Quotulatiousness

December 1, 2016

RCAF to get “the barest minimum the government can get away with providing”

Filed under: Cancon, Military, Politics — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

[Updated, see below] The Canadian government has not been in any way serious about providing sufficient resources to the Canadian Forces since the end of the Louis St. Laurent era, and that state of affairs is not about to change under Justin Trudeau’s leadership. The Royal Canadian Air Force either is (if you believe the Minister of National Defence) or is not (if you believe the Chief of the Defence Staff) in the grip of a “capability gap” that requires the immediate sole-source purchase of 18 new Boeing Super Hornets. Canada’s current fleet of CF-18 Hornets are, despite the minor nomenclature change, very different aircraft than the F-18 Super Hornets (here’s an overview of the differences).

CF-18 at the National Air Force Museum of Canada in Trenton, Ontario, 2015.

CF-18 at the National Air Force Museum of Canada in Trenton, Ontario, 2015.

The RCAF is a small air force and does not realistically have the capacity to support too many different types of aircraft at current staffing levels. The CF-18 and the Super Hornets count as different aircraft, so there will need to be duplication of maintenance and training facilities to ensure that the RCAF is able to keep both types operational at all times. Adding in the complication of yet another type of aircraft — the F-35 (most likely) or one of the European offerings (Eurofighter Typhoon, Saab Gripen, or Dassault Rafale) would require a third set of maintenance and training facilities to support the latest addition to the fleet. The government will not be willing to provide the RCAF with enough funding to do this, based on historical patterns and general apathy toward military spending among the voters.

Michael Den Tandt says that no matter what happens, the government will almost certainly leave “the ‘brave men and women in uniform’ where they’ve always been — last on the list of priorities”:

It’s truly remarkable, given how Liberal and Conservative MPs speak so often and sincerely of their sacred covenant with the “brave men and women in uniform,” that this country’s air force is obsolete and decrepit, and has been so for as long as anyone now living can remember.

You’d think, given the volume of talk in the House of Commons over the past decade on their behalf, that RCAF pilots – one of whom died Monday, tragically, in a training accident in Cold Lake, Alta. – would be flying X-wing fighters out of Star Wars by now, and not a ragtag fleet of 1980s-vintage refurbs that were new when many members of the current parliament were children.

[…]

Had the Conservatives dared to quietly grow the RCAF fighter fleet by 23 per cent, at a cost of $65-$70-milion per plane, the Liberals would have called them warmongers and spendthrifts. To be sure, the Liberals may be embarrassed by the very mention of the CF-18 – having made such a to-do about withdrawing them last spring from the war against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Having beaten swords into ploughshares, they’re now buying more swords. How awkward.

More disingenuous still is the claim that a proper, open fighter competition is impossible in short order. The five possible selections are the F-35, Boeing’s Super Hornet, the Eurofighter Typhoon, Saab’s Gripen, and Dassault’s Rafale. The specs, per-unit and operating costs of all these aircraft are known. Given an abridged new statement of requirements, a competition could have been run and a new fighter selected in 2017, industry sources tell me.

Follow the Liberal strategy to its conclusion and you end up with this: A mixed fleet, comprising some CF-18s, 18 newish Super Hornets, and years hence, long after the punters have forgotten Campaign 2015, the F-35 – by which time it, too, will likely be obsolete.

It boils down to this: The “brave men and women in uniform” will get the barest minimum the government can get away with providing, until another military crisis on the scale of the Afghan war forces its hand, after which it will buy whatever equipment it can find, in a panic. It’s how we roll, here in Canada.

Update, 2 December: Ted Campbell explains why there are differing opinions on whether there’s a “capability gap”.

Team Trudeau may have found a way to (at least) appear to square the fighter “capability gap” circle. The report quotes RCAF top dog, Lieutenant General Michael Hood as saying that “The government has announced a policy whereby the Royal Canadian Air Force is required to simultaneously meet both our NORAD and NATO commitments,” Hood told senators … [and] … “I am at present unable to do that with the present CF-18 fleet. There aren’t enough aircraft to deliver those commitments simultaneously.”

But, the article goes on to say, quoting General Hood’s testimony, again: “Before the change, while the air force had standing commitments to NORAD and NATO, Hood suggested there was more flexibility to manage the fleet” [but] “That commitment is now a firm commitment with respect to this policy change so we will meet it,” he said [and] “I’ve been told I will be given all the resources I need to increase the numbers available. I’m happy the government is investing in the Royal Canadian Air Force,” he said.” That does solve the problem of General Hood’s previous statement that there was no “capability gap;” the government just changed the rules and created one.

