Political games continue to swirl around the F-35

By Lee Berthiaume, Postmedia News

August 26, 2012

More than four months after the auditor general raised concerns about the Harper government’s handling of the $25-billion F-35 program, the political spin continues — with no end in sight.

This week was no exception as the NDP held a day of “hearings” into the program, while Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s parliamentary secretary claimed the government never said it had decided to buy the stealth fighter.

And that was only after a senior Lockheed Martin official said the company is still planning its deliveries of 65 F-35s to Canada — the Harper government’s promise to review the purchase notwithstanding.

Defence analysts say the political games surrounding the F-35 are the exception and not the rule as other countries looking to purchase the stealth fighter are engaging in more serious, open discussion about the aircraft.

They worry Canadian taxpayers are tuning out debate on a matter of serious, long-term national security importance to the country — which might suit the Harper government just fine.

“The government probably calculates that if we started to have a real adult conversation about why we want to spend billions of dollars on a fifth-generation fighter in this particular financial climate, Canadians might not agree,” said Kim Nossal, director of Queen’s University’s Centre for International and Defence Policy.

Many had hoped Auditor General Michael Ferguson’s report on the F-35, which was released at the beginning of April, would present an opportunity to push the reset button after years of defending the increasingly troubled stealth fighter program.

The Harper government committed to conducting a complete review of the stealth fighter program and analyzing other options while pledging full transparency and oversight on things like costs.

It wasn’t long, however, before deadlines started to be missed.

For example, the Harper government had promised to release full cost estimates by the beginning of June, but now that won’t happen until late fall or early winter.

The government insists it is following a seven-step plan that includes freezing funding for the program and conducting a review, but analysts say there has been little evidence alternatives to the F-35 are being considered.

Then this week, Chris Alexander, parliamentary secretary to the defence minister, denied in an interview that the government had ever decided to buy the F-35 — and accused opposition parties of sowing confusion on the issue.

This was despite a long public record showing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and several cabinet ministers repeatedly committing to and defending the stealth fighter since 2010.

“Governments do this all the time, and it’s totally understandable that they would try to change the conversation,” said University of Ottawa defence expert Philippe Lagasse, who participated in the NDP’s hearings on the F-35 on Tuesday.

“The problem is there’s so much public evidence, that really you’re inviting mockery.”

But while analysts agreed Alexander’s comments were bizarre, they said they serve the purpose of muddying the waters and making it difficult for average Canadians to tell who’s telling the truth.

“As a taxpayer, the annoyance is the Conservative government hasn’t been entirely straight,” said Nossal.

“Instead what the government has done is kind of spin this in a way that is actually quite confusing to ordinary Canadians.”

Analysts say other countries considering the F-35, such as Australia, the United Kingdom and even the United States, have had much more open, frank discussions about the pros and cons of the F-35, which is facing cost overruns and production delays.

But there’s also a sense opposition parties have been contributing to the problem as well by trying to score political points out of the issue.

“The opposition is seeking to maximize the government’s political discomfort,” said Nossal.

“The fact is that both sides, in order to achieve their particular political, electoral objectives, are engaging in a certain degree of elasticity with how one interprets things.”

Ironically, analysts say, this may have played into the Harper government’s hands by turning Canadians off the issue.

“For the government, it’s ideal,” said James Fergusson, director of the University of Manitoba’s Centre for Defence and Security Studies. “It doesn’t allow you to have an open and balanced critical assessment.”

The concern is the politicking has turned average Canadians off at a time when they should be paying more attention than ever.

“Here we have a major procurement, which is a lot of money, which has big implications for the country, for the economy, for the military, which you would think in Canada should be a big issue for us,” Fergusson said. “But it’s not.”

Source: Ottawa Citizen
Publicités

Le Canada cherche à remplacer sa flotte d’hélicoptères pour ses garde-côtes

25/08/2012

David Campese

Sur son site internet d’achats public, le Canada a lancé un appel d’offres pour le renouvellement de 24 aéronefs (16 hélicoptères légers et 8 moyens).

