5 mai 2020 | Local, Naval

An In-Service Support Opportunity

POLICY PERSPECTIVE

by Ian Mack
CGAI Fellow
May 2020

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Introduction

In the autumn of 2019, the federal government announced on www.buyandsell.gc.ca the creation of a discussion group to address in-service support for the Canadian Surface Combatants (CSCs). The objective of Canada's procurement is 15 warships and the project is in the early stages of modifying the design of the U.K.'s global combat ship (GCS), with the first Canadian ship delivery anticipated after 2025. It must be assumed that this discussion group formation is the first stage of industry consultation.

The City-class Type 26 frigate design has been in development for over a decade and the first of eight U.K. Type 26 warships is now in production. BAE Systems won the contract for the design and construction work in the U.K. This design has been available for export under the moniker global combat ship, and both Canada and Australia have selected it – the latter intending to build nine Hunter-class frigates.

While neither the Australian nor Canadian designs have been completed, the combat systems will apparently be quite different across the three nations. However, it is unlikely that the major platform design will change dramatically. If this assumption is correct, it could mean that the major equipment of the platforms of some 32 hulls would likely be substantially the same.

And from an in-service support point of view, this clearly creates an opportunity for international co-operation wherever it makes sense.

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Conventional Wisdom – International Programs

There are indications that three-nation government-to-government meetings have taken place to exchange views on creating a user group during the acquisition activity. It would make sense to also explore a related arrangement for in-service support.

Clearly, with the potential to support 32 equipment sets across the marine platforms, there are many opportunities for economies of scale which could reduce the costs for all three nations – for common design modifications, for spares through bulk buys, for depot-level maintenance with many more units, for common training of potentially two to four times individual nations' throughput/requirements and the like. Such synergies could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars in savings over the extended lives of these warships.

But international programs are not always easy to establish and implement, for many reasons.

Nations are very different. They place different priorities on defence matters so the simple co-ordination required to achieve timely agreements can be difficult. Governments also change and a falling-out between two nations can lead to reversals. Nations lose some of their autonomy in decision-making when they join such programs, which can be a major deterrent. And governments have approaches to contracting which are very different, so negotiations on behalf of multiple governments can become bogged down in disagreements as to what approaches nations will support.

In a perfect world, Canadian and Australian officials might have included an option during the design selection competitions so that such international in-service support programs could have been enabled by adopting a number of mandatory attributes. Unfortunately, the variability in schedules driving Canada's and Australia's frigate programs, as well as the built-in challenges of running competitions, conspired against any detailed discussion of “what ifs”.

Work share (or industrial benefits) is important – to the domestic industries and thus to governments that always care about high-value jobs of the sort one finds in defence-related work. Without doubt, companies in all three countries are already seeing dollar signs and/or may already have won certain rights during the competitions for selection. Hence, Australia and Canada would be unlikely to sign up if all the work is being done, say, in Europe because the bar to agree to collaborate for other reasons could be so high as to be a non-starter. And there could be a number of other challenging commercial issues related to such things as intellectual property that could affect the shape of work-share agreements.

There are also many tactical issues. The three time zones are not conducive to ongoing dialogue; one should never underestimate the challenges of working across large distances. As simple as international meeting arrangements should be, one of the partners will not be able to make it at the 11th hour more often than one expects – much less the travel budget involved and/or the cost of personnel liaison/exchange programs between the countries. Canada's Treasury Board is frequently much more involved in expensive and long-term international contracts, routinely requiring the tedious achievement of annual approvals. Nations and organizations have different laws/regulations and standards respectively which must be synchronized upfront and as changes occur.

And so it goes. One can conclude that, aside from international information exchange forums, complex business arrangements involving both governments and industries in international programs detrimentally impact a nation's autonomy in decision-making and often offer fewer economic benefits. They are not for the faint of heart.

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Conventional Wisdom – The Opportunity

If one were to consider an international three-party in-service support (ISS) program for common platform major equipment/systems which would leverage BAE Systems as the common ISS agent, wouldn't there be potentially significant benefits to Canada? On the face of it, one must assume that the answer is “maybe” and this is worth exploring.

In reviewing this option from a Canadian perspective, it would be appropriate to assess the ISS outcomes against the four sustainment pillars as now mandated for inclusion in the business cases driving Department of National Defence (DND) ISS procurement decisions: performance (operational readiness), value for money (price at or below the market rate), flexibility (adaptable and scalable to accommodate change in operational tempo and available budgets) and economic benefits (jobs and economic growth for Canadian companies).

