25 avril 2019 | Local, Aérospatial

Canada's fighter jet tender competition (finally) takes off next month

Murray Brewster · CBC News

The politically charged competition to replace Canada's aging fleet of fighter jets will rocket forward at the end of May as the federal government releases a long-anticipated, full-fledged tender call.

There are four companies in the running: Saab of Sweden, Airbus Defence and Space out of Britain, and the American firms Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

Once the request for proposals is released, the manufacturers will have until the end of the year to submit bids, defence and industry sources told CBC News.

It was the former Conservative government that kicked off the effort to replace the three-decade-old CF-18s in 2010, an attempt that was shot down in a dispute over the way the F-35 fighter was selected.

The program became mired in politics when the Liberals promised during the 2015 election campaign not to buy the stealth jet. A final decision will now have to wait until after this fall's election.

The competition comes at a time of renewed geopolitical rivalry between the West and Russia and China, and the chief of the Swedish Air Force says his fighters have been busier than ever.

Maj.-Gen. Mats Helgesson said Sweden, which has a long history of being a neutral and non-aligned country, has over the past few years found its airspace violated more frequently by both Russian and NATO warplanes.

That has required a stepped-up state of readiness for the country's Gripen fighter jet squadrons.

"When we look around our borders, especially over the Baltic Sea, we can see increased activity, not only Russia, but also NATO," Helgesson told CBC News in an interview.

"We see exercises. We see daily training and we also see intelligence gathering in a way that we haven't seen for many years."

The Swedish air force is about the same size as the Royal Canadian Air Force. It has long flown the homegrown Gripen, which has gone through various iterations and models since it was first introduced in the mid-1990s.

Saab AB, headquartered in Stockholm, intends to offer the latest variant — the E version — as a replacement for Canada's current fleet of CF-18s.

The aircraft's design improvements, said Helgesson, are a direct result of what the military and the country's engineers can see being developed in Russia.

"It's no secret that we need to be able to meet, not only Russia, but also other high-performing aircraft in the future," he said, pointing to Russia's Su-30 fighter jet, the more modern Su-35 (known by the NATO designation "The Flanker") and the stealth Su-57.

There has been a rigorous political and academic debate about whether Canada should choose a legacy design from the 1990s, such as the Gripen, or the recently introduced Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighter.

The notion that stealth fighters are needed for conflicts with countries like Russia — countries that have advanced air-defence systems — was partly dismissed by the Swedish Defence Research Agency in a recent report.

Russia's anti-access/areas-denial weapons (known as A2/AD) are not all they're cracked up to be, said the report released last month, which looked at the use of such systems in the Syria conflict.

"Much has, in recent years, been made of Russia's new capabilities and the impact they might have on the ability of NATO member states to reinforce or defend the vulnerable Baltic states in case of crisis or war," said the report.

"On closer inspection, however, Russia's capabilities are not quite as daunting, especially if potential countermeasures are factored in."

The Gripen is intended for operations in rugged environments, such as Sweden's Arctic region, Helgesson said.

"We are operating from dispersed bases," he said. "We use highways and small airfields spread all over Sweden in remote places, far away. And the logistics footprint is very small."

The Arctic is, naturally, an important area of operation for the Swedish air force, and having far-flung bases has required the force to become creative about warehousing fuel, ammunition and other supplies.

Canada's CF-18s occasionally operate from forward bases in the North, but those deployments are infrequent compared with the routine activity of the Swedes, experts have noted in the past.

Like Canada, Sweden has just started reinvesting in defence, Helgesson said.

The competition among manufacturers for Canada's fighter jet business is expected to be intense.

Lockheed Martin will again pitch its F-35 stealth fighter. Boeing is in line to offer the Super Hornet — a larger, more advanced version of the F-18. Airbus Military plans to offer its Eurofighter Typhoon.


