Esprit de Corps recently had the opportunity to attended the Best Defence Conference and trade show in London Ontario. Held November 5-6 2018, it is not as big as CANSEC or DEFSEC but it is well-attended by senior military and defence officials. Organizer Heather Pilot, president of Pilot Hill Ltd. and an Esprit de Corps Women in Defence honoree in 2018, is the driving force behind the growing show. Besides big players like General Dynamics Land Systems, Southwestern Ontario is home to numerous firms specializing in military applications of advanced composites and world-class technologies.
By Jim Scott
With the competing bids to find a contractor for the Canadian Surface Combatants (CSC) programme submitted as of November 2017, it would seem we are “all ahead full” towards the goal of a modern, capable navy for many years to come. As is usual with such projects, companies create bids with an eye to proving to Canadian taxpayers that the money will not only be well spent, but mostly spent in Canada, with a requisite return to our economy.
Alion Canada gets that. They don’t build the ships. They leave that to century-old Irving Shipbuilding, but they do make sure the ship is designed and equipped to take advantage of the latest sensors and weapons systems and is able to integrate new technology in the years ahead.
Alion Canada was established in the Ottawa area in 2009 by parent company Alion Science and Technology Corporation, a major US defence and security player. Harking back to 1936, when Chicago’s Illinois Institute of Technology created a non-profit research arm, Alion has a lineage of successfully managing projects, delivering results and keeping naval assets operational. The US parent provided engineering and operational support to the USN’s Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruisers and manages the maintenance schedule for 165 ships of the fleet.
Alion Canada presently has a core team of marine engineers, naval architects and system designers; which will no doubt grow in size with a successful bid. As Alion COO Bruce Samuelsen told Esprit de Corps after the bids were in, “Each decision we made for equipment selection and systems integration focused on delivering cost-effective solutions that meet the requirements while delivering robust Canadian content.” He says Alion and its partners “are actually creating high-value engineering and manufacturing jobs for Canadians”.
Alion Canada isn’t just a store front operation. Aside from involvement in the Joint Support Ship and Offshore Fisheries Science Vessel programmes, Alion, along with Vancouver’s Robert Allan Ltd., designed Australia’s MV Investigator, a science research vessel built in Singapore. In as much as every federal government for the last half century has re-iterated the need for a domestic ship-building industry on both coasts, it is clear that taxpayer value is best delivered with this sort of international cooperation.
Alion’s CSC bid is based on a proven design which can be handed over to Irving with minimal changes. The De Zeven Provincien LCF frigate, built by Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding in the Netherlands, has already proven itself in over a decade of operation. The next generation of RCN ships will replace the Iroquois-class destroyers as well as the Halifax-class frigates, so a naval architect has to contend with command-and-control, communications, fire power, integrated sensors, helicopter ops, anti-torpedo and anti-missile defence, configured for maximum effect in a single hull. Given the complexity of a modern warship, and the fact that Canadian governments only engage in naval shipbuilding every twenty or so years, it only makes sense to take what is already working and tailor it to Canadian needs rather than starting from scratch.
Samuelsen compared designing a ship to drawing up plans for a small city, then dropping that city on the open ocean. Miles of wiring and piping, a hotel load for electronics and living quarters, fresh water and food storage, fuel storage and consumption, stocking and delivering of various munitions to various weapons systems, and all the while the vessel has to see, but not be seen by, an enemy intent on its destruction. It is no wonder that it takes so long to acquire a ship, and there is no question it has to be done right.
Aside from their own resources, and those of their US parent, Alion has enlisted the expertise of top-flight suppliers to kit out their proposed warship. ATLAS Elektronik will supply the open architecture combat management system (CMS) utilizing existing (and upgradeable) Hensoldt Sensors radars. L3 Technologies Canada, Raytheon Canada Ltd., DRS Technologies Canada Ltd. and Rheinmetall Canada Inc. will add their world-class weapons and systems.
With a budget projected at $60 billion (up from an original budget of $24 billion), this is sure to be the single greatest expenditure in the history of Canadian defence procurement. Thankfully, Canada can rely on the advice and experience of her allies, and the proven expertise of successful companies such as Alion. Whether the present government is fully committed to 15 ships with the capabilities the RCN seeks remains to be seen. Given today’s geopolitics, the case can be made that the need for robust seapower has never been greater.
By David Pugliese
The Liberal government has approved the Canadian Armed Forces’ plan to acquire a fleet of armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
But even though the government voiced support for the program in its Defence Policy Review, it is still going to be a number of years before industry sees some kind of tangible movement on the acquisition.
This program is expected to cost more than $1 billion. Royal Canadian Air Force spokesman Maj. Scott Spurr has noted the military is still examining its options for the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) project (formerly known as JUSTAS). The Canadian Forces hopes to have a contract in place in 2022, but that could slide until 2024.
At least one firm is ready for a competition when it emerges.
Melissa Haynes, a spokeswoman for General Atomics, the U.S. firm which makes the Predator family of UAVs, said the company intends to offer the MQ-9B SkyGuardian to Canada.
Meanwhile, the Canadian Army has acquired the Insitu RQ-21A Blackjack (pictured at right), a small UAV. Deliveries of the system took place in late 2017. Five aircraft and two ground control stations were purchased. In addition, there is a launch and recovery system. The Canadian Army is the first non-U.S. military organization to use the system. Each aircraft is capable of providing surveillance coverage of over 100 km for over 12 hours. The contract was valued at $14.2 million (US) and includes initial training. Canada acquired the system from the U.S. Navy, according to Canadian officials.
The Blackjack is produced by Boeing Insitu, based in Bingen, Washington. The system will be based out of Canadian Forces Base Gagetown and operated by the 4th Artillery Regiment (General Support), the Canadian government noted.
The Army already had the Raven B, a hand-launched mini-UAV. That UAV, manufactured by AeroVironment, was acquired by the Army from MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates in 2014.
In addition, the Army and Royal Canadian Navy have expressed interest in what is being called the Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) UAS Services Interim Capability. This system will provide near real-time, beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance information to the tactical units at sea and on land.
Industry representatives met with Public Services and Procurement Canada officials in mid-November to find out more details about the potential project. The government has also issued a request for information from companies.
Industry discussions focused on a variety of topics including technical specifications for unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and payloads and supplier experience in integration of airborne surveillance systems.
The requirement will be addressed through a provision of service under a combination of company owned/company operated and company owned/military operated models for domestic and international operations, according to the federal government.
The service includes the provision and associated in-service support of a mature and proven, commercial off-the-shelf UAS that will enable the timely delivery of ISTAR information to military commanders.
The potential contract could be worth more than $100 million for the winning bid.
By David Pugliese
The Royal Canadian Air Force is in varying stages of modernizing its rotary aircraft fleet. Esprit de Corps takes a look at the status of the main projects under way.
The acquisition of the CH-148 Cyclone helicopter to replace the aging Sea Kings continues to move along. As of October 18, a total of 13 CH-148 Cyclone helicopters have been delivered and accepted by the RCAF, military officials told Esprit de Corps. The aircraft currently at 12 Wing Shearwater, Nova Scotia, are being used for training and operational testing, as well as conversion training.
Training is progressing from initial cadre training (teaching aircrew to operate a new aircraft for the purposes of testing it and training on it) to building the cadre of operational aircrew.
The crews that went through initial cadre training are continuing with the operational test and evaluation program of the CH-148 Cyclone, while others are instructing new crews who are now undergoing conversion training from the Sea King to form the CH-148 fleet’s operational aircrews, Department of National Defence spokeswoman Dominique Tessier explained.
The Cyclone fleet is expected to reach initial operating capability by spring of 2018 and is scheduled to be ready for operational employment by the summer of 2018.
Delivery of all 28 Cyclone helicopters, in their final configuration, is expected to be completed by 2021.
CH-149 CORMORANT MODERNIZATION
Earlier this year, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan suggested that an upgrade program for the CH-149 Cormorant search and rescue helicopters would be a key program for the RCAF in the future.
Leonardo Helicopters and IMP Aerospace & Defence re-established their “Team Cormorant” to pursue the proposed modernization of the Cormorant fleet. Team Cormorant comprises Leonardo Helicopters, the original equipment manufacturer of the EH101/AW101/Cormorant helicopters; IMP, the prime contractor for Cormorant in-service support; and other key Canadian companies that will supply and support critical aircraft components, technology, systems, simulation and training. Those firms include CAE, GE Canada and Rockwell Collins.
