core of their business strategy, they are better positioned to grow and succeed. This is why the Government of Canada is making sure that our small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) have the tools and supports they need to expand their business and become more competitive. Today, the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, launched the Patent Collective pilot program to assist SMEs with their patent and other IP needs. Canadian entities that can gather a team with experience in delivering high-quality patent advice are invited to apply. The chosen applicant will receive $30 million in funding over four years to create a non-profit organization that will work with companies in a selected sector to help them use their IP more strategically. Announced as part of the five-year Intellectual Property Strategy, the pilot project will provide the Government with valuable insight into the IP issues faced by SMEs. The new collective will have an opportunity to shape how the program will support member businesses, customize services to suit clients' needs, and identify how best to support the strategic use of IP in scaling companies. Quotes “Intellectual property is at the core of innovative businesses. For Canada's economy to succeed, we need to ensure that companies of all sizes have the tools to grow, expand and become competitive global players. With this new patent initiative, we are providing small and medium-sized enterprises with the IP support they can use to build their business, boost economic growth and compete and win on the world stage.” – The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Quick facts The Intellectual Property Strategy was announced in Budget 2018. Interested applicants can visit Small and medium-sized businesses that hold formal IP are three times more likely to engage in product innovation than those without IP. They are also two times more likely to engage in other types of innovation, four times more likely to export, and 64% more likely to be high growth. IP-intensive businesses pay 16% more, on average, than businesses with little or no IP. Businesses using IP in patent-intensive industries have about 8 to 10 times more revenues than those not using IP. Contacts Follow Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada on Twitter: @ISED_CA Dani Keenan Press Secretary Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development 343-291-1710 Media Relations Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada 343-291-1777

  • Les premiers F-18 australiens usagés arriveront au Canada dans les prochains jours

    February 13, 2019 | Local, Aerospace

    Les premiers F-18 australiens usagés arriveront au Canada dans les prochains jours

    Ottawa commencera à prendre possession des avions de chasse d'occasion australiens dès la mi-février, a appris Radio-Canada. Deux F-18 sont attendus à la base de Cold Lake en Alberta. Et tout indique que le reste des 25 appareils achetés par le Canada sera livré... par avion. Un texte de Marc Godbout La livraison commencera le 16 février, confirment des sources proches du dossier. C'est quelques semaines plus tôt que prévu. Deux des F-18 australiens que doit recevoir le Canada se trouvent au Nevada, aux États-Unis. Les chasseurs participent à un entraînement aérien et se poseront par la suite à Cold Lake. La Défense nationale ne veut pas dévoiler la date de leur arrivée au pays, mais confirme que les deux appareils sont dans la région de Las Vegas. Les deux premiers appareils devraient arriver ce mois-ci. Ils devraient être intégrés aux opérations plus tard cette année. Ashley Lemire, ministère de la Défense nationale Une fois à la base de Cold Lake, les deux avions de chasse de l'Australie seront confiés au Centre d'essais techniques de l'Aviation royale canadienne pour y subir des évaluations. Ils seront par la suite reconfigurés. Et 18 appareils viendront compléter la flotte actuelle de CF-18, les autres seront utilisés pour des pièces de remplacement et la formation des mécaniciens et des techniciens. Livraison par avion? Selon nos informations, le scénario privilégié par Ottawa pour apporter ces avions de chasse au Canada n'est pas de les faire voler de leurs propres ailes, mais de les transporter à bord d'un avion-cargo. Des sources ont indiqué à Radio-Canada que la Défense nationale souhaite « très sérieusement » noliser un appareil Antonov qui peut transporter deux appareils à la fois. Les avions de chasse seraient livrés à Mirabel, où se trouvent les installations de l'entreprise L3 MAS qui devra assurer l'entretien des F-18 australiens. Faire voler ce type d'avion de chasse coûte au minimum 30 000 $ de l'heure. Les placer dans un Antonov permettrait d'éviter, par exemple, de nombreux ravitaillements en carburant entre l'Australie et le Canada. Mais cette solution serait-elle plus rentable? Le ministère de la Défense nationale refuse de confirmer quoi que ce soit. « La méthode de livraison pour les autres aéronefs doit encore être confirmée », précise Ashley Lemire, dans une réponse écrite. « Les livraisons d'avions restants d'Australie auront lieu à intervalles réguliers jusqu'à la fin de 2021 », ajoute-t-elle. Dans la capitale australienne, Canberra, on ne veut rien dévoiler. « Les conditions de vente des aéronefs et des articles associés, y compris les informations sur les aéronefs et les calendriers de livraison, sont traitées à titre confidentiel », explique le ministère de la Défense. Plus tôt dans son mandat, le gouvernement Trudeau avait opté pour une solution provisoire, soit l'achat de 18 nouveaux chasseurs Super Hornet de Boeing. Mais dans la foulée du conflit commercial entre le géant américain et Bombardier, Ottawa avait plutôt opté pour la solution australienne. Le programme coûtera 500 millions de dollars, dont 90 millions pour l'achat des appareils. La saga inachevée En campagne électorale, les libéraux de Justin Trudeau avaient voulu se dissocier du plan conservateur d'acquérir les coûteux F-35. Dans leur programme, ils s'étaient engagés à « lancer immédiatement un appel d'offres ouvert et transparent pour remplacer les CF-18 ». Or, le gouvernement n'a toujours pas demandé officiellement aux grands joueurs de l'industrie de soumissionner pour livrer les 88 nouveaux avions de chasse. Il ne devrait enclencher cette étape qu'au printemps, à quelques mois des élections, de sorte que le Canada n'aura pas de nouveaux chasseurs avant au moins 2025.

