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  • The field narrows in US Army’s light robotic combat vehicle competition

    22 octobre 2019 | International, Terrestre

    The field narrows in US Army’s light robotic combat vehicle competition

    By: Jen Judson WASHINGTON — The Army has invited four teams to compete to build prototypes for its future light Robotic Combat Vehicle, according to an announcement on the National Advanced Mobility Consortium's website. Out of a large pool of white paper submissions, a Textron and Howe & Howe team, a team of Qinetiq North America and Pratt & Miller, HDT Global and Oshkosh were each issued a request for prototype proposal. The Army plans to procure a light, medium and heavy RCV as part of an effort to bring next-generation combat vehicle capability to the force by 2028. The RCV-Light competition is being managed by the NAMC. While the Army is the decision maker, the consortium is tasked to execute the competition and is also running the RCV-Medium effort. The Army is expected to award up to two contracts toward the end of the second quarter of this fiscal year to deliver four non-developmental RCV-L surrogate vehicles for government evaluation, testing and manned-unmanned teaming experimentation over the course of a year. The RCV-M effort is not far behind the RCV-L as white paper submissions are currently being evaluated for down-select. NAMC also executed a week-long RCV market research demonstration with the Army at Texas A&M's RELLIS campus in May in order to better inform requirements. Out of the companies chosen to move forward, only Oshkosh was not present at the event. At the Association of the U.S. Army's annual conference, Textron and Howe & Howe dramatically unveiled their RCV Ripsaw M5, which is based on Howe & Howe's deep history of building unmanned ground vehicles, but adds technology like scalable armor and suspension and drive options to cope with the challenges expected in the future fight. FLIR Systems is also part of the team, contributing advanced sensors. “Bringing together Howe & Howe, Textron Systems and FLIR Systems really represents a dream team,” Textron's CEO Lisa Atherton, said in a statement released at the show. “We formed this team based on our shared focus to serve this customer with disruptive ideas and proven experience, and we are dedicated to meeting and exceeding their requirements through the RCV program.” The team told Defense News before AUSA that it planned to submit a version of Ripsaw both for the light and medium variant of the Army's RCV. HDT brought its Hunter WOLF to AUSA, and Qinetiq North America announced its partnership with Pratt & Miller at the show. Qinetiq and Pratt & Miller plan to submit a variant of the Expeditionary Modular Autonomous Vehicle (EMAV) tailored for the Army's needs. The offering combines Qinetiq's modular open-architecture control systems with Pratt & Miller's advanced mobility platform.

  • The F-35 jet might hit full-rate production more than a year late

    22 octobre 2019 | International, Aérospatial

    The F-35 jet might hit full-rate production more than a year late

    By: Valerie Insinna WASHINGTON — The U.S. Defense Department will not clear the F-35 fighter jet for full-rate production this year, and it may even have to push that milestone as far as January 2021, the Pentagon's acquisition executive said Friday. The Pentagon had intended to make a full-rate production decision — also known as Milestone C — by the end of 2019. But because the Joint Simulation Environment continues to face delays in its own development, the Defense Department will have to defer that milestone by as many as 13 months, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord told reporters during a news conference. The Joint Simulation Environment, or JSE, is needed to conduct simulated evaluations of the F-35 in a range of high-threat scenarios. “We actually had signed out of the JPO [F-35 Joint Program Office] earlier this week a program deviation report that documented expected schedule threshold breach in the Milestone C full-rate production decision of up to 13 months,” Lord said. It is unclear whether the delay will cause an increase in program costs. Although the Defense Department already buys the F-35 in large numbers, the full-rate production decision is viewed as a major show of confidence in the program's maturity. During this time, the yearly production rate is set to skyrocket from the 91 jets manufactured by Lockheed Martin in 2018 to upward of 160 by 2023. But before Lord signs off on the production decision, the F-35 must complete operational testing, the results of which will be validated by Robert Behler, the Pentagon's director of operational test and evaluation. The F-35's testing community intended to complete initial operational test and evaluation, or IOT&E, by this summer; however, the JSE is not yet complete. “We are not making as quick progress on the Joint Simulation Environment, integrating the F-35 into it. It is a critical portion of IOT&E. We work closely with Dr. Behler and DOT&E [[the office of the director of operational test and evaluation]. They are making excellent progress out on the range with the F-35, but we need to do the work in the Joint Simulation Environment,” Lord said. “We have collectively decided that we need the JSE [to be] absolutely correct before we proceed, so I will make some decisions about when that full-rate production decision will be made shortly," she added. Specifically, the Defense Department and F-35 prime contractor Lockheed Martin are lagging behind in integrating the "'F-35 In-A-Box” — the simulated model of the F-35 and its sensors and weapons — into the JSE, reported, which broke the news of the testing delay in September. Even before IO&TE formally started, the F-35 test community had noted the challenge of maintaining the planned schedule. The F-35 began operational tests in December 2018, three months after the originally scheduled start date in September. The program office maintained that its goal was to see the test phase finished by the summer of 2019. However, F-35 test director Air Force Col. Varun Puri documented concerns in a September 2018 presentation that the test phase could slip until September 2019, which could add budget pressure to the program. In a statement, Lockheed Martin expressed confidence in its ability to ramp up production over the next few years. “As Secretary Lord stated earlier today, the F-35 is performing exceptionally well for our customers and we continue to ramp up production, modernize the aircraft and improve sustainment performance,” the company said. “This year our goal is to deliver 131 aircraft and that is on track to grow to over 140 production aircraft deliveries next year. We are confident the full F-35 enterprise is prepared for full rate production and ready to meet growing customer demand.”

