27 octobre 2022 | Local, Naval

Taxpayers face $300 billion price tag for new navy warships, warns Parliamentary Budget Officer

Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux flagged a couple more torpedoes related to the Royal Canadian Navy’s project to buy new warships.


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  • AETE to join testing “centre of excellence” in Ottawa

    11 janvier 2019 | Local, Aérospatial

    AETE to join testing “centre of excellence” in Ottawa

    by Chris Thatcher The Aerospace Engineering Test Establishment (AETE) is unlikely to move from 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alta., until at least 2021, but already its location is attracting interest from potential future tenants. “The AETE building is the second-largest we have on the base, [so] there are a lot of eyes on my hangar,” Col Eric Grandmont, AETE's commanding officer, told Skies in a recent interview. While no one has shown up with paint swatches and asked to measure for new drapes, “a few people at different levels did walkthroughs,” he said. “There is a lot of interest, and rightly so. It could help a lot in the transition as new fighter capabilities come in and allow the base to grow.” The AETE hangar had been considered a likely destination for a new squadron of Boeing F/A-18E and F/A-18F Super Hornets, had the government proceeded with a plan to acquire 18 aircraft as an interim measure to augment the Royal Canadian Air Force's current fleet of 76 CF-188 Hornets. Though the Liberals have since opted to acquire 25 Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18 Hornets–18 operational and seven for spare parts–following a commercial dispute with Boeing, the AETE building is still part of the RCAF's future expansion plans for the fighter fleet. AETE's pending move made headlines in early December when Patrick Finn, the assistant deputy minister for materiel (ADM Mat) at the Department of National Defence (DND), told the Standing Committee on Public Accounts that the $470 million allotted for acquisition of interim fighter jets and an upgrade program to the entire Hornet fleet also included funding to cover AETE's relocation. The comment touched off an exchange with the committee chair, Conservative MP Kevin Sorenson of Battle River-Crowfoot, Alta., over when the decision was made and whether it might impact jobs in Cold Lake. In fact, the possible relocation of AETE dates back to the Defence Renewal Plan, an effort begun in 2012 to streamline business processes, find efficiencies, and maximize operational results across the Canadian Armed Forces and DND. As part of a change introduced in 2016 to how the RCAF and ADM Mat contract maintenance and support service, known as the Sustainment Initiative, DND conducted a review called the Engineering Flight Test Rationalization to assess ways to make AETE more sustainable, effective and efficient. The Flight Test Establishment had originally moved to Cold Lake from Ottawa in 1971 to take advantage of the large test range and more favourable flying climate. At the time, AETE owned a substantial fleet of instrumented test aircraft. Today, of the RCAF's 19 fleets of aircraft, AETE operates just two: two CF-188 Hornets and two CH-146 Griffons. It also has five CT-114 Tutors that are used mostly for proficiency flying. “For the remaining 17 fleets, we go on the road and deploy to do testing,” explained