[…]

The previous government did not pull that number of 65 completely out of thin air (or some other place where the sun doesn’t shine). You can see some logic to it: 2 squadrons, each of 12 aircraft (24) dedicated to NORAD (only 24 because the F-35 Lightening is very, very much more capable in the NORAD/interceptor role than the CF-18) and 2 more squadrons (24 aircraft for a total, thus far, of 48) in “general” roles ~ available for NORAD or NATO or other tasks, and one squadron (12 aircraft) as an “operational training unit” and 5 aircraft for logistical and maintenance stock. At $9 Billion for that fleet it was seen to be pretty much the top end of the fiscal load that the Canadian taxpayer might be asked to bear.

May 7, 2016

The Canadian Forces’ obesity problem

Filed under: Bureaucracy, Cancon, Military — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

The Canadian military (all branches, but especially the reserve forces) have an obesity problem that needs drastic measures to address. Ted Campbell offers his prescription to trim down the bloat:

Command of the Armed Forces should flow from the Governor General, who is, by the Letters Patent of issued by King George VI in 1947, the Commander in Chief, through the Chief of the Defence Staff who should also, for clarity, be styled “Commander Canadian Armed Forces” (COMCAF) and to four regional joint commanders: Commanders of Pacific, Western, Eastern and Atlantic Commands. Each of those commanders should have subordinate and appropriately ranked Naval, Army and Air “component commanders.” (Appropriately means according to the size and scope of the forces in their commands. The Naval Component Commander in Western Command, which has only a handful of Naval Reserve Divisions, might be a Navy Captain while the Army Component Commander in each of Pacific and Atlantic Commands might be an Army colonel or, at best, a brigadier general.)

Staffs should be lower ranked and as [a] firm, absolutely inviolable rule no staff officer in any headquarters may outrank the principal commanders who are directly subordinate to the commander that staff officer serves. In some, rare, cases principal staff officers might be equal in rank to subordinate commanders so that the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff and the officer who heads the national Joint Staff might both be three star officers (vice admirals/lieutenant generals) as would be the commanders of the four Joint Commands. But in an army brigade group, which, given its size and combat power, ought to be commanded by a brigadier general (not by a colonel), where the principal subordinate commanders are lieutenant colonels, the principle operations and support staff officers ought to be majors.

In short almost every staff officer currently serving in almost every HQ, large and small, high and low, in the Canadian Armed Forces is, right now, one (in a few cases two) rank higher than (s)he needs to be. This (over-ranking) is a serious problem because it contributes to HQ bloat and it clouds what should be a very, very clear “chain of command.” It should change, soon. Change would be unpopular and moderately difficult but not, at all, impossible.

Fewer, smaller, leaner and meaner, and lower ranked HQs will, I am 99.99% certain, be more efficient and effective and they might be forced to actually understand the unique pressures that face reserve force members ~ most of whom have full time, civilian jobs (or are full time students) and who do their reserve force work after the “bankers’ hours” that almost all Canadian Armed Forces HQs work. (If I had a penny for every horror story I have heard about army staff officers who know far, far too little about the reserve force units in their areas and who give, sometimes just silly but often quite stupidly impossible orders guidance or tasks, that cannot possibly be met on time, if at all, I would be a wealthy man. Now, it may not be clear that lower ranks will solve that, but I believe that lower ranked officers are more likely to work harder (as all staff officers should) and, in an effort to impress their commanders (and his subordinate commanders, too), work smarter, too, which will alleviate many of the problems that are the result of useless HQ “busy work.”

[…]

Less money spent on useless, over-ranked staff officers in redundant HQs would mean that equipment and support personnel could be found for the Army Reserve. Minister Harjit Sajjan knows the problem … all he needs to do is to push General Jon Vance in the right (unpopular but right) direction. They are both new enough on the job and each brings to it well known sense of “operational” soldiering that they could make unpopular decisions, give unpopular orders and shake up the comfortable, somnolent, entrenched uniformed bureaucracy, especially in the Canadian Army, and, thereby, reinvigorate the Canadian Army Reserve, using the Auditor General’s damning report as a catalyst for change.