  • Boeing could be out of the Air Force’s competition for next-gen ICBMs for good

    22 octobre 2019 | International, Aérospatial

    Boeing could be out of the Air Force’s competition for next-gen ICBMs for good

    By: Valerie Insinna WASHINGTON — Boeing's risk reduction contract for the Air Force's Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program is functionally cancelled, the company announced Oct. 21. “Boeing is disappointed in the Air Force's decision to not allot additional funding for the GBSD Technology Maturation and Risk Reduction (TMRR) contract,” said Boeing spokesman Todd Blecher. “The Boeing team has delivered substantial value under the contract, achieved all contract milestones on time and received strong performance feedback from the Air Force.” “Continuing Boeing's TMRR contract would advance the Air Force's objectives of maturing the missile system's design and reducing the risk for this critical national priority capability,” he added. GBSD is the Air Force's program to replace its existing Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles, a major priority for the service as well as for U.S. Strategic Command, which oversees the operations of America's nuclear arsenal. Earlier on Monday evening, Politico reported that the Air Force had sent a letter to Boeing last week declaring its intent to stop funding the TMRR contract. Without additional money from the Air Force to continue work, Boeing expected its funding stream for the GBSD contract to be exhausted on Oct. 18, the company stated in an Oct. 16 letter to the GBSD program office at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. “The Air Force's decision not to allocate any further funding to the TMRR contract requires immediate and irrevocable actions by Boeing to wind down contract performance within the allotted funds. These measures include the reassignment of approximately 300 Boeing employees and the flow-down of a Stop Work notice to all suppliers working on the TMRR contract,” states the letter, which was obtained by Defense News. Air Force spokeswoman Capt. Cara Bousie told Defense News that the service had not cancelled Boeing's TMRR contract. However, she declined to comment on whether the Air Force had sent Boeing a letter stating its intention to curtail funding for the contract. Regardless of the semantics, a decision to cut short the TMRR contract would effectively hand the GBSD award to Northrop Grumman, the sole company competing against Boeing to produce the weapon system. Both Boeing and Northrop were awarded risk reduction contracts worth up to $359 million in 2017, beating out Lockheed Martin for the chance to bring their designs into the production stage. But Boeing withdrew from the GBSD competition in July, claiming that Northrop Grumman's purchase of one of the only two U.S. solid rocket motor manufacturers — Orbital ATK, now known as Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems — gave the company an unfair advantage in terms of being able to offer the lowest-cost system. In a July 23 letter, Leanne Caret, who leads Boeing's defense business, wrote that the current acquisition approach gives Northrop “inherently unfair cost, resource and integration advantages.” “We lack confidence in the fairness of any procurement that does not correct this basic imbalance between competitors,” she stated. Caret added that a joint bid between the two companies was unrealistic, as Northrop would have no incentive to partner with Boeing when it can put forward a solo bid. However, Boeing switched tactics about a month later, with Frank McCall, its director of strategic deterrence systems, telling reporters in September that the company hoped to persuade the Air Force to force Northrop to partner with it. “We think clearly it's time for the Air Force or other governmental entities to engage and direct the right solution. Northrop has elected not to do that,” McCall said during the Air Force Association's annual conference. “So, we're looking for government intervention to drive us to the best solution.” The Air Force did not take Boeing up on that suggestion. Nor did Northrop, which pointedly released its list of suppliers days before the AFA conference. The list — which featured Aerojet Rocketdyne, Collins Aerospace, Lockheed Martin and other major defense contractors — did not include Boeing. Boeing, in its letter to the program office, stated that the dissolution of the risk reduction contract could disadvantage the Air Force as it moves forward with the GBSD program, even if it ultimately opts to sole-source from Northrop. “The Government's decision also prevents Boeing from completing the work left to be performed under the TMRR contract, including the major milestones of a successful Software System Review and Preliminary Design Review,” it said. "We believe this work would provide substantial value to the Government, irrespective of the fact that Boeing will not participate as a prime offeror under the current EMD [engineering, manufacturing and development] solicitation structure for the next phase of the GBSD program. In September, McCall pointed to Boeing's ongoing risk reduction work on GBSD as a positive sign that the service may not be ready to sole-source the program to Northrop. “The service is maintaining our work," he said. “They continue to accept our deliverables, continue to fund our contract. So, I think we're in good shape with the service.” But with the TMRR contract revoked, Boeing's last hope may be an appeal to Congress. Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama as someone who has already raised shown support for Boeing's position, McCall said in September. McCall declined to name others, but should this turn into a legislative fight, it could come down to Boeing's supporters – with strongholds in Alabama, Washington and Missouri – versus those of Northrop Grumman.