As mentioned earlier, international programs often render economic benefits much more elusive. However, in terms of performance, flexibility and value for money, there is no doubt that the potential exists to see maximum return on investment. In the case under review, BAE Systems is reported to be the second largest Western defence contractor and therefore should be able to wield the clout that comes with it when dealing with major equipment system manufacturers (OEMs). And of course, the supplemental impact must also be understood and catered to – BAE Systems can choose to be difficult in any business arrangement without significantly affecting its bottom line.

With respect to contractual response to major equipment and systems performance (which contributes to technical readiness), a client with a large work share is more likely to get attention for initiatives to maintain and improve performance than will smaller clients. This would be important in this case because the three navies operate in significantly different environments around the world with the concomitant variations in some performance requirements. As well an OEMs' failure to address the concerns of three allied navies could result in being blacklisted by BAE Systems when procuring equipment/systems for new ship designs, while timely and effective contractual response could lead to future opportunities. Low performance achievement could also deliver a much more significant blow to an OEM's reputation if more than one navy is impacted detrimentally – witness the Boeing scenario with the 737 Max. This can be important, as select foreign OEMs have essentially ignored Canada before when Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) equipment has suffered performance shortfalls. From a performance perspective, an international ISS program with BAE Systems at the centre could be a plus.

In terms of providing adaptability and scalability, the presence of a number of clients can allow reductions in the demand for various services by one client (e.g., facing a budget downturn) to be picked up by another on an interim basis. Alternatively, the need for a surge in support by one navy (e.g., facing major unforeseen operations) may be easier to address by diverting some degree of effort from other clients. Only in the case where all clients are experiencing a similar variation in demand will such flexibility be jeopardized; but such a challenge can equally accrue whether in an international support program or not. Therefore, on balance, there can be greater flexibility in traditional circumstances for an international program, but there are limits.

Value for money should be a strong argument for an international collaboration, if only because of economies of scale when considering, in this case, a fleet of 32 ship sets instead of eight, nine or 15 – and that is as-fitted, with spares increasing the overall numbers of common units of equipment. As an ISS client agent with much more maintenance, repair work and spares demand for an OEM, there would be greater interest in keeping multiple navies happy with the prices paid and the requirement over time to see support costs reduced. International programs frequently benefit by pooling spare units and ownership by OEMs, such that the number required (and hence the costs) are lower and risks to availability can be somewhat mitigated. Instead of each nation addressing emerging technical issues separately, sharing the costs should make it cheaper for all. So too are there potential benefits for OEM infrastructure, as top-notch physical plant and software assurance against cyber-attack are much more affordable to all concerned.

Hence, the conventional wisdom is that such an international in-service support program should offer a better return on investment in terms of greater performance at lower costs, as well as the possibility for greater scalability to adapt to variations in demand for services. But as mentioned earlier, this comes typically with the potential for fewer economic benefits for Canada – clearly an important consideration.

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Unique Considerations of the Case at Hand

In exploring a possible international program for the U.K., Australia and Canada to leverage their selection of the same basic platform design and designer (BAE Systems), it is useful to accept the conventional wisdom but explore additional factors that should be weighed in a sustainment business case. What follows is a potpourri of additional considerations worthy of study.

It is useful to address what could be included in the term “in-service support”. Based on common equipments and systems, it could include design agent services, maintenance, spares, training and documentation within an integrated data environment, to name the most important few. Nations could also select from among these options for hybrid arrangements.

Near the top of the list for CSC is the fact that it is under the umbrella of the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS). The strategy specifically prevents the NSS shipyards from providing a single day of in-service support once they are delivered to the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) unless such shipyards win those rights through a competitive procurement process. This is unique – a departure from past approaches in Canadian government shipbuilding – and quite frankly considered to be imprudent. In the very early days of a new class of complex ships, the prime contractor (often the build shipyard and/or designer) usually provides as a minimum a number of years of ISS. The shipbuilder typically has the best expert knowledge that exists for the initial years of services, along with the relationships and a degree of leverage with the major equipment/systems' OEMs. Normally, an in-service support bridging contract is awarded concurrent with the ship construction contract. Often, the prime contractor is then awarded a long-term ISS contract. There is a story as to why ship maintenance support for vessels delivered under NSS departed from the norm (there is always a story), and confirmation should be obtained as soon as possible that the earlier decision is reversible, to allow the business case to include all options.