January 21, 2016

Roles for Canada’s armed forces

Filed under: Cancon, Military — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Ted Campbell outlines the most likely tasks and approximate organization of the Canadian Armed Forces, regardless of the political or ideological stripe of the government of the day:

Thus far, in two posts: Establishing Some Baselines and Defence of Canada I have developed four “baseline” roles or tasks for the Canadian Department of National Defence:

  • To maintain active military forces to share in the continental defence of the North American homelands, of the maritime approaches to them and of the airspace over both.
  • To maintain a global, blue water fleet, supported by air forces, that is able to, simultaneously, maintain a constant Canadian presence in at least two different theatres.
  • To maintain trained, disciplined military units that can, on very short notice, give effective “aid to the civil power” here in Canada.
  • To maintain combat naval, land and air forces and a full range of strategic and tactical support services, able to conduct low to mid intensity operations anywhere in Canada on short notice.

Those tasks, both explicitly and implicitly, call for:

  • A surveillance and warning system ~ which, I think, to be really useful must cover all of the Canadian landmass, the maritimes approaches to it and the airspace over both and, probably, needs to have terrestrial, underwater, airborne (aircraft mounted) and space based (satellite) sensors.
  • A command and control communications (C³) system to interconnect all those sensors and the various command agencies ~ Canadian, US and combined.
  • A full fledged Navy able to operate in 9and under) coastal waters and anywhere in the world.
  • A full fledged Air Force able to conduct air and joint operations in Canada and to conduct joint naval-air operations anywhere in the world.
  • An Army for domestic, territorial defence of Canada.
  • The full fledged Navy and Air Force and limited Army also, in their turn, call for medical, logistical, administrative and financial support systems: hospitals, supply depots and warehouses, and people working away in offices, far away from the action, keeping services flowing to the people who need them.

What about forces for the next Afghanistan or UN peacekeeping mission or Korea or, heaven forbid, another world war?

That would be an Expeditionary Force.

Read the whole thing.

November 2, 2015

The National Air Force Museum of Canada

Filed under: Cancon, History, Military, Technology — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Elizabeth and I spent the weekend in the Bay of Quinte area, visiting Prince Edward County, Belleville, and Trenton. While we were in Trenton, we stopped in at the National Air Force Museum of Canada. While the Sea King may not be in the collection yet (at least, not in the collection visible to the public), many other Canadian Armed Forces aircraft are, including the prize of the museum, the Handley Page Halifax heavy bomber:

Handley Page Halifax 1

It’s a big enough aircraft that it’s hard to do it justice in a photograph.

Handley Page Halifax 2

This particular restored aircraft was shot down late in the war on a mission to deliver supplies to Norwegian resistance fighters and later recovered from a Norwegian lake.

Handley Page Halifax 3

Other aircraft in the collection include a replica of the Silver Dart, the first powered aircraft to fly in Canada (February 23, 1909), a replica of the Burgess-Dunne floatplane, the first aircraft purchased for the Canadian military (September, 1914), a CF-86 Sabre, a CF-100 Canuck, a CF-5 Freedom Fighter, a CF-104 Starfighter, a CF-101 Voodoo, a CF-18 Hornet, a CP-107 Argus, a CC-130 Hercules, and a CP-102 Tracker among other aircraft.

July 3, 2015

For possibly the first time in military history…

Filed under: Cancon, History, Military — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

… an air force has significantly under-reported the number of planes downed by one of its aces:

On June 26, the RCAF/Canadian Forces issued a news release stating that the new complex for the RCAF’s Chinooks at Petawawa will be named in honour of First World War flying ace Major Andrew McKeever of Ontario.

“Major McKeever was the epitome of what it means to serve one’s country, with an impressive 17 aerial victories to his name in the First World War,” stated Defence Minister Jason Kenney.

The RCAF news release also credited McKeever with 17 kills.

In addition, Kenney tweeted the details of the news release.

Defence Watch later cited the CF news release.

But a sharp-eyed Defence Watch reader pointed out that the Canadian Forces news release contained a major error.

McKeever had significantly more than 17 kills.

Nearly twice that number, actually. (But you can pick pretty much any number from 18 to 41 and be correct by at least one of the competing “standards”.)