  • Contract Awards by US Department of Defense - October 21, 2019

    22 octobre 2019 | International, Aérospatial, Naval, Terrestre, C4ISR, Sécurité

    Contract Awards by US Department of Defense - October 21, 2019

    AIR FORCE Raytheon Co., Dulles, Virginia, has been awarded a $128,450,262 firm-fixed price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for Mobile Sensors operations and maintenance. This contract provides for non-personal services for operations and maintenance services that will ensure the availability of the Cobra King and Gray Star's radar facility to collect on 100% of the tasked data collection opportunities that pass through its field of view with the necessary support provided 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. Work will be performed at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, and locations overseas and is expected to be completed by Oct. 31, 2021. This award is the result of a competitive acquisition and one offer received. Fiscal 2020 operations and maintenance funds in the amount of $22,722,616 are being obligated at the time of award. The Acquisition Management and Integration Center, Detachment 2, Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, is the contracting activity (FA7022-17-D-0001). Mesotech International, Sacramento, California, has been awarded a ceiling of $17,462,000 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for the Fixed Base Weather Observation System (FMQ-23) program. This contract provides for new FMQ-23 system purchases and contractor logistics support. Work will be performed at Sacramento, California, and is expected to be complete by October 2025. This award is the result of a sole source acquisition. Fiscal 2020 operations and maintenance funds in the amount of $129,286 will be obligated at the time of the award. The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts, is the contracting activity (FA8730-20-D-0003). NAVY Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., San Diego, California, is awarded an $18,253,921 modification (P00003) to a firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery order (N00019-19-F-0272) against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N00019-15-G-0026) in support of the MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft system. This order procures material kits and retrofit labor to incorporate the Integrated Functional Capability (IFC) 4.0 configuration into one retrofit ground segment and fully fund the IFC 4.0 retrofit install labor for aircraft B10. Work will be performed in San Diego, California (41.2%); Palmdale, California (30.7%); Waco, Texas (9.9%); Salt Lake City, Utah (2.9%); Newtown, North Dakota (2.5%) Verona, Wisconsin (1.6%); Sterling, Virginia (1.5%); Irvine, California (1%); San Clemente, California (0.7%); and various locations inside and outside the continental U.S. (7.9% and 0.1%, respectively). Work is expected to be completed in February 2021. Fiscal 2020 aircraft procurement (Navy); and fiscal 2020 research, development, test and evaluation (Navy) funds in the amount of $18,253,921 are being obligated at time of award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity. ARMY Advanced Structural Technologies Inc.,* Oxnard, California, was awarded a $17,643,500 firm-fixed-price with economic price adjustment contract for manufacture and supply of M1 Abrams tank aluminum road wheel inserts. Bids were solicited via the internet with four received. Work will be performed in Oxnard, California, with an estimated completion date of Oct. 21, 2021. Fiscal 2020 Army working capital funds in the amount of $17,643,500 were obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Warren, Michigan, is the contracting activity (W911RQ-20-D-0001). Pontchartrain Partners LLC,* New Orleans, Louisiana, was awarded a $12,221,180 firm-fixed-price contract for emergency erosion repairs. Bids were solicited via the internet with two received. Work will be performed in Texas City, Texas, with an estimated completion date of Aug. 14, 2020. Fiscal 2018 flood control and coastal emergencies, civil works funds in the amount of $12,221,180 were obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Galveston, Texas, is the contracting activity (W912HY-20-C-0002). TAC Environmental LLC,* Toledo, Ohio, was awarded a $9,000,000 firm-fixed-price contract for environmental architect engineering services. Bids were solicited via the internet with four received. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of Oct. 20, 2024. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville, Kentucky, is the contracting activity (W912QR-20-D-0002). DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY Oshkosh Defense LLC, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, has been awarded a maximum $9,899,267 firm-fixed-price, requirements contract for pneumatic tire wheel assemblies. This was a competitive acquisition with one response received. This is a three-year contract with no option periods. Location of performance is Wisconsin, with an Oct. 21, 2022, performance completion date. Using military service is Army. Type of appropriation is fiscal 2020 through 2022 Army working capital funds. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime, Warren, Michigan (SPRDL1-20-D-0002). Standard Bent Glass, East Butler, Pennsylvania, has been awarded a $9,077,715 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for transparent armor vehicular windows. This was a competitive acquisition with two offers received. This is a three-year base contract with two one-year option periods. Location of performance is Pennsylvania, with an Oct. 20, 2022, performance completion date. Using military service is Army. Type of appropriation is fiscal 2020 through 2022 defense working capital funds. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime, Columbus, Ohio (SPE7LX-20-D-0002). *Small Business