  • Academia a Crucial Partner for Pentagon’s AI Push

    February 13, 2019 | International, C4ISR

    Academia a Crucial Partner for Pentagon’s AI Push

    By Tomás Díaz de la Rubia The dust lay thick upon the ruins of bombed-out buildings. Small groups of soldiers, leaden with their cargo of weaponry, bent low and scurried like beetles between the wrecked pillars and remains of shops and houses. Intelligence had indicated that enemy troops were planning a counterattack, but so far, all was quiet across the heat-shimmered landscape. The allied soldiers gazed intently out at the far hills and closed their weary, dust-caked eyes against the glare coming off the sand. Suddenly, the men were aware of a low humming sound, like thousands of angry bees, coming from the northeast. Growing louder, this sound was felt, more than heard, and the buzzing was intensifying with each passing second. The men looked up as a dark, undulating cloud approached, and found a swarm of hundreds of drones, dropped from a distant unmanned aircraft, heading to their precise location in a well-coordinated group, each turn and dip a nuanced dance in close collaboration with their nearest neighbors. Although it seems like a scene from a science fiction movie, the technology already exists to create weapons that can attack targets without human intervention. The prevalence of this technology is pervasive and artificial intelligence as a transformational technology shows virtually unlimited potential across a broad spectrum of industries. In health care, for instance, robot-assisted surgery allows doctors to perform complex procedures with fewer complications than surgeons operating alone, and AI-driven technologies show great promise in aiding clinical diagnosis and automating workflow and administrative tasks, with the benefit of potentially saving billions in health care dollars. In a different area, we are all aware of the emergence of autonomous vehicles and the steady march toward driverless cars being a ubiquitous sight on U.S. roadways. We trust that all this technology will be safe and ultimately in the best interest of the public. Warfare, however, is a different animal. In his new book, Army of None, Paul Scharre asks, “Should machines be allowed to make life-and-death decisions in war? Should it be legal? Is it right?” It is with these questions and others in mind, and in light of the advancing AI arms race with Russia and China that the Pentagon has announced the creation of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, which will have oversight of most of the AI efforts of U.S. service and defense agencies. The timeliness of this venture cannot be underestimated; automated warfare has become a “not if, but when” scenario. In the fictional account above, it is the enemy combatant that, in a “strategic surprise,” uses advanced AI-enabled autonomous robots to attack U.S. troops and their allies. Only a few years ago, we may have dismissed such a scenario — an enemy of the U.S. having more and better advanced technology for use in the battlefield — as utterly unrealistic. Today, however, few would question such a possibility. Technology development is global and accelerating worldwide. China, for example, has announced that it will overtake the United States within a few years and will dominate the global AI market by 2030. Given the pace and scale of investment the Chinese government is making in this and other advanced technology spaces such as quantum information systems, such a scenario is patently feasible. Here, the Defense Department has focused much of its effort courting Silicon Valley to accelerate the transition of cutting-edge AI into the warfighting domain. While it is important for the Pentagon to cultivate this exchange and encourage nontraditional businesses to help the military solve its most vexing problems, there is a role uniquely suited for universities in this evolving landscape of arming decision makers with new levels of AI. Universities like Purdue attribute much of their success in scientific advancement to the open, collaborative environment that enables research and discovery. As the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center experiments with and implements new AI solutions, it must have a trusted partner. It needs a collaborator with the mission of verifying and validating trustable and explainable AI algorithms, and with an interest in cultivating a future workforce capable of employing and maintaining these new technologies, in the absence of a profit motive. "The bench in academia is already strong for mission-inspired AI research." That's not to diminish the private sector's interest in supporting the defense mission. However, the department's often “custom” needs and systems are a small priority compared to the vast commercial appetite for trusted AI, and Silicon Valley is sure to put a premium on customizing its AI solutions for the military's unique specifications. Research universities, by contrast, make