The Cormorant Mid-Life Upgrade (CMLU) and Conversion Program proposed by the companies combines the current fleet of 14 CH-149 helicopters with additional helicopters obtained by the Canadian government when it acquired the assets of the U.S. VH-71 presidential helicopter program. Those helicopters and parts are currently in storage at IMP Aerospace in Halifax. The CMLU and Conversion Program offers a single, common fleet incorporating the latest avionic and mission systems, advanced radars and sensors, vision enhancement and tracking systems, according to Team Cormorant.
The team wants to install modern cockpit displays, a new aircraft management system, avionics, weather radar and other systems. In addition, an electro-optical surveillance system would be included. GE would provide its CT7-8E engine, a 3,000-horsepower turboshaft engine, for the modernized helicopters.
DAG puts the price tag at $500-million to $1.5-billion. The RFP was supposed to be issued in 2018 and a contract awarded in 2019, but it is unclear at this point whether the Department of National Defence and Public Services and Procurement Canada will be able to meet those deadlines.
CH-146 GRIFFON MODERNIZATION
The Griffon Limited Life Extension project will extend the service life of the CH-146 Griffon beyond the current estimated life expectancy, allowing it to continue to be relevant for support to the Canadian Army and Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM) units.
The life extension project is projected to allow the Griffon helicopters to continue to operate out to the 2030s, said Capt. Trevor Reid of the directorate of Air Force public affairs.
“The project will replace obsolete cockpit instruments and avionics with components that are supportable to the mid-2030s,” Reid noted. Adaptation and integration of existing avionics and electronic flight instruments in the aircraft will enable an extension of the life of the Griffon. The CH-146’s flight simulators will be modified to conform to the fleet. Finally, the project will ensure integrated logistic support, supply of initial spares and training, Reid added.
The anticipated timeline is as follows:
• 2018 — Definition Approval
• 2020 — Implementation Approval, Request for Proposal Release, Contract Award
• 2024-2025 — Initial Operating Capability for Life-extended Griffons
• 2026 — Final Delivery
It should be noted that this project has been delayed from its previous schedule. In 2015, the RCAF put definition approval for 2016. In addition, implementation, issuing of an RFP (request for proposal) and awarding a contact were all to be done in 2018. Final delivery of the upgraded helicopters was to have taken place in 2024 under the old schedule.
The preliminary cost estimate for the project has also climbed. In the Defence Acquisition Guide (DAG) 2015 the cost was put at between $500-million and $1.5-billion. But in DAG 2016 that price tag was set at “more than $1.5 billion.” DAG 2017 has not yet been released so it is unclear whether the cost will continue to increase.
Eventually, a new helicopter will be acquired through what the RCAF is calling a Tactical Reconnaissance Utility Helicopter project.
By Micaal Ahmed
Rheinmetall Canada, a member of Germany’s Rheinmetall Group, has always been a leading player in the Canadian defence industry, and is living up to that reputation with a whole new technological arsenal in the works.
For starters, the company’s Argus soldier system will soon be entering its final production stages. The Argus will allow soldiers to perform functions such as detecting, locating, identifying, and engaging threats. This modular system went into development in 2015, when Rheinmetall Canada was awarded the contract to develop the integrated soldier system (ISS) for the Canadian Armed Forces. They were contracted to develop 1,632 systems, 32 of which have been delivered to the CAF and are currently being tested; the remaining units will enter production by the end of this year.
The Argus soldier system offers a range of features and capabilities, including such functions are pre-mission planning and mission loading, positioning and situational awareness, wayfinding, blue force tracking, geo-referenced free-hand sketching, mission overlay creation and display, digitized order and message templates, and multiple sensor support using communication protocols.
Another of Rheinmetall’s technological advancements that will soon be available on the international market is its multimission unmanned ground vehicle (MMUGV).
Adaptable, modular, and made to order, this new generation of vehicle features a platform that allows operators to easily install different payloads onto the basic vehicle to accomplish a range of mission profiles, from mule to force protection and surveillance. Capable of performing in dangerous environments and difficult terrain, Rheinmetall’s remote-controlled MMUGV provides safety and security to mounted and dismounted combat forces, increases their operational effectiveness, and keeps them out of harm’s way.
The MMUGV – P, for force protection, has been specifically designed for perimeter protection, escorting, target acquisition, and engagement tasks. Its counterpart, the MMUGV – S (Multimission Unmanned Ground Vehicle – Surveillance), has been specifically designed for perimeter observation, reconnaissance, and scouting tasks.
Rheinmetall Canada also offers a family of fully digital and stabilized remotely controlled weapon stations that can be integrated onto various armoured vehicle platforms and used for different mission profiles.
Originally developed when General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) contracted Rheinmetall Canada to produce the Nanuk for the LAV IIIs being deployed to Afghanistan, the company has since ‘navalized’ the remote weapon station for the Royal Canadian Navy so it can be used on its ships. So far, one prototype was installed and tested successfully aboard HMCS Goose Bay, and now all that remains is a final approval before these remote weapon stations can be installed fleet-wide.
Similarly, the Nanuk-Dual weapon station, designed with a versatile weapon cradle that supports two weapons simultaneously, offers full stabilization as well as long-range day/night all-weather sights. Furthermore, both the main and coaxial weapons can be designed according to customer requirements to use a variety of ammunition, bringing the development of remote weapon systems to a whole new level.
These are just a few of the developments currently being made by this Canadian company specializing in the development, integration and production of defence platforms, with locations in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec and Ottawa.
With this product range — and with even more in the pipeline — Rheinmetall Canada seems poised to maintain its prominence in the world of Canadian defence.
By Scott Taylor
This year marked the sixth annual Best Defence Conference held in London, Ontario. The intent of these two-day events is to bring together high-tech defence industries, government officials and military personnel for the purpose of highlighting the multitude of defence-related industry capabilities that exist in Southern Ontario.
Originally organized by the London Economic Development Corporation, the format has grown and morphed over the years, but it has always been under the direction and guidance of the dynamic Heather Pilot. Last year Pilot decided to fly Best Defence solo under the banner of her own company, Pilot Hill Ltd.
What was initially an informal networking opportunity, Best Defence has matured into a full-fledged mini trade show. This year the number and scope of exhibitors grew yet again and the floor format was better optimized to keep all activities, speeches and B2B meetings in the same hall. In past years, some exhibitors were relegated to the outside hallway and perhaps remained unseen by a percentage of attendees.
The networking remains a priority at Best Defence as this year’s program had three separate receptions plus a breakfast and lunch. On November 1, the first day of the two-day conference, Women in Defence and Security (WiDS) hosted the opening reception, which was followed that afternoon by a number of presentations. The main panel discussion was moderated by Stan Jacobson of Canadian Commercial Corporation and was entitled “Canadian Companies Doing Business with the U.S. DoD — The Risks and Rewards.”
The official kickoff reception took place that evening at 1800 hours and featured the ubiquitous David Perry, a senior analyst with the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, as the keynote speaker. By 2030 hours the reception had concluded but the mingling continued as many of the Best Defence’s 300-plus attendees spilled out into local London restaurants and watering holes.
The next day saw an early start with breakfast being served at 0700 hours. The first speaker was Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries (CADSI) President and CEO Christyn Cianfarani. While Best Defence is an independent event, CADSI is officially a supporter.
The highlight of the morning presentations was the mini-outlooks provided by DND. Delivered by Colonel Nicolas Pilon, Colonel Steve Chouinard, and Captain(N) Jason Armstrong, they gave future insight into the procurement needs of the Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Air Force and Royal Canadian Navy, respectively.
The morning lineup concluded with what was called Technology Showcase Pitches. This segment allowed 11 separate companies a four-minute window in which to inform the audience as to what sets their products and innovations apart from the rest. Not exactly speed dating, but it was certainly informative and educational.
The highest-profile speaker of the show was Lieutenant-General (ret’d) Andrew Leslie, the current Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. There were plenty of old comrades present for Leslie to acknowledge in his address, not least of whom was LGen (ret’d) Peter Devlin, his successor as Canadian Army commander. Following his retirement from the CAF, Devlin was hired as the President of Fanshaw College, which includes the new Canadian Centre for Product Validation (CCPV). This 25,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility is one of the crown jewels in London’s defence-related industrial sector.
Things wound down around 1530 hours, and for those not grabbing a plane or train out of London, there was yet another networking reception to close things down.
Heather Pilot and her team are to be commended for once again living up to a challenging name. Best Defence just keeps getting better.
By David Pugliese
The Canadian Armed Forces will start receiving the first of its new standard military pattern (SMP) trucks by the end of this year.