Related to the former paragraph, Canada has relatively recently awarded a contract to Thales for support services for the Arctic offshore patrol ships and the joint support ships. Although these ships have yet to be turned over to the RCN, one would expect that even at this early stage many lessons have been learned which should be taken into account when conducting the business case, such as whether the knowledge was/is available to support first-day-under-power with the RCN.

BAE Systems is at the heart of the potential international program. From the internet alone, one observes that, among other classes of Royal Navy (RN) ships, BAE Systems manages design, equipment maintenance and ship modifications for the RN's Type 45 destroyers. It therefore would be important to ask the RN how well their approach is working and to explore the details of the existing contract, infrastructure arrangements, innovations introduced and performance to date. This would be a bellwether to the likelihood that the RN would be at least interested in an international support program for their Type 26 frigates in terms of capability and customer-focused cultural flexibility at BAE Systems. And if they have misgivings and/or if Australia is not interested, the international program option may be eliminated from the business case. One would expect that all three nations would support the generation of their own business cases and compare conclusions before making decisions.

Earlier, I offered the assumption that the platform systems are likely to employ the same major equipment systems, but that the combat systems are unlikely to be common. But to overstate the obvious, warships are not like layer cakes – they do not have separate top and bottom halves. The three naval variants being procured are exceptionally integrated and complex super-systems. Therefore, in-service support must address both sets of major equipment/systems – platform and combat systems. BAE Systems is the overall combat systems integrator for the Type 26 frigates destined for the RN and an obvious choice to deliver in-service support. Lockheed Martin Canada is the equivalent for the CSC. And BAE Systems Australia is partnered with Lockheed Martin Australia and Saab Australia to deliver the combat system integration for the Hunter-class frigates. Therefore, an international – almost-whole-of-ship – ISS solution might even offer significant economic benefits to all three nations. This could create challenges based on the proverbial “too many eggs in one basket”, and certain safeguards would be required.

It is worthwhile to note an anomaly in Canada's case regarding the construction of these warships. BAE Systems is responsible for building all of the ships in question in the U.K. and Australia, but Irving Shipbuilding is responsible under NSS to construct the CSCs. One should never underestimate the shipbuilder's knowledge when dealing with a complex seagoing vessel, and a sole platform-related focus on BAE Systems alone would, in the Canadian case, be a deficit in any international program. Irving Shipbuilding's contribution should therefore be considered in the business case for Canada. Should the business case be strong, there is an argument that a directed contract to an Irving-BAE partnership for in-country platform in-service support would make sense and be in the public's interest. As mentioned earlier, although this was prohibited under the original terms of the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy, it could be waived in this instance for those warships that will be the backbone of Canada's maritime defence for 30 years. It would provide significant economic benefits as well.

There is clearly the significant potential of operational value to such an arrangement, in addition to strong performance supporting day-to-day readiness. The three nations are on three different continents, and all three navies pursue global deployments. The availability of full ISS in or within the reach of Canada, the U.K. and Australia provides significant benefits to all three navies over their 30-year lives when breakdowns occur far from home port.

The business case should take into account the fact that the U.K. may export the global combat ship design more broadly in the world. If an international consortium delivering in-service support were in place, it could become an important selling feature for potential buyers of the GCS. This undoubtedly could enhance value for money, flexibility and performance for the three plank owner nations. And from a Canadian perspective, as the nation with the largest stake in the game at 15 warships, we should be able to significantly influence the contractual arrangements with current and future parties to the international program.

A typical and expensive part of the life cycle of warships is midlife conversions. Combat systems in particular require modernization to employ new technologies designed to address new threats. These are extremely complex endeavours. Once again, the degree of value for money through life could be even greater, depending on the degree of commonality of the equipment upgrade options selected. And the very fact that Canada would see opportunities worth considering as fully developed options would in itself offer potential cost benefits that would otherwise be unlikely to occur.

As part of the business case analysis, it would be useful to study the commercial marine industry examples of international in-service support. Large ship operators and OEMs are very experienced in working across national and client boundaries to deliver economical services. Any business case should capture the pros and cons more broadly in the commercial business sector as well.

There could be a benefit as part of an international program in terms of the people required. As the proverb goes, many hands make light work. Since the launch of what was then termed the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy, Canada's marine HR challenges within government have become more pronounced. An international program could lighten the load while expanding the experience base for involved government and naval personnel in tackling the demands of supporting as complex a platform as the CSC.