their reputations on producing trustable, reliable, verifiable and proven results — both in terms of scientific outcomes and in terms of the scientists and engineers they graduate into the workforce. A collaborative relationship between the Defense Department and academia will offer the military something it can't get anywhere else — a trusted capability to produce open, verifiable solutions, and a captive audience of future personnel familiar with the defense community's problems. If the center is to scale across the department and have any longevity, it needs talent and innovation from universities and explainable trusted AI solutions to meet national mission imperatives. As the department implements direction from the National Defense Authorization Act to focus resources on leveraging AI to create efficiency and maintain dominance against strategic technological competitors, it should focus investment in a new initiative that engages academic research centers as trusted agents and AI talent developers. The future depends on it. But one may ask, why all this fuss about AI competition in a fully globalized and interdependent world? The fact is, in my opinion and that of others, that following what we perceived as a relatively quiet period after the Cold War, we live today again in a world of great power competition. Those groups and nations that innovate most effectively and dominate the AI technology landscape will not only control commercial markets but will also hold a very significant advantage in future warfare and defense. In many respects, the threat of AI-based weapons to national security is perhaps as existential a threat to the future national security of the United States and its allies as nuclear weapons were at the end of World War II. Fortunately, the U.S. government is rising to the challenge. Anticipating these trends and challenges, the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Science and Technology Policy announced, in a recent memo, that the nation's top research-and-development priorities would encompass defense, AI, autonomy, quantum information systems and strategic computing. This directly feeds into the job of the aforementioned Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, which is to establish a repository of standards, tools, data, technology, processes and expertise for the department, as well as coordinate with other government agencies, industry, U.S. allies and academia. The bench in academia is already strong for mission-inspired AI research. Purdue University's Discovery Park has positioned itself as a paragon of collaborative, interdisciplinary research in AI and its applications to national security. Its Institute for Global Security and Defense Innovation is already answering needs for advanced AI research by delving into areas such as biomorphic robots, automatic target recognition for unmanned aerial vehicles, and autonomous exploration and localization of targets for aerial drones. Complementary to the mission of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, the Purdue Policy Research Institute is actively investigating the ethical, legal and social impacts of connected and autonomous vehicles. Some of the topics being researched include privacy and security; workforce disruption; insurance and liability; and economic impact. It is also starting to investigate the question of ethics, technology and the future of war and security. Purdue University is a key player in the Center for Brain-Inspired Computing project, forging ahead on “AI+” mentality by combining neuromorphic computing architectures with autonomous systems applications. The Integrative Data Science Initiative at Purdue aims to ensure that every student, no matter what their major is, graduates from the university with a significant degree of literacy in data science and AI-related technologies. Data science is used by all of the nation's security agencies and no doubt will be integral to the functioning of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center and its mission. The opportunities for Purdue and Discovery Park to enter into a partnership with the center are vast and span a wide range of disciplines and research areas. In short, the university is primed to play a vital role in the future of the nation's service and defense agencies and must be relentless in pursuing opportunities. It has become apparent that the United States is no longer guaranteed top dog status on the dance card that is the future of war. To maintain military superiority, the focus must shift from traditional weapons of war to advanced systems that rely on AI-based weaponry. The stakes are just too high and the prize too great to for the nation to be left behind. Therefore, we must call upon the government to weave together academia, government and industry for the greater good. We're stepping up to secure our place in the future of the nation. Tomás Díaz de la Rubia is Purdue University's vice president of Discovery Park.

