14 février 2022 | Local, Aérospatial

Ottawa launches lonfyig-awaited competition for purchase of armed military drones

The federal government has officially launched a competition for the purchase of armed drones after nearly two decades of delays and discussion around whether Canada should buy the controversial weapons.


A formal request for proposals was released Friday to the two companies shortlisted to bid on the $5-billion contract, which could see the Canadian Armed Forces launch a fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles in the next few years.


A formal contract is not expected for another year or two, while the first drone isn’t scheduled for delivery until at least 2025, with the last to arrive in the early 2030s.


The request does not say how many vehicles the government plans to buy, and instead leaves it up to the two companies to say how their bids will satisfy the military’s needs while benefiting the Canadian economy.


It does reveal the aircraft will be based at 14 Wing Greenwood in Nova Scotia and 19 Wing Comox in British Columbia, while the main control centre will be in the Ottawa area. Yellowknife is also identified as a forward operating location.


The drone force will include around 240 air force members, with 55 in Greenwood, 25 in Comox and 160 in Ottawa.


While delivery is still years away, the fact the military has reached even this point represents a major step forward after almost 20 years of work to identify and buy a fleet of UAVs to conduct surveillance over Canadian territory and support missions abroad.


Aside from purchasing a small number of temporary, unarmed drones for the war in Afghanistan – all of which have since been retired – the military has never been able to make much progress on a permanent fleet.


That was despite drones taking on an increasingly important role in militaries around the world. A report in the Royal Canadian Air Force Journal in late 2015 said 76 foreign militaries were using drones and another 50 were developing them.


One major reason: no federal government had authorized adding drones as a permanent fixture within the military in the same vein as fighter-jet or helicopter squadrons until the Liberal government included them in its 2017 defence policy.


The government and military say the unmanned aircraft will be used for surveillance and intelligence gathering as well as delivering pinpoint strikes from the air on enemy forces in places where the use of force has been approved.


Some have previously criticized the decision to buy armed drones given concerns about their potential use in Canada and numerous reports of air strikes by other nations, particularly the United States and Russia, causing unintended damage and civilian casualties.


The government has also said little about the scenarios in which force might be used, including whether drones could be deployed for assassinations. Officials have suggested they would be used in the same way as conventional weapons such as fighter jets and artillery.


“While the (drones) will be a medium-altitude long-endurance system with a precision strike capability, it will only be armed when necessary for the assigned task,” the Defence Department said Friday.


“At all times, employment of precision strike capability will adhere to the Law of Armed Conflict, as well as any other applicable domestic or international laws. Use of force will be applied following rules of engagement applicable to the CAF.”

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  • Joint Support Ship cost up by $1.1 billion - taxpayers will now spend $3.4 billion on project

    11 juin 2018 | Local, Naval

    Joint Support Ship cost up by $1.1 billion - taxpayers will now spend $3.4 billion on project

