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  • Differentiating a port from a shipyard is a new kind of problem for AI

    19 septembre 2018 | International, C4ISR

    Differentiating a port from a shipyard is a new kind of problem for AI

    By: Daniel Cebul It's well known that satellites and other intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms collect more data than is possible for humans to analyze. To tackle this problem, the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, or IARPA, conducted the Functional Map of the World (fMoW) TopCoder challenge from July 2017 through February 2018, inviting researchers in industry and academia to develop deep learning algorithms capable of scanning and identifying different classes of objects in satellite imagery. IARPA curated a dataset of 1 million annotated, high-resolution satellite images aggregated using automated algorithms and crowd sourced images for competitors to train their algorithms to classify objects into 63 classes, such as airports, schools, oil wells, shipyards, or ports. Researchers powered their deep learning algorithms by combining large neural networks, known as convolutional neural networks (CNNs), and computers with large amounts of processing power. The result was a network that, when fed massive amounts of training data, can learn to identify and classify various objects from satellite imagery. By combining a number of these networks into what is called an ensemble, the algorithm can judge the results from each CNN to produce a final, improved result that is more robust than any single CNN. This is how a team from Lockheed Martin, led by Mark Pritt, designed their deep learning algorithm for the challenge. Pritt explained to C4ISRNET, that he and his team developed their CNN using machine learning software and framework from online open source software libraries, such as Tensor Flow. Earning a top five finish, the algorithm designed by Pritt's team achieved a total accuracy of 83 percent, and was able to classify 100 objects per second. Pritt said that with fully functioning algorithm, this software could take an image recognition task that takes a human an hour to complete and reduce the process to a few seconds. The team's algorithm excelled at identifying classes with distinctive features, and successfully matched nuclear power plants, tunnel openings, runways, tool booths, and wind farms with accuracies greater than 95 percent, but struggled with more indiscreet classes such as shipyards and ports, hospitals, office buildings, and police stations. “Usually when you develop an algorithm its nice to see where it succeeds, but you actually learn the most where you look at where the algorithm fails or it doesn't do well,” Pritt said. In trying to decipher why the algorithms struggled, Pritt said the competitors suggested that some objects simply don't have any distinguishing features from the point of view of a satellite image for the algorithms to recognize. “Maybe the most important ingredient you need for these new types of algorithm to work is the dataset because these algorithms require a great amount of data to train on,” Pritt explained. “It's kind of analogous to the way a human will learn in childhood how to recognize things. You need lots of examples of what those things are and then you can start to generalize and make your own judgments,” he said. But even with large amounts of training data that is correctly labeled, it is also possible the deep learning technology of today cannot reach the higher levels of intelligence to recognize nuanced differences. For example, Lockheed Martin's algorithm confused shipyards and ports 56 percent of the time. Pritt said that people “look at an image and they can tell that it's a port or a shipyard, they are usually looking at very subtle things such as if there is a ship in dry dock or if there is a certain type of crane present. They are looking for details in the image that are maybe higher level or more complicated than what these deep learning algorithms can do right now.” However, the fact that these algorithms cannot do everything should not dismiss the significant contribution they could provide to the defense and intelligence community. Hakjae Kim, IARPA's program manager for the fMoW challenge, said the benefits of this technology could extend far beyond faster image processing. “I want to look at it more in the perspective that we can do things we weren't able to do before,” Kim said. “Because its technology that we are now able to do x, y and z, there are more applications you can create because with the human power it is just impossible to do before.” Kim and Pritt stressed managing expectations for CNN-based artificial intelligence. “This is a real technology that will work, but it also has limitations. I don't want to express this technology as a magic box that will just solve everything magically,” Kim said. “I don't want the users in the field to get disappointed by the initial delivery of this technology and say 'Oh, this is another technology that was oversold and this is not something we can use," he added. Part of managing our expectations for AI requires recognizing that although intelligence is in the name, this technology does not think and reason like humans. “A lot of the time we think that because we use the term AI, we tend to think these algorithms are like us, they are intelligent like us,” Pritt said. “And in someways they seem to mimic our intelligence, but when they fail we realize ‘Oh, this algorithm doesn't really know anything, [it] doesn't have any common sense.'” So how are IARPA and Lockheed Martin working to improve their algorithms? For IARPA, Kim's team is working on updating and maintaining their dataset to ensure algorithms have the most up to date information to train on, ultimately making the CNN-based algorithms easier to trust. “[S]ubtle changes in the area mess up the brains of the system and that system will give you a totally wrong answer,” Kim explained. “So we have planned to continuously look over the area and make sure the algorithm we are developing and reassessing for the government to test on and use to be robust enough for their application," he furthered. Work is also underway at American universities. Kim described how a team of researchers at Boston University are using the fMoW dataset and tested algorithms to create heat maps that visualize what part of the image algorithms are using to classify objects. They've found that sometimes it is not the object itself, but clues surrounding the object that aid most in classification. For example a “windmill that actually shows a shadow gives a really good indicator of what that object is,” Kim said. “Shadows show a better view of the object. A shadow is casting the side view of the object over on the ground, so [BU's heat map algorithm] actually points out the shadow is really important and the key feature to make the object identified as a windmill.” But don't expect these algorithms to take away the jobs of analysts any time soon. “I think you still need a human doing the important judgments and kind of higher level thinking,” Pritt said. “I don't think AI will take away our jobs and replace humans, but I think what we have to do is figure out how to use them as a tool and how to use them efficiently, and that of course requires understanding what they do well and what they do poorly," he concluded.