  • Canada Refining Requirements for New UAV Fleet; Request for Proposals Expected Next Year

    22 octobre 2019 | Local, Aérospatial

    Canada Refining Requirements for New UAV Fleet; Request for Proposals Expected Next Year

    Canada Refining Requirements for New UAV Fleet; Request for Proposals Expected Next Year October 21, 2019 - by Shaun McDougall The Canadian government is in discussions with a pair of unmanned aerial vehicle manufacturers to refine requirements for a new fleet of armed medium-altitude, long-endurance drones. The new aircraft are being acquired through the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) project, previously known as the Joint Unmanned Surveillance and Targeting Acquisition System (JUSTAS). General Atomics has teamed with CAE Canada, MDA, and L3 Wescam to offer the MQ-9B SkyGuardian. L3 MAS is working with Israel Aerospace Industries to bid the Artemis unmanned aircraft system, which is based on IAI's Heron TP. The program officially entered the Refine & Review Requirements phase in July 2019, at which point the government and industry teams began discussions to refine program requirements. These discussions will help inform a formal Request for Proposals, which is expected to be released in fiscal year 2020/2021 (between April 2020 and March 2021). A contract is anticipated in fiscal year 2022/2023, barring any delays. Deliveries could begin in 2024/2025. Canada's desire for a new fleet of UAVs surfaced around 20 years ago, but little progress has been made since then. The Royal Canadian Air Force had been preparing to award a contract to General Atomics for its Predator UAV in 2007, but the program was halted due to concerns about a lack of competition. At one point, the government outlined a new two-phase approach. The first phase would include an armed UAV for overland missions. A second phase would buy a system primarily for maritime surveillance off Canada's coasts, as well as limited Arctic surveillance. This plan was scrapped in 2013 and the program went back to the drawing board. Ultimately, government documents show the Air Force has tried and failed six times since 2005 to acquire a new UAV fleet. Following the initial delays of the JUSTAS program, Ottawa leased Heron UAVs as an interim solution to fulfill an urgent requirement for additional ISR capabilities in Afghanistan. The first system was delivered to Canada in October 2008 and deployed to Afghanistan shortly thereafter. The Herons replaced smaller SPERWER UAVs that were in service since 2003. The value of the RPAS program has not been announced, and Canada has not specified how many aircraft it will buy. The government's Defence Capabilities Blueprint indicates the program will fall within a very broad price range of between CAD1 billion and CAD4.99 billion, one of the preset funding ranges used by the blueprint to categorize programs.

  • Industry Brings Robotic Vehicles To AUSA, Army Awarding Deals For Initial Prototypes Next Spring

    22 octobre 2019 | International, Terrestre

    Industry Brings Robotic Vehicles To AUSA, Army Awarding Deals For Initial Prototypes Next Spring

    By Matthew Beinart | The Army will release a prototype proposal request for the Robotic Combat Vehicle light and medium of variants before November and award contracts for test vehicles next spring, the lead official for the program told reporters on Monday. The push towards the next phase of the Army's effort to grow a robotic vehicle fleet arrives as vendors such as BAE Systems, Germany's Rheinmetall, as well as a team of Textron Systems [TXT], Howe & Howe and FLIR [FLR] all unveiled potential offerings at this week's Association of the United States Army conference in Washington, D.C. Brig. Gen. Ross Coffman, director of the Army's Next-Generation Combat Vehicle cross-functional team, detailed plans this week for the next phase of the RCV program, which he said would “revolutionize the way [the Army] fights in the future.” The Army will begin to solicit proposals for RCV-Light and RCV-Medium prototypes before the end of the month, with plans to hold a demonstration next March to put the platforms through a platoon-level operations experiment. Following the demonstration, the Army will then select one vendor to build four RCV-Ls and one vendor to build four RCV-Ms, according to Coffman. Those vehicles will then participate in a 2021 experiment going through company-level operations, before ultimately informing a 2023 decision on how the Army wants to construct its robotic vehicle fleet including the addition of an RCV-Heavy. Coffman has said previously that RCV is intended to eventually replace soldiers in dangerous tactical situations on the future battlefield with vehicles that are payload agnostic, semi-autonomous and integrated with a range of sensors and weapon systems (Defense Daily, Aug. 22). BAE Systems unveiled its Robotic Technology Demonstrator at AUSA, which has already participated in a recent demonstration with the Army on an outdoor test track in Sterling Heights, Michigan. “RTD is our way to go after that leap-ahead technology. We've designed it as rolling lab. Our intent is to keep developing this thing. This is a test platform that allows us to keep moving ahead,” Jim Miller, BAE Systems' senior director of business development, told reporters. “This is probably not going to be an RCV-L. It's probably the medium and it may lead us to a heavy option if that's where the Army continues to go.” Miller noted RTD uses a hybrid-electric drive, is currently integrated with a 30mm gun, and contains a range of sensor suites, including a 360-degree situational awareness system and the company's RAVEN soft-kill active protection system. The vehicle also includes a tethered UAS and a legged ground robot developed by Ghost Robotics. Rheinmetall brought its Wiesel Wingman configured toward the RCV-L path, which combines technology from its digitized Weasel platform, in use with the German Army, and the Mission Master unmanned ground vehicle. “That platform already exists in a digitized version. So throw out the hydraulics, the electronic kits inside, the drive-by-wire steering and electric transmission, and you combine it with the sensor and autonomy kit of the Mission Master and then you basically get a new vehicle that we call the Weasel Wingman,” Florian Reisch, director of business development and sales for Rheinmetall's American business, told Defense Daily. Basically you combine the Weasel platform that is able to hold the autonomy kit and then you basically get what the Army is looking for with robotic combat vehicles.” Reisch added that Rheinmetall could be interested in exploring the heavier RCV variants, listing potential options with the company's Lynx or Marder infantry fighting vehicles. “Of course we would be interested in the medium as well because we have different platforms available. We did have different research and development programs where we were modifying these platforms to basically enable them to carry a medium-caliber remote controlled turret. So that would be possible and we are looking at that.” The team of Textron, Howe & Howe and FLIR showcased the Ripsaw 5 platform at AUSA. The companies said it could be scaled down for RCV-L or up to a heavier version for RCV-M. “It's capable for both the RCV light and the RCV medium mission sets that the Army has put forward. What this does is it optimizes the superior value, the logistics, the mission outcome. We've got extraordinary modularity of performance. It's scalable with its high degree of reuse between the light and medium variants, and that just brings unmatched value to the team,” Lisa Atherton, Textron's CEO, told reporters during a teleconference last week. Geoff Howe, senior vice president of Howe & Howe, said the company is continuing to pursue additional technology additions for Ripsaw to grow capability for the robotic vehicle while the Army assesses its needs for a future unmanned fleet. “We are running a parallel program. Our program, we don't stop for anything. We're pushing forward with this technology we've advanced, and our plan is to meet the Army down the road with that parallel program. We're not waiting for anybody. We're pushing this development as far as we can,” Howe said. QinetiQ and Pratt & Miller also announced at AUSA a new partnership to offer a variant of the Expeditionary Modular Autonomous Vehicle (EMAV) for RCV.


    22 octobre 2019 | Local, Aérospatial


    JEAN-FRANÇOIS CODÈRE L'armée de l'air américaine a choisi vendredi sept entreprises, dont la montréalaise Top Aces, pour venir « jouer les méchants » lors de ses entraînements. Le contrat pourrait permettre à Top Aces de doubler sa taille et devrait confirmer qu'elle deviendra bientôt le premier opérateur privé au monde d'avions de chasse F-16. Fondée il y a 15 ans par trois anciens pilotes de chasse canadiens, Top Aces offre aujourd'hui aux armées canadienne et allemande des services d'entraînement pour leurs pilotes. Top Aces fournit ses propres pilotes, sélectionnés parmi les meilleurs de leur profession, et ses propres avions afin de servir d'adversaires. Le marché est prometteur. De 100 à 150 millions de dollars qu'il représentait jusqu'à tout récemment à l'échelle mondiale, il pourrait bientôt toucher les 3 milliards, gr'ce notamment à l'entrée en scène des Américains. Eux aussi ont découvert l'intérêt de sous-traiter le rôle de l'ennemi : coûts inférieurs et des heures d'entraînement plus productives pour les pilotes. « Un pilote qui joue à l'adversaire est limité et il n'utilise pas ses heures de vol à son plein potentiel », rappelle Didier Toussaint, cofondateur et chef des opérations de Top Aces. CONTRAT AMÉRICAIN Vendredi, l'armée américaine a retenu sept entreprises à l'occasion d'un appel d'offres pour un contrat-cadre d'une valeur maximale de 6,4 milliards US. Ces sept entreprises seront donc admissibles à participer aux appels d'offres à venir de 12 bases américaines. « Chacune de ces bases représente un contrat plus important que celui que nous avons pour l'ensemble du Canada. » — Didier Toussaint, cofondateur et chef des opérations de Top Aces Avec ses 29 appareils F-16 achetés de l'armée israélienne, Top Aces devrait être l'entreprise la mieux équipée du lot. Elle est déjà la plus importante en matière d'heures de vol effectuées. Elle devrait donc principalement se concentrer sur les bases aux besoins les plus évolués, celles qui abritent des F-35, par exemple. À elle seule, cette expansion américaine représente un investissement de 450 millions US pour Top Aces. En plus des appareils, il faudra embaucher des pilotes, des ingénieurs et des mécaniciens. Une cinquantaine de pilotes américains ont déjà reçu des promesses d'embauche. Un ancien officier américain de haut rang quittait le bureau de M. Toussaint au moment où La Presse y est entrée. Il venait de passer un entretien d'embauche. Top Aces s'apprête à accueillir de nouveaux investisseurs institutionnels, « dont certains québécois », qui lui permettront de franchir cette étape. Clairvest, de Toronto, et JPMorgan ont déjà une place dans son capital. D'autres bonnes nouvelles pourraient aussi survenir au cours de la prochaine année. Le Royaume-Uni est à la recherche de services du même genre, tout comme l'Australie, dont Top Aces a été le fournisseur pendant une période d'essai de deux ans. MOINS COÛTEUX Si les services de Top Aces représentent des économies pour les armées de l'air, ce n'est pas en raison du coût du personnel. Les pilotes sont rares et l'entreprise doit les payer à leur valeur, dit M. Toussaint. L'économie vient plutôt des appareils. En attendant ses F-16, Top Aces fournit ses services à l'armée canadienne avec 16 appareils Alpha Jet, des avions d'abord conçus pour l'entraînement et qui coûtent moins cher à manœuvrer que les F-18 de l'armée. Leurs performances moindres ne sont pas vraiment significatives dans la plupart des contextes, explique M. Toussaint. « On n'est pas à 50 % des F-18, on est plutôt autour de 90 %. C'est le dernier 10 % qui coûte cher. » — Didier Toussaint, cofondateur et chef des opérations de Top Aces Environ 2000 heures de vol sont encore effectuées par des F-18 qui servent d'adversaires dans les contextes où la performance de l'appareil est critique. Top Aces s'occupe du reste. Les jeunes pilotes, moins expérimentés, gagnent à affronter des avions inférieurs dirigés par des pilotes plus expérimentés, indique d'abord M. Toussaint. Les Alpha Jet sont aussi convenables dans des simulations impliquant de nombreux appareils, où la performance de chacun est moins importante. Finalement, l'entreprise fournit aussi des services à la marine, aux forces spéciales et à l'armée de terre. Les soldats s'entraînent à commander des frappes aériennes et la nature de l'appareil qui répond à leurs commandes importe peu. Quant à la marine, elle s'exerce à tirer sur des cibles en forme de missiles traînées par des avions d'affaires Learjet, au bout d'un c'ble. Si l'interminable saga du renouvellement de la flotte d'avions de chasse finit par aboutir, le Canada se retrouvera équipé d'avions encore plus performants que les F-16 que détiendra Top Aces. Encore là, pas de souci, selon M. Toussaint. « Ce qu'on réplique, ce sont des avions ennemis, essentiellement russes ou chinois pour être clair. Nos F-16, qui seront bien équipés, vont faire le travail. »

  • DART acquires key product lines from Aero Design Ltd.

    21 octobre 2019 | International, Aérospatial

    DART acquires key product lines from Aero Design Ltd.

    DART Aerospace recently acquired key product lines from Canadian helicopter mission equipment manufacturer Aero Design Ltd., as well as its brand trademark. Based in Powell River, B.C., Aero Design has been developing and manufacturing aerial cargo expansion products since 1999 and has created an extensive catalogue of helicopter baskets, steps, bearpaws and bicycle racks for a wide range of OEMs including Airbus, Bell, MD Helicopters and Robinson. The addition of key Aero Design product lines to DART's portfolio will allow DART to deepen its product offering, acquire over 30 supplemental type certificates (STCs) and optimize its current Canadian operational capabilities to contribute to its overall growth strategy. Following the acquisition, DART will remain the leading manufacturer of helicopter cargo expansion products globally. This is DART's second acquisition of 2019, following its purchase of Portland-based mission equipment manufacturer Simplex Aerospace at the beginning of October. As a result, DART's portfolio has grown from 900+ STCs earlier this year, to over 1,100+ STCs today. “Acquiring Aero Design's key product lines will enable DART to offer baskets to a wider range of aircraft models and gain market share as the main provider of helicopter cargo expansion products worldwide,” said Alain Madore, DART Aerospace's president and CEO. “Alongside our current aerial utility and heli-ski product offering, we are also looking forward to furthering our footprint in the adventure tourism sector with the addition of Aero Design's helicopter bicycle racks.” “The aerospace industry is changing at an astonishingly rapid pace. It is important to adjust our strategies and pool resources so we can help ensure that our industry meets the coming challenges as quickly and effectively as possible. I'm excited to see what comes next as we join the DART family and move forward together,” said Jason Rekve, Aero Design's president and general manager. Jeff Clarke, vice-president and quality assurance manager at Aero Design, added: “For the past 18 years, Aero Design has strived to create innovative, user-friendly products that meet the needs of operators worldwide. This transition to DART is very positive as we have seen their desire to maintain our product lines and their plans to expand on them by integrating the best parts of both companies' capabilities. I am confident that Aero Design's current and past partners will continue to see the quality and features they have come to expect moving forward.” Terms of the transaction have not been disclosed.

  • What can Ukraine expect from Canada’s federal election?

    21 octobre 2019 | International, Aérospatial, Naval, Terrestre, C4ISR, Sécurité

    What can Ukraine expect from Canada’s federal election?