  • Earthcube, la start-up française qui veut marcher dans les pas de Palantir

    February 13, 2019 | International, C4ISR

    Earthcube, la start-up française qui veut marcher dans les pas de Palantir

    ANNE DRIF Fondé il y a deux ans par deux anciens d'Areva et Airbus, Earthcube travaille pour quatre « organisations » du ministère des Armées et un service britannique. L'un montait des joint-ventures en Chine, en Russie et en Corée chez Areva. L'autre élaborait de nouvelles technologies d'observation de la terre chez Airbus Defense & Space. A 37 et 34 ans, Arnaud Guérin et Renaud Allioux sont aujourd'hui à la tête d'Earthcube, la première start-up devenue, en l'espace de deux ans, le prestataire de quatre « organisations » au sein du ministère de la Défense, dont ses services de renseignement militaire. Et d'un service britannique. Identifier un pick-up dans le désert Faute d'écho à ses solutions de Big Data au sein de l'avionneur, et Space X ayant écarté sa candidature, les projets de Renaud Allioux, ont rencontré ceux d'Arnaud Guérin, qui s'intéressait lui aussi aux systèmes de surveillance stratégiques. Ensembles, ils ont lancé une solution d'intelligence artificielle qui permet d'identifier sur des images satellites prises à 600 kilomètres d'altitude, des objets de quelques dizaines de pixels en quelques secondes, comme un pick-up en plein désert, ou de suivre des dizaines de milliers de véhicules, dans de grands centres urbains, comme Deir Ezzor aux mains de l'EI. « Aujourd'hui, il faut plusieurs jours à un analyste de renseignement pour mener ce type de ciblage sur des images satellites. Avec l'arrivée des satellites espions européens CSO, qui fourniront un grand volume de données, les équipes d'analystes pourront, en l'état des outils actuels, traiter moins de 10 % des flux, explique Arnaud Guérin. Or, la rapidité d'intervention est clef dans ces missions ». Expansion américaine Rapidement identifiée par la Direction générale des Armées, Earthcube a scellé son alliance avec la Direction du renseignement militaire lors du premier défi de l' Intelligence Campus , son pôle dédié aux nouvelles technologies. Mais celle-ci n'est pas exclusive, puisque la start-up a pu se rapprocher d'autres services de renseignement. En 2017, la société a levé 3 millions d'euros. Au départ, pourtant, ils ambitionnaient de s'adresser seulement aux acteurs privés ayant de forts enjeux sécuritaires comme les groupes pétroliers ou nucléaires. « Chez Areva, je faisais mettre en place des systèmes de surveillance au sol pour des sites miniers ou chimiques, poursuit Arnaud Guérin. Mais, quand vous êtes le géant chinois Cnooc, vous devez sécuriser des dizaines de milliers de kilomètres de pipeline. Ces systèmes de surveillance sont vulnérables et onéreux ». Au lancement d'Earthcube en 2016, ajoute-t-il, « nous nous étions positionnés comme l'alternative non américaine d'analyses de données, mais c'est une illusion de croire que les services de renseignements américains ont une réelle longueur d'avance sur les Européens en la matière », poursuit le dirigeant. Earthcube est ainsi « en discussions avancées » avec des organisations américaines. Les deux fondateurs ont de sérieuses ambitions, quitte à prendre une référence qui fait polémique en France. « Pour nous, l'américain Palantir est un modèle. En très peu de temps, ils ont réussi à devenir l'égal de géants traditionnels de leur secteur ». Anne Drif

  • Royal Canadian Air Force wants more than a few good pilots as it’s losing many of them to commercial jobs

    February 13, 2019 | Local, Aerospace

    Royal Canadian Air Force wants more than a few good pilots as it’s losing many of them to commercial jobs