L’acquisition se fera en cinq ans et concernera également la fourniture d’un simulateur de vol.

Eurocopter a des chances pour se positionner sur ce marché grâce à son expérience acquise avec les garde-côtes états-uniens mais également en raison de la forte implantation au Canada d’industriels français comme le groupe SAFRAN.

Source: MERX Marchés publics canadiens

DCNS propose la frégate Fremm et le Mistral au Canada

31/05/2012

Michel Cabirol

Le groupe naval français fait actuellement campagne au Canada pour vendre le design de la frégate multimissions en partenariat avec le chantier naval canadien Irving. Il est également en piste pour vendre de deux à trois Mistral à la marine royale canadienne. Deux projets assortis de transferts de technologies.

DCNS mise sur le Canada. Sans le dire officiellement mais tout le suggérant, le groupe naval vient d’ouvrir un bureau à Ottawa. C’est ce que ce que dit en filigrane le communiqué de DCNS, qui « aspire à apporter des solutions navales fortement interopérables avec le client canadien ». Il était d’ailleurs présent à l’exposition Cansec, organisée par l’Association des industries canadiennes de défense et de sécurité (AICDS) les 30 et 31 mai à Ottawa.

Pourquoi cet intérêt pour le Canada, qui d’habitude ne passionne guère les industriels de la défense français à l’exception donc de DCNS et de Thales, présent via sa filiale Thales Nederland ? Pour le groupe naval, le Canada est un pays où il lui semble possible de faire une percée commerciale. Du coup, il investit. « Nous n’irons pas en tant que prime (maître d’œuvre, ndlr) mais en partenariat avec des industriels canadiens », explique-t-on chez DCNS. Que vise DCNS ? L’acquisition par le Canada de douze nouvelles frégates en vue de remplacer les actuelles (Halifax) et de deux navires BPC (Bâtiment de projection et de commandement), de type Mistral dans le cadre de la stratégie nationale d’approvisionnement en matière de construction navale (SNACN) du Canada.

15.000 emplois au Canada

Ce programme doit consacrer une enveloppe de 33 milliards de dollars canadiens (25,8 milliards d’euros) sur une période de 20 à 30 ans pour la construction de 21 navires de combats à la Marine royale canadienne et de 7 autres civils pour la Garde côtière canadienne. Le gouvernement a d’ailleurs déjà sélectionné en octobre 2011 deux chantiers navals canadiens, le groupe Irving Shipbuilding pour les navires de guerre et Vancouver Shipyards (groupe Seaspan) pour les autres.

Selon l’AICDS, ces projets de construction navale représenteraient des avantages économiques directs et indirects annuels de plus de 2 milliards de dollars canadiens (1,56 milliard d’euros) et contribueraient à la création de 15.000 emplois au cours des 30 prochaines années. C’était l’objectif du gouvernement canadien. « La priorité absolue de notre gouvernement est de stimuler l’emploi et la croissance économique. Nous avons promis aux Canadiens de faire construire de nouveaux navires au Canada (…) », avait d’ailleurs expliqué en octobre dernier le ministre de la Défense, Peter MacKay, lors de l’annonce sur les choix des chantiers navals.

DCNS propose le design de la frégate Fremm

Selon nos informations, c’est dans ce cadre que DCNS discute actuellement avec Irving et lui propose le design de la frégate multi-missions Fremm (6.000 tonnes) avec des modifications canadiennes ainsi que le système de gestion de combat des navires (CMS), le Setis, assorti d’un transfert de technologies des plus classiques. Pour les missiles, les Canadiens vont se tourner naturellement vers les industriels américains mais sont intéressés par le missile anti-missile Aster de MBDA. Ce projet estime-t-on chez DCNS pourrait aboutir d’ici à deux ans.