Grandmont, a flight test engineer. “Which means we are on the road a lot.” As fleets have become more digital, AETE has changed how it conducts tests. Where in the past an aircraft might have been instrumented from nose to tail–a process that could take months–AETE now has instrumentation packages that leverage the digital architecture of aircraft and can be quickly installed on location. “The technology is there to be able to get pretty much all the data we need,” he said of the newer and upgraded fleets. “Every project will have specific requirements, so it doesn't mean we don't have to put string gauges and stuff like that on an aircraft, but we are trying to maximize the existing systems onboard the aircraft.” However, that expanded travel, which can range from three to seven months a year, has made it difficult to attract test pilots and flight test engineers to Cold Lake. Aside from fighter pilots, who are already based at 4 Wing, few from the transport, tactical aviation, maritime patrol, maritime helicopter and search and rescue fleets are willing to volunteer. “We are asking people to move their family to Cold Lake and then deploy all the time to do testing,” said Grandmont. “And it's not that easy to travel to and from Cold Lake. It can become a 14- to 15-hour day or a two-day (trip) each way.” In addition to attracting and retaining talent–“I am starting to have a line up just based on the news from a couple of weeks ago; there are already people calling and asking, when are you guys moving?” said Grandmont–the return to Ottawa would also allow AETE to capitalize on testing resources already at the Ottawa International Airport operated by Transport Canada, which also employs test pilots and flight test engineers, and the National Research Council Canada's flight research laboratory. Transport Canada and the NRC focus primarily on commercial flight, but all three organizations use similar support systems to develop aircraft instrumentation packages, to test basic systems, and to analyze data. Transport Canada also has a new flight simulator building to accommodate the CAE 3000 Series helicopter cockpit simulators for the Canadian Coast Guard Bell 412EPI and Bell 429 helicopters, as well as fixed-wing simulators for a Cessna Citation C550 and a Beechcraft King Air. “We gain a lot of efficiency because those simulators are way cheaper to operate than what we do right now,” said Grandmont. The aim would be to create a Canadian centre of excellence for flight test science, engineering instrumentation and evaluation, he added. Among AETE's 50 to 60 recent and current projects were systems testing on the CH-147F Chinooks prior to their first operational deployment to Mali under hot and dusty conditions; preparation of the CH-148 Cyclone maritime helicopter for its first deployment aboard HMCS Ville de Quebec in summer 2018; test and evaluation of CF-188 Hornet systems and gear as the RCAF finalizes an upgrade package; and testing of systems and the airframe as the CP-140 Aurora completes a four-phased incremental modernization project and structural life extension. “Any question that cannot be answered using computer models or wind tunnels, then flight test is the last test to be able to answer those questions before a system on an aircraft can get an airworthiness certification,” explained Grandmont. https://www.skiesmag.com/news/aete-to-join-testing-centre-of-excellence-in-ottawa