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  • The military SAR machine – complex and dedicated

    10 septembre 2020 | Local, Aérospatial

    The military SAR machine – complex and dedicated

    From air and ground crews involved in endless operations and maintenance of search and rescue (SAR) aircraft, to the SAR technicians who often imperil their own lives to save others, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) SAR is an astoundingly complex and dedicated machine, executing its daily mission with such quiet professionalism that these heroes walk amongst us largely unnoticed and uncelebrated. Yet the typical SAR mission that we have grown familiar with through the occasional news clip is a far cry from the reality facing those personnel in the SAR community. “SAR is an incredibly multifaceted activity involving numerous federal, provincial/territorial, municipal and volunteer agencies,” noted Maj Kevin Grieve. “The public thinks only of yellow helicopters and orange jump suits but there’s so much more to it than this.” As a veteran of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) for more than 30 years, he should know. The former bush-pilot turned SAR expert flew dozens of SAR missions out of 8 Wing Trenton, Ont., flying his CC-130 Hercules into some of the most remote regions throughout Canada searching for those in distress. At one stage in his career, Grieve left the skies behind for a ground job as a Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre (JRCC) co-ordinator, monitoring and responding to distress signals as they came into the centre. The rate of those distress calls boggles the mind. Each year, the three JRCCs log almost 10,000 cases. But these statistics only begin to tell the exceedingly complicated narrative behind SAR in this country. Although no set of statistics can ever reveal SAR’s full story, this small community is one of the busiest and most operational groups in the CAF today. Military SAR — Military lead with an interagency approach “The nature of the search determines who has the lead in a SAR mission,” said Grieve. “The Government of Canada has mandated the responsibility for the search for missing aircraft in Canada to be that of the CAF with maritime SAR the mandate of the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG).” To simplify the process, the CAF has partnered with the CCG to stand up three Joint Rescue Coordination Centres (JRCC) which are responsible for the coordination of aeronautical and maritime SAR. “Generally, other SAR within Canada that do not fall into either of these two categories will fall under the local police force of jurisdiction (i.e., RCMP or a municipal police force),” Grieve explained. “For example, if an airplane goes missing the CAF have responsibility for its SAR and it will be co-ordinated by the appropriate JRCC. If a fishing vessel puts out a mayday call, the CCG are responsible for its SAR and it will be co-ordinated by the appropriate JRCC which can involve military or civilian aircraft as well as CCG and/or civilian vessels in the area.” To illustrate a local police force jurisdiction in a SAR mission: if a camper goes missing in rural Ontario, and the missing person is reported to the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), the OPP will have the search lead and review their own assets first to conduct the search. If the OPP determine they do not have the capability to continue the search, they can request the assistance of the CAF through the JRCC. The process then becomes multilayered. “With all the players that can be involved in a search, one can begin to appreciate how each SAR mission is different and how numerous agencies and volunteers work together,” said Grieve. “Really, it’s about picking the right tool as a search evolves, but there has to be great co-operation and communication between all partners in the military and civilian SAR worlds. We can’t do this alone.” Volunteer engagement — Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA) CASARA is a national volunteer organization funded by the Department of National Defence to assist the RCAF in its SAR mandate. There are 2,800 volunteer CASARA members from coast to coast, and they cover all 10 provinces and three territories. There are 104 zones responsible for providing search and rescue assistance. “CASARA is vital to the overall SAR mission,” Grieve stated. “They extend our eyes and ears into the furthest reaches across the country, actively assisting us to help those people in danger. CASARA contributions are truly immeasurable and they are not to be underestimated in their skills and abilities.” CASARA’s membership boasts pilots, navigators, spotters, search coordinators, electronic search specialists, radio operators and administration staff. They also have trained spotters who deploy on military aircraft, literally looking out of an aircraft window acting as a force multiplier. SAR — Community of communities Today, the military manages thousands of distress calls each year through the JRCC that co-ordinate RCAF and CCG responses. CAF personnel requested to physically assist local police forces of jurisdiction in searches for missing people are co-ordinated through the Canadian Joint Operations Command. As distress calls come in from across Canada’s landmass, lakes, river systems and coastal regions, those duty personnel who receive the calls are peppered across the country in Halifax, Trenton, and Comox. And while it seems at first glance that the almost 10,000 distress calls the JRCCs receive every year is beyond the CAF’s capabilities, nothing is further from the truth. But no SAR mission is conducted in isolation either. And although the CAF deals with a relentless stream of distress calls and missions each day, these activities are typically conducted in co-operation with other SAR community actors. Theirs is a unique calling — “so that others might live” — setting this group of professionals in a league of their own. CAF SAR classifications As SAR is practised across Canada today by the CAF, three broad categories are referred to which details the type of CAF SAR response to a distress: Aeronautical SAR (JRCC coordinates RCAF aircraft to search for missing aircraft). Maritime SAR (JRCC coordinates CCG and other maritime vessels, as well as RCAF aircraft, in the search for missing vessels. Humanitarian SAR (a SAR incident not aeronautical or maritime that requires a response by the CAF SAR system usually in response to a request from another agency. A common example of this is Ground SAR — a search for a missing person led by the local police force of jurisdiction). Although the categories are broadly defined encompassing thousands of scenarios, the lead agency is based on the nature of the distress. For example, even though the CCG leads the maritime SAR mandate, they may call for an RCAF Cormorant helicopter to assist in a search for a missing boat off the coast of Nova Scotia since the CCG may not have the appropriate assets in-tow at the time of the distress. Likewise, a missing boater off Toronto’s waterfront would likely see the deployment of the Toronto Police Marine Unit since this municipal authority has the appropriate tools to quickly respond to the incident. Military SAR — Historic overview of an aeronautical responsibility Aeronautical search and rescue wasn’t a responsibility the Canadian government had considered prior to 1944. The commercial airline industry was in its infancy and although Canada and her allies were embroiled in a death struggle against the Axis powers, the end was near and international post-war planning took shape. An international aviation conference met that year to consider international participation in an agreement binding nations together to search for downed aircraft, irrespective of the plane’s country of origin. Canadian delegates attended and signed the International Civil Aviation Organization covenant on behalf of the people of Canada. The government deferred to the RCAF as lead search agency given its massive fleet of aircraft as it emerged from the Second World War. At the time, the RCAF SAR function only included the “search” mandate. The “rescue” function wasn’t part of the RCAF mission although this gradually evolved over time to include the RCMP, provincial and municipal police forces as well as civilian volunteer agencies such as CASARA (Civil Air Search and Rescue Association). This explains the multifaceted agency approach to SAR today. https://www.skiesmag.com/press-releases/the-military-sar-machine-complex-and-dedicated

  • Le Canada négocie l’achat de nouveaux véhicules blindés d’appui tactique

    19 août 2019 | Local, Terrestre

    Le Canada négocie l’achat de nouveaux véhicules blindés d’appui tactique

    De : Défense nationale Communiqué de presse Le 16 août 2019 – London (Ontario) – Défense nationale/Forces armées canadiennes Le gouvernement du Canada franchit une autre étape pour procurer aux Forces armées canadiennes (FAC) l’équipement moderne dont elles ont besoin pour fonctionner dans tout le spectre des opérations, et ce, mieux protégées contre diverses menaces, comme le souligne la politique de défense du Canada Protection, Sécurité, Engagement. L’honorable Harjit S. Sajjan, ministre de la Défense nationale, a annoncé que le gouvernement achètera 360 véhicules blindés légers (VBL) d’appui tactique de la General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada (GDLS-C). Les fonds nécessaires sont compris dans le budget approuvé réservé à la mise en œuvre de la politique de défense susmentionnée. Le gouvernement du Canada a également l’intention de fournir un prêt à remboursement à la GDLS-C. Afin d’accroître au maximum les retombées économiques de ce projet pour la population canadienne, le fournisseur réinvestira une somme rigoureusement égale à la valeur de ce contrat dans l’économie canadienne afin de créer des emplois et des possibilités en matière d’innovation. En plus des quelque 1 650 emplois existant à l’usine de la General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) à London, des travailleurs occupant près de 8 500 autres emplois disséminés dans tout le Canada aideront à fournir les pièces et l’équipement nécessaires à la construction des véhicules blindés légers. Le VBL est essentiel au parc de véhicules de combat de l’Armée et il appuie nos militaires, femmes et hommes, dans toute une gamme d’opérations, y compris les missions de soutien de la paix à l’étranger et les opérations de secours qui ont été menées lors des vastes inondations s’étant produites au Nouveau‑Brunswick, au Québec et en Ontario. Le VBL est une plateforme qui a fait ses preuves et qui répond aux besoins de l’Armée canadienne. La présence de véhicules d’appui tactique semblables dans le parc des Forces armées canadiennes offrira de nombreux avantages opérationnels, y compris la réduction du coût de l’instruction et du maintien en puissance et la disponibilité de pièces de rechange communes pour réparer les véhicules rapidement au cours d’opérations critiques. Les véhicules blindés d’appui tactique remplissent des rôles clés et servent notamment de postes de commandement, d’ambulances et d’ateliers mobiles de réparation. Cette nouvelle flotte offrira la protection et la mobilité dont les membres des FAC ont besoin pour exécuter leur travail dans les environnements opérationnels.  Citations « Le VBL est l’épine dorsale de la flotte de véhicules de combat de l’Armée et il soutient nos militaires, femmes et hommes, dans tout un éventail d’opérations, allant des interventions de secours en cas de catastrophe au Canada telles que l’opération LENTUS aux missions de soutien de la paix à l’étranger. Je suis heureux de pouvoir renforcer notre flotte de véhicules blindés d’appui tactique, comme notre gouvernement s’est engagé à le faire dans la politique de défense Protection, Sécurité, Engagement, tout en soutenant des emplois canadiens et en favorisant l’innovation grâce à notre partenariat avec GDLS-C. » – Le ministre de la Défense nationale, Harjit S. Sajjan « Nous sommes résolus à fournir à nos militaires, femmes et hommes, l’équipement qu’il leur faut pour exécuter leur travail important. Dans le cadre de la politique de défense du Canada Protection, Sécurité, Engagement, l’annonce d’aujourd’hui nous fait avancer dans l’exécution de notre plan qui vise à fournir aux Forces armées canadiennes l’équipement moderne dont elles ont besoin, dans les limites du budget établi, tout en garantissant des emplois à la classe moyenne dans l’ensemble du pays. » – La ministre des Services publics, de l’Approvisionnement et de l’Accessibilité, Carla Qualtrough   « Notre gouvernement continue de créer de bons emplois et des possibilités économiques pour les canadiennes et les canadiens. Chaque dollar dépensé aux fins de ce projet sera réinvesti dans l’économie canadienne en créant des débouchés pour les fournisseurs canadiens et en soutenant de bons emplois pour la classe moyenne. » – Le ministre de l’Innovation, des Sciences et du Développement économique, Navdeep Bains Faits en bref La flotte actuelle de véhicules blindés d’appui comprend des VBL II Bison et des VBL chenillés M113.  Le gouvernement du Canada en est aux dernières étapes de la négociation d’un contrat avec GDLS-C.  Le coût estimatif du projet pourrait atteindre trois milliards de dollars, et le prêt remboursable atteindra jusqu’à 650 millions de dollars. Ce premier montant comprend aussi le coût de la nouvelle infrastructure où les véhicules seront logés et entretenus.  Les véhicules blindés d’appui tactique des FAC seront livrés en huit versions et pourront ainsi remplir divers rôles tels que: ambulances, récupération de véhicules, travaux de génie, atelier mobile de réparation, guerre électronique, transport de troupes et postes de commandement. En acquérant les véhicules maintenant, le Ministère épargnera les frais liés à l’entretien et à la prolongation de la durée de vie de la flotte actuelle de véhicules.  La politique de défense du Canada Protection, Sécurité, Engagement contient l’engagement « d’intégrer l’analyse comparative entre les sexes plus (ACS+) dans toutes les activités liées à la défense dans l’ensemble des Forces armées canadiennes et au ministère de la Défense nationale ». Cela garantit que chaque activité, y compris l’acquisition de nouvelles plateformes majeures, prend en compte l’ACS+.     L’opération LENTUS correspond aux interventions des Forces armées canadiennes (FAC) en cas de catastrophes naturelles au Canada. Elle suit un plan d’action établi pour soutenir les collectivités en crise. Les FAC peuvent alors utiliser des navires, des véhicules, des aéronefs et divers autres équipements.  La Politique des retombées industrielles et technologiques est le principal outil dont dispose le gouvernement pour assurer les retombées économiques des grands marchés de défense, ce qui signifie que le fournisseur réinvestira dans l'économie canadienne un montant rigoureusement égal à la valeur du contrat. Liens connexes Protection, Sécurité, Engagement : la politique de défense du Canada Véhicule blindé d’appui tactique – Programme des capacités de la Défense Personnes-ressources Todd Lane Attaché de presse Cabinet du ministre de la Défense nationale Téléphone : 613-996-3100 Relations avec les médias Ministère de la Défense nationale Téléphone : 613-996-2353 Courriel : mlo-blm@forces.gc.ca   https://www.canada.ca/fr/ministere-defense-nationale/nouvelles/2019/08/le-canada-negocie-lachat-de-nouveaux-vehicules-blindes-dappui-tactique.html

  • Ottawa sticking to F-35 program as it gets ready for full fighter competition

    31 octobre 2018 | Local, Aérospatial

    Ottawa sticking to F-35 program as it gets ready for full fighter competition

    DANIEL LEBLANC Canada is facing a complex challenge as it gets ready to launch a full competition for new fighter jets stemming from its long-standing involvement in the international coalition that is building the Lockheed Martin Corp. F-35 stealth aircraft. The federal government confirmed on Monday that it will maintain its membership in the F-35 consortium. At the same time, Ottawa is getting ready to send out requests for proposals for new fighter jets to five potential bidders, including Lockheed Martin. Federal officials insist that all bidders will have to adhere to Canada’s Industrial and Technological Benefits policy (ITB), which requires the winning supplier to “make investments in Canada equal to the value of the contract." The cost of replacing the Royal Canadian Air Force’s current fleet of CF-18s is estimated at $26-billion. Under the rules of the F-35 consortium, however, partner countries such as Canada must forego such regional offset programs, which have long been a central element of Canadian military acquisitions. Earlier this year, Canada paid $54-million to remain in the F-35 buyers’ pool. “We’re keeping our involvement alive to get access to that product at the best possible terms,” Pat Finn, an assistant deputy minister at the Department of National Defence, said in an interview on Monday. “If the F-35 were to win, the lowest cost access to the aircraft is through the partnership. Having been involved from the outset, we don’t want to lose the privilege of that." Since 1997, Canada has paid nearly half a billion dollars to stay in the F-35 consortium. Jeff Waring, a director-general at Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, said it will be up to Lockheed Martin to determine how it can meet Canada’s requirement for regional offsets if it wants to bid on the contract. “The ITB policy is a market-driven approach; it doesn’t prescribe to bidders how they need to invest in Canada,” he said. The federal government has nearly finalized its request for proposal for the new fighter jets. It is now waiting for industry feedback over the next six weeks before launching the formal competition next year. Three European companies (Dassault Aviation, Saab Automobile and Airbus) and two American companies (Lockheed Martin and Boeing Co.) have said they intend to bid on the contract. In the draft request for proposal, the government has laid out new details on its “economic impact test” that will penalize companies that are deemed to have a negative effect on the Canadian economy. When it was announced last year, the test was dubbed the “Boeing clause” because of U.S.-based Boeing’s trade dispute with Canada’s Bombardier Inc., which Bombardier subsequently won. The new measure is expected to look at whether companies have launched a trade action in the two previous years against a Canadian company. Given Boeing launched its case against Bombardier in 2017, it will likely be in the clear by the time it would have to submit a final bid in 2020. The previous Conservative government had committed to buying F-35 fighter jets, which were deemed at the time to be the only aircraft able to meet Canada’s requirements, in large part because of their stealth capabilities. The current Liberal government has modified the requirements to make sure there can be competition between the various manufacturers. “If your aircraft cannot meet [a requirement] today, we are not saying automatically that you’re out; but you have to tell us what is your solution to meet it, at what price and what schedule,” said Mr. Finn. In the last federal election, the Liberals said in their platform that they would not buy the F-35, promising instead to select “one of the many, lower-priced options that better match Canada’s defence needs.” However, the Liberals also promised to launch an “open and transparent” competition, which is now scheduled to be launched in May. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-ottawa-sticking-to-f-35-program-as-it-gets-ready-for-full-fighter/

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