10 septembre 2018 | Local, Terrestre

Canada's arms deal with Saudi Arabia is shrinking

The LAV sale is being scaled back. Critics want it killed completely.

Murray Brewster · CBC News

A Canadian defence contractor will be selling fewer armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia than originally planned, according to new documents obtained by CBC News.

That could be a mixed blessing in light of the ongoing diplomatic dispute between the two countries, say human rights groups and a defence analyst.

The scaled-back order — implemented before the Riyadh government erupted in fury over Canada's public criticism of Saudi Arabia's arrest of activists and froze new trade with Canada this summer — could make it politically less defensible for the Liberal government, which has argued it's in the country's business and economic interests to uphold the deal.

The documents show General Dynamic Land Systems Canada, the London, Ont.-based manufacturer, was — as of spring last year — going to deliver only 742 of the modern LAV-6s, a reduction from the original 2014 deal.

The initial order from the desert kingdom was for 928 vehicles, including 119 of the heavy assault variety equipped with 105 millimetre cannons.

Details of the agreement have long been kept under a cloak of secrecy. General Dynamic Land Systems, the Canadian Commercial Corporation (the Crown corporation which brokered the deal) and the Saudi government have all refused to acknowledge the specifics, other than the roughly $15 billion price tag.

Last spring, CBC News obtained copies of internal documents and a slide deck presentation from 2014 outlining the original agreement.

The latest internal company documents obtained by CBC News are dated March 29, 2017, and indicate the agreement had been amended a few months prior, perhaps in the latter half of 2016.

The documents also indicate delivery of the vehicles is already underway and has been for months.

CBC News asked for a response from both Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland's office and General Dynamics Land Systems Canada. Both declined comment over the weekend..

A cash-strapped kingdom

A defence analyst said the amended order likely has more to do with the current state of Saudi Arabia's finances than its frustration over Canada's human rights criticism.

"Saudi Arabia — in part because of low oil prices and in part because of corruption and mismanagement of its own economy — has a large budget deficit," said Thomas Juneau, a University of Ottawa assistant professor and former National Defence analyst.

"Spending $15 billion over a number of years for armoured vehicles that it doesn't need that much, at least in a pressing sense, is an easier target for budget cuts, for sure."

The kingdom has projected a budget deficit of $52 billion US this year and the country's finance minister said last spring it is on track to cut spending by seven per cent.

When it was signed, the armoured vehicle deal was a way for Canada to cement relations with an important strategic partner in the region, said Juneau.

Should Ottawa cancel the sale?

He said he wonders if it's still worthwhile, in light of the furious diplomatic row that began over the Canadian government's tweeted expressions of concern for jailed activists — and quickly escalated with the expulsion of Canada's ambassador, the freezing of trade, the cancellation of grain shipments and the withdrawal of Saudi medical students from Canadian programs.

"Now, with the dust not really having settled after the dispute from August, is that partnership, in abstract terms, still necessary? I think it is. But is it still possible?" said Juneau.

Human rights groups say they believe there is even more reason for Ottawa to walk away from the deal now, given the events of this summer and the declining economic benefit.

"We're compromising our position on human rights for even less than we thought," said Cesar Jaramillo, the executive director of Project Ploughshares, which has opposed the agreement from the outset.

"Even if it's not a huge decrease, it is still a decrease. It should, at least in political and economic terms, make it easier for the Trudeau government to reconsider this deal, especially in terms of the latest diplomatic spat."

Full article: https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canada-s-arms-deal-with-saudi-arabia-is-shrinking-1.4815571

Sur le même sujet

  • Boeing would perform Canadian Super Hornet final assembly in US

    30 octobre 2020 | Local, Aérospatial

    Boeing would perform Canadian Super Hornet final assembly in US

    by Pat Host   Boeing would perform final assembly of its F/A-18 Block III Super Hornets in the United States rather than Canada if it wins Canada’s Future Fighter Capability Project (FFCP) competition. Jim Barnes, Boeing Defense, Space, and Security director of business development in Canada, on 27 October cited the small production run for performing final assembly in St. Louis, Missouri, where the Super Hornet is built. Canada will purchase 88 advanced fighters as part of its competition with the first aircraft anticipated for 2025. The procurement is expected to be worth USD11-14 billion. “It was decided that the benefits of standing up these types of operations in Canada were not worth the investment,” Barnes said. “We are concentrating on the decades of life cycle support for our partners’ work share, including potential work on US Navy Super Hornets.” Boeing is competing against the Saab Gripen E with production in Canada and the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) for the FFCP. The winning company will replace the Royal Canadian Air Force’s (RCAF’s) legacy Boeing F/A-18 (CF-18/CF-188 in national service) fighter fleet. The industrial and technical benefits (ITB) portion of an offeror’s bid is an important part of a proposal. Jennifer Seidman, Boeing international strategic partnerships country manager for Canada, said on 27 October that both defence production and skills development were part of the company’s ITB proposal, but that she could not provide further details. https://www.janes.com/defence-news/news-detail/boeing-would-perform-canadian-super-hornet-final-assembly-in-us