  • Liberals set to break promise to buy back ‘all’ assault weapons in Canada

    4 mai 2020 | Local, Terrestre

    Liberals set to break promise to buy back ‘all’ assault weapons in Canada

    The Liberal government is walking back an election promise to buy back “all" military-style assault rifles in Canada, opting instead to allow current owners to sell their weapons to the government or to keep them under a grandfathering process, federal officials say. The measure is set to anger both sides of the gun-control debate, who are already polarized over the looming ban of a number of semi-automatic weapons. The partial buyback program is the latest example of the Liberal Party of Canada promising strict gun-control measures during an election and then backing off in government. Under grandfathering, new weapons sales will be stopped, but current owners will be allowed to keep their banned weapons at home under certain conditions. The broad details of the buyback program were provided by federal officials, whom The Globe and Mail is not identifying because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter. Alison de Groot, of the Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association, said a partial buyback program is “bad public policy” and doesn't make sense. “It is totally ineffective and a waste of taxpayer dollars,” she said. “Canadians will not be safer.” Nathalie Provost, who was hit by four bullets during the 1989 École Polytechnique massacre in which 14 women died, said a partial buyback is another disappointment in her 30-year battle for gun control. She said she understands the logistical difficulties of a full buyback, but blamed the situation on a series of failures by successive governments to enact strong gun-control measures. She was particularly critical of the elimination in 2012 of much of the federal long-gun registry under the previous Harper government. “I'm so angry, you can't imagine,” said Ms. Provost, who is part of a gun-control group called Poly Remembers. As previously reported by The Globe, the federal government is implementing its election promise to ban military-style assault rifles in Canada. Federal officials said the government has adopted a list of nine weapons to be prohibited in Canada, including firearms such as the AR-15, the Ruger Mini-14 and the Beretta CX4 Storm that have been used in mass shootings, in Canada or abroad Provisional list of recommended prohibited firearms Estimated numbers in Canada M16, M4, AR-10, AR-15 Sandy Hook, New Zealand, Las Vegas, Orlando Mini-14 Polytechnique 83,570 16,860 M14 Moncton Swiss Arms Classic Green 5,230 1,340 Vz58 Quebec Mosque CZ Scorpion EVO 3 11,590 1,810 Beretta CX4 Storm Dawson College SIG MCX and SIG MPX 1,510 1,000 Robinson XCR Guns above 20 mm calibre 1,830 30 Guns with muzzle energy above 10,000 joules 600 MURAT YÜKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: GOVERNMENT OF CANADA The ban, which has been made through a cabinet decision, is set to be announced and take effect shortly. The government expects that banning the nine platforms and their variants will scoop up close to 1,500 different models in the country, totalling tens of thousands of individual firearms. In addition to the nine platforms, prohibitions are expected to be placed on guns with a muzzle energy exceeding 10,000 joules, which would snare .50-calibre sniper rifles, and those with calibres in excess of 20 millimetres, a rare grade of firearm that includes some grenade launchers. “Those are the only two prohibitions that make sense,” said A.J. Somerset, author of Arms: The Culture and Credo of the Gun and a former gunnery instructor with the Canadian Forces. “They seek to ban things around specifications. Going after individual models perpetuates the same failed approach." Mr. Somerset said that prohibiting specific models resembles a push in the 1990s to crack down on semi-automatic assault-style rifles under then-prime minister Jean Chrétien. Rather than passing comprehensive legislation, the government of the day sought to stamp out “military-style assault weapons” by identifying gun models through order-in-council. According to RCMP briefing notes, the orders-in-council were intended to be updated continually as new guns arrived on the Canadian market. For the most part, that never happened and gun manufacturers easily switched production to firearm models that circumvented the regulations. “As soon as they prohibit one model, other models will become popular – it's whack-a-mole,” said Alan Voth, a gun forensics consultant and retired RCMP firearms analyst. Mr. Voth said the 1990s prohibitions made Canada's classification system so convoluted that regional RCMP forensics labs would often disagree with one another over how certain firearm models should be classified. The government eventually centralized classification duties in Ottawa, in part to overcome regional discrepancies. Unlike the coming ban on specific assault-style weapons, the buyback program, and further gun-control measures being prepared by Ottawa, will need to be enacted through new legislation and are only scheduled to take effect next year. It remains unclear how much the buyback program will cost, but Ms. de Groot said the Liberals “grossly underestimated” the cost when they provided a $250-million price tag during the election. In a statement, Conservative MP Pierre Paul-Hus accused the government of using the “immediate emotion” of a recent mass shooting in Nova Scotia to “make major policy changes” such as the ban on assault weapons. The NDP and the Bloc Québécois both said they support a ban of assault weapons. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended the timing of the ban on Thursday, explaining his government was nearly ready to introduce the gun-control measures when Parliament suspended its regular activities in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-liberals-set-to-break-promise-to-buy-back-all-assault-weapons-in/