It would be important to understand the challenges surrounding the governance in the broadest sense. Though not at all unique, governance would likely need to be structured to address three separate functions – the integrated supplier-client engagement, the clients' government-to-government activity and industry-to-industry supplier co-ordination. While not uncommon when contracting for goods and services for complex systems, the international aspects, length of the arrangement and the ever-increasing volatility in the marketplace are noteworthy. With such complexity and the constantly changing stakeholders involved over 30 years, the mechanisms for a strong and appropriate relationship alignment would be critical to long-term success. When dealing with a high degree of complexity in an international program such as this, the business case needs to assess the likelihood that the collaboration can be created and maintained in terms of the critical enabling relationships.

In the factors highlighted here and as with any business case, the importance of comparing the international program solution with what seems to be the more recent and typical Canadian in-service solution resulting from a competitive procurement cannot be underestimated. Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships and Joint Support Ships In-Service Support (AJISS) is the latest Canadian example and must be carefully analyzed even at this early stage to determine the prognosis for achieving the desired outcomes. Again, engagement with allies to assess their experience with single-nation support scenarios would be important in establishing the right comparators to enable coherent business case recommendations.

It would be prudent to consider the long view as part of the business case – including such things as the likelihood that nations would retire their warships at different times or even opt out of the international ISS program long before end-of life. While much can change, an early appreciation and understanding of various scenarios and the related risks would be important.

As a final point, such complicated business case assessments are never easy. After assembling the assumption set and the criteria analysis, and after negotiating “les grandes lignes” of a contractual agreement, it would be important to avoid the common pitfall of allowing one or two pros or cons to dominate the decision-making. Too often, the complexity that defies the “kiss principle” leads to rejection of otherwise optimum solutions. But at the end of the day, one must accept that it will be a judgment call.

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Concluding Material

Under the five-year-old Defence Procurement Strategy, Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) is responsible for leading the industry engagement that launches defence procurement processes. More recently, the ISS procurement strategies have been based on the results of the sustainment initiative business case led by DND.

At virtually every opportunity over the past decade, I have emphasized the importance of managing expectations. In every discussion with industry, it behooves those leading the CSC in-service support exploration activity to include the possibility of an international program solution. To eliminate that option without study would be both shortsighted and inexcusable. Also, failing to repeatedly ensure that all stakeholders are aware of the potential for such an outcome would lack transparency and be disingenuous.

When the RCN's readiness to deliver operational capability is at stake, along with billions of Canadian taxpayers' dollars for CSC in-service support over 30 years, it matters. And an international in-service support program for the new frigates of Canada, the U.K. and Australia is an important option worth considering.

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About the Author

After a 38 year career with the Royal Canadian Navy, Ian Mack (Rear-Admiral Retired) served for a decade (2007-2017) as the Director-General in the Department of National Defence responsible for the conception, shaping and support of the launch and subsequent implementation of the National Shipbuilding Strategy, and for guiding the DND project managers for the Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships, the Joint Support Ships and the Canadian Surface Combatants. He also had responsibility for four vehicle projects for the Canadian Army until 2015. Since leaving the government, he has offered his shipbuilding and project management perspectives internationally. Ian is a longstanding Fellow of the International Centre for Complex Project Management. He also is allied with Strategic Relationships Solutions Inc. He is married to Alex, and has three grown children. With few accommodations for impaired mobility, he remains active. Upon retirement, he founded a small business, Xi Complexity Consulting Inc. in Ottawa Canada.

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Canadian Global Affairs Institute

The Canadian Global Affairs Institute focuses on the entire range of Canada's international relations in all its forms including (in partnership with the University of Calgary's School of Public Policy), trade investment and international capacity building. Successor to the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute (CDFAI, which was established in 2001), the Institute works to inform Canadians about the importance of having a respected and influential voice in those parts of the globe where Canada has significant interests due to trade and investment, origins of Canada's population, geographic security (and especially security of North America in conjunction with the United States), social development, or the peace and freedom of allied nations. The Institute aims to demonstrate to Canadians the importance of comprehensive foreign, defence and trade policies which both express our values and represent our interests.

The Institute was created to bridge the gap between what Canadians need to know about Canadian international activities and what they do know. Historically Canadians have tended to look abroad out of a search for markets because Canada depends heavily on foreign trade. In the modern post-Cold War world, however, global security and stability have become the bedrocks of global commerce and the free movement of people, goods and ideas across international boundaries. Canada has striven to open the world since the 1930s and was a driving factor behind the adoption of the main structures which underpin globalization such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization and emerging free trade networks connecting dozens of international economies. The Canadian Global Affairs Institute recognizes Canada's contribution to a globalized world and aims to inform Canadians about Canada's role in that process and the connection between globalization and security.