April 13, 2015

RCAF CF-18 Hornet repainted in “Battle of Britain” theme

Filed under: Britain, Cancon, History, Military — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

The 2015 CF-18 Hornet Demonstration Aircraft is unveiled at a ceremony held at 3 Wing Bagotville in Saguenay, Québec on 27 March 2015. Image: LS Alex Roy, Atelier d'imagerie Bagotville. BN01-2015-0186-005 (click to see full-sized image)

The 2015 CF-18 Hornet Demonstration Aircraft is unveiled at a ceremony held at 3 Wing Bagotville in Saguenay, Québec on 27 March 2015.
Image: LS Alex Roy, Atelier d’imagerie Bagotville.
BN01-2015-0186-005 (click to see full-sized image)

From the RCAF CF-18 Demo Team page:

The CF-18 Demonstration Team will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain — and the courageous airmen that Prime Minister Winston Churchill dubbed the “few” — during its 2015 show season.

The special design of the demo Hornet, reflecting this theme, will be unveiled at a later date.

The summer of 1940 was a dark time for the Allies. With shocking rapidity, Adolf Hitler’s forces had overrun most of Europe. By mid-June, Allied forces had been pushed off the continent and Nazi forces were at the English Channel, preparing to invade England.

“The Battle of France is over,” said British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. “I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin.”

Hitler directed that the Royal Air Force (RAF) — including Canadians and members of other Commonwealth air forces fighting with or as part of the RAF — be eliminated to allow the invasion to take place. The air battle began on July 10, with Nazi attacks on British convoys, ports and coastal radar stations. One of the most savage days was August 13. A few days later Churchill praised the brave airmen in words that have echoed through the decades: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

On September 15, the Germans launched a massive attack but, although the fighting was fierce, the RAF, using new tactics, was victorious. Two days later, Hitler postponed the invasion; he never again considered it seriously.

By the end of September, the Battle of Britain was over. It was the first military confrontation won by air power and Germany’s first defeat of the Second World War. More than 2,300 pilots and aircrew from Great Britain and nearly 600 from other nations participated in the Battle.

Of these, 544 lost their lives, including 23 Canadians. More than 100 Canadians flew in the battle, principally as members of the Royal Canadian Air Force’s (RCAF) No. 1 Squadron (later renamed 401 Squadron) and the RAF’s 242 “All Canadian” Squadron. An estimated 300 Canadians served as groundcrew.

It is a great honour for the RCAF and the 2015 CF-18 Demonstration Team to commemorate the dedication and sacrifice of those brave Canadian aircrew and groundcrew who stood up to tyranny and left their mark on history.

March 12, 2015

Clickbait … about the Avro Arrow

Filed under: Cancon, Military, Technology — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

I’ve called it the only truly Canadian conspiracy theory … I’ve also described it as “artisanal Canadian myth-making, hand-woven, fair-trade, and 100% organic” … it’s the revenge of the return of the son of the Avro Arrow cancellation! At Aviation Week, Bill Sweetman looks back on the technical achievements and eventual disappointment that was the Avro Arrow project:

1957- Avro CF-105 Arrow1-1The cancellation of the Avro Canada CF-105 interceptor in February 1959 was a traumatic event for Canada’s emerging aerospace industry. When Aviation Week reported on the fighter’s rollout, in October 1957, the magazine called it “a serious contender for the top military aircraft of the next several years”. High praise indeed, for a non-U.S. aircraft, given that the XB-58 supersonic bomber was in flight test and that new aircraft in the works included the A-5 Vigilante and the F-4 Phantom.

But the Arrow was extraordinary, and more so, given that the industry that produced it was less than a decade old when the prototype contract was issued in March 1955. Avro Canada had been formed by Britain’s Hawker Siddeley Group after World War 2 and had quickly produced the CF-100 interceptor, the C-102 jet airliner (the world’s second to fly), and the CF-100’s Orenda engine, which was also fitted to Canadian-built Sabre fighters.

[…]

The performance requirements meant that almost everything on the airplane had to be invented. No existing engine would do the job, so Avro spun off a new Orenda Engines subsidiary to produce the Iroquois, the most powerful supersonic engine of the 1950s. The airframe took Canada into the world of integrally machined skins, and both airframe and engine used titanium. The CF-105 was the first aircraft to use 4,000 psi hydraulics. Canada enlisted Hughes for help with the radar and missiles, but the radar was new and the missile was the active-homing Sparrow II. Management was a huge challenge, both because the aircraft was complex (the second-biggest Mach 2 airplane anywhere) and because of the program’s sheer size: at its peak, Avro Canada was the nation’s third-largest company and in the world Top 100.