The SMP trucks are coming from Mack Defense, LLC. “The final delivery of the SMP trucks is expected mid-2019, with the project conclusion in 2020,” Department of National Defence spokeswoman Jessica Lamirande told Esprit de Corps.
In June 2015, two contracts were awarded to Mack Defense, LLC for the purchase of 1,500 Standard Military Pattern trucks, 300 trailers and 150 armour protection systems, including spare parts, maintenance and project management services. The deal also included 20 years of in-service support.
Vehicles will deliver in five variants — Load Handling System, Mobile Repair Team, Cargo, Cargo with Crane, and Gun Tractor — from Prévost, located in Saint-Nicolas, Québec to Canadian Armed Forces bases across the country over the course of the next few years, added Lamirande.
The SMP is the last component of the Medium Support Vehicle System (MSVS) project, which is a multi-phased project that, besides SMP, is composed of following:
1,300 militarized commercial off-the-shelf (MilCOTS) trucks; delivery is completed.
994 shelters; delivery is completed.
Kitting of 846 of the shelters; kitting is completed.
DEW Engineering and Development has played a significant role in the MSVS program. In December 2016, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan highlighted the delivery of the last mobile workspaces from DEW Engineering for use by the Canadian Armed Forces as medical and dental clinics, workshops, field kitchens and command posts.
The mobile workspaces or “kitted shelters” are equipped with items including workbenches, electronic and office equipment, power generators and tools, the Canadian Armed Forces pointed out. The equipment (kitting) transforms the shelters, which are container-based workspaces that provide environmental protection, into functional units providing crucial support services.
The new mobile workspaces from DEW were bought as part of the MSVS project, which aims to modernize the military’s fleet of logistical trucks and mobile workspaces. They were delivered on time and on budget, the Canadian government pointed out.
DEW Engineering was contracted to deliver a total of 994 (plus one prototype) baseline (empty) shelters. Delivery was completed in February 2015. DEW was also contracted to deliver 846 kits to convert the empty shelters into functional units. Total value of contracts awarded was $233-million, the government noted.
Meanwhile, the $834-million contract that was awarded to Mack Defense for SMPs had been challenged by Oshkosh Defense Canada Inc., another firm that bid on the project.
Following a four-month review, the Canadian International Trade Tribunal (CITT) in the spring of 2016 ruled in Oshkosh’s favour and upheld, in part, some of its concerns related to shortfalls in the procurement processes, technical compliance and testing protocols. The CITT ruling recommended that Public Services and Procurement Canada re-evaluate Oshkosh’s bid and conduct a re-evaluation of vehicles for the SMP project. Failing that, the government could provide monetary compensation to Oshkosh, the CITT noted.
The Canadian government, however, has decided to challenge the CITT decision. It has gone to the Federal Court of Appeal with its case and those legal proceedings are underway. The legal challenge has not affected the delivery of the SMP vehicles.
By Sandrine Murray
In a world where connectivity and networking is king, the future looks good for a company specializing in communications like Rockwell Collins Canada.
Over the last five years, Rockwell Collins Canada has seen significant growth both in terms of people and investment in its domestic product lines. From less than 100, the company now has 250 employees across Canada, and expects that number to grow. As global security concerns increase, the company’s communications solutions are designed to meet the needs of all services within the Canadian Armed Forces.
As global threats change and evolve, reliable communication across platforms and frequencies becomes more important. In Canada, there are programs spelled out in the government’s recently released defence policy review requiring communications capabilities that align well with Rockwell Collins’ domestic offerings, explained Lee Obst, managing director, Canada for Rockwell Collins. These include Subnet Relay and wideband high frequency (HF). SubNet Relay creates mobile, ad hoc IP networks by reusing existing radios, while wideband HF enhances operational coverage and data-rate transmission compared with traditional HF. This allows for less reliance on satellite communications and provides significant performance enhancement to the user.
Rockwell Collins also develops wave forms in their local subsidiary for providing network and connectivity as exemplified by ongoing work on the Combat Net Radio (Enhanced) Project.
Rockwell Collins Canada is also focused on positioning for other Canadian military procurements, such as the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS). They also focus on promoting their avionics systems such as their Pro Line Fusion, which enhances the safety, efficiency of both military and commercial aircraft.
The government side of the group is based in Ottawa predominantly, which houses three focal areas. They design products in Ottawa for the federal market, which are exported through the rest of the corporation in Canada and internationally. The company’s presence in Canada’s capital also means it can provide service and support on all the products offered. Rockwell Collins solutions are found everywhere.
“We’re pretty much on everything the Air Force flies,” says Obst.
Rockwell Collins sees a strong presence and growth in the Canadian aerospace and defence world. Locally made with an eye for the export market, it is anticipating continued growth both in Canada and internationally.
By Sandrine Murray
November 30, 2017 is the deadline for Alion Canada to submit its request for proposal (RFP) for the design of the Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) contract. If anyone is [over]qualified for the job, it’s Alion.
What started as a Chicago-based technology research institute in the 1930s became Alion Science and Technology Corporation in 2002. Alion provides engineering and operational support to the U.S. government for national defence, intelligence and homeland security. They were the design agent for the DDG-51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and C-47 Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruisers in the U.S. Navy.
Canada offered an attractive market to invest and expand the operations of Alion, specifically in the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS, now called the National Shipbuilding Strategy or NSS).
Alion couldn’t simply import the U.S. expertise and capabilities to Canada, explained Chief Operating Officer Bruce E. Samuelsen. Instead, it would need to implant them within the country. To do so, they established Alion Canada in 2009.
Alion Canada has about 100 professionals, which includes engineers, naval architects and designers living and working in Canada. The company will leverage strength from the U.S. operations to support growth in Canada. American engineers trained Canadians.
“I’ve weaned myself of all the Americans, and now have implanted that skillset here,” Samuelsen says.
Alion Canada is committed to Canada for the long run. The investments made in Canada to date have already generated jobs and economic benefit, said Samuelsen. Alion has met with businesses across Canada to create opportunities for the Canadian industry and exports. Their proposition promises high-value work and sustainable economic benefits.
These include internships and work on various aspects of Alion, he says, including the CSC bid. Alion Canada’s goal is to lead the CSC design project and to export its ship design capabilities to the broader global market.
The Canadian government will invest in 15 CSC vessels, which will be Canada’s major surface component of maritime combat power. They need to be designed to be rapidly deployed anywhere in the world, either independently or as part of a Canadian international coalition. According to the Parliamentary Budget Office, the entire CSC program is projected to cost roughly $60-billion, which include such costs as training and ammunition; this amount does not include costs for personnel, operations, maintenance and mid-life refurbishment of the vessels.
The CSC project, part of the National Shipbuilding Strategy to renew the Royal Canadian Navy’s fleet, will replace the Iroquois-class destroyers and the Halifax-class multi-role patrol frigates with one single class capable of meeting various threats on the open ocean and coastal environment.
This is the biggest shipbuilding project in Canada since the Second World War, and involves a lengthy five-stage acquisition process.
“It’s a massive procurement,” says Samuelsen. “I’ve been able to pull people out of retirement for this project.”
Designing a ship is like designing a small city, but with a twist, he explained. Pull a city out of its roots and look at all the services and components that allow it to run smoothly. Then make it whole, so it can become self-sustaining. Finally, place it in the world’s most hostile environment, the ocean … now the task seems even more challenging.
“The complexity of a ship, for me as a naval architect, is really cool,” said Samuelsen. “But to develop the response, it’s a very intensive, cautious, careful process.”
But Alion is ready, because they bring an off-the-shelf design with a proven combat system and ship platform, making the necessary changes to meet Canada’s requirement. The platform and system solutions are currently operational to reduce the risk and cost for the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian taxpayer.
They selected the Dutch De Zeven Provinciën Air Defence and Command (LCF) frigate as a baseline for CSC, because it meets all the mandatory selection criteria without modification. It will also accelerate the production process, because it requires substantially fewer changes and provides the lowest risk approach to fulfilling Canada’s needs.
By Micaal Ahmed
Photos by Heath Moffat
In 2011, Seaspan Shipyards won the non-combat package of work for Canada’s National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS), and since then, the North Vancouver-based shipyard has been at the forefront of this ambitious program. “For a maritime nation like Canada, the NSS is a nation-building program that enjoys all-party support,” says Tim Page, Seaspan Shipyards’ Vice-President for Government Relations.