    by Lee Berthiaume The Canadian Press OTTAWA — A shortage of experienced pilots is forcing the Royal Canadian Air Force to walk a delicate line between keeping enough seasoned aviators available to train new recruits and lead missions in the air. Air Force commander Lt.-Gen. Al Meinzinger described the balancing act during a recent interview in which he also revealed many pilots today are likely to have less experience than counterparts in similar positions 10 years ago. Much of the problem can be traced back to veteran aviators leaving for commercial jobs, or other opportunities outside the military, forcing senior commanders into a juggling act over where to put those still in uniform. "In order to (support) your training system ... you've got to pull experienced pilots into those positions, but you have to have experienced pilots on the squadrons to season the youth that are joining the units," he said. "So it's a bit of a delicate balance. And when you're in a situation where you don't have as much experience, broadly speaking, you've got to balance that very carefully. Hence the idea of retaining as much talent as we can." Fixing the problems created by the shortage will become especially critical if the Air Force is to be ready for the arrival of replacements for the CF-18s. Meinzinger said such transitions from one aircraft to another are particularly difficult — the RCAF needs to keep the same number of planes in the air to fly missions and have senior aviators train new pilots, while still sending seasoned pilots for training on the incoming fleet. "Ideally you want to go into those transitions very, very healthy with 100 per cent manning and more experience than you could ever imagine," Meinzinger said. While he is confident the military can address its pilot shortage in the next few years, especially when it comes to those responsible for manning Canada's fighter jets, the stakes to get it right are extremely high. The federal auditor general reported in November that the military doesn't have enough pilots and mechanics to fly and maintain the country's CF-18 fighter jets. Air Force officials revealed in September they were short 275 pilots and need more mechanics, sensor operators and other trained personnel across different aircraft fleets. There are concerns the deficit will get worse as a result of explosive growth predicted in the global commercial airline sector, which could pull many experienced military pilots out of uniform. "That's the expectation, that Canada will need an additional 7,000 to 8,000 pilots just to nourish the demands within the Canadian aerospace sector," Meinzinger said. "And we don't have the capacity as a nation to produce even half of that." Within the military, there also haven't been enough new pilots produced to replace those who have left. The auditor general found that while 40 fighter pilots recently left the Forces, only 30 new ones were trained. The military is working on a contract for a new training program that will let the Air Force increase the number of new pilots trained in a given year when necessary, as the current program allows only a fixed number to be produced. Meanwhile, Meinzinger said the loss of more seasoned pilots means others are being asked to take on more responsibility earlier in their careers, though he denied any significant impact on training or missions. He said the military is managing the situation through the use of new technology, such as simulators, to ensure the Air Force can still do its job. "There's no doubt commanding officers today in RCAF squadrons, they have probably less flying hours than they did 10 years ago," he said. "What that (commanding officer) has today is probably an exposure to 21st-century technology and training. So I think that certainly offsets the reduction of flying hours." Meinzinger and other top military commanders are nonetheless seized with the importance of keeping veteran pilots in uniform to ensure those climbing into the cockpit for the first time have someone to look to for guidance — now and in the future. New retention strategies are being rolled out that include better support for military families, increased certainty for pilots in terms of career progression and a concerted effort to keep them in the cockpit and away from desks and administrative work. Other militaries, notably the U.S., that are struggling with a shortage of pilots have introduced financial bonuses and other measures to stay in uniform. Meinzinger couldn't commit to such an initiative, but did say that "nothing is off the table." The situation may not represent an existential crisis, at least not yet, but officials know it is one that needs to be addressed if Canada's Air Force is to continue operating at top levels for the foreseeable future. "Experience is what allows us to (transfer knowledge) and grow for the future," Meinzinger said. "And that's why I talk about it as being kind of the centre of gravity. In the extreme, if you lose all your experience, you can't regenerate yourself."