  • Czech Republic, Slovakia eye joint armored vehicle, howitzer acquisitions

    19 septembre 2018 | International, Terrestre

    Czech Republic, Slovakia eye joint armored vehicle, howitzer acquisitions

    By: Jaroslaw Adamowski WARSAW, Poland — Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis and his Slovak counterpart, Peter Pellegrini, have announced the two countries will cooperate on joint purchases of weapons and military equipment. “The governments of both countries perceive potential in the field of armament to modernize their armed forces. They also consider cooperation of their defense industries as very promising,” the Czech prime minister's office said in a statement. Speaking at a joint session of the two cabinets in the Slovak city of Kosice, Babis noted the Czech Republic produces armored vehicles and Slovakia makes howitzers, owing to which their armed forces could perform joint acquisitions of this gear, as reported by local news agency CTK. France's Nexter Group and Czech vehicle-maker Tatra Trucks jointly produce the Titus six-wheel drive armored vehicle. Slovakia's DMD Group makes the Zuzana 2 155mm self-propelled howitzer. Pellegrini said that, as the state of the international security environment continues to decline, the European Union and NATO should increase their focus on fostering defense cooperation among their member states. Babis said this closer defense cooperation format could also include neighboring Poland and Hungary. After years of sluggish spending, Prague and Bratislava both moved to increase their respective defense budgets following Russia's alleged military intervention in Ukraine's eastern part and its annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014.

  • L'achat de 24 Eurofighter par le Qatar devient effectif

    19 septembre 2018 | International, Aérospatial

    L'achat de 24 Eurofighter par le Qatar devient effectif

    Le contrat signé par le Qatar pour l'achat de 24 avions de chasse Typhoon Eurofighter est devenu effectif mardi, a annoncé l'industriel BAE qui a reçu la première tranche de paiement d'un contrat de 5 milliards de livres. "Ce contrat d'environ 5 milliards de livres (5,6 milliards d'euros, ndlr) est devenu effectif lorsque nous avons reçu le premier paiement ce jour", a expliqué dans un communiqué le groupe de défense britannique, membre du consortium européen Eurofighter aux côtés d'Airbus et de l'italien Finmeccanica. L'accord prévoit non seulement la livraison de 24 Eurofighter mais aussi de 9 avions d'entraînement avancés Hawk, ainsi que les services associés. Les appareils doivent commencer à être livrés à partir de 2022, a précisé l'avionneur. Un accord de principe en ce sens avait été conclu en septembre 2017 puis confirmé lors de la signature du contrat au mois de décembre suivant. Depuis le début de la crise avec ses adversaires arabes qui tentent de l'isoler depuis plus d'un an, le Qatar a pris de nombreuses mesures sur le plan international ou en interne, qui comprennent la signature de nombreux contrats d'équipement militaire. En juin 2017, Doha a signé un accord avec les Etats-Unis portant sur 12 milliards de dollars (10 milliards d'euros) pour l'achat d'avions de combat F-15. Deux mois plus tard, il a confirmé une commande de navires de guerre à l'Italie pour un montant de cinq milliards d'euros. En décembre, outre le contrat avec les Britanniques, le Qatar a signé des contrats de plus de dix milliards d'euros pour l'achat notamment d'au moins 12 avions de combat Rafale et 50 Airbus A321. Le consortium Eurofighter a conclu en mars dernier un protocole d'accord distinct avec l'Arabie Saoudite pour la livraison de 48 avions de chasse. Ryad a déjà reçu 72 appareils de ce type commandés il y a dix ans. Cet accord et celui avec le Qatar ont constitué une bouffée d'air frais pour le programme Eurofighter, qui avait dû ralentir dernièrement son rythme de production faute de commandes - poussant BAE Systems à annoncer en octobre 2017 la suppression de 1.400 emplois dans sa branche aéronautique. Le programme Eurofighter emploie plus de 100.000 personnes sur l'ensemble de la chaîne de fabrication, essentiellement en Europe, dont 40.000 au Royaume-Uni, où BAE Systems fait travaillere pour le moment 5.000 personnes directement pour fabriquer cet avion.

  • Bombers, fighters and tankers unite: Will the Air Force rebuild composite wings to fight near-peer foes?

    19 septembre 2018 | International, Aérospatial

    Bombers, fighters and tankers unite: Will the Air Force rebuild composite wings to fight near-peer foes?

    By: Kyle Rempfer The Air Force has spent the past few years gearing up for a near-peer fight against adversaries with high-end air forces that match their own. While new doctrines and technologies occupy much of the planning for such a shift, another type of preparation is needed: reorganizing wings and squadrons. One possibility on the table is a return to composite wings. In the early 1990s, the Air Force organized the 366th Fighter Wing out of Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, into the service's premier “air intervention” composite wing. For roughly a decade, the wing flew fighters, bombers and tankers with the goal of meeting the challenges of a post-Cold War world order — where conflict could arrive anywhere, anytime. “They were ready to pack up and go fight as a unified team,” Lt. Gen. Mark Kelly, commander of 12th Air Force, told a crowd of Air Force leaders Monday at the 2018 Air, Space and Cyber Conference in Washington, D.C. “But that was disbanded, and part of it came down to money," Kelly said. "The cost per flying hour of trying to sustain the small-fleet dynamics there didn't look great on spreadsheets.” But Kelly argues that financial assessment was faulty. The quality of the training airmen were getting was being compared to the day-to-day operations at other bases around the Air Force. In reality, it was more comparable to the day-to-day training at Red Flag — a two-week, advanced air combat training exercise still held several times a year in Nevada and Alaska. “Frankly, the training they were getting compared more to Red Flag daily ops," Kelly said. “And that would be a good problem to have and a good construct to be able to build.” The Air Force is rethinking how it constructs wings and squadrons, as well as how it deploys airmen, as it shifts to better align with the 2018 National Defense Strategy, according to Kelly. As it stands, “airmen only come together to fight at the line of scrimmage," Kelly said. For instance, before airmen arrive at a forward base to fight against insurgents in Afghanistan, they may have a unified command at the squadron level, but a unified command at the wing level is severely lacking. Additionally, airmen preparing to deploy today benefit from a surplus of “spin-up" time. They know when their unit is scheduled to deploy and have the luxury of training to meet that challenge well in advance. “That's a luxury that we cannot rely on in great power competition,” Kelly said. Organizing some aircraft and airmen into composite wings could provide the training and deployment structure necessary for fights against modern militaries, Kelly said. The composite wing concept was heavily pushed in 1991 by then Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Merrill McPeak, according to his biography on the Defense Department's website. McPeak wanted to organize wings by their mission-set, not aircraft type. According to his “air intervention” doctrine, a wing deploying for a near-peer fight should have all the aircraft and airmen it needs to accomplish its mission with limited, or possibly no, outside support. This meant one wing could potentially operate electronic warfare aircraft for the suppression of enemy air defenses, bombers to lay waste to enemy fortifications, fighters to engage in air-to-air combat, and tankers to refuel them all. After the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, however, the old composite squadron idea was mostly discarded. The 366th Fighter Wing was restored to fly F-16Js, and the consolidation of the Air Force's KC-135 and B-1 forces led to the reallocation of the wing's bombers and tankers to McConnell AFB, Kansas, and Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota, according to Mountain Home's website. But composite wings, and the idea of sustainable fights with more or less autonomous Air Force commanders, is back in vogue. Funding was one of the biggest challenges to composite wings back in the day, but the reasons for that unit structure are better appreciated now as concerns about China and Russia preoccupy defense planners. To fuel a restructuring, steady funding will be key, according to Kelly. He projected the Air Force's shift to great power competition will continue to be a focus of the defense budget into 2021 and 2022. But regardless of the funds Congress ultimately appropriates for the Air Force in the coming years, restructuring for a near-peer fight needs to happen, Kelly said. “This has to happen regardless of if we have the force we have today with only one more airman, or the force we need with tens of thousands more airmen," he added.