The NSS is a 30-year-long program that will see the construction of the next generation of ships for Canadian Coast Guard and the Royal Canadian Navy. This work will be accomplished by two Canadian shipyards, allowing Canada to benefit economically while building the skills and capabilities required for a sovereign shipbuilding industry.
After “decades of relative inactivity, the NSS, through a planned, long-term production schedule, will eliminate the boom and bust cycles that defined past federal shipbuilding programs,” says Page. “Although in its early stages, [the NSS] is already providing thousands of jobs and generating hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity across the country. It is transforming our shipbuilding and marine industry sectors to meet Canada’s long-term ambitions.”
Since its selection as Canada’s non-combat shipbuilder, according to Page, Seaspan is now:
Operating from a purpose-built shipyard in North Vancouver that is the most modern of its kind in North America, having invested $170 million of its own money to do so, not a penny of which came from (either federal or provincial) government coffers;
Creating a generation of qualified, well-paid Canadians by hiring and training hundreds of tradespeople from diverse backgrounds in the practice of modern, modular shipbuilding;
Developing a marine sector ecosystem across the country through predictable supply chain opportunities that is enabling companies to expand their operations; investing in technology, people and equipment; and exploring international business opportunities;
Establishing a Centre of Excellence on Canada’s West Coast for shipbuilding and ship repair that is putting Canada back on the global marine map as a reliable, capable and competitive option; and
Building the first three Offshore Fisheries Science Vessels (OFSVs) for the Canadian Coast Guard under the NSS, the first of which is scheduled for launch in December of this year.
“Suffice to say, Seaspan is fully committed to, and focused across a wide spectrum of activities to bring life and real work to the National Shipbuilding Strategy,” says Page. “We have made significant progress and had a real, demonstrable impact on the Canadian economy in the early years of the NSS program’s 30-year lifespan.”
One of the most vital vessels to come out of Seaspan’s shipyards as part of the NSS will be the Joint Support Ship (JSS); it will be the third class of vessels to be built at Vancouver Shipyards, following the OFSV and the Offshore Oceanographic Science Vessel (OOSV) programs.
“Projected to have a 30-year service life, the JSS will be the heart of the RCN fleet. Once built, JSS will serve as a critical component of Canadian and allied task groups, deployable to any theatre and under any threat environment with self-defence, survivability, replenishment and ice capabilities. JSS will be equipped with NATO standard medical, surgical and dental facilities and a NATO-compliant encrypted communications suite,” states Page.
“For JSS, we are currently under contract, and working in close collaboration with the Royal Canadian Navy, to perform the design and production engineering work required to update the original design to Canadian requirements and for production in our shipyard. It is through this exercise that we will generate a realistic idea of the number of labour hours and material costs required to build the vessels,” says Page. “We are also currently under contract to go to market to purchase equipment for the JSS that requires a longer lead time to arrive in the shipyard. We are well underway on this important program for the Canadian Navy.”
Through its work on the JSS Program Seaspan is delivering a vital capability to the Canadian Navy and creating jobs and economic opportunities across the country.
By Pierre Descotes
For many decades now, polymer pistols are being widely used by armed forces and police around the world. Light, easy to field strip for a quick inspection and cleaning, they certainly have some advantages over the older steel frame pistols such as the Browning High Power in service with the Canadian military.
Then again, the polymer pistols also have their flaws.
When it comes to safety, what worries me most about these weapons is the fact that the number one rule must be broken when you want to strip most polymer pistols: pulling the trigger.
Rule number one with firearms is to never put your finger on the trigger unless you intend to shoot.
With most polymer pistols, you do not have the choice but to pull the trigger prior to stripping the weapon for cleaning.
What we hear and see all too often are accidental discharges (A.D.) when attempting to field strip – or strip – a polymer pistol.
The technique is simple:
1- Remove your magazine
2- Remove the chambered bullet
3- Pull trigger
4- Strip the pistol
Unfortunately, when the mind is not 100% on what you are doing, or soldiers are coming off extended patrol are fatigued, steps 1 and 2 are sometimes inverted and then when step 3 is attempted, you get an A.D.
What can one do to prevent this? In most cases, not much other than educate your soldiers and pray for the best.
Then again, what do you do if a round is stuck into the chamber, and is impossible to manually extract? Since you must pull the trigger to strip the pistol, unless you can safely shoot the stuck round, you are in serious trouble.
That is unless you have a Berretta APX.
Beretta has come up with a perfect solution, one that allows you to strip your pistol without ever touching the trigger.
On their new Beretta APX pistol, on the right side, there is a small button that disengages the striker. You only need to pull back the slide a few millimeters and push this side button to disengage the striker. It is no longer necessary to pull the trigger. And if you have a bullet that is totally stuck in the chamber, the complete upper slide assembly will come off in your hands without you even having to try to open the slide.
Safe, secure and easy.
So with this, all you need to do is to drill your soldiers to always use that button and if they do so, you will never have an A.D. again, even if they invert steps 1 and 2 during the field strip.
When a polymer pistol often rubs against a rough surface, over the years, the portion that rubs wears out. If that portion becomes too thin, the grip may crack under pressure or with a shock to it. Then again, for the user, the grip is no longer as safe and secure as when new. If the wear is too pronounced, the pistol should be scrapped.
Now, when it comes to the wear of the grip, the APX also covers this. For this pistol, the frame itself is not what you are holding but rather it is an inner core made of steel that contains the trigger mechanism. It is this inner part that is stamped with the serial number of the pistol. The polymer grip is removable and becomes a “component” of the pistol, no longer the pistol itself.
Should you break a grip or what seems to be the “frame”, you can replace this easily with a new grip, keeping the same serial number as the true frame is still undamaged.
There is no longer a need to scrap a complete pistol when only the grip or polymer part is worn out or broken. It makes it easier to keep track of inventory as one no longer needs to report a broken frame and replace it with a new pistol and a new serial number.
As long as you stay within the same caliber, all parts are interchangeable and it requires no fitting: the frame just drops in.
Since I have the honour of owning one of the first five Beretta APX pistols in Canada, I have had the chance to put it to the test. And trust me, I treated it very badly.
One of my first tests was to try it with regular duty rounds from various manufacturers. Then, I did the same with reloads with maximum and minimum loads.
With the sub-sonic minimum loads, I was expecting the pistol to fail extracting and reloading, especially after the first round. The recoil was so light that I was convinced that it did not reload, but it in fact did!
I shot 2 magazines, 34 rounds in total of those sub-sonic rounds and all of them actioned the pistol perfectly. The recoil was so light that the pistol barely moved. I have shot hundreds of pistols and so far, out of all of them, the APX is the pistol that, to me, offers the smoothest recoil and muzzle jump for a pistol that is “out of the box”, un-altered.
The APX was shot by various shooters, experts and newbies including the staff at Esprit de Corps. All of them had no problem controlling the muzzle jump and recoil.
Just for fun, I have shot 34 rounds in about 15 – 20 seconds at 7 meters and 31 of the 34 rounds struck within a 3 inch group. Talk about easy control! You can combat double tap without ever losing sight of your target.
Another major selling point for this pistol is the Striker Safety button. Too often, when a pistol is not cared for as recommended, the safety button which is located in the slide stays stuck in the “open” position. Unless you do a careful inspection, you will often overlook this.
When this happens, as the safety is “off” and as the striker is always under tension when a round is chambered, most pistols will fire if dropped or banged.
With the Beretta APX, should the striker safety be in the “open” position, you have an indicator located on top of the slide that will alarm you. It is virtually impossible to miss.
When the striker safety is in the “on” position, the indicator is not visible. When you pull the trigger, removing at the same time the striker safety, you can see the indicator rising on the slide. With this feature, you know in an instant if your pistol can or cannot shoot by itself if dropped or banged. Most other pistols with a striker do not offer this feature. Again, it is an soldier’s guarantee of pistol safety.
Another test which I conducted on the APX was done during a very cold day.
The pistol had well over 1000 rounds fired through it, both manufactured and reloaded ammunition with hollow points, round points and lead bullets. The pistol had received no cleaning since day one at that point. It was a mess. Considering what most military personnel shoot in one year, this pistol had at least the value of five years worth of dirt accumulated without any cleaning.
So, with the temperature at the range being minus 19 degrees, I fired again with what I considered to be the worst bullets for an extra dirty pistol: minimum charge, sub-sonic rounds.
Again, my expectation was that the pistol would fail to extract and/or fail to reload.
Much to my surprise, I had 100% function. No stove-pipe, no miss-extraction and no miss-feed. Although very cold and very dirty, I had a perfectly functioning weapon.