    By Olena Goncharova. EDMONTON, Canada — As Canadians head to the polls on Oct. 21, the Ukrainian government may be wondering how a potential change in leadership could alter relations with Kyiv's closest overseas ally. Among the numerous parties represented on ballots across the country, there are six with enough legitimacy and reach to take part in nationally televised debates, and only three — the Liberal, Conservative and New Democratic parties — which will almost certainly garner the overwhelming majority of votes. And the real contest comes down to only two: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal Party and Andrew Scheer's Conservative Party, which have been exchanging leads or tied for almost the entirety of the parliamentary campaign. While the candidates are competing on an array of issues ranging from climate change to economic policy, this time foreign policy has played an even more substantial role than usual in how the parties have defined themselves. The 2019 campaign is different from previous ones due to an increasingly dangerous international environment and uncertainty over U.S.-Canadian relations. But no matter the election outcome, there is unlikely to be any significant change from Canada's current political stance vis-a-vis Ukraine, experts believe. The ruling Liberals put “democracy, human rights, international law, and environmental protection” at the heart of their foreign policy. In their campaign, they are calling for the establishment of the Canadian Center for Peace, Order, and Good Government, which will lend expertise and assistance to those seeking to build peace and advance justice. They also call for a continued increase in Canada's international development assistance every year until 2030 and want to ratchet up the Magnitsky sanctions regime on foreign human rights offenders. However, the Liberals do not have any specific points geared towards Ukraine. The Conservatives' promises are more detailed. They want to cut 25 percent of all foreign aid spending, strengthen ties with Japan, India, and Israel and deepen their commitment to Canada's democratic alliances — NATO and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). Under the Liberal government, international assistance in 2018 stood at $6.1 billion and accounted for almost 1.8 percent of federal budget spending. And $57 million of that aid went to Ukraine. In its campaign, the Conservative Party has promised to refocus aid away from middle-income and higher-income countries, a category which would seem to include Ukraine. However, Scheer says a Conservative government would increase military and other aid to Ukraine. Other Conservative platform positions include supplying the Ukrainian military with lethal defensive weapons, restoring the practice of sharing RADARSAT-2 imagery with the Ukrainian army and providing additional humanitarian assistance to support internally displaced people. Fen Hampson, an international affairs expert and professor at Carleton University in Ottawa, says both candidates “are and have been strongly pro-Ukraine” and will continue to apply sanctions against Russia and provide economic assistance to Kyiv. In fact, the biggest risk to Canadian support for Ukraine is likely connected not to which party is victorious, but to the absence of a winning party. “If we have a minority government as many are now predicting, which is to say neither party wins a majority in parliament and has to work with other parties, this may mean a government that is focused on internal as opposed to international issues,” Hampson said in a written comment to the Kyiv Post. “That could have an impact on the government's ability to do things proactively, including in foreign policy.” Other experts interviewed by the Kyiv Post share Hampson's take. Andrew Rasiulis, a former director of military training and co-operation at the Department of National Defence and a fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, agrees that the two parties have “pretty much the identical position on the issue of Ukraine.” Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky shifted the world's focus toward Ukraine by calling for peace in Donbas and opening negotiations with Russia in the so-called Normandy format peace talks. Canada might have a specific role to play in it, Rasiulis argues, but the new Canadian government will be very cautious in this realm. “They would not want Canada to be caught outside the game, because if there is a Normandy format summit — possibly in November — Canada has a choice to make,” Rasiulis told the Kyiv Post. “We can either be on the sidelines and won't talk to the Russians unless they leave Donbas and return Crimea. But on the other hand, if there are negotiations, then Canada could play a role in terms of offering a peacekeeping force. That force hasn't been discussed yet but I believe it will come up.” Rasiulis believes that if Ukraine implements the Steinmeier Formula as a potential way to reinvigorate negotiations with Russia over the war, which has killed more than 13,000 people in eastern Ukraine, Canada can offer its peacekeeping force to help secure the Russia-Ukraine border during local elections in Donbas and convince Russia that “this force can be objective.” Read More: What is the ‘Steinmeier Formula' and why are so many Ukrainians against it? Over the past four years of the Trudeau government, Canada's armed forces have been present in Ukraine as part of Operation Unifier, which runs until 2022. About 200 Canadian troops working in six-month cycles have trained over 13,000 members of Ukrainian security forces to date. Though Canada is not a major military power, its troops are efficient and well-trained and “have passed on some of their knowledge to those engaged in security issues” and the war in Donbas, argues David R. Marples, a historian and professor at the University of Alberta. Liberal Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland — who is of Ukrainian ancestry on her mother's side — has also been a consistent and outspoken supporter of Ukraine, and is banned from entering the Russian Federation as a result. “It seems clear, therefore, that Ukrainians will not be worse off if Trudeau and the Liberals are granted a second term in office,” Marples said. The historian stresses that the Conservative government's policies might be a bit harder to predict. “Though Scheer is unlikely to make any conciliatory moves toward Russia, the bigger question is whether Ukraine is on his horizon at all, insofar (as) his major focus is on China — he has demanded a much stiffer response to the recent actions of the Chinese government, which have included the arrest of three Canadian businessmen,” Marples said. “On the other hand, he has expressed concern about the lack of unity among NATO allies, with an implicit sideswipe at President Donald J. Trump and his nebulous policies and apparent kinship with dictators.” Moreover, Scheer is close to former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who was a fervent opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Though the extent of Harper's influence in a future Conservative government is unclear, he has often appeared alongside Scheer at public events,” Marples told the Kyiv Post. “For Harper, the priority was dealing with Russia — which he often equated with Communism — rather than China. Scheer appears more reticent, even distant from such an ideological stance.”

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