February 6, 2015

The Avro Arrow

Filed under: Cancon, History, Military, Technology — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 2 Feb 2015

The Avro Canada CF-105 Arrow was a delta-winged interceptor aircraft, with nuclear rockets and missiles, designed and built by Avro Canada as the culmination of a design study that began in 1953. The Arrow is considered to have been an advanced technical and aerodynamic achievement for the Canadian aviation industry. The CF-105 (Mark 2) held the promise of near-Mach 2 speeds at altitudes of 50,000 feet (15,000 m) and was intended to serve as the Royal Canadian Air Force’s primary interceptor in the 1960s and beyond. But when it was canceled it was a ruin for Canada’s pride. – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avro_Canada_CF-105_Arrow

November 11, 2014

Slipping a few F-35s in through the back door

Filed under: Cancon, Military, Technology — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 11:13

Aviation Week has a fascinating tale of politico-military skulduggery involving the on-again, off-again purchase of F-35 fighters to replace the RCAF’s aging fleet of CF-18s:

A radical fast-track plan to jump-start Canada’s stalled effort to buy the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is revealed in a briefing document obtained by Aviation Week.

The Oct. 27 brief from JSF Program Executive Office director USAF Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan to Air Force secretary Deborah James calls for Canada to receive four F-35s next year, by diverting them from U.S. Air Force low-rate initial production (LRIP) Lot 7 orders. Canada would then buy four Lot 9 aircraft that would be delivered to the Air Force in 2017. According to the briefing, Canada would sign a letter of intent within days — “mid-November” — and Congress would be notified by the end of November.

Neither the JSF Program Office nor the Canadian Department of National Defense responded to repeated inquiries about the planned deal this week. The legal basis for such an exchange, absent an urgent operational need, is uncertain. The proposed LRIP 9 replacement aircraft are not on contract, and as far as is known, negotiations for them have not started.

Mark Collins thinks he sees the real motivation here:

1) The RCAF gets four darn expensive LRIP 7 F-35As in 2015 essentially for free (the “swap” and thus the need for Congressional notification); our government can say it’s not spending any money – but at the same time is effectively committing to the plane (the letter of intent and “beddown” – horny for the Lightning II?);

2) Canada pays for four, appreciably less costly, F-35As from LRIP 9 and gives them to the USAF as replacements (almost Lend-Lease!).

Hence: Canada decides slyly on the aircraft and the US, also on the sly, probably gets the largest current foreign F-35 commitment (still 65?) after the Aussies (72). Sweet, eh.

October 15, 2014

NORAD

Filed under: Cancon, Military, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 12:05

From the RCAF website:

If you’ve watched action, drama or even science fiction movies and TV shows over the past 50 years, chances are pretty good that you’ve at least heard of NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command.

Often, it’s depicted as a massive operations room with radar screens, uniformed personnel manning various stations and star-studded generals directing all the action. Every Christmas Eve, it’s the means by which millions of children get regular reports on Santa’s progress as he journeys around the world.

Outside of pop culture, however, NORAD is a real military entity. But what is it, and what do we really know about it? More importantly for Canadians, what impact does it have on Canada?

While NORAD is often depicted in film and television as an American entity, it is in fact a joint United States-Canada defence partnership charged with aerospace warning and control for both countries. What this means is that NORAD detects and advises both governments about airborne threats to North America (aerospace warning) and takes action to deter and defend against those threats (aerospace control).

“What it comes down to, essentially, is that Canada and the U.S. have airspace over our respective territories, and we should be in control of who enters it and how they conduct themselves in it,” explained Colonel Patrick Carpentier, the Canadian deputy commander of the Alaskan NORAD Region.

NORAD’s commander is directly and equally responsible to both the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Canada. While it’s no secret that Canada and the U.S. enjoy a very close alliance, NORAD is truly unique in the world — no other two countries have an arrangement quite like it.

October 11, 2014

Canada’s “six-pack strategy”

Filed under: Cancon, Middle East, Military — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 10:55

A report by Jeff Schogol in Defense News on Canada’s relatively trivial contribution to the fight against ISIS:

Canada’s participation with airstrikes in Iraq will free up U.S. aircraft for use in Syria, said Canadian military expert Christian Leuprecht. Historically, Canada has deployed six aircraft to support joint operations, said Leuprecht, who has dubbed the approach “Canada’s six-pack strategy.”

“When there’s a party, you’ve always got to bring something, so you bring a six-pack,” said Leuprecht, associate dean in the Faculty of Arts at the Royal Military College of Canada. “This is what we deployed to Libya. This is what we’re deploying over the Baltics to defend and survey the NATO airspace over the Baltic states.”

The U.S. and Canadian militaries have worked well together for years through the North American Aerospace Defense Command, Leuprecht said.

“Because Canada integrates on the interoperability piece — in command and control, logistics, intelligence, common targeting functions — so seamlessly with the U.S., Canada is always a highly desired partner because the transaction costs are so incredibly low compared participating of many other NATO allies,” Leuprecht said.

October 5, 2014

RCAF deployment to Iraq

Filed under: Cancon, Middle East, Military — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 09:38

In the Toronto Star, Bruce Campion-Smith and Les Whittington report on the debate in the Commons over sending RCAF aircraft to join the coalition against ISIS:

Canadian fighter pilots will be in combat for the second time in three years after Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced CF-18 jets are being dispatched to the region to battle Islamic State militants.

Political lines were quickly drawn over the planned six-month mission, with the New Democrats and Liberals telling the Commons in a dramatic standoff Friday that they would oppose the military operation when MPs debate and vote on it Monday.

But the government’s motion to deploy the Royal Canadian Air Force as part of the United States-led coalition confronting Islamic State fighters is expected to be approved by the Conservative majority in Parliament.

Speaking to a hushed Commons, Harper laid out the case for war against Islamic State — or Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), an Al Qaeda splinter group — for “unspeakable atrocities” and which has threatened Canada.

“Let me be clear on the objectives of this intervention. We intend to significantly degrade the capabilities of ISIL,” Harper said.

Up to six CF-18 fighter jets will be deployed to the region to join in coalition airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq and possibly Syria. As well, Canada will contribute one CC-150 Polaris air-to-air refuelling aircraft and two CP-140 Aurora surveillance aircraft. In all, 320 aircrew and other personnel will take part in the mission.

The opposition NDP and Liberal leaders quickly spoke against the action.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said the Conservatives have not given Canadians adequate information on how this war would be conducted.

“Will Canada be stuck a decade from now mired in a war we wisely avoided entering a decade ago?” he asked in the Commons.

“The tragedy in Iraq and Syria will not end with another western-led invasion in that region. . . . Canada, for our part, should not rush into this war.”

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said his party — which had backed military action in Afghanistan and Libya — would not support the motion endorsing combat.

Trudeau was dismissive of Canada’s contribution, saying the country could do more than sending what he branded “aging warplanes.”

“Whether they are strategic airlifts, training or medical support, we have the capabilities to meaningfully assist in a non-combat role in a well defined international mission,” Trudeau said.

Update: Lieutenant General Yvan Blondin responds indirectly to Trudeau’s dismissive description of the CF-18 (republished at the Ottawa Citizen).

As the Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and CF-18 pilot, I wish to dispel any questions pertaining to the relevance of the CF-18. I am completely confident in the ability of the aircraft and personnel to extend Canadian air power anywhere in the world, such as in support of the current air operations underway in Iraq.

The aircraft we fly today have been continuously upgraded throughout their lifespan, ensuring that our crews can fly into harm’s way with the confidence that they have the equipment they need to complete missions safely. Our RCAF personnel and aircraft have proven that they can fight alongside our Allies — they are battle hardened, and the capabilities of our CF-18s today certainly enable them to effectively serve alongside the fighter aircraft being flown by Allies in the fight against ISIL.

September 28, 2014

Foreigners in the RCAF – nothing to see here, business as usual, move along

Filed under: Cancon, Media, Military — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 11:21

Strategy Page looks at a recent mini-scandal when it was noted by Canadian media types that the Royal Canadian Air Force was — shock! horror! — actually recruiting foreign pilots:

Canada has a long history of allowing foreigners to join its armed forces. This happened on a large scale with Americans in the years before the United States entered World War I and World War II. But Australians and British recruits continue to be welcomed, as well as those from other parts of the old British Empire.

The big advantage of recruiting foreign pilots in the last five years was the need to obtain experienced personnel with lots of flying time in aircraft (like transports) Canada was operating all over the world. Canada has lost a lot of their experienced pilots for these aircraft to retirement or more attractive offers from commercial airlines. The incentive for British military pilots was keeping some of the high rank and credit for time already served in the British military. The British recruits will also be able to become Canadian citizens quickly, which is what many British citizens have been doing regularly since Canada became independent in 1867.

The RCAF also reminded the media that it has long used foreign pilots, often as instructors, on a “loan” program. The foreign country continued to pay the salary of their pilot but the RCAF picked up all other expenses while the foreign (often American) pilot was working in Canada. The loaner pilots are most frequently used when Canada is buying a new type of aircraft and needs pilots experienced with the new aircraft in order to speed the training of Canadian pilots.

September 21, 2014

New uniforms for the Royal Canadian Air Force

Filed under: Cancon, Military — Tags: — Nicholas @ 12:37

Oddly, the announcement posted to Facebook doesn’t include any pictures yet…

The Honourable Rob Nicholson, PC, QC, MP for Niagara Falls and Minister of National Defence and Lieutenant-General Yvan Blondin, Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), unveiled the new RCAF uniform today at the Battle of Britain ceremony in Ottawa.

Main aspects of the new uniform, are drawn from pre-unification rank insignia while the design also maintains the modern elements and terminology familiar to serving members and militaries around the world. The insignia for most ranks will be recognizable as the symbols that air force personnel have worn for nearly half a century.

In recognition of the 90th anniversary of the founding of the RCAF, rank insignia and national shoulder titles for both officers and non-commissioned members will return to a distinctive pearl-grey stitching, the original colour worn by RCAF non-commissioned members until 1968. Dress tunic buttons will not change in design but their colour will switch from gold to silver. General officers headdress piping (embroidery) will also change from gold-coloured to pearl-grey.

The rumoured rank insignia and name changes have not been decided upon yet, except that the new rank “Aviator” will replace the current “Private”, “Airman”, and “Airwoman”. The rank insignia is a single stitched propeller.

Update:

September 15, 2014

RCAF “raids” air force museum for spare parts

Filed under: Cancon, Military — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 09:27

We often joke about the “museum pieces” that the Canadian Armed Forces have to operate, due to very long procurement processes and budget shortfalls, but this is the first time I’ve heard of scavenging spare parts from actual museum displays:

The Ottawa Citizen has learned that in July 2012 air force technicians raided an old Hercules airplane that is on display at the National Air Force Museum of Canada because they needed navigational equipment for a similar aircraft still in use.

The revelation highlights the difficulties military personnel have increasingly faced in keeping Canada’s ancient search-and-rescue planes flying after more than a decade of government promises to buy replacements.

The air force museum is at Canadian Forces Base Trenton, Ont., and boasts a large collection of military aircraft that have been retired and subsequently placed on display.

[…]

“They sort of called (Colton) up and said ‘Hey, we have these two INUs that we can’t use. Do you have any on yours?’ ” Windsor said. “Some of the parts are interchangeable. They just kind of got lucky on that.”

Defence Minister Rob Nicholson’s office defended the air force’s decision to ask a museum for parts to keep its search-and-rescue planes flying.

“The RCAF took the initiative to remove these functional, perfectly good parts and use them effectively,” spokeswoman Johanna Quinney said in an email.

But former head of military procurement Dan Ross said it’s “embarrassing” that the air force has to “cannibalize old stuff that’s in museums” to keep its planes flying.

Update, 16 September: The story triggered a question to the minister in parliament.

NDP defence critic Jack Harris: “Mr. Speaker, the government’s failed plans to replace Canada’s aging search and rescue aircraft hit a new low with the news that the RCAF had to source parts from a 50-year-old plane on display at the National Air Force Museum. It would be funny if it were not for the fact that Canadians rely on the Hercules and Buffalo aircraft to respond to thousands of emergencies every year. Though started by the Liberals in 2002, there will not be replacement planes in operation until 2019, at the earliest.

Does the minister simply expect the RCAF to raid other museums in the meantime?

Defence Minister Rob Nicholson responded: “What the honourable member was referring to was a mistake. When it was discovered, the RCAF took the appropriate measures. That being said, this is the government that has delivered 17 new Hercules transport aircraft, four strategic transports, and 15 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters. How did the NDP vote? The NDP voted against all of these; every dollar for the military is opposed by the NDP.”

Not sure what Nicholson meant by “a mistake.” He didn’t elaborate in the House of Commons.

But it’s different than the earlier response from his office, which acknowledged the scavenging and praised it as taking the “initiative.”

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