Clean or dirty, the action of the APX is so smooth that I believe that any soldier, having a strong or weak grip should be able to easily master this pistol in no time flat.
Beretta with the APX has jumped into the 21st century and have created some new innovations that many will attempt to copy.
Publisher’s Note: Author Pierre Descotes is a renowned Canadian firearms expert with a respected career in law enforcement.
He will be contributing a series of articles on weapon safety and firearm profiles in the coming months. This summer Descotes also provided the staff at Esprit de Corps with several handgun safety and familiarization demonstrations, which were informative and fun for all involved.
DESCOTES Canada Inc
ON: 613-632-2324 QC: 514-978-4884
By James G. Scott
The annual Canadian Defence Security and Aerospace Exhibition Atlantic (DEFSEC) is the second largest show of its kind in Canada and well reflects the importance of military hardware and software on the maritime economy. Evolving and growing from the ground show portion of the Nova Scotia International Airshow, DEFSEC has become the see-and-be-seen event for naval personnel and their industrial counterparts. Given the tens of billions of dollars expected to be invested in new ships and their sensor suites in coming decades, this show would seem to have established a permanent place on senior officials’ calendars and a permanent home in downtown Halifax.
The Cunard Centre on the waterfront is a fine facility, but for the second year in a row late summer humidity made for a stifling exhibition hall. With HMCS Sackville gently rolling at anchor dockside, participants were finding reasons to stroll near the open doorways for a breeze. More than one smart-ass approached the booth of Bronswerk Onboard Climate Engineering to ask if they couldn’t crank up one of their water chiller units. The ‘Warden of the North’ was feeling more like Norfolk, VA.
The humidity, however, could not put a damper on the upbeat mood among Canada’s defence industry players. With the Liberal government ‘doubling down’ on the previous Conservative commitment of $26-billion for a fleet of Canadian Surface Combatants (raising it to nearly $62-billion), industry continues to look forward to years of contracts and investment. Experienced players know the numbers will always change as the years roll by, but the budget number does represent recognition by bureaucrats that the program is needed. Whether its $26-billion over 15 years or $60-billion over 25, it should still mean lots of hulls and all the bits and pieces that go on them.
The general public can be forgiven for tuning out the endless adjustments of timelines and budget dollars that go with military procurement, but contractors can never take their eyes off the prize. Time and tide have nothing on the vicissitudes of political events and the variety of ‘critical’ elements that fall in and out of favour during a government’s mandate. Change a government, and the calculations usually go out the window with it.
Big players like Lockheed Martin, Irving Shipbuilding or BAE Systems might be able to roll with the punches and pick up enough civilian work to keep the doors open, but hundreds of smaller companies with innovative technologies need to make real sales to stick around. With rapid advances in material sciences, engineering breakthroughs and processes that only a few companies have mastered, there is a hyper-competitive marketplace on the cutting edge of technology. This ain’t your grandpa’s navy!
Since the peacenik crowd gave DEFSEC a pass this year, the public might not feel the need to pay attention but that’s a shame. Although there were displays of traditional military/paramilitary gear (e.g., Hudson Supplies featured Tasmanian Tiger combat gear and Fastmag IV “stagger stack” multiple magazine holders), as well as innovative weapons and powerful radars, there were also a mind-boggling array of 3-D software programs and virtual reality training simulators. At a Thursday presentation ViaSat announced it would launch a satellite this year that would provide one terabyte (1,000 gigabytes) per second of high frequency streaming. Even if you don’t know a gigabyte from a giggle, you have to be impressed with the ability of companies that can carry battlefield tactical data, navigation and real-time situational awareness, and the latest Adam Sandler flop to your airplane seat on one machine.
Technology is blurring the lines between the old ‘guns-or-butter’ arguments. There has always been a crossover between materials and technology developed in the crucible of war (radar, rocket/jet engines, etc.), and their application in the civilian sphere. Now we seem to see more civilian developments being harnessed for military applications. Between virtual reality simulations (e.g., Halifax’s own Modest Tree) that can help train shipboard firefighting crews without actually torching a ship, to cloud computing and interoperable software that allows architects and engineers to solve construction issues even after the keel is laid (e.g., STX France’s Smartshape), the ability to get personnel and vessels up and running faster appears to offer limitless possibilities.
While navies have to keep taxpayer dollars in mind for their operations and acquisitions, they also have to offer evidence that they care about the environment. Sure, blasting enemies with high-explosives is the professed mission, but in port or at sea, they also have to keep public sympathy on side.
Engines have to be more efficient and cleaner running. Systems have to emit less pollutants and equipment has to be long-lasting. The oil-less water chiller of the aforementioned Bronswerk features frictionless magnetic bearings that quiet their huge machine and increase its efficiency. Landlocked institutions such as hospitals and universities likewise appreciate the cost savings. Companies such as Rocket Performance Ltd. offer environmentally responsible chemicals to preserve metals and plastics under harsh saltwater conditions. Given the slippery nature of military budgets, it is a wise company indeed that develops products that can design and equip a ship or guide a construction company as it builds a billion-dollar highway or new high-tech hospital.
This correspondent would like to thank DEFSEC Atlantic Executive Director Colin Stephenson and his crew for their wonderful hospitality and the patient representatives of many companies big and small who very proudly and willingly described their technology.
By Micaal Ahmed
York University’s School of Continuing Studies is setting a plan in motion to help overcome one of the largest talent shortages in Canada with its Big Data Analytics Program.
The amount of data and information that the world possesses at its fingertips continues to grow, but it’s all rather meaningless if there is no one there to analyze it.
In 2016, more than 60 per cent of Canadian executives reportedly planned to add professionals trained in big data analysis and business intelligence to their teams. Meanwhile, researchers have estimated that 150,000 data analytics professionals are needed to fill roles in Canada.
“The amount and complexity of data available today is immense. Organizations of all sorts are looking to harness this data to find new opportunities, guide decisions and policies, and improve customer experience,” said Hashmat Rohian, a member of York’s Big Data Analytics advisory council.
“In the last few years, data availability has exploded. There has been more data created in the last two years than in the last century. Increased computer power, coupled with the vast availability of data represent a great opportunity for any company in any sector.”
By launching its program this coming fall, York University is trying its best to help meet this demand.
The part-time Big Data Analytics Program, which is a direct registration program and hence has no application process, will be delivered online, with on-campus evening computer lab time.
The program is comprised of two unique certificates: the Certificate in Big Data Analytics, which teaches data analytics foundations, and the basic methods and toolsets needed to succeed in the field; and the Certificate in Advanced Data Science and Predictive Analytics, which focuses on data organization for analysis and advanced methods and analytics for those looking to pursue the Certified Analytics Professional (CAP) designation.
Each course is eight weeks long, and both the credentials can be added to your resume in just under a year. The university will also be launching a full-time, fast-track option for the summer of 2018, through which both certificates can be earned within four months.
Explaining the importance of big data in the field of defence, Rohian states, “Data is critical to viewing the modern battlefield. Sun Tzu said that the key to striking and conquering is foreknowledge.”
In the 21st century, “the keys to foreknowledge for military and counterterrorist forces are highly trained data science practitioners. Today, data scientists are working to optimize military supply chain management just like their civilian counterparts at Canada Post or Amazon,” says Rohian.
“The big data movement is changing the way people work. And just like provincial, municipal and federal organizations, the military is trying to get smarter, faster and more flexible with its data. Tech giants including Google and Facebook have been rushing to snap up artificial intelligence and machine learning talent in recent years. Now, the international defence sector is looking to get in on the emerging market.”
Rohian affirms that, “Whether it’s using data patterns to predict an enemy’s movement, projecting the number of new recruits needed to backfill service ranks, or determining the optimal air evacuation route for a disaster-prone region, data analytics is a significant part of the operational rhythm of the modern military.”
As we move toward the third decade of the 21st century, small arms training faces new challenges. In the military theatre, troops must rely on realistic training to win where a more complex battlefield is evolving that will test the preparedness of ground forces. Similarly, law enforcement at all levels must contend with unprecedented issues such as use-of-force and active shooters.
In response to this situation, Montreal-based Meggitt Training Systems Quebec (MTSQ), a division of Meggitt Training Systems, remains the only fully integrated training systems company in the industry, designing, building and delivering small arms training simulators, combined with live-fire field range and indoor range solutions.
Thus, Meggitt is the Canadian Armed Forces Program of Record for Small Arms Trainers, Forward Observer and 81mm Mortar Trainers, as well as all in-country, in-service support. Meggitt also has a nearly 20-year relationship with the Canadian Army in the provision of training for armoured fighting vehicle trainers. The Royal Canadian Air Force and Royal Canadian Navy and allied forces, as well as provincial and municipal law enforcement organizations, further rely on Meggitt’s virtual and live-fire technologies.
This leadership finds its genesis in acquisitions made by Meggitt PLC, a UK-based global engineering company. The company acquired both Caswell International, a pioneer in live-fire target systems, and Firearms Training Systems (FATS), Inc., the leader in advanced small arms simulation.
In 2008, Meggitt integrated these technologies into the first, one-stop training systems provider, giving military and law enforcement agencies one name to remember for small arms readiness. The company also has expertise in turnkey design and installation of shooting ranges for defence, law enforcement and commercial purposes.
Based on this solid core, MTSQ continues to roll out innovations: The world’s most advanced military simulator, FATS100MIL, and its correspondent in the law enforcement market, the FATS100LE. Enhanced portability virtual trainers for armoured vehicles. Wireless technology, enabling the unique BlueFire virtual weapons system that matches current weaponry with untethered weapons in form, fit and function, and the XWT Next-Generation Wireless Target Carrier, which brings new realism to live-fire targetry. And there is much more on the horizon in response to customer requirements.
Through advanced engineering that is responsive to the needs of trainees and instructors, Meggitt Training Systems Quebec is helping to ensure preparedness for Canada’s military and law enforcement small arms users.
By Micaal Ahmed
On December 10, 2014, stunning graphics, engaging video productions and tank demonstrations were staged in Munich to welcome the new variant of the Leopard 2 main battle tank (MBT). This impressive tank is built by the only Western company that has continually produced brand new MBTs over the past decade: Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW). However, the company’s innovation and designs go well beyond combat efficiency on a battlefield.
In 2008, the company introduced the Leguan, a new bridge laying system that can be mounted on the Leopard 2 MBT chassis, and it immediately became a resounding success story across the defence world. In everyday life, whether we drive over them or walk under them, bridges hold an importance that we don’t really think about. And, when it comes to the military, to logistics and to strategic planning, the ability to quickly cross from one side of an undriveable obstacle to another in a war zone can mean the difference between life and death.
Further proof of the Leguan’s utility on the battlefield is the continued rise in sales among allied nations. In June 2014, Sweden signed a contract for the Leguan bridge layer; just six months later, Switzerland became another buyer. In 2016, the Bundeswehr (German armed forces) signed a contract for the procurement of seven Leguan bridge layers, which it plans to bring into service in 2019. Last December, the Netherlands also chose KMW’s Leguan bridge laying system for its armed forces.
Leguan fulfils the conditions of the trilateral design and test code for military bridging and gap crossing. Possessing extraordinary power-to-weight ratio, the bridge laying system is based on a “simple” yet effective design using an aluminum box-type frame bridge with a track way at the top.
The launching system consists of the laying mechanism, a support blade, hydraulics and the control system. Leguan has certain additional remarkable characteristics as well, including horizontal (cantilever-type) launching, automatic launching within a few minutes, one-man and two-man operational abilities and an integrated test system.
Furthermore, this launching system can be carried by a variety of wheeled vehicles as well as mounted on the chassis of a main battle tank chassis such as the Leopard 2.
The Leguan is a versatile system that can be configured into several different options. For example, it can lay a bridge with a total length of 26 metres (in under six minutes) or it can create two bridges of 14 metres each (in under five minutes), in all weather, day or night. This is made possible by the interaction of the bridge elements with the landing gear, the laying device and the optronics. Some of the other technical characteristics included with the system are built-in monitoring systems, GPS or hybrid navigation system, advanced day cameras, uncooled thermal sight, laser range finder, and optional night vision rear view and side view cameras.
In addition, with a Commanders MG-Mount and a multi-grenade launcher, the combined system can be used to fight back and defend itself if necessary.
While the tank chassis mounted MG-launching system combination is designed for combat purposes, the Leguan also provides a platform variant that can be utilized for disaster relief and civilian operations: the Leguan Wheeled variant. This bridge layer system, specially designed for use with trucks, can lay 26-metre (launched within 20 minutes) and 14-metre bridges in all weather, day and night, but it requires a bit more time to install (20 minutes and 15 minutes, respectively).
The Leguan has already proven its reliability and performance within the defence world. The Leopard 2 armoured vehicle-launched bridge (AVLB) variant was an active part of several exercises conducted by the Singapore Armed Forces in Australia in the fall of 2011–2014. The Leopard 2 AVLB was also an active part of a comprehensive multinational exercise in the spring of 2012. In a recent combat operation, the Leguan proved itself when the U.S. Army 2nd Brigade Combat Team’s Leopard 2 installed a portable bridge in al-Awashra, in the Kirkuk province of Iraq, to allow both U.S. and Iraq Army units and the town’s civilians freedom of movement after a bridge was destroyed by Daesh fighters.
In conclusion, KMW has produced another top-notch armoured vehicle system to enhance the combat efficiency of user nations. If there is one lesson Canada has learned from experience in years of waging modern asymmetrical counterinsurgency warfare, it is that mobility is as important as firepower and protection. The Leguan gives commanders that freedom of movement.
Text by Micaal Ahmed & Sandrine Murray
CANSEC Photos by Richard Lawrence
The Focal Point: The most talked-about moment from CANSEC 2017 came at the kick-off breakfast on May 31. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan (pictured above, entering the dining hall with CADSI president and CEO Christyn Cianfarani) dropped an unexpected bombshell on the crowd of 800 when he singled out Boeing with some scathing criticism.
The CADSI-organized annual defence and security exhibition is usually a predictable ‘love-in’ between politicians, senior brass and the arms industry. However, Sajjan broke that mould when he told Boeing in his keynote speech that the “government strongly disagrees” with the firm’s decision to challenge Canada’s subsidies to their commercial aircraft rival, Bombardier.
Sajjan pointedly hinted that Boeing’s actions against Bombardier had thrown the previously announced interim purchase of 18 Super Hornets into jeopardy. “The interim fleet procurement requires a trusted industry partner,” Sajjan said. “Our government is of the view their action against Bombardier is unfounded. It is not the behaviour we expect of a trusted partner and we call on Boeing to withdraw it.”
Given that the Super Hornet interim purchase is valued at between $5- and $7-billion, there was considerable shock and awe in evidence at the Boeing executives’ table immediately following Sajjan’s comments. The topic remained the buzz of the water cooler chatter throughout the remainder of CANSEC.
Cyber security: At CANSEC’s breakfast on June 1, people were served French toast and a speech on behalf of the National Security Agency’s former director, Keith Alexander (left). The retired four-star general of the United States Army argued the ways industry and government must work together in the field of cyber command. He outlined the roles and responsibilities of a company, and emphasized the need for industries to send information to the government so it can defend its data in case of a cyber attack. The need for a public and private partnership was at the core of his message, as was a peculiar focus on the Russian threat.
Super Hornet simulation: Boeing — the topic of heated discussion at CANSEC following Harjit Sajjan’s opening remarks — had a must-do experience at its booth: the Super Hornet flight training simulator. While sitting in the pilot’s seat, the screens of the simulator are set to mimic the real experience of flying the aircraft. Boeing Super Hornet chief test pilot Ricardo Traven answered questions and ultimately made the experience more tangible and real, especially for those without prior knowledge of piloting. Traven has flown more than 4,000 hours in 30 different aircraft, so he knows his stuff. The fighter jet, he says, is one of his favourite planes to fly. If the simulator is any indicator, it’s not too hard to believe.
“Dune Buggy on steroids”: What comes to mind when one says combat vehicle? Probably not a vehicle resembling a Jeep with its doors missing or, as David Pugliese put it in a December 2016 article, “dune buggies on steroids.” The ultra-light vehicle named DAGOR, created by American company Polaris, seats up to nine people. What makes it so desirable is its deployability, off-road mobility, and versatility. It’s not bad looking either. A big hit at CANSEC in 2016, Polaris Industries was awarded a $20-million contract for Canadian Special Forces Command, which will get a fleet of 78 vehicles. Because of its intended purpose — off-road mobility rather than assault — the vehicle doesn’t need heavy armour, making it much lighter. The forces can avoid targeted roads where snipers and attacks are expected. With more armour comes more weight, so these lighter vehicles are perfect for air transport.