In all its activities the Institute is a charitable, non-partisan, non-advocacy organization that provides a platform for a variety of viewpoints. It is supported financially by the contributions of individuals, foundations, and corporations. Conclusions or opinions expressed in Institute publications and programs are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Institute staff, fellows, directors, advisors or any individuals or organizations that provide financial support to, or collaborate with, the Institute.

https://www.cgai.ca/an_in_service_support_opportunity

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NORAD Deputy Commander L. Gen Pelletier provided introductory remarks. This was followed by a white paper overview from Dr. Thomas Walker of Lockheed Martin. Director of the Centre for Defence & Security Studies and University of Manitoba's, Dr. Andrea Charron served as a guest speaker, providing an overview and context for the discussion that would follow. Director, Operations for NORAD HQ, Brig Gen Pete. M Fesler also helped set the scene with a short presentation. Following this, LGen (Ret'd) Guy Thibaut, Chair of the CDA Institute moderated a panel discussion on awareness and sensors with several industry representatives. The panel consisted of: Sunil Chavda, Director, New Satellite Systems Development, Telesat Canada Ravi Ravichandran, Vice President, CTO BAE Systems Mike Walsh, Chief Engineer, Radar and Sensor Systems, Lockheed Martin Jerome Dunn, Chief Architect, NG Counter Hypersonics Campaign Launch & Missile Defense Systems, Northrop Grunmman Mark Rasnake, Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) Enterprise Capture Lead, Boeing The following report will outline the major points of consensus and contention reached by participants during the webinar, a backgrounder on the case for NORAD modernization, sections on obstacles to modernization, all domain awareness requirements, design considerations for Canadian industry, and data plans. This report was created by the CDA Institute and is intended to read as an overview of the key points made by our invited experts. The report was produced by rapporteurs from the North American and Arctic Defence and Security Network (NAADSN), a Department of National Defence MINDS Collaborative Network. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY NORAD's defences are challenged by advanced new weapons like hypersonic glide vehicles. These new weapons have proliferated across all military domains, designed to threaten North America and place its political autonomy and financial stability at risk. North American homeland defence needs to modernize to meet these new threats. A major component of this new thinking is the development of All Domain Awareness capabilities provided by a multi-layered sensor system (an ecosystem) that can detect, identify, and track these and other new threats at great distances and provide the right information to the right assets at the right time. High financial costs and tight timelines are major obstacles to NORAD implementing an All Domain Awareness capability. These factors necessitate an approach to All Domain Awareness that emphasizes the technological readiness levels of industry. What ‘off the shelf' technology is available that can be modified and brought to bear quickly? Experts from across the defence industry elaborated on the design of the multi-layered sensor system that will enable a future All Domain Awareness capability. Sensors should be multi-mission, able to detect, identify, and track more than one threat from “birth to death”. These sensors should be modular, scalable, and software-defined with an open architecture for quick adaptability and upgradability. Throughout the discussions, the need to integrate these multi-layered sensors into a holistic system was emphasized. The goal is to create All Domain Awareness that seamlessly converges with renewed Command and Control (C2) and defeat capabilities to enable NORAD's deter, detect, and defeat mission. Many decisions have yet to be made that will drive the design of the multi-layered sensor system. Where should these sensors be placed that provides the best coverage? Furthermore, the data this system provides will be valuable and could be partly shared with allies and industry. How can industry ensure the integrity of this data? Lastly, where and how does human decision-making come into a largely autonomous system. POINTS OF CONSENSUS All Domain Awareness is paramount to enabling NORAD's deter, detect, defeat mission. A renewed multi-layered system will be a combination of new, old, and repurposed equipment. Solutions will favour “off the shelf” technology that can be modified and upgraded. Most of the sensor technology to meet NORAD requirements exists today or will shortly. The system must have seamlessly layered sensors to detect, identify, and track full spectrum of threats across All Domains, from ballistic missiles to advanced hypersonic glide vehicles to cheap aerial drones. Data must be shared widely to be effective but policy must be developed to ensure that information can be shared to the right people at the right time. Multi-layered sensors should be able to detect and identify a threat at its ‘birth' and track until its ‘death.' The Arctic poses unique challenges for remote ground-based sensors and space-based sensors in polar orbits. The NWS is nearing its end of serviceable life but a replacement is not possible yet. Instead, the life of the NWS will need to be extended in parallel with new systems and capabilities. POINTS OF CONTENTION How much of the world, beyond North America and its approaches, will All Domain Awareness have to cover to be effective? The disposition of the renewed all domain awareness sensor network, with debate over how much of it should be space or terrestrially based. Where does the human decision-making process to ‘not shoot' or chose other options (such as to exploit, probe, surveille) come into a largely autonomous ‘kill chain'? Extent of compatibility/upgradability of older Cold War Domain Awareness architecture to work with new systems. Integrity of sensor data. Could it be tampered with? THE CASE FOR NORAD MODERNIZATION In opening the webinar, NORAD Deputy Commander LGen Alain Pelletier presented the broad challenge facing NORAD. Following 9/11 the command focused on violent extremist organizations, putting its energies into looking inward across North American airspace to prevent such a terror attack from happening again. This reorientation of NORAD has since been exploited by adversaries, with China and Russia having developed new capabilities specifically to bypass NORAD's largely Cold War-era defences. As the world shifts towards a state of great power competition, this threat becomes more acute. By being able to defeat NORAD, these states can essentially hold North America hostage, preventing it from intervening in conflict overseas. Brig Gen Pete M. Fesler, Deputy Director of Operations at NORAD's Headquarters, explained that America's long mobilization times have been noted as a vulnerability. By exploiting seams, adversaries can target military bases, airports, and seaports from far away, greatly disrupting the long and complex mobilizations required to project military power abroad. Future overseas conflict involving the great powers will thus see North America struck to delay its forces from intervening abroad, buying time for an adversarial victory. LGen Pelletier stated that NORAD's adversaries are agile, rapidly evolving their capabilities to exploit vulnerabilities in the command's aging defences or circumventing these defences entirely. Jerome Dunn of Northrop Grumman elaborated on how these new threats can avoid NORAD's current sensors and that they can come in quantity. While NORAD's current defences are designed to deal with a few ballistic missiles from a rogue state, such as North Korea, these defences can be easily overwhelmed by large numbers of aerospace threats from a power like Russia. NORAD must address advanced new aerospace weapons such as hypersonic glide vehicles. A requirement to defend against sophisticated cyber-attacks was repeatedly emphasised throughout the seminar. Lockheed Martin's Mike Walsh also pointed out that NORAD needs a response for swarms of cheap unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that can attack vulnerable Arctic infrastructure that supports NORAD's current Domain Awareness capability. A diversity of threats to NORAD have proliferated across the spectrum of military domains, from cyberspace to aerospace. Ultimately, NORAD's defences have been overtaken by advancing technology. LGen Pelletier made clear that with aging systems and just two percent of NORAD's original force strength to draw upon from Cold War peak, the command can no longer deter great power adversaries as it had during the Cold War. This potentially places Canada into the ‘hostage situation' outlined above, putting its political autonomy and economic growth and stability at unacceptable risk. With its ability to meet its mission statement to deter, detect, and defeat threats against the United States and Canada degrading, NORAD cannot continue its current course. NORAD must be modernized. Obstacles to the Modernization of NORAD and the defence of North America Dr. Andrea Charron, Director of the Centre for Defence and Security Studies (CDSS) and co-lead of the North American and Arctic Defence and Security Networks cautioned not to expect that endless financial resources will be available. The COVID-19 pandemic, she highlighted, has placed great strain on federal budgets, creating new fiscal realities and old agreements about cost splitting connected to the NWS are likely to change. CDAI Chair LGen (ret'd) Guy Thibault also emphasized this point. COVID-19 will put future pressure on Ottawa's coffers as the pandemic unfolds, making NORAD modernization spending uncertain. Dr. Charron also raised the importance of meaningful consultations with indigenous peoples about the old and potential new sensors that are located in indigenous territories. Aside from the growing fiscal challenges are the looming time constraints facing NORAD modernization. Dr. Charron stated the obvious, “ the North Warning System, are on borrowed operational time.” Brig Gen Fesler elaborated that there were multiple systems coming to the end of their useful lives. These sensors are rapidly becoming obsolete and cannot wait for a twenty-year procurement plan. Both Charron and Fesler emphasized to the audience that these two factors were driving the overall approach to NORAD modernization : prolonging the service life of useful existing architecture and mixing it with new sensors through the process of incremental improvement to achieve, over time and with a new emphasis on homeland defense All Domain Awareness. Telesat's Sunil Chavda observed that the subsequent engineering challenge was not in the new technologies NORAD modernization requires, but in bringing this eclectic approach together as a holistic system. LGen Pelletier made clear that while NORAD would have to push its all domain sensors far out into the world, covering the Arctic is the most challenging of the command's environments to surveille. Walsh elaborated on these challenges, pointing