  • Senator critiques defence procurement process

    February 13, 2019 | Local, Aerospace

    Senator critiques defence procurement process

    by Chris Thatcher An Ontario Senator says defence procurement needs better oversight and an improved process if it is to avoid the problems affecting the government's efforts to replace the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CF-188 fighter jet fleet. “The fiasco of fighter jet replacement is the best example of a procurement system that is cumbersome, bureaucratic and beset by political interference,” Senator Nicole Eaton wrote in an article originally published in The Hill Times. “Unless ministers start to devote close attention to the management of major projects, or until the process is overhauled, Canadians can continue to expect poor outcomes and wasted taxpayer dollars.” Eaton is a member of the Senate National Finance Committee, which launched a study last fall into the processes and financial aspects of defence procurement. It held its first hearing on Oct. 30 and expects to conclude later this year. In her article, the senator critiqued the process by which Conservative and Liberal governments have struggled to replace the aging CF-188 Hornets, noting that while both Canada and Australia are members of the U.S.-led Joint Strike Fighter program to develop the F-35, Australia received its first two operational F-35s in December while Canada, as part of an interim measure, is poised to take delivery of the first of 25 “well-used” Australian F-18s. “As we take possession of Australia's scrap, Canada is in the early stages of a minimum five-year-long process to pick a replacement for the F-18, which will be more than 50 years old before it is retired in the 2030s,” she wrote. The current government bears blame for creating some of the problems with the fighter file, she wrote, but “military procurement has bedeviled successive governments, Liberal and Conservative alike.” She attributed part of the problem to political interference for both partisan advantage and regional turf protection, but said the main reason for “paralysis in military procurement in Canada is it is too cumbersome and bureaucratic. Process is paramount and results are secondary. “There are layers of committees, depending on the size of the project, with membership from Public Services and Procurement Canada, National Defence, and Innovation, Science and Economic Development,” she wrote. “The consensus-based decision-making process on which these committees operate is supposed to avoid a big mistake — no doubt an appealing quality for a risk-averse bureaucracy, but the downside is the system is not conducive to fast action. Simply put, the buck stops nowhere.” Eaton suggested that bureaucratic morass has resulted in an inability to spend allotted project budgets, an indication the government could struggle to fulfil the commitments laid out in its 2017 defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged (SSE). “In the last fiscal year, the policy projected capital spending of $6.1 billion, yet only $3.7 billion was spent. This year, $6.55 billion is called for under SSE, but total appropriations to date amount to $4 billion,” she noted. “Given this poor track record, the idea that military spending can be cranked up by 70 per cent over 10 years, as envisioned in Strong, Secure, Engaged, looks increasingly fanciful. At the Finance committee's first hearing on the procurement system, Patrick Finn, assistant deputy minister, Materiel at the Department of National Defence, and André Fillion, assistant deputy minister for defence and marine procurement at Public Services and Procurement Canada, faced a barrage of questions on ongoing participation in the F-35 program, the authorities and mandates of interdepartmental committees involved in military procurement, and about the challenge of balancing military requirements with equipment costs and opportunities for Canadian industry. “Buying a fighter plane isn't like buying a compact car, and the role of the government is very important. We had to adapt our method of supply to the context of fighter jets,” Fillion told the senators. He said a draft RFP released in late October “was the result of many months of consultation on all five potential options (to replace the CF-188s). “There has been a lot of back and forth over the last several months to make sure that what we are asking meets the requirements of the Air Force and ensures that we do not inadvertently limit the competition. I feel very confident that what we've put together is fair, open and transparent to all the potential suppliers.” Finn said the government had met with and learned lessons from allies who had conducted similar fighter replacement programs. He also dismissed some of the concerns about acquiring used Australian aircraft to fill a gap while the government proceeds with the replacement project. “In our opinion, Canada has the best expertise related to this type of aircraft. Some companies in Montreal do maintenance for the United States and other countries because they have the necessary knowledge,” he said. “This aircraft will really increase our fleet, and it is not the number of aircraft that counts; it is rather the hours of use in the future. We are looking for an aircraft that will remain in service for another 14 years. What is needed is enough hours on the structural side. We will be able to use these aircraft until the entire fleet is no longer in service.”

  • Du plomb dans l’aile ou plutôt de la rouille sur les ailes et le moral dans les talons…

    February 13, 2019 | Local, Aerospace

    Du plomb dans l’aile ou plutôt de la rouille sur les ailes et le moral dans les talons…