  • Une innovation québécoise à l'assaut de l'armée américaine

    24 octobre 2018 | Local, Terrestre

    Une innovation québécoise à l'assaut de l'armée américaine

    JEAN-FRANÇOIS CODÈRE Le rêve d'un exosquelette qui aidera les soldats à transporter leurs lourdes charges sans se blesser approche et c'est une firme de Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu Mawashi, qui est en pôle position d'un marché évalué à «des milliards et des milliards de dollars». Le tiers des soldats évacués en Afghanistan ou en Irak n'avaient pas subi de «blessures de guerre», avance Alain Bujold, chef de la direction et chef de la direction technologique de Mawashi. Ils avaient plutôt subi les dommages, notamment au dos, du trop grand poids placé sur leurs épaules. «Ça coûte 500 millions de dollars par année à l'armée américaine pour s'occuper des soldats blessés parce qu'ils transportaient trop de poids», ajoute-t-il. Spécialiste de la recherche et de l'ingénierie pour «tout ce qui se met sur le corps humain» depuis des années, Mawashi s'est intéressée de plus près aux exosquelettes en 2013. Elle avait alors été invitée à participer à un projet de l'armée américaine, le projet Talos, qui consistait à créer une sorte d'armure à la Iron Man. «Ils ont donné de l'argent à un paquet de compagnies, et on les a toutes clenchées», raconte fière M. Bujold. Alléger la charge L'exosquelette Uprise mis au point par Mawashi peut retirer jusqu'à 70% du poids transporté par un soldat de sa propre ossature. La structure épouse les formes du corps, mais n'est pas motorisée, ce qui est un avantage important selon M. Bujold, puisque les soldats peuvent ainsi être affectés à de très longues missions sans crainte d'épuiser leurs piles. Et sans avoir à transporter lesdites piles. Une plaque posée sous le pied du soldat, dans sa chaussure, sert de fondation à l'ensemble. Cette plaque s'arrête avant les orteils, de façon à permettre au soldat de bien ressentir le sol sous ses pieds. Des tiges métalliques articulées longent ensuite les jambes du soldat pour rejoindre une ceinture rigide. De là s'élève une «colonne vertébrale», de laquelle émergent des appendices qui permettent notamment de suspendre un sac à dos ou un plastron sans que le poids ne se dépose sur le squelette du soldat. En situation de combat, un soldat est chargé d'en moyenne une centaine de livres d'équipement protecteur, de munitions, d'armes et d'équipements de communication, entre autres, estime M. Bujold. «De plus en plus, les combats se déroulent dans des zones urbaines, ce qui fait qu'on ne peut utiliser de véhicules pour transporter l'équipement, ajoute-t-il. Et il y a de plus en plus de matériel pour les communications.» «Le but n'est pas de permettre de transporter plus de poids, prévient-il toutefois. C'est de réduire les blessures et d'aider à porter ce poids.» En avance En mars dernier, Mawashi a été invitée par l'OTAN à venir démontrer les bénéfices que pouvait procurer Uprise à des spécialistes du déminage, qui doivent revêtir une combinaison protectrice pesant à elle seule une centaine de livres. L'entreprise se concentre présentement à démontrer de façon claire les avantages de son produit. Elle a reçu un financement de trois ans de l'armée canadienne pour parvenir à cette fin. «Le dernier obstacle est de prouver qu'il y a vraiment un bénéfice, indique M. Bujold. Les tests préliminaires le démontrent.» Sur l'échelle de maturité technologique (Technology Readiness Level), qui va de 1 à 9, l'Uprise est au niveau 7. Aucune solution comparable ne le devance, selon M. Bujold, et l'Uprise est en position pour être le premier exosquelette déployé sur le terrain. «Le premier qui va arriver avec une technologie qui fonctionne, c'est le prochain Apple, croit l'entrepreneur. On ne parle pas de millions, mais de milliards.» C'est qu'au-delà des militaires, il y a une panoplie d'autres secteurs qui pourraient être intéressés à un exosquelette de ce genre, envisage-t-il, à commencer par l'important marché du plein air. Les pompiers, les travailleurs de la construction et les employés de chaînes d'assemblage pourraient eux aussi en bénéficier. L'Uprise pourrait coûter de 3000$ à 20 000$, estime-t-il, selon la configuration choisie. Jusqu'à présent, ce sont surtout des contrats de l'armée américaine qui ont permis à Mawashi d'avancer. «C'est tout récent que de recevoir du financement canadien», dit M. Bujold, qui est actionnaire à 50% de l'entreprise. L'autre moitié est détenue par Louis Bibeau, président de Logistik Unicorp, dans l'édifice de laquelle sont installés les bureaux de Mawashi. «Il y a 99% des chances qu'on finisse par être achetés par une compagnie américaine, estime M. Bujold. C'est triste.» «Il y a ici une mentalité de lenteur, de bureaucratie, alors qu'aux États-Unis, c'est pif, paf, maintenant.» Le volet militaire de son entreprise n'aide pas à approcher des investisseurs québécois ou canadiens, ajoute-t-il, même si son produit « sauve des vies ». Cette tiédeur n'existe pas aux États-Unis. https://www.lapresse.ca/affaires/economie/quebec/201810/18/01-5200809-une-innovation-quebecoise-a-lassaut-de-larmee-americaine.php

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