The ultimate in off-road carriers: Bright orange or yellow and unique in appearance, the tracked vehicles stood out at CANSEC’s outdoor display. A prototype, the Voyager Tracked Carrier claims to be the ultimate in multi-task off-road carriers. It’s a crossover design, for both civilian and military use. The Voyager has the power to move a 10-ton payload at 32 kilometres per hour and can climb a 40-degree slope. Plus, it has a track and suspension design that allows it to go almost anywhere. The Voyager was one of the many defence products at CANSEC looking to attract interest and potential buyers.
Best-dressed Armoured vehicles: If style and fashion were the most important aspects of a CANSEC exhibitor, INKAS’s armoured cars would be at the top of the best-dressed list. Located near the dining hall, INKAS had two all-black vehicles on display: an armored GMC Yukon Denali and the INKAS Sentry APC, a tactical attack and defence vehicle meant to serve in extreme climate conditions. The choice of vehicles and the black colour was probably for aesthetic, because this exhibit was one of the coolest ones.
New choppers for the CCG: According to a Fisheries and Oceans Canada press release, “In an average year, the Coast Guard’s helicopter fleet flies 7,000 hours; performs over 8,400 flights; transports more than 22,700 persons; carries a payload of more than 11.2 million pounds; and completes more than 3,500 external load lifts, carrying cargo suspended by a cable from the helicopter.” So, they certainly need helicopters that can help them perform their essential tasks. In 2015, the federal government awarded a contract valued at $156-million to Bell Helicopter, with the intention of replacing the Canadian Coast Guard’s old fleet. At CANSEC, the CCG exhibited one of these new red Bell 412 helicopters (below in foreground) for the very first time.
Memorable rapid deployment Shelter: The outdoor experience at CANSEC offered various impressive elements. The ROBUS (above in background) shelter’s size was prominent and its rapid, upward deployment made it seem to be levitating towards the sky. The mobile, self-erecting shelter claims to be “the ultimate rapid deployment shelter solution.” It takes one to two people to deploy it — the guys at CANSEC did so easily, while dressed in three-piece suits — and done in under 10 minutes. It handles winds up to 200 kilometres per hour, and is mobile thanks to a trailer system. Highly customizable, as many of the products at CANSEC were, it can be adapted to specific needs. As far as tents at CANSEC are concerned, this one was memorable.
Homegrown talent: Among all the impressive exhibitors, such as Thales or CAE, with their coffee machines and goodies to take home, a nod to the smaller guys is in order. Many of the smaller booths showcased important products that, perhaps small in size, power impressive-looking technologies. Perhaps less exciting, they are essential components. Analytic Systems is a Canadian company based in Vancouver, B.C. that provides power converters and inverters to a market composed of 70 per cent military clients. Their products are designed and manufactured in-house, which allows them to make changes easily. Its largest market is in the U.S., but products are sold worldwide.
Virtual Small-arms trainers: The flight simulator was not the only interesting simulation at CANSEC. Meggitt’s training systems were on display, such as the FATS100MIL, a virtual small-arms trainer, currently under test with NATO. Meggitt produces and manufactures training solutions for the military, law enforcement, the federal government and some commercial ranges. Their small-arms trainers have been used by the Canadian Armed Forces for 20 years. Meggitt has over 75,000 live-target training systems installed on 122 military bases around the world. It also develops and manufactures range trajectory and control systems. Its land-based virtual training simulator was on display during the two-day show, and was perfect for those who have a fear of flying or suffer from vertigo.
Digital vision in changing environments: For all things communications, look no further than Rockwell Collins. Their Integrated Digital Vision System is a technology akin to night goggles, but offers greater options because it is adaptable to different environments. The various night-vision sensors allow for situational awareness to support day, night and environments where obstacles and weather affect vision. It uses incoming data from various sources, such as a command centre, other fighters, or drones, to offer a complete view of what is happening. Knowing exactly where friend or foe are located while wearing the headset allows for more effective and quick decision-making during missions, and the ability to fight at night. This is only one of the many examples of how technological advancement in communications and data is useful for military purposes.
Canadian Army’s newest vehicle: Textron Systems was there along with their Tactical Armoured Patrol Vehicle (TAPV). According to a flyer, “The TAPV is a 4x4 wheeled armoured vehicle specifically engineered and designed to provide survivability, mobility and versatility across the asymmetric battlefield over the full spectrum of operations.” The TAPV is designed in a way that it can be configured for a wide range of missions, such as patrol, convoy protecting, mortar carrier, ambulance, personnel carrier, etc. And, after months of situational testing, the TAPV is now ready to serve the Canadian Army.
DOGO is the perfect watchdog: If you passed by the Twenty20 Insight booth, you may have been intrigued by a Shih Tzu sized-tank guided by a remote control. But though it can pass as a toy due to its small size, this robot tank is far from it. It was designed by Israeli company General Robotics and released in 2016. It has tactical combat and attack capabilities when armed with a 9mm Glock pistol and is designed to operate in rough outdoor terrain, engage targets and can even climb stairs. By touching the target on the remote-control screen, the weapon can be fired. It’s apparently user-friendly, but not a product you’d want to see children manoeuvre. No worries there as it’s only available to military, defence and law enforcement. DOGO sounds like “dog” for a reason. The name stems from its intended purpose: to be the perfect watchdog. Seems like remote-controlled vehicles are no longer just for child’s play. Certainly, the DOGO’s petite size was a welcome contrast to all the large-scale vehicles and technologies present at CANSEC this year. (Go on YouTube to see a video of the DOGO in action, intense music and dramatization included.)
No shock Taser testing: Rampart brought out one of its creations to CANSEC: a taser tester. Designed to improve workplace safety for users of conducted energy weapons (CEWs), the CEW Testing Chamber can be used to conduct daily function tests of electroshock weapons. Unlike most of the YouTube videos of people testing tasers on one another, with the Testing Chamber there is no risk to the shooter.
Paintballs for the pros: In 2017, PepperBall is introducing more products than it has in its 20-year history, and in May it returned to CANSEC to showcase them. The product which really stuck out was the coloured projectiles that were created to provide law enforcement with safer, non-lethal alternatives when dealing with dangerous situations. The round projectiles (which come in different strengths and sizes) are similar to paintball pellets, but when shot and hit their target, release pepper spray, temporarily incapacitating the victim.
Ballistic protection for first responders: DEW Engineering and Development brought out its ballistic door panels. Used extensively by police departments across the United States, this DEW PD series converts ordinary police vehicle doors into ready-to-use protective shields. The panels are placed between the interior and outer parts of the doors, and can be customized for different applications, such as the protection of panel vans, shelters, containers and so on. This provides first responders with ballistic protection against even armour-piercing rifle ammunition.
Dual Function at the push of a button: In 2012, the Canadian Army chose Kongsberg’s Protector Dual Remote Weapon Station (DRWS) for the Tactical Armoured Patrol Vehicle program, and in 2017 Kongsberg displayed this at CANSEC. The weapon station is remotely controlled and can be mounted on any type of platform. This particular model includes the use of two weapons, and also provides a dual user functionality (Gunner/Commander). Switching between weapons can be done with the push of a button.
Shock-absorbing clothing: The Dutch company Xion produces a selective range of blunt trauma, impact-protective garments that are specifically suitable for specialist operators within law enforcement (and other related fieldwork). Their products range from jackets and shirts, to pants and shorts — all of which are powered by D3O’s shock absorbing protection solutions. D3O is a patented technology with a molecular structure, which allows it to remain soft and flexible while providing ultimate protection from shock.
Military grade utility vehicles: BRP custom-makes defence vehicles based on the demands of the industry. Whether it’s law enforcement, search and rescue, or commercial, BRP can modify, accessorize and customize based on the client’s needs. BRP showcased the new 2017 Outlander MAX XT 850, which offers all-terrain performance. The company plans on launching other new models this year as well.
360-degree protection from RPGs: QinetiQ brought out its solution for defeating rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs). Q-Net II is a protective net which can be attached to a wide range of tactical and lightly armoured vehicles, as well as fixed sites, to protect against rocket-propelled grenades. This technology has the highest RPG defeat performance in the world for lightweight passive systems, provides multi-hit protection, and is configurable on any platform.
By David Pugleise
Over the years, CANSEC has earned the reputation of being a somewhat predictable defence and security trade show.
Not this year.
While many of the exhibitors were the same, the political action at CANSEC 2017 was arguably unprecedented.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan used his keynote speech on the first day of the trade show to fire a salvo direct at Boeing.
While Lockheed Martin staff looked on with smiles on their faces, Sajjan laid into their rival Boeing for prompting a U.S. government trade investigation into Canada’s largest aerospace firm, Bombardier.