    par Dave Blackburn La décision du gouvernement de Justin Trudeau de procéder à l'achat de 25 avions de combat F-18 à l'Australie est fortement discutable sur de multiples facettes. Dans quelques semaines, le Canada commencera à prendre possession de ces « nouveaux » appareils. Personnellement, je suis d'avis que notre nation est une fois de plus la risée mondiale. Quel autre pays du G7 irait dépenser 500 millions de dollars pour faire l'achat de 25 avions de combat qui ont plus de 30 ans de service ? Pourront-ils (au moins) voler de Mirabel à Cold Lake ? Le comble du comble, Radio-Canada nous apprenait que le gouvernement Trudeau considère sérieusement de rapporter au Canada ces vieux appareils à l'aide... d'un avion-cargo de type Antonov. C'est quoi le problème ? Les F-18 australiens ne sont pas en mesure de parcourir la distance entre Canberra en Australie et Mirabel au Canada ? Si cela est le cas, c'est rassurant, car ce sont ces mêmes appareils qui assureront la défense aérienne de notre pays. Pourront-ils voler de Mirabel à Cold Lake ? Si le Canada décide de rapporter les 23 avions par avion-cargo (2 avions sont déjà aux États-Unis), une fortune sera dépensée en transport, car les frais de fonctionnement d'un Antonov sont très élevés. Ils n'ont pas pensé à les transporter par bateau ? Pourquoi ne pas acheter un porte-avion usagé ? Avec nos sous-marins et nos « nouveaux » F-18, un porte-avion usagé ferait aussi l'affaire ! Vous savez quoi, ça me donne l'impression que tout est improvisé ! Technologie désuète Fondamentalement, avons-nous besoin de F-18 dont la technologie est désuète et qui selon toute vraisemblance ne feraient aucunement le poids contre des avions de chasse de 5e génération ? Dans le contexte des guerres modernes et urbaines, quelle est la valeur ajoutée, l'utilité, de procéder à l'achat de ces appareils ? Les gouvernements libéraux ont une f'cheuse habitude d'acheter du matériel militaire usagé. Personne (et surtout pas les contribuables) n'a oublié la désastreuse transaction du gouvernement de Jean Chrétien avec la Grande Bretagne dans les années 1990 pour l'achat de 4 sous-marins, au diesel, technologie qui était déjà dépassée depuis longtemps au moment de l'achat. Ces sous-marins ont coûté jusqu'à présent plus de 3 milliards de dollars et ont passé 91% du temps en cale sèche ou à quai. Mais au-delà de tous ces éléments de discussion, ma réflexion porte sur les répercussions sur le moral des troupes lorsque notre gouvernement fait l'achat d'équipement qui est bon pour la ferraille, pour le musée ou pour être installé en avant d'une filiale de la Légion royale canadienne. Et le moral des troupes ? Si je prends le temps de me mettre dans la tenue de vol d'un pilote de l'Aviation royale canadienne, j'aurais sans doute le moral dans les talons. Je me questionnerais sérieusement. J'aurais sans doute des craintes pour ma propre vie si jamais je devais être impliqué dans un combat aérien. Je me demanderais si notre gouvernement est véritablement sérieux dans sa stratégie de défense. En fait, je serais assez confus et déprimé. De mon point de vue, l'achat d'équipement militaire usagé ne peut qu'avoir un impact négatif sur le moral des troupes et un impact sur l'attrition du personnel. Par de fait même, cela doit aussi affecter le recrutement des personnes qui auraient un intérêt pour la carrière de pilote de chasse. J'ai tenté de rejoindre deux pilotes de chasse que je connais, mais je n'ai pas eu de retour. De toute manière, je doute fortement qu'ils aient commenté cet achat, ils sont trop professionnels. Nous avons l'une des meilleures forces militaires au monde sur le plan des ressources humaines. Une force qui est professionnelle, très bien entraînée et qui a démontré à maintes reprises son excellence lors de conflits ou d'opérations locales ou de maintien de la paix. Toutefois, pour demeurer parmi les meilleurs, nos soldats, marins et aviateurs doivent pouvoir bénéficier d'un équipement militaire à la fine pointe de la technologie. C'est aussi simple que ça ! Il est impossible de séparer le soldat de l'équipement militaire pour obtenir de bons résultats. Une fausse bonne affaire Bien évidemment, l'équipement militaire moderne est extrêmement cher et comme pays, nous avons des moyens financiers limités en matière de défense (budget de +/- 25 milliards en 2017). Comme nation, nous devons faire des choix en matière d'investissements dans les différentes sphères de la société. Conséquemment, avant d'acheter n'importe quoi dont des sous-marins au diesel qui devraient être stationnés à Pointe-au-Père en Gaspésie ou des F-18, il faudrait possiblement avoir une réflexion de fond sur nos intentions en matière de défense, sur nos alliances et sur notre capacité financière. Entretemps, le gouvernement de Justin Trudeau pourra continuer de penser qu'il a fait une bonne affaire et se réjouir d'avoir obtenu 7 avions F-18 sur les 25 qui seront utilisés par leurs pièces. À une échelle moins considérable il va sans dire, c'est comme le gars, très fier de son coup, qui s'achète deux Bombardiers ski doo Tundra 250cc 1988 dont l'un sera utilisé pour les pièces ! Il doit aller les chercher à Chibougamau et il habite en banlieue de Montréal. Il pense faire une bonne affaire ! Le Tundra à quand même 30 ans, il doit parcourir des centaines de kilomètres pour aller le chercher et son moral risque d'en prendre un coup lorsqu'il sera « stallé » dans les bois à des kilomètres de chez lui ! Une bonne affaire vous dites ! ?

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