Avantage pour le Canada, le design de la Fremm existe. La France a commandé à DCNS 11 frégates multi-missions pour des livraisons échelonnées entre 2012 à 2022. « Ces nouveaux navires permettront à la marine canadienne de continuer à surveiller et à défendre les eaux canadiennes et à contribuer de façon significative aux opérations navales internationales. Ce projet est à l’étape de l’analyse des options et sera présenté en temps voulu au gouvernement aux fins d’approbation pour passer à l’étape de la définition », explique le site des Travaux publics et Services gouvernementaux Canada.

Les BPC en piste pour régner sur l’Arctique

S’agissant des Mistral, qui intéresse beaucoup le Canada (La Tribune du 7 janvier), DCNS discute avec le chantier naval québécois Davie, le seul à disposer de bassins de construction suffisamment profonds pour le BPC ainsi qu’avec le groupe canadien d’ingénierie SNC-Lavalin. Le gouvernement canadien veut acquérir deux navires de soutien interarmées (NSI), que Ottawa juge « essentiels au succès des missions internationales et nationales des Forces canadiennes », et aura l’option d’en acheter un troisième. Le projet représente un investissement total d’environ 2,6 milliards de dollars canadiens (2 milliards d’euros).

Les NSI permettront de remplir les fonctions principales des pétroliers ravitailleurs d’escadre actuels, à savoir, entre autres, l’approvisionnement en carburant, en munitions, en pièces de rechange, en nourriture et en eau. Ils auront une installation moderne de soins médicaux et dentaires, comprenant une salle d’opération, ainsi qu’un atelier de réparation pour assurer le fonctionnement des hélicoptères et d’autres équipements; enfin, ils auront une capacité d’autodéfense élémentaire. Le chantier naval STX France a la possibilité de « consolider la coque du navire afin de l’adapter aux latitudes septentrionales ». C’est ce qu’avait affirmé en 2010 lors du salon Euronaval, le directeur général de STX France, Jacques Hardelay. Depuis la France a vendu le Mistral à la Russie, dont un exemplaire serait affecté dans l’Arctique. Un atout de plus pour le BPC dans sa campagne de promotion au Canada.

Source: la Tribune

Canada – Check out other jets

By Peter E. Greene, The Windsor Star

May 28, 2012

As someone who has worked in production and overhaul of military aircraft, I have been avidly reading the various letters and opinion/guest columns that have appeared in your paper, for and against the Canadian government’s decision to buy the F-35 aircraft for the Royal Canadian Air Force.

The latest salvo condemning the F-35 program comes from retired colonel Paul Maillet, an aerospace engineer and former fleet manager for Canada’s CF18 fleet.

Paul Maillet called the F-35 a « serious strategic mismatch » to Canada’s military needs.

The drawbacks mentioned were the F-35’s single engine, low range, low payload and low manoeuvrability .

The F-35 has been shrouded in controversy, cost overruns and delays, yet the Canadian government and Department of National Defence are adamant to go ahead with this aircraft deal.

Auditor General Michael Ferguson gave a highly critical report of the Defence Department’s handling of the F-35 project. Why doesn’t the Canadian government follow a tendering and evaluation process for new aircraft that it wants to purchase?

No doubt the military industrial complex in North America has a powerful lobby which will bring pressure on our government and DND to buy this aircraft. Canada should be looking at other aircraft that several countries have to offer.

It is interesting to note that rising superpower India, which was looking to buy a medium multi-role combat aircraft for the Indian air force, started a tendering process and evaluated six aircraft from different countries over a period of five years.

They evaluated the U.S.-made F/A-18 Super Hornet and F-16 Super Viper jets, the Rafale made by Dassault Aviation of France, The Eurofighter Typhoon made by a European consortium, the Russian MiG-35 aircraft and the Saab Gripen made by Sweden.

U.S. President Barack Obama made a special visit to India to lobby its government to buy the F/A-18 Super Hornet. It was a hotly contested race of strict technical and commercial evaluation and the two finalists were the Rafale of Dassault Aviation and the Eurofighter Typhoon.