Boeing has complained to the U.S. government that Bombardier is receiving subsidies, allowing it to sell its C-Series aircraft at below market prices.
Sajjan suggested to the CANSEC audience that Boeing could no longer be considered a trusted Canadian partner. And though he stopped short of cancelling the Liberal government’s plan to purchase 18 Super Hornet fighters from Boeing, Sajjan said the company has damaged its relationship with Canada.
“It is not the behaviour of a trusted partner,” Sajjan said in his speech.
He called on Boeing to withdraw its complaint, adding that Canada requires “trusted industry partners.”
Canada has not yet signed the deal to acquire the Super Hornets. It is now unclear when the deal might proceed, or if it will be scuttled if Boeing does not withdraw its complaint against Bombardier.
Sajjan said that Canada is still discussing the proposed purchase with the U.S. government. He noted that Canada has had a good relationship with Boeing over the decades, but it is now reviewing all procurement with that firm.
Sajjan also called on other companies at the CANSEC show to remind the U.S. government of the close ties that defence industries on both sides of the border have with each other and the value of that relationship.
Despite Sajjan’s public dressing down of Boeing, the company took a defiant tone. It has refused to withdraw its complaint. Instead, Boeing cancelled a press conference it had planned for CANSEC to announce the Canadian industry partners who would be involved in any Super Hornet acquisition. “Due to the current climate, today is not the most opportune time to share this good news story,” Boeing noted in a statement.
The Liberals, in turn, continued to use the CANSEC venue to ratchet up the pressure on Boeing.
After Sajjan’s speech, government officials told journalists in off-the-record briefings that Canada had suspended talks with Boeing on the fighter deal.
That information didn’t stay off-the-record for long. On the second day of CANSEC, Steven MacKinnon, parliamentary secretary to Public Services and Procurement Minister Judy Foote, used his appearance to once again launch an attack against Boeing.
Boeing “is not acting like a valued partner right now so we’ve suspended discussions with that partner,” he told journalists several times in interviews during the trade show.
(An official with Foote’s office, Annie Trépanier, later claimed that while government ministers were not talking to Boeing, “there is no formal suspension.”)
MacKinnon did soften the blow against Boeing by pointing out that Canada isn’t talking to any other companies about replacement aircraft for the CF-18s.
The political drama at CANSEC later shifted to shipbuilding. At a news conference on day two of the trade show, Irving Shipbuilding released a study on the Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) which it will build in the coming years for the Royal Canadian Navy. That study concluded it is cheaper to build the warships in Canada rather than overseas.
However, several hours after the Irving news conference, Parliamentary Budget Officer Jean-Denis Fréchette released his report on the ballooning cost of the CSC. “PBO also estimated the cost saving of having the CSC built at the foreign shipyard that built the original ship design rather than in Canada. It was estimated that Canada would save $10.22-billion FY2017 of the total $39.94-billion FY2017 program budget, or 25 per cent.”
Military operations require assured position, navigation and time (PNT). Users need access to accurate and reliable PNT while potentially denying it to others, to trust PNT and to know how to deal with adversarial disruption or deception. While multi-sensor PNT is robust, the most accurate worldwide PNT is still from GPS and other Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS). GNSS signals however are susceptible to unintentional interference or jamming, and can encounter low power issues.
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Incidents of electronic attack are on the rise with adversary forces looking to disrupt allied PNT systems. NovAtel has a license to manufacture and supply the NAVWAR Electronic Attack Trainer (NEAT), which wasinitially developed by Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC). NEAT is a handheld, easy to use device that operates using minimal power, so its effect can be kept to a specific area for training purposes.
For 25 years, NovAtel has been the leader in high precision, robust PNT for defence in Canada, the U.S. and other allies. NovAtel is “Buy American” compliant, the only non-U.S. company accredited to sell SAASM-based products to the U.S. Located in Calgary, Alberta, NovAtel’s 350 employees strive to create the best assured PNT solutions through innovation, reliability and the ability to react on time and in volume. The company helps the world’s leading companies achieve their goals.
By Sandrine Murray
Finding a mortgage is always a daunting challenge. Being in the military only increases the possibility of relocation and change, making it even more important to find a mortgage agent who understands the Canadian Armed Forces.
Having grown up in a large family, Diane Holleman knows the value of the best deal for your dollar. Diane is an agent with Martel Mortgages, serving the Ottawa community and its surroundings. With honesty and integrity, she seeks to provide the best financing solutions for her clients. More importantly, she knows the Canadian military.
Diane retired honourably from the Forces with 27 years of service, Logistics Branch. During her time in uniform, she played a vital role as an instructor and educator to newly recruited personnel. Her duties as a culinary arts specialist saw her responsible for many administrative and leadership tasks, and overseeing hundreds of military and civilian staff.
The latter half of her Logistics career focused on administration and finance. She provided administrative guidance to the chain of command, and was responsible for subordinate mentoring and career development. Her expertise in management and financial systems stems from years as chief clerk and senior tasker, managing offices, staffs, and budgets. Her career path led her across Central and Eastern Canada.
For those in the Forces and the RCMP, Diane’s extensive service, and rich, varied background means she has an in-depth understanding of how relocations work, and how to interpret the related DND directives and orders. After her retirement, she became well versed in U.S. real estate investing, through formal and informal training and experience. As a U.S. real estate businesswoman and coaching advisor in the industry, she has mentored many other like-minded Canadians.
As a licensed mortgage agent (FSCO 11963) with access to dozens of financial institutions, banks and private lenders, she looks for the best available options. Diane’s website page offers online applications, related links, and samples of available current rates. Whether it is buying a home for the first time, relocating, or looking to switch mortgages, Diane is there to help. She offers expertise in budgeting, affordability, best fits, appropriate strategies, and informed decision-making. There is no charge for services to qualified borrowers, consults are complimentary, and there is no obligation.
By Scott Taylor
For the fifth year in a row London, Ontario has hosted the two-day Best Defence Conference to showcase the vast capabilities of Southern Ontario’s high-tech defence-related industries.
Originally staged under the auspices of the London Economic Development Corporation (LEDC), Best Defence was always the brainchild of the ubiquitous Heather Pilot. This year marked the first time that Pilot, who split from LEDC, coordinated the conference under her own Pilot Hill Ltd. brand.
Over the years the show has grown from what started as essentially a networking opportunity, to what is now a hybrid tradeshow and educational conference. True to its roots, the socializing aspect remains one of the key reasons that Best Defence attracts a steadily increasing number of attendees. This year there were over 300 registered participants and a total of 65 exhibitors.
Like the guest list, the format also continues to expand, with the addition of sessions and tours on the afternoon of November 8, before the traditional kick-off cocktail reception. Buses were provided to shuttle registered participants to the Canadian Centre for Product Validation (CCPV) for a tour of their new 25,000 square-foot facility, which houses state-of-the-art validation technologies and equipment. Given that CCPV is a subsidiary of Fanshaw College, it wasn’t a surprise to see former Canadian Army commander Lieutenant-General Peter Devlin in attendance at the General Dynamics Land Systems–Canada kick-off party. Devlin is now the much-respected president of Fanshaw College, but he is never out of the military loop. It was Devlin’s task to introduce the keynote speaker and current Chief of Force Development at NDHQ, Rear Admiral Darren Hawco. Although Hawco’s lengthy presentation curtailed the networking process, his insights were nonetheless eagerly absorbed by the industry reps in attendance.
The second and main day of Best Defence began with a 7:00 am breakfast courtesy of Armatec Survivability and Gowling WLG. As usual, there were more than a few sets of bloodshot eyes among the early risers, as many of the participants used the kick-off party as a springboard to a night on the town in London. The morning sessions included presentations on naval requirements, next-generation military vehicles; a panel on future warfare capability requirements and, after a coffee break, a second panel on future technology trends and existing gaps.
Lunch was provided courtesy of CCPV. During dessert the Honourable John McKay, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence, delivered the keynote speech. The single afternoon session was a technology showcase that allowed innovative high-tech companies to each give a four-minute pitch. By the time the clock struck 4:00 pm, it was time for the closing reception.
Despite the change in the management structure, Best Defence once again lived up to its name. They say the devil is in the details and, in this case, Heather Pilot proved superb, from little things like having large print, double-sided name tags to the cleverly designed site map and schedule. Esprit de Corps has already blocked off November 1–2, 2017 in the planning calendar to attend next year’s, undoubtedly even better, Best Defence Conference.