out the wide range of threats from multiple adversaries passing through the Arctic. The sensors that are needed to address these threats will be placed into “a resource constrained space,” characterized by vast distances with little infrastructure to support them. These remote sensors will have to be able to reliably cope with the Arctic's harsh climate and severe weather. Walsh stated that while space-based sensors will be helpful to surveille the arctic there are constraints imposed by what orbit the satellite is in. Fidelity can be sacrificed for distance as well. All Domain Awareness Requirements Dr. Thomas Walker of Lockheed Martin stated that the primary concern of NORAD modernization is the technology readiness levels of industry, the command wanting solutions now. What ‘off the shelf' technology is available that can be modified and brought to bear quickly? What current NORAD systems can be retrofitted? Walker conveyed that NORAD was open to making all sorts of solutions work so long as they emphasised little to no development timelines and speed of implementation. All Domain Awareness is a core capability requirement of NORAD. Dr. Walker emphasized that the multi- layered sensor system NORAD needs to develop to enable this capability must be able to detect, identify, and track all types of missiles ranging from ballistic to cruise missiles and new hypersonic glide vehicles. He also stressed that this new sensor system must detect threats at great distance to increase warning and reaction times as much as possible, both of which are central to decreasing the risk these weapons pose to Canada. Brig Gen Fesler elaborated that the proposed multi-layered sensor system must ensure that detection sensors are separate from defeat sensors. The layering of the sensors has to be seamless, closing current gaps in coverage that make NORAD so vulnerable to developing threats such as hypersonic glide vehicles. Closing these gaps requires a combination of multi-spectral sensor capabilities (a combination of radar, infra-red, radio frequency, acoustics, etc.). Lastly, he emphasised Dr. Walker's point that All Domain Awareness must occur at longer ranges to detect and engage threats as early as possible. Preferably the extent of Domain Awareness would allow for a threat to be identified and track from its ‘birth.' Design Considerations for Canadian Industry Lockheed Martin's Mike Walsh, working on next generation sensors, presented three considerations for NORAD modernization. The first was the concept of multi-mission sensors that could detect and track more than one threat. These sensors could adapt what they do and where they do it to handle a high volume of threat. Second, sensors should be software defined and open architecture for quick adaptability and upgradability. This would facilitate C2 networking without requiring a hardware update, increasing the lifespan of the renewed system and keeping down future costs. Lastly, industry should provide sensors that are modular and scalable. This means adapting sensors developed for other parts of the world for use with NORAD, making the renewed system quick to install, cheap, and easily upgradable. Chavda, who works on satellite systems development, emphasized the need to integrate the proposed multi-layered sensors into a holistic system. This requires a paradigm shift. How is the processed data displayed for action? He pointed out that there is limited development and no superclusters working on this. This means bringing in the commercial sector to tackle how information is managed, providing new opportunities for industry products and services. Ravi Ravichandran of BAE Systems, with an extensive background in technology development, asked industry to consider how technology enables a mission. The language surrounding Domain Awareness has become mission-focused, having shifted away from being about platforms and sensors. Domain Awareness cannot be considered in isolation, it has to be connected to C2 and defeat mechanisms. Data to decision-makers and their thinking needs to happen ‘at the speed of relevance,' which means understanding computing and data structures. Faster computing is required, the processing behind complex systems having struggled in the past. He agreed that sensors should be reconfigurable in real time, supported by an open architecture. He concluded that the ability to anticipate battle management demands should drive Domain Awareness. Dunn, working on countering hypersonic threats for Northrop Grumman, stressed that the architecture of the sensor system must be able to account for all threats, from ‘birth to death.' Engage on Remote to engage a threat as early as possible is of paramount importance for a successful defeat outcome since this allows a Shoot Asses Shoot shot doctrine. Dunn emphasized that new ways of engaging these threats are needed, including Artificial Intelligence (AI) weapons. Engaging threats remotely could represent another paradigm shift in thinking. He posited that ‘kill chains' could be forged on the fly rather than pre-planned, leading to the combination of “any sensor, best shooter.” Lastly, he wanted industry to consider building in systems redundancy; All Domain Awareness cannot just rely upon space assets. Punch Moulton argues that terrestrial sensors cannot provide All Domain Awareness alone; the sensor system must be based mostly in space. This will provide NORAD with the global level awareness needed to detect threats originating outside of North America ‘from birth.' Second, he suggests participants should consider that NORAD states are also a part of NATO. Tying the two organizations together should help NORAD address deficits in awareness across the North Atlantic whilst giving the command a chance to secure NATO funding for its modernization. Lastly, he stressed the necessity of integrating a holistic multi-layered sensor system with the C2 and defeat mechanisms; the best shooter is the weapon that gets the right information at the right time. The goal should be ‘best sensor, best shooter.' DATA PLANS A major theme of the webinar was the sharing of sensor data with allies and industries. Moulton largely considers the sharing of data to be a policy question – one that should be tackled from the beginning – using the example of NORAD sharing US-Canada ‘Two Eyes' data with the other twenty-eight members of NATO. He also raised this issue in relation to dual-use technology that can be shared with American and Canadian civilian departments and industries. As the technology goes forward, he cautions that the policy needs to be in place that collectively says what can and cannot be shared in an open architecture system. Dr. Charron argues that sensors should be capable of dual use by military/civilian government agencies. This generates additional value beyond defence, contributing data for use across government and possibly the commercial sector. LGen Thibeau commented that such an approach improves the economic case for NORAD modernization as this type of defence investment could be seen as developing northern infrastructure. Similarly, LGen Pelletier commented sharing this data across departments and agencies means “everyone is a contributor” to NORAD modernization. Dr. Charron recommended creating a lexicon to facilitate the sharing of data due to the number and diversity of potential beneficiaries. She also suggests there may be lessons that can be taken from NORAD assuming its maritime warning mission. Similarly, LGen Thibault offered the example of Canada's procurement of SPY-7 radars, and the role of Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC) working with partners and the commercial sector in providing sensor data as a potential model. Walsh raised the significant challenges NORAD modernization poses to project teams having to work across governments and industry. He highlighted the need for more collaboration between government and industry on operational analysis (on sensors, C2, and defeat capabilities) which could improve this working relationship. It was noted, however, that more industries are declining to work with the military – a challenge that needs to be resolved. Dr. Charron recommend that the Canadian government send a ‘finishing advocate' to NORAD. Such an advocate would increase the success rate of projects by matching the ‘hoovering' practice of attracting ideas and technology to NORAD's particular problems, seeing them through to fruition. She recommended this advocate approach as part of an overarching Canadian science and technology strategy. Another major theme of the webinar was that the sensor did not matter so much as the actionable data it provided. What does matter is where the sensor is placed to provide the best coverage. Chavda stated that getting the technology into the right place was a challenge. Dunn stressed this point with respect to space-based sensors, emphasizing that they have to be put in the right orbit to be effective. He projects that some operational ability will be flying in two to three years. The expert panel agreed that most of the technology to make the types of sensors envisioned exists today. For technology that must be developed, both Dunn and Chavda argued that rapid prototyping must be able to fail early and more often for best results, especially for space-based sensors. Physical demonstrations are important. Ravichandran pointed out that digital prototyping is getting better, driving down development costs. Digital prototyping is beginning to allow for digital demonstrations – not just of components, but of systems as well. Such an approach will allow for system designs to be tested before being physically built and put into place. A common element running throughout the discussion was that NORAD should have its All Domain Awareness, C2, and defeat capabilities fully converge and be as autonomous as possible. Dunn explained that a full convergence system would see sensors push data to C2, with the sensors changing with the defeat needs for intercept, thus completing a seamless ‘kill chain.' Dr. Charron asked what would happen if NORAD did not want to shoot at a particular threat that it detects (which could leave room for a diplomatic solution). I.e. the sensors cannot only feed information that leads only to the defeat of a target. The sensors must provide information that allows for flexible responses including the exploitation, tracking or gathering of intelligence of a target, not just its defeat. The human decision-making process within this tightly knit kill chain was largely omitted from discussion but the participants concurred that it was an important subject for consideration and future discussion. Lastly, LGen Pelletier raised the issue of data integrity during his closing remarks. Could he trust that the data he was being provided by sensors was safe, secure, and reliable? Could All Domain Awareness capability be tampered with? This question is salient given the sophistication of adversaries, the core importance of information sharing, and the long supply chains of contractors and sub-contractors needed to build and maintain NORAD's All Domain Awareness capability. https://cdainstitute.ca/norad-modernization-report-one-awareness-sensors/

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