The final clincher was the cost evaluation and the Rafale aircraft was selected. President Obama was disappointed and offered the F-35 aircraft to India.

The Indians rejected the F-35 and went ahead with their deal to buy 126 MMRCA Rafale fighters from France for $20 billion. Dassault will supply the first 18 aircraft by 2015 and the rest will be manufactured under licence by India.

This will be the longest opentender military aviation deal in the world.

Rafale is a twin-jet, semi stealth combat aircraft capable of carrying out a wide range of short-and long-range missions, including ground and sea attacks, reconnaissance, high-accuracy strikes and nuclear strike deterrence. Rafale can carry payloads of more than 9t on 14 hardpoints for the air force version, with 13 for the naval version.

The range of weapons includes: Mica, Magic, Sidewinder, ASRAAM and AMRAAM air-to-air missiles; Apache, AS30L, ALARM, HARM, Maverick and PGM100 air-toground missiles and Exocet/ AM39, Penguin 3 and Harpoon anti-ship missiles. The Rafale is a NATO-compatible aircraft and has flown in NATO operations over Tajikstan, Afghanistan and Libya.

Canada should evaluate more aircraft under a tendering process rather than making a hasty and costly mistake by going for the overpriced and untested F-35 aircraft. The Rafale aircraft offers high value for money.

It is high time that our defence department jettisoned the canopy, ejected and bailed out of the F-35 project.

Peter E. Greene lives in Windsor.

Après le Canada, les surcoûts du F-35 posent problème aux Pays-Bas

15/04/2012

Les Pays-Bas achèteront moins d’avions de chasse américains que prévu. Au Canada, le programme d’acquisition de cet appareil est gelé

La question des surcoûts du F-35, l’avion de chasse américain construit par Lockheed Martin bat son plein. Ce dimanche, le ministre de la Défense des Pays Bas, Hans Hillen a indiqué que les Pays-Bas achèteront moins d’avions de chasse que prévu en raison de la hausse de leurs coûts et du fait que l’armée de l’air néerlandaise aura besoin de remplacer moins de F-16 qu’elle ne le pensait. Les Pays-Bas prévoyaient initialement d’acheter 85 F-35, construits par l’américain Lockheed Martin entre 2019 et 2027. Le ministre n’a pas précisé combien d’avions de chasse seront finalement achetés.

Un gonflement de 9 milliards de dollars de la facture canadienne

Au Canada, qui a commandé en juillet 2010 (sans appel d’offres) 65 exemplaires pour 9 milliards de dollars canadiens (autant de dollars américains), et 16 milliards en tenant compte des contrats d’entretien, la question des coûts fait rage depuis que le Vérificateur général du Canada (la Cour des Comptes locale) a reproché il y a un mois au ministère de la Défense Peter MacKay d’avoir fortement sous-estimé les coûts. Ceci en n’ayant pas « établi les coûts complets sur l’ensemble du cycle de vie » de l’appareil dont les coûts pourraient atteindre 25 milliards de dollars. L’opposition a aussitôt déclenché un tir de barrage contre le gouvernement conservateur.

Surtout, le rapport du Vérificateur a forcé le gouvernement à geler le budget pour l’acquisition des F-35, la plus grosse commande militaire du Canada. Aussi, ce gel pourrait se traduire par une révision à la baisse du nombre d’avions achetés. « Nous ferons l’acquisition du F-35 uniquement si nous pouvons le faire dans les limites de ce budget de 9 milliards de dollars », a déclaré le ministre associé à la Défense nationale, Julian Fantino.

Source: la Tribune

Canada may back out of F35 purchase: minister

March 13, 2012

Ottawa – Canada’s associate defense minister on Tuesday said one of the most ardent supporters of the F35 program could back out of a multi-billion purchase of the fighter jets.

« We have not as yet discounted the possibility of backing out of the program, » Minister Julian Fantino, responsible for military procurement, was quoted as telling the House of Commons defense committee.