  • Air Force finds new KC-46 deficiencies, jeopardizing planned delivery date

    19 septembre 2018 | International, Aérospatial

    Air Force finds new KC-46 deficiencies, jeopardizing planned delivery date

    By: Valerie Insinna WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force has added two new technical issues to the KC-46 tanker's list of problems, potentially throwing a wrench into the projected delivery of the first tanker in October. The service confirmed to Defense News on Sept. 17 that both deficiencies are category-1 , the most serious designation of technical problems, and revolve around the tanker's refueling boom system. At this point, the Air Force is unsure whether the two problems will be solved in time for KC-46 manufacturer Boeing to deliver the first tanker next month, said Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek. “Boeing and the program office are still reviewing the test data and assessing the risk and potential solutions to these deficiencies, and proceeding in parallel to aircraft delivery,” she said in a statement. The first new deficiency, which the service has labeled “No Indication of Inadvertent Boom Loads,” refers to situations where boom operators unintentionally provide an input into the flight control stick that induces loads on the boom while it is in contact with a receiver aircraft. The KC-46 currently has no way to notify that operator that this is happening. The second deficiency was found when pilots of receiver aircraft reported that the boom is too stiff during the part of the process when the receiver plane moves forward into the fuel transfer zone. “We discovered these deficiencies during the course of flight testing,” Stefanek said. “As the program progresses through receiver certification testing, we are still in discovery phase with the tanker/receiver pairs. ... The test team is still writing the test reports, but submitted the DRs [deficiency reports] in advance to assist in accelerating root cause, corrective action development.” In a statement, Boeing said that it continues to work with the Air Force to determine a path forward. “These are not safety of flight issues and we are confident in the unmatched capabilities of the KC-46 tanker aircraft," the company said. "To date we have completed more than 4,000 contacts during flights with F-16, F/A-18, AV-8B, C-17, KC-10 and A-10 aircraft. The refueling system has been tested extensively — we have a well-tested system that works.” The Air Force can accept tankers at its own discretion, with or without active deficiencies. However, both Boeing and the Air Force have worked under the assumption that the service will not do so until all category-1 issues have been worked out or downgraded to category-2, which signifies that a workaround has been put into place. The news of two more deficiencies is a blow to Boeing, which had been hoping to deliver the first tanker in October after finally coming to an agreement with the Air Force earlier this year on a proposed schedule. The KC-46 program has been notoriously above cost, and Boeing's fixed-price contract with the Air Force has forced it to pay out more than $3.4 billion to cover those overruns. It has also run years behind schedule: The company was initially slated to deliver the first 18 certified tankers by August 2017. Boeing now has until October 2018 to meet that deadline — called required assets available— but will almost surely miss it, as the Air Force does not have the resources to absorb 18 new tankers in a month. Over the past year, Boeing has been racing to resolve three additional category-1 deficiencies. Two involve the tanker's remote vision system, or RVS, a series of cameras and sensors that allow the boom operator to direct fuel into a receiver aircraft. Unlike legacy tanker operators, KC-46 boomers will be unable to look out a window in order to see the refueling process happen — making them entirely reliant on the RVS. However, certain lighting conditions make it difficult to see the receiver aircraft's receptacle, leading to incidents where the boom has scraped the plane being refueled. To fix the issue, Boeing has developed and tested a fix to the RVS' software. The Air Force is currently reviewing that data, and both RVS-related deficiencies are still in effect. The final issue involves the system centerline drogue system, which has a mechanical lock that sometimes inadvertently disconnects during a refueling. Boeing plans to create a software fix to ameliorate that problem, too, but it remains a category-1 deficiency.

  • Congress to buy 3 more LCS than the Navy needs, but gut funding for sensors that make them valuable

    19 septembre 2018 | International, Naval

    Congress to buy 3 more LCS than the Navy needs, but gut funding for sensors that make them valuable

    WASHINGTON — Congress loves buying littoral combat ships, but when it comes to the packages of sensors and systems that make the ships useful, lawmakers have been less enthusiastic. In the 2019 Defense Department funding bill that just left the conference committee, lawmakers have funded a 33rd, 34th and 35th littoral combat ship, three more than the 32-ship requirement set by the Navy. But when it comes to the mission modules destined to make each ship either a mine sweeper, submarine hunter or small surface combatant, that funding has been slashed. Appropriators cut all funding in 2019 for the anti-submarine warfare package, a variable-depth sonar and a multifunction towed array system that the Navy was aiming to have declared operational next year, citing only that the funding was “ahead of need." The National Defense Authorization Act had authorized about $7.4 million, still well below the $57.3 million requested by the Navy, citing delays in testing various components. Appropriators are also poised to half the requested funding for the surface warfare package and cut nearly $25.25 million from the minesweeping package, which equates to about a 21 percent cut from the requested and authorized $124.1 million. Nor are this year's cuts the only time appropriators have gone after the mission modules. A review of appropriations bills dating back to fiscal 2015 shows that appropriators have cut funding for mission modules every single year, and in 2018 took big hacks out of each funding line associated with the modules. The annual cutting spree has created a baffling cycle of inanity wherein Congress, unhappy with the development of the modules falling behind schedule, will cut funding and cause development to fall further behind schedule, according to a source familiar with the details of the impact of the cuts who spoke on background. All this while Congress continues to pump money into building ships without any of the mission packages having achieved what's known as initial operating capability, meaning the equipment is ready to deploy in some capacity. (The surface warfare version has IOC-ed some initial capabilities but is adding a Longbow Hellfire missile system that will be delayed with cuts, the source said.) That means that with 15 of the currently funded 32 ships already delivered to the fleet, not one of them can deploy with a fully capable package of sensors for which the ship was built in the first place — a situation that doesn't have a clear end state while the programs are caught in a sucking vortex of cuts and delays. “This is a prime example of program issues causing congressional cuts which lead to further delays, then more cuts in a vicious cycle," said Thomas Callender, a retired submarine officer and analyst with The Heritage Foundation. The Navy has been pursuing a strategy of buying 32 littoral combat ships and then 20 more lethal frigates now in development. Surface warfare boss Vice Adm. Richard Brown told Defense News in August that both the surface warfare package and the anti-submarine warfare package were on track to be ready in 2019, but that future is now in doubt, Callender said. “The appropriators' FY19 cuts of zeroing out ASW module and cuts to the MCM [mine countermeasures] module will likely delay IOC and operational testing,” Callender said. But the appropriators shouldn't take all the heat, he added. The development of the different modules have hit technical issues and are all drastically behind schedule. The minesweeping package, for example, was initially supposed to deliver in 2008, but now isn't slated to IOC until 2020, a date that will be further in doubt if Congress passes the appropriations bill as it left committee, sources agreed. “The technical development issues and subsequent delays with several modules, especially the ASW and MCM mission packages, contributed to congressional angst and some of these cuts,” Callender said. “Many of these cuts, including the cuts recommended from the House Armed Services Committee and Senate Armed Services Committee for FY19 were reductions in the number of initial modules purchased until they have successfully completed operational testing.” Both authorizers on the House and Senate Armed Services committees and the Appropriations committees have taken hacks at the funding to the modules, but ultimately the National Defense Authorization Act from the services committees is more of a guide for appropriators than a set of handcuffs. Appropriators can fund what they want to fund. A statement from the office of Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said the committee works with the Navy on these programs and funds what is ready to be funded. “The Committee has worked with the Department of the Navy to understand the mission system test requirements — which have often changed due to variety of reasons — and focused on funding those requirements that are ready for production,” said Blair Taylor, Shelby's communications director. Merry-go-round Part of the reason the program is vulnerable to these cuts in a way that, for example, the Arleigh Burke destroyers are not to the same extent is because of the program's structure. The ships were to be purchased separately and designed to be highly versatile, switching out in a matter of days when pierside from anti-surface systems to countermine systems to anti-submarine systems as the missions changed. But a reorganization of the program in 2016 ordered by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson and led by then-head of the Naval Surface Force Pacific Adm. Thomas Rowden changed each of the ships to single-mission ships, with the first few ships slated to be surface warfare variants. But the warfare packages are still being developed under separate programs, leaving them as low-hanging fruit for cuts. “The separation of the mission modules from specific LCS hull procurement does leave them more vulnerable to these type of programmatic cuts,” Callender said. The whole issue is taking on increasing urgency as LCS builders Fincantieri in Marinette, Wisconsin, and Austal USA in Mobile, Alabama, begin pushing ships to the fleet by the handful each year. As of August, the Navy had 15 LCS vessels delivered, with 29 awarded and 11 in various stages of construction. But as the development modules has devolved into a merry-go-round, where cuts beget delays that beget more cuts, the fix in which this puts the Navy becomes more real by the day. The fleet needs the capabilities the LCS modules are supposed to deliver. For example, the Navy is slated to decommission its last Avenger-class minesweeper in the 2020s. This means the minesweeping package really can't suffer too many more delays without greatly increasing the threat posed to the Navy by cheap marine mines, leaving the fleet with only ad hoc solutions for combating them until the minesweeping package can be fielded in numbers. And while there are other ships in the fleet such as the DDGs that can do anti-submarine and anti-surface missions, it's the minesweeping package that has Bryan McGrath, a retired destroyer skipper and consultant with The FerryBridge Group, worried. “I'm concerned that there aren't enough MCM modules coming along fast enough, and I am concerned that there aren't enough LCS in the current plan (four on each coast) dedicated to the MCM mission,” he said. “I'd like to see the LCS plan re-evaluated and more of them devoted exclusively to MCM.”

  • Canadian air force short 275 pilots as attrition outpaces recruitment, training

    19 septembre 2018 | Local, Aérospatial

    Canadian air force short 275 pilots as attrition outpaces recruitment, training

    By Canadian Press OTTAWA — The Royal Canadian Air Force is contending with a shortage of around 275 pilots and needs more mechanics, sensor operators and other trained personnel in the face of increasing demands at home and abroad. The Air Force says it is working to address the deficiencies and that they have not negatively impacted operations, but officials acknowledge the situation has added pressure on Canada's flying corps and represents a challenge for the foreseeable future. “Right now we're doing everything we can to make sure we recruit, train and retain enough personnel to do our current mission,” said Brig.-Gen. Eric Kenny, director general of air readiness. “In the next 20 years, it's going to be a challenge to grow the force at the rate that we would like.” The shortfall in pilots and mechanics was referenced in an internal report recently published by the Department of National Defence, which also flagged underspending on maintenance for bases and other infrastructure, as well as reductions in annual flying times thanks to Conservative-era budget cuts. Some of those issues have since started to be addressed by the Liberals through their new defence policy, but the personnel shortage remains an area of critical concern given the need for pilots and others to fly and maintain the military's various aircraft fleets at home and abroad. Those include the planes and helicopters involved in Canada's military missions in Iraq, Latvia, Mali, and Ukraine; domestic search-and-rescue aircraft; and the CF-18 fighter jets deployed in Romania and guarding against a foreign attack on North America. The Air Force is authorized to have 1,580 pilots, but Kenny said in an interview the Air Force is short by around 17 per cent — or about 275 pilots — along with similar shortfalls for navigators and sensor operators, who work onboard different types of aircraft, as well as mechanics. Kenny also acknowledged the threat of burnout as service members are forced to pick up the slack left by unfilled positions, and the added burden of promised new drones, fighter jets and other aircraft arriving in the coming years, which will require even more people to fly and maintain. Efforts to address the shortfalls have looked at retaining service members with tax breaks, additional support and services for family members to ease military life, and plans to free up experienced personnel by assigning administrative staff to do day-to-day tasks. Several initiatives have also been introduced to speed up recruitment and training, and attract older pilots back into the Forces, which has borne some fruit and aimed at buying time for officials to decide whether to change the length of time pilots and others are required to serve before they can leave. “This is beyond just looking at benefits,” Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said Tuesday. “We're looking at a much more holistic approach in how we look after them.” But the current training system means the Air Force can only produce 115 new pilots each year, which commanders have said is insufficient to meet needs given the rate at which military pilots have moved on to commercial opportunities in recent years. Conservative defence critic James Bezan suggested one reason the military is losing pilots is because they are being asked to fly older planes, including CF-18 fighter jets that are close to 40 years old. “If pilots aren't getting new aircraft, why are they sticking around?” Bezan said. “And so, the idea of bringing in used fighter jets from Australia that are even in worse shape than the current CF-18s that we fly today, why would they stick around?” The Department of National Defence is drawing up plans for a new system that officials hope will be in place by 2021 and include the ability to expand or shrink the number of trainees in any year given the Air Force's needs. Kenny said the shortfalls will remain a challenge since the current system will remain in place for several more years — and because it takes four and eight years to train a pilot from scratch. “We know what capabilities we're receiving and now we can start working to make sure that we have personnel that are trained to be able to meet those requirements,” he said. “But I'm not going to lie: It's definitely a challenge.”

  • Skies Magazine October/November 2018 Issue

    19 septembre 2018 | Local, Aérospatial

    Skies Magazine October/November 2018 Issue

    ADAPTING ON THE FLY “Agile” and “nimble” are the buzzwords as the Royal Canadian Air Force moves forward under new commander LGen Al Meinzinger. By Chris Thatcher AN INVESTMENT IN CAPABILITY Skies test pilot Robert Erdos flew Leonardo's AW101-612 search and rescue helicopter to see what upgrades might be in store for Canada's CH-149 Cormorants. By Robert Erdos

  • European Council - Leaders’ Agenda on Internal Security

    18 septembre 2018 | International, Sécurité

    European Council - Leaders’ Agenda on Internal Security

    As Leaders set out at the Bratislava Summit two years ago, the Union's objective in this area is to do everything necessary to support Member States in ensuring internal security and fighting terrorism. The European Union must help protect the public, safeguard the Schengen area and respond intelligently to a changing security environment where some threats are hybrid in nature, and where the line between internal and external security is sometimes blurred. Building on the real progress made in recent years to strengthen our collective security, we must think in more operational terms and ensure the full and effective implementation of our previous conclusions, including on cybersecurity (October 2017, June 2018) and on strengthening resilience to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear-related risks, also in light of the Salisbury attack (March and June 2018). Leaders should focus on where EU efforts can add immediate value to national ones and on ways to reinforce Europe's long-term response to emerging and new threats, as part of the new Strategic Agenda for the Union to be adopted at the June 2019 European Council. Upgrading police and judicial cooperation Strengthening border security Resilience in cyberspace Crisis response capability Full article:

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