13 décembre 2017 | Local, Aérospatial

Government launches CF-188 replacement program with interim Hornet buy

Canada will acquire 18 F/A-18 Hornets and associated spare parts from the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) to augment its fleet of CF-188 fighter jets until a replacement is selected and brought into service in 2025.

Government ministers and senior officials confirmed the widely anticipated plan to buy 30-year-old F/A-18A/B legacy Hornets at a press conference on Dec. 12, putting to rest a previous proposal to acquire 18 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets.

The Liberal government had announced in November 2016 a plan to buy the Boeing-built Super Hornets as an interim measure to address an urgent capability gap in the fighter fleet. Although the possible sale was approved by the U.S. State Department in September, the government ceased all discussions with Boeing after the company issued a trade complaint against Montreal-based Bombardier over the sale of the C Series jetliner to Delta Air Lines.

“We have received a formal offer for sale of F-18 aircraft from the government of Australia, which we intend to pursue. And we have received an offer of Super Hornets from the U.S. government, which we intend to let expire,” said Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement.

At the same time, the government officially launched a $15 to $19 billion competition to procure 88 aircraft to replace the entire fleet of Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) legacy Hornets by inviting interested governments and manufacturers to join a suppliers list.

Qualtrough said the list would allow the government to identify and “share sensitive information” with eligible governments, manufacturers and suppliers able to meet Canada's needs.

“All suppliers are welcome to participate in the process. No firm is excluded,” she said.

Engagement with industry, which has been ongoing since 2012, is expected to lead to a request for proposals by the spring of 2019, followed by a contract award in 2022. Delivery of the first aircraft would begin in 2025.

While ministers and senior officials stressed an “open and transparent” competition, the government also introduced a new criterion in the evaluation of company's bid: Its impact on Canadian economic interests, a measure journalists quickly dubbed the “Boeing clause.”

“This new assessment is an incentive for all bidders to contribute positively to Canada's economy,” said Qualtrough. “When bids are assessed this will mean that bidders responsible for harming Canada's economic interests will be at a distinct disadvantage compared to bidders who aren't engaged in detrimental behaviour.”

A government official, speaking on background, acknowledged that “many of the suppliers we deal with on defence procurements have several business lines and global reach. We are seeking to leverage (these) procurements to incentivize favourable economic conduct towards Canada and discourage detrimental actions by commercial suppliers.”

Qualtrough said the assessment, which will be used in future procurements, would be developed through consultations with industry. “All proposals will be subject to the same evaluation criteria.

“The assessment of economic impact will be done at the time of the assessment of the bids,” she added, an indication that much could change between the government and Boeing by 2019.

The eventual CF-188 replacement program will include aircraft, sustainment, infrastructure, and aircrew and maintenance training, and will generate billions for Canadian industry in industrial and technological benefits, said Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, noting that the industrial and technological benefits (ITB) policy has already generated over $40 billion in economic investment.

“If you think that sounds impressive, the economic benefits of these new fighter jets will add significantly to those ITB numbers. This is an enormous investment in a very important sector for us. That's why our government feels it's important to do business with trusted partners.”


The Liberal government has faced pointed criticism on a number of fronts for claiming a capability gap. During Question Period on Tuesday, Conservative Member of Parliament Tony Clement suggested the capability gap does not exist.

“It's a fairy tale created by Liberals to justify their political decisions,” he said.

Gen Jonathan Vance, Chief of the Defence Staff, countered that criticism during the press conference, claiming the RCAF cannot generate enough mission-ready aircraft to meet North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) commitments simultaneously.

“The RCAF cannot concurrently meet those obligations now without some form of supplemental capability until a future fighter fleet is in place,” he said. “The acquisition of Australian F-18s is a logical choice.”

Senior officials with the RCAF and Department of National Defence (DND) said the Australian Hornets would “integrate seamlessly” with the CF-188s. Both fleets have similar operating requirements and share comparable training systems, all of which can be supported by existing supply chains and frontline maintainers.

Both countries have cooperated on fleet management and system upgrades, and shared test data, “so we know the jets well,” said the DND official. “We know the state of their aircraft and what modifications may be needed to operate them until the [new] fleet is in place.”

Montreal-based L3 MAS, responsible for maintaining Canada's CF-188s since they first entered service in the 1980s, has also performed centre barrel replacements on a number of Australian jets as part of a fuselage life extension program.

However, Canada recently began additional structural modifications to ensure the Hornets can operate through 2025, and the Australian F-18s will need to be modified to a similar standard.

The government must still negotiate the final price tag for the 18 jets, modifications and spare parts, but a senior official estimated it would be about one-tenth the cost of 18 Super Hornets and associated mission and weapon systems and support, which the U.S. State Department estimated at US$5.23 billion.

“Specific dollar amounts will be available once we have finalized an agreement with Australia,” he said.

If an agreement is reached, the first Australian Hornets would begin arriving in 2019 and the capability gap would be closed by the end of 2021, two years faster than the planned delivery of the Super Hornets, officials said.

The RCAF had planned to deploy the Super Hornets as a standalone squadron at 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alta. The senior Air Force official said the force structure had not yet been finalized, but would likely involve aircraft being placed across the operational and training squadrons at 4 Wing and 3 Wing Bagotville, Que.

He also acknowledged that more aircraft would mean a need for more pilots and technicians, and that “retention and recruitment efforts were underway to meet this requirement.”


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  • Chief of the Defence Staff says natural disasters pose ‘significant threat’ to Canadians

    31 décembre 2018 | Local, Sécurité

    Chief of the Defence Staff says natural disasters pose ‘significant threat’ to Canadians

    By Amanda Connolly National Online Journalist Global News There are not many military threats that directly loom over Canadians as the country heads into the new year. But of those that do, one of the most significant is the increased frequency of major natural disasters. In a year-end interview with the West Block‘s Mercedes Stephenson, Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance said while there are a number of threats that are evolving and taking shape, one of the most concrete ones the military is facing right now comes from Mother Nature herself. “There are very few large military threats to Canada,” he said. “There are certainly threats that are evolving right now that can reach Canada, be they missiles or threats against our cybersecurity, threats to our oceans and to our shores. We face a significant threat almost every year now with natural disasters, forest fires and floods and so on that affect Canadians. So in our role to defend Canada and protect Canadians, that's been significant.” The military gets called in to help with the response to natural disasters when those disasters overwhelm provincial authorities, which have the first responsibility to respond when things like floods, forest fires or ice storms hit. Military responses to natural disasters happen under what's known as Operation Lentus. In 2018, the military deployed to six natural disasters after provincial authorities in all cases determined the scale of the damage was too much for them to handle alone. Those disasters included the winter storms in Eastern Quebec and the Iles-de-la-Madeleine in November, sending hundreds of soldiers and transport aircraft to assist with evacuations from the B.C. and Manitoba forest fires and deploying to take on the heavy spring flooding in B.C., New Brunswick and on the Kashechewan First Nation. Forest fires and severe flooding saw the military also respond to six disasters last year. Both represent sharp increases compared to years past as climate change continues to cause more extremes that result in the droughts, storms and thaws behind things like dangerous forest fires and floods. In 2016, for example, the military only deployed once: to the devastating Fort McMurray wildfires. They deployed twice in 2015, four times in 2014, once in 2013, three times in 2011 and once in 2010. In addition to continuing to deploy to missions overseas, the added demands on responding to disasters at home mean the military will need to increase recruitment or start to feel the strain, Vance said. And in an uncertain world, the circumstances around those missions continues to evolve. Most recently, Russia attacked three Ukrainian naval vessels passing through the shared territorial waters of the Kerch Strait. Dozens of Ukrainian sailors on those ships were detained by the Russians as prisoners of war. Vance said while that kind of aggression from Russia doesn't directly impact Canadians deployed in the ongoing training mission in Ukraine, it does factor into considerations of what they are ultimately going to be able to achieve. “It raised the stakes somewhat,” he said. “It hasn't affected this mission Operation UNIFIER at this juncture, but it doesn't point to a peaceful and ultimate resolution of Ukraine that we'd like to see.” The 24 detained Ukrainian sailors have yet to be released. © 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc. https://globalnews.ca/news/4785907/jonathan-vance-canadian-forces-natural-disasters/

  • DND says budget for Surface Combatants remains unchanged; PBO report expected in late February

    26 novembre 2020 | Local, Naval

    DND says budget for Surface Combatants remains unchanged; PBO report expected in late February

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The ships were originally budgeted to cost $26-billion before their price was doubled by DND following a 2017 PBO report that estimated the costs to be $61.82-billion. The most recent projection of the cost of the CSC was done by the PBO in February 2019, which forecast the project could cost nearly $70-billion. The DND calculation does not include taxes that will be paid for construction, which the PBO projection does. The PBO was initially tasked to examine the CSC procurement by the House Committee on Government Operations and Estimates during the last parliamentary session and report back by the end of October, but that timeline was cut short by the prorogation of Parliament on Aug. 18. Now, the committee has passed a motion to have the PBO to report back by Feb. 5, 2021. 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In response to the PBO's recent cost projection of Canada's Joint Support Ship procurement, DND said the comparisons that were being used didn't have the same capabilities. “It's not always easy to compare capabilities that vary greatly from one country to the other and that's one criticism we sometimes get when we're trying to cost defence projects, [that] we did not take into account sufficiently the fact that the Canadian capabilities are so much better than the competitors,” he said. Another issue when performing a cost analysis, Mr. Giroux said, is that navies procure varying numbers of ships and the cost per individual ship decreases with the more ships that are built. Mr. Giroux said the cost analysis is in the “early stages” and wouldn't comment on its early findings. He said the extended timeline is a result of the amount of work and the competing work that the PBO has been tasked with, such as costing COVID-19 supports. The DND spokesperson said costs for “personnel, operations, and maintenance” that will be needed throughout the life of the ships will be “greatly influenced” by the ship design and “only available later in the process.” In 2019, the Canadian government selected the BAE Type 26 as the frigate design for the CSC. Lockheed Martin is partnering with BAE Systems. The ships will be constructed at Irving Shipbuilding's Halifax shipyard. Irving and Lockheed Martin are currently “focused on integrating” the necessary elements from the Type 26 with the Canadian Navy's systems requirements for the CSCs, according to DND. The PBO will be comparing the cost of the Type 26 to the Type 31e, the FREMM, and other “competing” ships. Canadian Global Affairs Institute vice-president David Perry, an expert on defence procurement, recently wrote in The Hill Times that there are “rumblings” of delays to the CSC procurement and changes to the ship that could drive up the cost of the project. The CSC procurement has been going through a requirements reconciliation phase of the design process, which the spokesperson says has been “substantially completed,” adding that the preliminary design work has begun. “Significant progress has been made over the last 18 months to advance the selected design to meet the RCN's unique operational requirements. This progress has provided us with greater clarity about the complexity of the ship design and its associated combat systems, as well as better insight into the required time to complete the necessary design work before the start of construction,” the spokesperson said, but did not address if there are any delays. The PBO's 2019 reported indicated that a delay of one year would add $2.2-billion to the cost of the ships and a two-year delay would mean an added $4.5-billion. “There is no evidence suggesting that the pace of the project has improved as the work became more difficult—and that is without trying to account for any COVID-related impacts,” Mr. Perry wrote. During the first wave of the pandemic, Irving Shipbuilding reduced staff at their shipyard to about half. After the design phase of the ships is completed, Irving Shipbuilding will be awarded an implementation contract to build the ships. “The schedule to build and commission the ships will be better understood as design work progresses,” the DND spokesperson said. 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  • Simulating the ‘SuperScooper’

    12 mars 2019 | Local, Aérospatial

    Simulating the ‘SuperScooper’

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