  • DND extends life of submarine escape suits beyond expiry date as fleet shows its age

    1 mars 2019 | Local, Naval

    DND extends life of submarine escape suits beyond expiry date as fleet shows its age

    Murray Brewster · CBC News Liberals plan to modernize and sail the navy's 4 aging submarines until 2040 The Canadian navy's stock of survival suits, which allow submariners to escape in an emergency from a sunken boat, has been thrown a lifeline after much of the equipment had reached its expiry date, federal documents reveal. The critical safety suits give stranded crew members the ability to ascend from a depth of 183 metres and protect against hypothermia. They even inflate into a single-seat life raft once on the surface. The orange whole-body suits were part of the original equipment aboard the Victoria-class submarines, diesel-electric boats originally built for the Royal Navy and purchased from Britain in the late 1990s. Documents obtained by CBC News show there was concern among naval engineers, in late 2016, that many of the suits had passed or were about to pass their best-before, safety dates. A spokeswoman for the Defence Department said a decision was made to extend the life of suits while the federal government procures new ones — a process that is ongoing. There is no threat to safety, said Jessica Lamirande. "The service life extension was approved based on successful, rigorous testing at the Naval Engineering Test Establishment on a representative sample of suits that had passed their intended service lives," said Lamirande, in a recent email. "Testing consisted of detailed visual inspection, leakage tests, and functional testing." Fleet sailing until 2040 But defence experts say it is a small project that speaks volumes about the Liberal government's plan to modernize and keep operating the four submarines until 2040, a proposal that was articulated in the latest defence policy. Retired commander Peter Haydon, who also taught defence policy at Dalhousie University in Halifax for years, said keeping submarine replacement parts and equipment in the system has been an ongoing headache for the navy, dating back to the 1980s. However, the bigger concern is: As the boats age, the strength of their pressure hulls declines. The  government plans to modernize the boats, but Haydon said that's fine for the electronic and other components. "You can modernize most things, but you can't modernize the hull, unless you build a new hull," he said. Pressure to buy new  The Senate and House of Commons defence committees have recommended the government begin exploring options now for the replacement of the submarines, which took years to formally bring into service after they were purchased. The government, in its response to a committee report last fall, argued it is already fully engaged building Arctic patrol ships and replacements for frigates and supply ships. Buying new submarines is a topic that has been debated behind the scenes for a long time at National Defence with one former top commander, retired general Walt Natynczyk ordering — in 2012 — a study that looked at the possible replacements. They're running a risk with the lives of sailors, the older these vessels get in an extremely dangerous environment, especially when they're submerged.— Michael Byers, University of British Columbia University of British Columbia defence expert Michael Byers has been quoted as saying he's worried Canada "will lose its submarine capability through negligence rather than design," noting that it is politically more palatable to refurbish the underwater fleet rather than endure a painful procurement process. "They're running a risk with the lives of sailors, the older these vessels get in an extremely dangerous environment, especially when they're submerged," said Byers, who pointed to the loss of the Argentine submarine San Juan and its crew of 44 in 2017. "I would be more comfortable with a decision to buy a new fleet submarines than the current path that we're on. I have been skeptical as to whether we need submarines, but better a new fleet than send our sailors to sea in these old vessels."     Since Canada does not have the technology, nor has it ever constructed its own submarines, the federal government would be required to go overseas to countries such as Germany or Sweden to get them built. Restricted diving In the meantime, Haydon said he's confident ongoing maintenance and the stringent safety standards among Western allies will keep the Victoria-class submarines in the water and operating safely. He cautions, however, like Canada's previous submarines retired in the 1990s, the Oberon class, the older the current fleet gets, the more their diving depth will eventually have to be restricted. As the hull and its valves weaken, the less pressure they can sustain. Lamirande said the navy has enough escape submarine suits whenever it deploys, and she emphasized it never goes to sea with "expired" equipment. https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/dnd-extends-life-of-submarine-escape-suits-beyond-expiry-date-as-fleet-shows-its-age-1.5036007

  • Op-ed: Canada’s next-generation fighter aircraft - Skies Mag

    30 mars 2021 | Local, Aérospatial

    Op-ed: Canada’s next-generation fighter aircraft - Skies Mag

    Why the Block III Super Hornet could be the right choice for the Royal Canadian Air Force, and the best value for Canadian taxpayers.

Toutes les nouvelles