    DAVID PUGLIESE, OTTAWA CITIZEN Taxpayers will have to spend $1.1 billion extra on new navy supply ships that are going to be built starting this summer, the Liberal government now acknowledges. Previously the cost of building the two ships at Seaspan shipyards in Vancouver, BC had been pegged at $2.3 billion. But the government ordered a review of that cost figure and in an email to Postmedia, Procurement Minister Carla Qualtrough’s office now confirms the cost for the Joint Support Ships, or JSS, is set at $3.4 billion. Pat Finn, the head of procurement at the Department of National Defence, said the new price tag came as the government decided to do an additional analysis of the project and include other items it had not previously included. In some cases equipment for the ship has been purchased so there are better costs available on those items, Finn said in an interview Monday. Also taken into account was new infrastructure and the delays with the program, which, in turn, drove up the price as the cost of material increased over the years. “The build period has changed quite dramatically,” Finn acknowledged. At one point, the first ship was supposed to arrive in 2012. That has been changed a number of times with the government later hoping for a 2018 delivery and then a 2019 arrival for the first vessel. The Department of National Defence is now hoping for the delivery of the first ship in 2022 or 2023. Construction will begin at Seaspan this summer of some initial portions of the vessels, Finn said. The government hopes starting construction on the supply ships in the summer will head off any potential layoffs of skilled employees at Seaspan. Finn said of the $3.4 billion figure, the actual cost of building the two ships accounts for a little more than 60 per cent. Finn said the new costing model for the JSS is more akin to the one used by the parliamentary budget office. That office had an even higher estimate for JSS when it concluded in 2013 that the final tally for taxpayers would be $4.13 billion. The Joint Support Ships are critical for the navy as they provide fuel and supplies for warships at sea. But the Royal Canadian Navy retired its last two aging supply ships years ago. One was damaged beyond repair in a fire. The other was removed from service because of excessive corrosion. The Canadian military had been relying on the Spanish and Chilean navies to provide supply vessels for short periods of time to help fuel up Canadian warships at sea. Because of the delays in the JSS program, the previous Conservative government entered into agreement with Davie Shipyards in Quebec to lease a commercial vessel that had been converted into a refueling and supply ship. That ship, the MV Asterix, is at the heart of federal government’s case against Vice Admiral Mark Norman. Norman has been accused by the RCMP of warning Davie in the fall of 2015 that Liberal cabinet ministers wanted to derail the Asterix project. Word of the Liberal plan leaked out to the news media and the resulting embarrassment forced the Trudeau government to back down on its plans and the conversion of Asterix proceeded. Norman was put under investigation and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau predicted on two occasions the officer would ultimately end up in court. In March, the RCMP charged Norman with a single count of breach of trust. A date for the trial has not yet been set. Norman denies the charge and has said he looks forward to clearing his name. Asterix is considered a rare achievement in Canadian military procurement in that it was delivered on time and on budget. The supply ship is now at sea with Royal Canadian Navy  and is headed to a major military exercise to begin later this month. http://ottawacitizen.com/news/national/defence-watch/joint-support-ship-cost-up-by-1-1-billion-taxpayers-will-now-spend-3-4-billion-on-project

  • Canadian firms could be in the running to repair F-35 parts - but will they succeed in such a bid?

    30 janvier 2018 | Local, Aérospatial

    Canadian firms could be in the running to repair F-35 parts - but will they succeed in such a bid?

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  • Matt Gurney: Is it any wonder the U.S. is steamed at us over our fighter jet fiasco?

    8 mai 2019 | Local, Aérospatial

    Matt Gurney: Is it any wonder the U.S. is steamed at us over our fighter jet fiasco?

    Matt Gurney One can only imagine the astonishment in Ottawa when a letter arrived from Washington, reminding the Canadian government that military procurement projects are about procuring military equipment, not creating Canadian jobs. I like to imagine flabbergasted bureaucrats reading the letter over and over, before finally putting it down, rubbing their temples and musing aloud, “Don’t the Americans realize how things are done here?” They do, it seems. And they don’t like it. On Monday, the Macdonald-Laurier Institute published a new report, “Catastrophe: Assessing the Damage from Canada’s Fighter Replacement Fiasco.” The title tells you most of what you need to know about the tone of the report. Author Richard Shimooka recaps the long and embarrassing history of Canada’s inability to properly replace our rapidly aging and slowly attritting fleet of almost-40-year-old CF-18 jets. The report mostly covers a story that’s been oft-told, including here in the National Post. But it did break some news: apparently, Washington’s frustration with Canada is boiling over, and it’s not keeping quiet about it anymore. Shimooka recaps the long and embarrassing history of Canada's inability to properly replace our rapidly aging … CF-18 jets Shimooka’s report reveals the existence of two letters previously unknown to the public, sent last year by American officials to Canadian counterparts. The specifics of the complaints involve fairly legalistic and technical aspects of Canada’s membership in the international consortium that helped finance the development of the F-35 stealth fighter. Suffice it to say that Canada, as a participating nation, gets access to a rock-bottom price for the fighter (meaning the same cost paid by the U.S. military) and Canadian firms have been part of the production of the planes from the very beginning. That’s the deal. It’s a pretty good one. But Canada wants a different deal. 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The real action is in the jobs, the industrial benefits, the gigantic novelty cheques, the ribbon cuttings, the question period talking points and the partisan mailers crowing about all the money flowing to Canadian firms. That’s what military procurement is really for, at least in the eyes of Canadian officials. That’s why our national shipbuilding strategy was to first build out a shipbuilding industry and then build some ships, almost as an afterthought, when we could have bought them faster and almost certainly cheaper from an ally. The Americans, it seems, have had enough, and are threatening to pull the F-35 from consideration in Canada’s upcoming program to select our next fighter. To their mind, Canada has already been offered an objectively good deal: access to one of the world’s most advanced fighter jets at the same cost the U.S. military pays, and billions in industrial benefits. 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