According to Canadian media, he said the government remains committed to buying the jet, but noted that no contract has been signed.

Fantino was not available to confirm the comments, which were widely interpreted as a step back from Ottawa’s clarion defense of the costly F35 program.

The Joint Strike Fighter is supposed to form the backbone of the future US air fleet and 11 other allied countries have joined the program.

But defense officials have struggled to keep costs under control, with each plane’s price tag doubling in real terms over the past decade.

Ottawa has budgeted Can$8.5 billion to buy 65 F35 fighter jets plus another Can$7.5 billion for lifetime maintenance.

Last month, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said his government would not spend more than this amount for new fighter jets, leaving open the possibility of scaling back the number of jets it buys to stay within budget.

Source: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems Signs Contract with Canada for Design Study for Joint Support Ships

March 9, 2012 – David Pugliese

From ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems:

ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) a leading European systems house providing submarines and naval surface ships and Canada’s procurement agency PWGSC have signed a contract in Hamburg for a multiphase design study for the Canadian Navy’s next generation Joint Support Ship (JSS).
As part of a major fleet renewal program, Canada plans to replace its two Auxiliary Oil Replenishment (AOR) Vessels with two or three Joint Support Ships. One possible design for the new JSS is a version of the German Navy’s latest Berlin Class Task Group Supply Vessel (EGV) specifically modified to meet Canadian requirements. The agreement between PWGSC and TKMSC includes the provisions for a licensing agreement for the use of the EGV design for the construction in and deployment of the ships by Canada should the EGV design be selected.

The modified design, to be developed by ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems Canada (TKMSC) in close cooperation with Blohm + Voss Naval (BVN), a strongly positioned professional naval systems engineering house, will be considered alongside an in-house design, being developed by the Department of National Defence (DND), the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), and BMT Fleet Technology in Canada.

Should the TKMS modified Berlin Class EGV design be chosen, the award of a contract for the functional design is planned, which would be used for the construction of the ships by a Canadian shipyard.

Source: blogs.ottawacitizen.com

Héroux-Devtek boosts profit as sales rise

MONTREAL— The Canadian Press
PublishedFriday, Nov. 04, 2011

Heroux-Devtek Inc. (HRX-T6.890.406.16%), a maker of aerospace and industrial products, reported Friday its net profit nearly doubled in the latest quarter on higher revenue and more efficient manufacturing.

The Montreal-area company said it earned $4.8-million, or 16 cents per share, in the three months ended Sept. 30, the second quarter of its 2012 fiscal year.

That compared with net earnings of $2.7-million, or 9 cents, a year ago.

Revenue for the period increased 3.4 per cent to $86-million from $83.2-million.

The company said its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization rose as the company benefited from a better product mix and a better absorption of manufacturing overhead costs because of higher volumes.

Manufacturing improvements also had a favourable impact on operating profit, which rose to $7.6-million from $5.2-million.

“Héroux-Devtek recorded strong second quarter and first half financial results, a performance that clearly validates our focus on value-added products and services as well as earlier investments in productivity enhancement initiatives, as we constantly seek greater efficiency in order to offset the high value of the Canadian currency,” president and CEO Gilles Labbé said in the company’s earnings report released before stock markets opened Friday.

“Although the global macro-economic environment remains volatile, underlying demand in our core markets is robust with higher production rates for several large commercial aircraft programs, the ramp-up of new aircraft programs on which we are actively involved, and solid order books in our main industrial markets.”

Héroux-Devtek supplies landing gear and other parts to makers of commercial and military aircraft and provides industrial customers with large components for power generation equipment.

The company is based in Longueuil, Que. and has plants in the Montreal area, Kitchener, Ont., Toronto, U.S. plants in Arlington, Tex.; Springfield, Cleveland and Cincinnati, Ohio, as well as Queretaro, Mexico.

About 70 per cent of Héroux-Devtek’s sales are outside Canada.

Source: the globe and mail

 

GA-ASI and CAE Partner to Meet Canadian ISTAR and Strike Needs With Offer of Predator B UAS

Teaming to Pursue Canada’s Joint UAV Surveillance and Target Acquisition System (JUSTAS) Program

SAN DIEGO and MONTREAL, CANADA – 25 May 2011 – General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA‑ASI), a leading manufacturer of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), tactical reconnaissance radars, and surveillance systems, and CAE today announced that the companies have signed an exclusive teaming agreement to offer the Predator® B UAS to meet Canada’s Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) needs.

“GA-ASI’s establishment of a formal partnership with CAE signifies a firm commitment by both companies to help Canada strengthen its security and sovereignty both at home and abroad,” said Frank Pace, president, Aircraft Systems Group, GA-ASI.  “CAE’s expertise in the operation and maintenance of large fleets of manned aircraft, modelling and simulation technologies, and in-service support solutions is well matched by GA-ASI’s proficiency in the design, development, production, and operational support of proven, affordable, and responsive unmanned aircraft systems with integrated reconnaissance payloads.”

Under the program presently referred to as the JUSTAS program, the Canadian Government will establish a requirement to field and support interoperable, network-enabled UASs to provide ISTAR and all-weather precision-strike capabilities in support of its operations worldwide.  GA-ASI and CAE will jointly compete for this program, with GA-ASI serving as the prime contractor supporting a U.S. Foreign Military Sale (FMS) procurement.  The teaming arrangement between GA-ASI and CAE is designed to offer the best combination of experience and proven capability to meet program and Canadian-specific requirements while reducing technical, cost, and schedule risks.

As the first-tier Canadian subcontractor, CAE would have overall responsibility for a comprehensive In-Service Support (ISS) solution, including operator and mission training systems; integration with Canada’s existing Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) infrastructure; systems engineering support; and lifecycle and integrated logistics support services.  CAE would also have responsibility for assembling a pan-Canadian team of companies to develop and support any Canadian-specific requirements and content for Canada’s national ISTAR capabilities.

“Just as unmanned systems are transforming today’s military operations, CAE has transformed itself in recent years as much more than a flight simulation company,” said Martin Gagne, CAE’s group president, Military Products, Training and Services.  “Our experience and expertise in operational and in-service support, as well as modelling and simulation for both manned and unmanned systems, makes CAE the ideal Canadian partner for GA-ASI, and well-positioned to support the Canadian Government as our country acquires a critical UAS capability.”

Featuring an extensive payload capacity (850 lb/385 kg internally, 3,000 lb/1360 kg externally), the multi-mission Predator B is a long-endurance, medium-high-altitude UAS that can be used for surveillance, military reconnaissance, and targeting missions. The aircraft has a maximum gross takeoff weight of 10,500 lb/4763 kg, is powered by a Honeywell turboprop engine, has a maximum altitude of 50,000 feet/15240 meters, and can stay aloft for up to 30 hours.  Currently operational as MQ-9 Reaper with the U.S. Air Force and Royal Air Force and as MQ-9 with the Italian Air Force, Predator B provides unparalleled close air support and persistent situational awareness to coalition forces, demonstrating proven NATO interoperability.

Pentagon Contract Announcement: General Dynamics Land Systems

Canadian Commercial Corp., General Dynamics Land Systems – Canada, Ontario, Canada, is being awarded a $42,239,322 firm-fixed-priced modification under previously awarded contract (M67854-07-D-5028) for the labor and materials for packaging and kitting of 51 separate engineering change proposal (ECP) vehicle upgrade kits into one individual kit.

These kits will be delivered to Kuwait and installed on RG-31 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles.

There will be 691 individual kits prepared. This procurement also includes the packaging and kitting of seven ECP kits for installation on 350 delivery order #0003 variant MRAP vehicles.

Work will be performed in Johnannesburg, South Africa, and is expected to be completed no later than May 31, 2012. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year.

Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity