Canada's future aerospace needs: a preview of CANSEC 2015

By David Pugliese

A Royal Canadian Air Force CC-177 Globemaster III aircraft sits on the tarmac after delivering aid and supplies to the typhoon-ravaged Philippines during Operation RENAISSANCE in November 2013. Canada’s four CC-177 Globemaster III strategic airlifters were delivered in 2007-2008. (DND)

A Royal Canadian Air Force CC-177 Globemaster III aircraft sits on the tarmac after delivering aid and supplies to the typhoon-ravaged Philippines during Operation RENAISSANCE in November 2013. Canada’s four CC-177 Globemaster III strategic airlifters were delivered in 2007-2008. (DND)

Those attending CANSEC 2015 with an eye for aerospace capabilities will have a choice of the familiar as well as the new when they tour the Ottawa trade show May 27–28.

Industry is keen to proceed with the three major RCAF procurement projects on the near horizon — the CF-18 fighter jet replacement, the new fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft, and an acquisition of a family of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

 

FWSAR … On the horizon

The Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue (FWSAR) project has over the years brought out numerous exhibitors to CANSEC. Contenders for the project, which has dragged on since the early 2000s, have been whittled down.

Boeing/Textron, which had promoted the V-22 Osprey at previous CANSECs, appeared to have halted its marketing efforts. (The firm brought a V-22 fuselage to CANSEC 2012 and held briefings aimed at countering concerns that the V-22 is too expensive for Canada.) Viking, another CANSEC exhibitor, has also dropped out of the FWSAR race.

The remaining three are Lockheed Martin with its C-130J, Airbus with its C295 and Alenia Aermacchi with the C-27J.

Dubbed Team Spartan, the partners include Alenia Aermacchi, General Dynamics Canada (ISS systems integrator and mission system provider), IMP Aerospace (responsible for the installation of General Dynamics' mission system), DRS Technologies Canada (training), Kelowna Flightcraft (maintenance and repair, engineering support, and supply chain management), Esterline CMC Electronics (various pieces of flight equipment), Flyht Aerospace Solutions (automated flight reporting system), Rolls Royce (engines), and Standard Aero (maintenance of Canadian fleet of FWSAR engines).

CANSEC visitors can expect to see each firm promote specific aspects of what they can contribute to FWSAR and other projects.

Last year, the team was present in the Finmeccanica booth with a full-size model of the C-27J as well as a video and graphic images depicting the C-27J's capability to operate in harsh weather environments. The team also had a presence in the General Dynamics Canada and Kelowna Flightcraft booths, and was a show sponsor of the event.

Airbus Defence and Space, offering the C295, has its own team: Provincial Aerospace, the main Canadian in-service support partner; Pratt & Whitney Canada, which will provide engines for every aircraft; CAE, which manufactures simulators and training devices; Vector Aerospace which performs engine maintenance and overhauls; and L-3 WESCAM, which produces the electro/optical sensors or the “eyes” of the aircraft.

The other main contender to provide aircraft for FWSAR is Lockheed Martin. It has indicated it would bid the C-130J, which is already in the RCAF’s inventory as a tactical transport aircraft. The company has been promoting the fact that it has a proven product which already has an established maintenance record and parts system within the RCAF.

Lockheed’s partners will also be at CANSEC 2015. In 2012, Lockheed and Cascade Aerospace, headquartered in Abbotsford, British Columbia, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to jointly pursue “mutually beneficial business opportunities,” including FWSAR.

Cascade Aerospace is also partnered with Lockheed Martin to support the RCAF C-130J fleet under a 20-year contract and it also provides fleet management services directly to the RCAF for its legacy C-130 Hercules fleet. In addition, Cascade is also only one of two authorized Lockheed Martin C-130J Heavy Maintenance Centers in the world.

 

JUSTAS … Back on the radar?

Another air force program that will see some interest from exhibitors is the Joint Uninhabited Surveillance and Target Acquisition System (JUSTAS). Like FWSAR, the JUSTAS program has fallen far behind its original schedule.

But there could be some movement on the acquisition of the UAV family. “The implementation approval and the contract award are scheduled to occur between 2019 and 2020,” said RCAF spokesman Capt. Alexandre Munoz.

This competition still receives interest from both MacDonald Detwiller, which has promoted a variant of the Israeli-made Heron UAV, and General Atomics with a version of its Reaper UAV.

CAE has highlighted in the past at its CANSEC booth the firm’s potential role in JUSTAS. CAE has joined forces with General Atomics and will not only provide training systems, but systems integration and logistics support as well.

A United States Air Force Predator fires a Hellfire missile. First flown in 1994, General Atomics' Predator was the first-ever weaponized UAV and featured precision air-to-ground weapons delivery capability.

A United States Air Force Predator fires a Hellfire missile. First flown in 1994, General Atomics' Predator was the first-ever weaponized UAV and featured precision air-to-ground weapons delivery capability.

 

CF-18 Replacement Program

As with previous shows, companies plan to highlight their role in ongoing RCAF programs. For instance, Boeing has its successful CH-147F Chinook helicopter project for the RCAF and the delivery of C-17s. Boeing has also received an order for a fifth C-17.

Lockheed Martin has its successful and on-time delivery of the RCAF’s C-130J fleet.

Both Lockheed Martin and Boeing will also use CANSEC 2015 to remind Canadian industry and military personnel that their aircraft are the two top contenders for selection as the new RCAF fighter jet.

Lockheed Martin pushes the technology aspect of its F-35 and its “fifth generation” capabilities.

Boeing has been highlighting not only the cost effectiveness of its Super Hornet, but also the value of having a competition for a new fighter jet.

Companies that could contribute to the F-35 are also highlighting their capabilities. Nammo, for instance, produces ammunition specifically for the F-35. The Nammo 25mm APEX ammunition is designed to counter a range of threats and is a next-generation armour-piercing, high explosive round.

 

CC-138 Twin Otter Replacement

Also on the horizon are two projects related to the RCAF’s Twin Otter aircraft, an acquisition that will draw CANSEC exhibitors.

The Twin Otters had been previously outfitted with modern avionics to keep them flying beyond 2015. Kelowna Flightcraft has a contract for the maintenance of both the CC-115 Buffalos and CC-138 Twin Otter fleets.

But the RCAF wants to eventually purchase what it is calling a Utility Transport Aircraft (UTA) for operations in the Arctic. The aircraft will replace the 40-year-old Twin Otters but will not get underway until around 2025.

Still, Viking Air Ltd. of Sidney, British Columbia, has promoted its Twin Otter Guardian 400 as a Canadian-made solution for the country’s Arctic security requirements.

In addition, other work can be expected for companies through a life extension program for the Twin Otters, which will keep the aircraft operationally effective until the UTA enters service, RCAF spokesman Maj. James Simiana said.

The life extension project will replace the Twin Otter’s wing boxes, install cockpit voice recorders/flight data recorders, and will provide improvements to enhance aircraft supportability. In addition, high-frequency radios and aircraft spares will be acquired, along with improvements to existing training devices.

The preliminary cost of the project is between $20 million to $49 million. The RCAF expects that a request for proposals will be released this year and a contract awarded in 2016. Final delivery of the upgraded Twin Otters would take place in 2020.

 

MAISR Program

Those firms looking to provide the RCAF with what is being called the Manned Airborne Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance (MAISR) Procurement Project are also expected at CANSEC 2015.

This project will involve the acquisition of a small fleet of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft. Each of the four aircraft that will be purchased will be outfitted with a signals intercept capability and sensors to target movement on the ground. The planes would be operated by the Royal Canadian Air Force, but would be mainly used to support Canadian special forces operations.

L-3 is among the firms interested in providing systems for such a capability.

At CANSEC 2014, Boeing had been promoting its Reconfigurable Airborne Multi-Intelligence System (RAMIS) for the project. RAMIS can provide an array of payloads, including a ground moving target indicator (GMTI) as well as communications intercept capabilities. The aircraft being marketed by Boeing has four payload bays for maximum flexibility and optimum sensor mix.

In addition, the aircraft has plug-and-play software and sensors that can be quickly added or removed. Boeing brought the RAMIS production prototype aircraft to Ottawa in August 2014 for a demonstration for Royal Canadian Air Force officers. Chief of the Air Staff LGen Yvan Blondin was among those on hand for the demonstration.

 

CH-146 Griffon life extension project

Also moving through the acquisition process is the project to extend the life of the CH-146 Griffon to 2030 or possibly beyond. Companies are looking at a project worth more than $1 billion. A request for proposals is expected next year with a contract award in 2017.

Vector Aerospace of Langley, British Columbia, has already expressed interest in bidding. At CANSEC 2013 the company displayed its CH-146 Griffon Cockpit Demonstrator. The company noted that its solution would enhance crew efficiency and situational awareness by upgrading analog instruments and gauges.

 

Flight Training Jackpot for Industry

The big prize looming on the horizon for defence firms is the future Canadian Forces’ pilot training program. The defence department’s Defence Acquisition Guide lists the contract as greater than $1.5 billion, plus it is expected to bring in billions of dollars worth of work over the coming years.

Christyn Cianfarani, president of the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries (CADSI), the organization behind CANSEC, said she expects exhibitors who are interested in that training contract to highlight their capabilities at this year’s trade show even if the deal is still years away.

The current $2.8 billion NATO Flying Training Contract (NFTC) expires in 2021 at which point Canada will look at various options for pilot training. It could extend the existing contract, open bids on a new but similar flight training program, or combine NFTC and another training program, the Contracted Flying Training and Support (CFTS) project, military officers have said.

CFTS provides the Canadian Forces with primary flight training, and specialized helicopter and multi-engine fixed-wing pilot training. That contract, worth $1.7 billion, was awarded in 2005 to Kelowna Flightcraft Ltd., leading a consortium of Canadian companies known as Allied Wings. CFTS expires in 2027.

The Department of National Defence held initial consultations last year with aerospace firms but has yet to decide on how to proceed on a future flight training program.

Mike Greenley, vice president and general manager for CAE Canada – Defence and Security, said the firm intends to bid on the air training contract in whatever form it takes.

We would fully expect to be a key or primary player in all that,” he explained.

CAE is in the process of purchasing Bombardier’s training organization and will become the prime contractor responsible for the NATO Flying Training in Canada program, something it will highlight at CANSEC 2015.

In addition to flight training is the possibility of the acquisition of a new jet training aircraft to replace the current fleet of BAE Systems CT-155 Hawk aircraft.

Among potential options would be an upgrade of the existing Hawk fleet or the acquisition of aircraft such as Korean Aerospace’s T-50 Golden Eagle, BAE's Hawk 128 (the new advanced jet trainer for the RAF and Royal Navy) or Alenia Aeronautica's M-346 Master.

 

Looking to the future …

Farther into the future will be the CP-140 Aurora replacement known as the Canadian multi-mission aircraft or CMA.

Although the multi-billion dollar CMA program doesn’t get underway in earnest until 2021, Kelly Williams, senior director of strategy and government relations at General Dynamics Canada, told Esprit de Corps that it is not too early to highlight potential products or systems that could be outfitted on such an aircraft. “The planning for that aircraft will soon start, so it’s important to at least identify what contributions can be made,” he said.

For a number of years the Boeing Company’s CANSEC booth has highlighted the P-8A Poseidon aircraft as a potential candidate for the Canadian program. (DND has in the past rejected the Poseidon as too expensive, but that decision could be reviewed or reversed depending on future funding.)

In addition, Bombardier has also highlighted at CANSEC its various aircraft as potential CMA candidates or aircraft that could be used in coastal surveillance.

L-3 is promoting its reconfigurable multi-mission aircraft which would be based on Bombardier’s Q400 platform. It is collaborating with both Bombardier and Cascade Aerospace on that aircraft package.

 

Canadian technology in demand

Another aspect companies will be interested in promoting at CANSEC 2015 is the exportability of their technology, said CADSI’s Cianfarani. That attribute is one that the Canadian government and industry is keen to highlight, she added.

“You won’t see it necessarily as products to sell to our own government,” Cianfarani explained. “But companies will certainly be reminding the Canadian government of their export potential.”

Examples of that can be found with both Bell Helicopters of Mirabel, Quebec, and General Dynamics Canada of Ottawa.

In March 2014, the Philippine government announced it would spend more than $100 million to buy eight Bell 412EP helicopters as part of its military equipment renewal program. Five of the helicopters were configured for combat utility operations including relief efforts while the remaining aircraft were configured for VIP transportation

On October 27, 2014, General Dynamics Canada announced it had been awarded a multi-million-dollar contract to upgrade four SH-2G Super Seasprite helicopters with an integrated mission system for the Peruvian Navy. The Peruvian mission system will include General Dynamics’ sonobouy acoustics and stores management systems, providing the situational awareness needed to track a variety of targets.

Space operations is also an area for promotion at CANSEC 2015. MacDonald Dettwiler has its Radarsat Constellation Mission that is being developed for the government of Canada, including for use by the defence department.

General Dynamics Canada was recently awarded two contracts on DND’s Mercury Global project. The military satellite project will be tapping into a U.S. satellite system that will provide high speed, secure communications for deployed Canadian Armed Forces around the globe.

General Dynamics Canada will design and build a network of Mercury Global anchor stations for DND. A second contract provides ongoing in-service support for that system.

An advance look at CANSEC 2015

By Dave Pugliese

Those attending CANSEC 2015 with an eye for aerospace capabilities will have a choice of the familiar as well as the new when they tour the Ottawa trade show May 27–28.

Industry is keen to proceed with the three major RCAF procurement projects on the near horizon — the CF-18 fighter jet replacement, the new fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft, and an acquisition of a family of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

 

FWSAR … On the horizon

The Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue (FWSAR) project has over the years brought out numerous exhibitors to CANSEC. Contenders for the project, which has dragged on since the early 2000s, have been whittled down.

Boeing/Textron, which had promoted the V-22 Osprey at previous CANSECs, appeared to have halted its marketing efforts. (The firm brought a V-22 fuselage to CANSEC 2012 and held briefings aimed at countering concerns that the V-22 is too expensive for Canada.) Viking, another CANSEC exhibitor, has also dropped out of the FWSAR race.

The remaining three are Lockheed Martin with its C-130J, Airbus with its C295 and Alenia Aermacchi with the C-27J.

Dubbed Team Spartan, the partners include Alenia Aermacchi, General Dynamics Canada (ISS systems integrator and mission system provider), IMP Aerospace (responsible for the installation of General Dynamics' mission system), DRS Technologies Canada (training), Kelowna Flightcraft (maintenance and repair, engineering support, and supply chain management), Esterline CMC Electronics (various pieces of flight equipment), Flyht Aerospace Solutions (automated flight reporting system), Rolls Royce (engines), and Standard Aero (maintenance of Canadian fleet of FWSAR engines).

CANSEC visitors can expect to see each firm promote specific aspects of what they can contribute to FWSAR and other projects.

Last year, the team was present in the Finmeccanica booth with a full-size model of the C-27J as well as a video and graphic images depicting the C-27J's capability to operate in harsh weather environments. The team also had a presence in the General Dynamics Canada and Kelowna Flightcraft booths, and was a show sponsor of the event.

Airbus Defence and Space, offering the C295, has its own team: Provincial Aerospace, the main Canadian in-service support partner; Pratt & Whitney Canada, which will provide engines for every aircraft; CAE, which manufactures simulators and training devices; Vector Aerospace which performs engine maintenance and overhauls; and L-3 WESCAM, which produces the electro/optical sensors or the “eyes” of the aircraft.

The other main contender to provide aircraft for FWSAR is Lockheed Martin. It has indicated it would bid the C-130J, which is already in the RCAF’s inventory as a tactical transport aircraft. The company has been promoting the fact that it has a proven product which already has an established maintenance record and parts system within the RCAF.

Lockheed’s partners will also be at CANSEC 2015. In 2012, Lockheed and Cascade Aerospace, headquartered in Abbotsford, British Columbia, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to jointly pursue “mutually beneficial business opportunities,” including FWSAR.

Cascade Aerospace is also partnered with Lockheed Martin to support the RCAF C-130J fleet under a 20-year contract and it also provides fleet management services directly to the RCAF for its legacy C-130 Hercules fleet. In addition, Cascade is also only one of two authorized Lockheed Martin C-130J Heavy Maintenance Centers in the world.

 

JUSTAS … Back on the radar?

Another air force program that will see some interest from exhibitors is the Joint Uninhabited Surveillance and Target Acquisition System (JUSTAS). Like FWSAR, the JUSTAS program has fallen far behind its original schedule.

But there could be some movement on the acquisition of the UAV family. “The implementation approval and the contract award are scheduled to occur between 2019 and 2020,” said RCAF spokesman Capt. Alexandre Munoz.

This competition still receives interest from both MacDonald Detwiller, which has promoted a variant of the Israeli-made Heron UAV, and General Atomics with a version of its Reaper UAV.

CAE has highlighted in the past at its CANSEC booth the firm’s potential role in JUSTAS. CAE has joined forces with General Atomics and will not only provide training systems, but systems integration and logistics support as well.

 

CF-18 Replacement Program

As with previous shows, companies plan to highlight their role in ongoing RCAF programs. For instance, Boeing has its successful CH-147F Chinook helicopter project for the RCAF and the delivery of C-17s. Boeing has also received an order for a fifth C-17.

Lockheed Martin has its successful and on-time delivery of the RCAF’s C-130J fleet.

Both Lockheed Martin and Boeing will also use CANSEC 2015 to remind Canadian industry and military personnel that their aircraft are the two top contenders for selection as the new RCAF fighter jet.

Lockheed Martin pushes the technology aspect of its F-35 and its “fifth generation” capabilities.

Boeing has been highlighting not only the cost effectiveness of its Super Hornet, but also the value of having a competition for a new fighter jet.

Companies that could contribute to the F-35 are also highlighting their capabilities. Nammo, for instance, produces ammunition specifically for the F-35. The Nammo 25mm APEX ammunition is designed to counter a range of threats and is a next-generation armour-piercing, high explosive round.

 

CC-138 Twin Otter Replacement

Also on the horizon are two projects related to the RCAF’s Twin Otter aircraft, an acquisition that will draw CANSEC exhibitors.

The Twin Otters had been previously outfitted with modern avionics to keep them flying beyond 2015. Kelowna Flightcraft has a contract for the maintenance of both the CC-115 Buffalos and CC-138 Twin Otter fleets.

But the RCAF wants to eventually purchase what it is calling a Utility Transport Aircraft (UTA) for operations in the Arctic. The aircraft will replace the 40-year-old Twin Otters but will not get underway until around 2025.

Still, Viking Air Ltd. of Sidney, British Columbia, has promoted its Twin Otter Guardian 400 as a Canadian-made solution for the country’s Arctic security requirements.

In addition, other work can be expected for companies through a life extension program for the Twin Otters, which will keep the aircraft operationally effective until the UTA enters service, RCAF spokesman Maj. James Simiana said.

The life extension project will replace the Twin Otter’s wing boxes, install cockpit voice recorders/flight data recorders, and will provide improvements to enhance aircraft supportability. In addition, high-frequency radios and aircraft spares will be acquired, along with improvements to existing training devices.

The preliminary cost of the project is between $20 million to $49 million. The RCAF expects that a request for proposals will be released this year and a contract awarded in 2016. Final delivery of the upgraded Twin Otters would take place in 2020.

 

MAISR Program

Those firms looking to provide the RCAF with what is being called the Manned Airborne Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance (MAISR) Procurement Project are also expected at CANSEC 2015.

This project will involve the acquisition of a small fleet of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft. Each of the four aircraft that will be purchased will be outfitted with a signals intercept capability and sensors to target movement on the ground. The planes would be operated by the Royal Canadian Air Force, but would be mainly used to support Canadian special forces operations.

L-3 is among the firms interested in providing systems for such a capability.

At CANSEC 2014, Boeing had been promoting its Reconfigurable Airborne Multi-Intelligence System (RAMIS) for the project. RAMIS can provide an array of payloads, including a ground moving target indicator (GMTI) as well as communications intercept capabilities. The aircraft being marketed by Boeing has four payload bays for maximum flexibility and optimum sensor mix.

In addition, the aircraft has plug-and-play software and sensors that can be quickly added or removed. Boeing brought the RAMIS production prototype aircraft to Ottawa in August 2014 for a demonstration for Royal Canadian Air Force officers. Chief of the Air Staff LGen Yvan Blondin was among those on hand for the demonstration.

 

CH-146 Griffon life extension project

Also moving through the acquisition process is the project to extend the life of the CH-146 Griffon to 2030 or possibly beyond. Companies are looking at a project worth more than $1 billion. A request for proposals is expected next year with a contract award in 2017.

Vector Aerospace of Langley, British Columbia, has already expressed interest in bidding. At CANSEC 2013 the company displayed its CH-146 Griffon Cockpit Demonstrator. The company noted that its solution would enhance crew efficiency and situational awareness by upgrading analog instruments and gauges.

 

Flight Training Jackpot for Industry

The big prize looming on the horizon for defence firms is the future Canadian Forces’ pilot training program. The defence department’s Defence Acquisition Guide lists the contract as greater than $1.5 billion, plus it is expected to bring in billions of dollars worth of work over the coming years.

Christyn Cianfarani, president of the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries (CADSI), the organization behind CANSEC, said she expects exhibitors who are interested in that training contract to highlight their capabilities at this year’s trade show even if the deal is still years away.

The current $2.8 billion NATO Flying Training Contract (NFTC) expires in 2021 at which point Canada will look at various options for pilot training. It could extend the existing contract, open bids on a new but similar flight training program, or combine NFTC and another training program, the Contracted Flying Training and Support (CFTS) project, military officers have said.

CFTS provides the Canadian Forces with primary flight training, and specialized helicopter and multi-engine fixed-wing pilot training. That contract, worth $1.7 billion, was awarded in 2005 to Kelowna Flightcraft Ltd., leading a consortium of Canadian companies known as Allied Wings. CFTS expires in 2027.

The Department of National Defence held initial consultations last year with aerospace firms but has yet to decide on how to proceed on a future flight training program.

Mike Greenley, vice president and general manager for CAE Canada – Defence and Security, said the firm intends to bid on the air training contract in whatever form it takes.

We would fully expect to be a key or primary player in all that,” he explained.

CAE is in the process of purchasing Bombardier’s training organization and will become the prime contractor responsible for the NATO Flying Training in Canada program, something it will highlight at CANSEC 2015.

In addition to flight training is the possibility of the acquisition of a new jet training aircraft to replace the current fleet of BAE Systems CT-155 Hawk aircraft.

Among potential options would be an upgrade of the existing Hawk fleet or the acquisition of aircraft such as Korean Aerospace’s T-50 Golden Eagle, BAE's Hawk 128 (the new advanced jet trainer for the RAF and Royal Navy) or Alenia Aeronautica's M-346 Master.

 

Looking to the future …

Farther into the future will be the CP-140 Aurora replacement known as the Canadian multi-mission aircraft or CMA.

Although the multi-billion dollar CMA program doesn’t get underway in earnest until 2021, Kelly Williams, senior director of strategy and government relations at General Dynamics Canada, told Esprit de Corps that it is not too early to highlight potential products or systems that could be outfitted on such an aircraft. “The planning for that aircraft will soon start, so it’s important to at least identify what contributions can be made,” he said.

For a number of years the Boeing Company’s CANSEC booth has highlighted the P-8A Poseidon aircraft as a potential candidate for the Canadian program. (DND has in the past rejected the Poseidon as too expensive, but that decision could be reviewed or reversed depending on future funding.)

In addition, Bombardier has also highlighted at CANSEC its various aircraft as potential CMA candidates or aircraft that could be used in coastal surveillance.

L-3 is promoting its reconfigurable multi-mission aircraft which would be based on Bombardier’s Q400 platform. It is collaborating with both Bombardier and Cascade Aerospace on that aircraft package.

 

Canadian technology in demand

Another aspect companies will be interested in promoting at CANSEC 2015 is the exportability of their technology, said CADSI’s Cianfarani. That attribute is one that the Canadian government and industry is keen to highlight, she added.

“You won’t see it necessarily as products to sell to our own government,” Cianfarani explained. “But companies will certainly be reminding the Canadian government of their export potential.”

Examples of that can be found with both Bell Helicopters of Mirabel, Quebec, and General Dynamics Canada of Ottawa.

In March 2014, the Philippine government announced it would spend more than $100 million to buy eight Bell 412EP helicopters as part of its military equipment renewal program. Five of the helicopters were configured for combat utility operations including relief efforts while the remaining aircraft were configured for VIP transportation

On October 27, 2014, General Dynamics Canada announced it had been awarded a multi-million-dollar contract to upgrade four SH-2G Super Seasprite helicopters with an integrated mission system for the Peruvian Navy. The Peruvian mission system will include General Dynamics’ sonobouy acoustics and stores management systems, providing the situational awareness needed to track a variety of targets.

Space operations is also an area for promotion at CANSEC 2015. MacDonald Dettwiler has its Radarsat Constellation Mission that is being developed for the government of Canada, including for use by the defence department.

General Dynamics Canada was recently awarded two contracts on DND’s Mercury Global project. The military satellite project will be tapping into a U.S. satellite system that will provide high speed, secure communications for deployed Canadian Armed Forces around the globe.

General Dynamics Canada will design and build a network of Mercury Global anchor stations for DND. A second contract provides ongoing in-service support for that system.

ISS: Future job losses ahead?

By Dave Pugliese

While companies see a potential bonanza in upcoming in-service support contracts for the Royal Canadian Navy, the union representing workers at the Department of National Defence sees future job losses.


John MacLennan, national president of the Union of National Defence Employees (UNDE), said the Navy is putting in place a system that will eventually transfer much of the maintenance and support work on its new ships to the private sector. The work is currently done by about 1,000 government employees, who are mainly situated in bases on the West and East Coasts. Other jobs, located in DND warehouses that are stocked with parts, could also be affected.
“Our fear is that the public service will be eroded through attrition and the responsibilities taken over by the contractor,” MacLennan explained.


Union representatives met with senior Navy officers on January 10 to discuss what is being called the Future of In-Service Support (FISS) initiative.


As more responsibilities for maintenance work are passed on to private contractors, the skill levels of government employees currently doing the job will suffer, MacLennan warned.


Federal employees do everything from repairing hulls, to working on sonars, radars and other on-board systems. Other public servants conduct inspections of hulls and other ship components.
Federal workers need to be regularly doing such jobs if they are to retain their skills, union representatives told Navy officers at the January 10 meeting.


MacLennan noted that the large amounts of money that are available for future in-service support contracts for the new ships have attracted intense interest from industry. But he also warned that having companies providing ISS could put too much power in the hands of specific firms.
He is not alone in that concern.


In April 2012, Department of National Defence officials outlined the risks of having a single support contract, covering 35 years, for the Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS) and the Joint Support Ships (JSS). The deal will be structured so the winning company will provide maintenance and support for the ships for an initial eight years, with contract renewals every five years after that.


But DND officials raised concerns that once a single company was selected, the federal government could be held over a barrel on the ISS contract.


“A single ISS provider may assume a ‘take it or leave it’ attitude at the time of contract option renewal, forcing prices up,” warned the April 2012 briefing note for then DND deputy minister Robert Fonberg. The briefing was obtained through the Access to Information Act.


A dispute with the contractor could also force the Royal Canadian Navy to resort to conducting maintenance and support for the ships on a piecemeal basis, a development that would affect its operations, the briefing added.


But DND officials also maintained that a single contract would save money in the long run, according to the briefing documents. In addition, having one company handle support for the ships would provide steady work for its employees.


Naval officers and DND procurement specialists also told Fonberg that both classes of ships have nearly identical ISS requirements.


The briefing stated that the risks of hiring only one company to do support for the ships could be handled through appropriate levels of oversight on the contract and through ongoing discussions with the company.


But MacLennan believes the move to using private firms for in-service support on the new naval ships will cost taxpayers more in the long run, something he noted that the RCN did not dispute.


“The Navy acknowledges it could be more expensive, but they are getting direction from the government to proceed,” MacLennan explained. “They didn’t hold anything back at the meeting — the sense we got is that it’s (privatization) going to get bigger.”

Submarines Rising

It’s been a long road for the Royal Canadian Navy’s submarine fleet, but the service believes the boats have turned the corner in their journey to full operational status.

Canada purchased the four submarines second-hand from Britain and took delivery of the boats between 2000 and 2004. It renamed the former Royal Navy’s Upholder class as Canada’s Victoria class.

The submarine program, which has already cost around $900 million, has had a rocky start, dealing with maintenance issues that, over the years, have limited the availability of the boats for operations.

High-pressure welds had to be replaced and cracks were found in some of the valves on the four subs. Steel piping also needed to be replaced because the boats were put into storage in the United Kingdom with water in their fuel tanks. A fire damaged HMCS Chicoutimi in 2004, and killed one officer. HMCS Corner Brook struck bottom off the west coast of Vancouver Island in 2011.

In addition, there have been delays in installing Canadian equipment, such as the weapons fire control and communications gear. “The introduction of the Victoria Class has been fraught with many issues and faced a number of setbacks,” a May 2009 briefing note produced by the Navy acknowledged.

But that is changing, according to the RCN.

“We have three submarines operational in the water,” explained RCN spokesman Lt.-Commander Alain Blondin. “Our priority is to show value for money.” He noted that HMCS Victoria took part in RIMPAC exercises in summer 2014 off Hawaii.

Victoria was used as an adversary in a wide variety of exercises at RIMPAC, including sub-versus-sub as well as various anti-submarine warfare scenarios, Blondin said.

HMCS Windsor was back at sea in December 2014. HMCS Chicoutimi was also at sea in December 2014, undergoing equipment trials and crew training to prepare for operational employment. HMCS Corner Brook will enter its ‘Extended Docking Work Period’ in the coming months. By the end of 2014, the RCN achieved its desired operational steady-state of having three submarines at sea, with the fourth in deep maintenance, Blondin noted.

Overall, HMCS Windsor, Victoria, and Chicoutimi spent approximately a total of 260 days at sea in 2014.

In September 2014, the crew of HMCS Victoria received the Operational Service Medal at CFB Esquimalt for their successful participation in Operation CARIBBE in 2013.

HMCS Windsor was docked to allow for replacement of one of its generators. While the submarine was docked, the RCN took advantage of the opportunity to accelerate the previously planned installation of some upgrades, including a state-of-the-art bow sonar system that wasn’t originally scheduled to go in for another two years, Blondin explained.

“The new sonar system will bring the entire sonar suite of the Victoria class forward — from 1980s technology into the 21st century — in order to continue to act on behalf of Canada in the face of emerging maritime threats,” he said.

Martin Shadwick, a strategic studies professor at York University in Toronto, said if the RCN’s predictions that the submarine fleet has turned the corner are right, then the timing couldn’t be any better.

“It’s vital now more than ever since with the downsizing of the surface fleet, the Navy needs all vessels it can put to sea,” Shadwick said.

He was referring to the number of Halifax-class frigates that are expected to be docked as they undergo modernization, as well as the RCN’s decision in 2014 to retire two of its destroyers and its two re-supply ships.

The Victoria class, with their ability to remain undetected, provide a force multiplier that the RCN needs now, he added. The RCN views submarines as the ultimate stealth platform, able to operate in areas where sea and air control is not assured, and to gain access to areas denied to other forces.

Blondin credited companies involved in the submarine program for playing a role in returning the vessels to operational status, in particular HMCS Chicoutimi.

“The successful completion of Chicoutimi’s return to operations has not only been enabled by the skills and talent of Canada’s submarine community, but also by the relationships forged with industry,” he noted. “These partnerships enabled the establishment of new supply chains for these subs, and the integrated logistics to sustain these complex weapons systems.”
Industry has already received recent work on the submarines and some firms are continuing to win contracts.

The main contract for the submarines is, of course, the one held by Babcock Canada. Estimated to be worth $1.5 billion over 15 years, the Victoria-class submarine In-Service Support Contract involves the company providing a wide range of services to the RCN. Those include program and project management, material and logistic support, systems engineering, configuration management and records support, maintenance and extended docking work period support, and information and knowledge management. Babcock Canada Inc. operates in three locations in Canada: Ottawa, Victoria, and Halifax.

The RCN noted that in June 2013, the Canadian government exercised the first five-year extension option of the maintenance support contract with Babcock, worth $531 million. In addition, in November 2012, Northrop Grumman Corporation was selected by Canada to provide in-service support for the MK-49 inertial navigation systems and navigation data distribution systems fielded aboard both the RCN’s surface ships and Victoria-class submarines. The $12.1 million contract includes material spares and software maintenance for the next five years.

The MK-49 inertial navigation system, based on Northrop Grumman’s unique ring-laser gyro technology, provides highly-accurate position, attitude, velocity, and heading inputs to the ships’ navigation and fire-control systems to help ensure stabilized weapons initialization under all sea conditions, the company noted. The navigation data distribution system integrates data inputs and outputs provided by the MK-49 inertial navigation system and other navigation sensors.

In February 2013, the Canadian government also awarded a contract to Ultra Electronics Maritime Systems Inc., of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, for work on the submarines. That $6.9 million contract covers maintenance work on the towed-array sonars on the Victoria class. The work will continue until 2016.

In June of that same year, Ultra Electronics Maritime Systems (UEMS) announced it had received a contract from Canada to manufacture four Submarine Towed Array Sonar System (SubTASS) arrays for the Victoria-class boats.

The SubTASS arrays were developed by UEMS and are manufactured in its facilities in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. UEMS’ SubTASS arrays are an essential component of the Victoria-class sensor suite and allow the submarines to covertly detect and track surface and sub-surface contacts, the firm noted.

In March of 2014, MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. of Richmond, BC announced that it had signed a contract valued at over $16 million to provide in-service support for training and maintenance of the Victoria-class trainers. Those trainers, located at CFB Halifax, are used to instruct personnel on operating and maintaining Victoria-class submarines. The contract is for a four-year duration, with options for an additional two years.

MDA has been providing in-service training and maintenance support on the Victoria-class trainers since 2009, the company noted.

Still, it is not simply smooth sailing for the submarine fleet. In his 2014-2017 business plan, RCN Commander Vice Admiral Mark Norman warned that the costs to operate and maintain the submarine fleet are increasing, forcing the Navy to request more funding to keep the vessels at sea.

The RCN needs an additional $19 million for the sub fleet’s operating and maintenance costs for the period up to spring of 2016, the service’s new business plan noted.

Ongoing government-ordered cuts have “severely reduced the RCN’s ability to mitigate the steadily increasing costs of the Submarine operating and maintenance,” the plan pointed out. But the Navy is committed to the submarines and has no intention to sideline the boats, a RCN officer noted. In fact, the service has, over the years, redirected funding from other areas to pay for the upkeep of the boats.

The business plan indicated that continued funding for the submarines would become difficult as Halifax-class frigates, which were being modernized, return to sea. “As the surface ships are returned to operations the ability of the RCN to mitigate the increasing operations and maintenance costs of the Victoria-class subs, as they progress to a steady state operating tempo of an average of 140 Sea Days per submarine is greatly diminished,” the document noted.

The Navy also hopes to increase numbers of qualified submariners by boosting the availability of training on-board the boats, the plan outlined. In addition, the RCN is also planning additional upgrades for the submarine fleet that will be of interest to industry.

Options analysis for upgrading the existing Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) and Electronic Support Measures (ESM) system in Victoria-class submarines will begin in 2017.

The project will optimize Victoria-class submarines’ existing systems and sub-systems until end-of-life for the boats, according to the 2014 Defence Acquisition Guide. This will include removal of the Seasearch II and replace it with a modern system. “The project will provide time-critical, tactically-relevant warning of threat emissions by early detection and classification that will contribute to early Indications and Warning of surface vessels,” the DAG noted.

The project will also provide interception, identification, platform correlation, analysis, and direction finding of electronic emissions so as to provide the maximum effectiveness in ELINT/ESM surveillance, the document added. The project solution will be integrated into a single operator workstation.

Preliminary cost estimates are listed in the DAG as between $20 million to $49 million. Movement on this project is projected to start in 2021 when a request for proposals is expected. Final delivery of the systems will be completed by 2025.
On an even longer time frame is the project to upgrade the tactical command and control system for both surface ships and the subs. The changes brought in by the new Maritime Tactical Command and Control (MTC2) will provide software to perform maritime tactical command and control amongst Canadian naval platforms and between platforms and their superior and subordinate Commanders and interchange C2 information seamlessly with allied navies of the United States, Britain, Australia, and New Zealand, according to the DAG. MTC2 will provide necessary hardware upgrades to the Naval Information Systems (NAVIS) to support the new software demands.

Preliminary cost estimates for the project are between $20 million to $49 million. Options analysis will be underway in 2015, but it will be a lengthy process. The request for proposals isn’t expected until after 2021, with a contract award by 2025. Deliveries will take place between 2026 and 2035.

The main question for the future, however, centres on when the RCN will replace the Victoria-class submarines.

Shadwick noted that a submarine replacement was never included in the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy, a document that covers the next 20 to 30 years. “That doesn’t bode well,” he points out.

In 2011 and 2012 there was much speculation in Ottawa that the Navy was laying the groundwork for the purchase of new subs. There were reports in October 2011 that the Harper government was considering the purchase of nuclear-powered submarines because of concerns the Victoria-class were costing too much and lacked capabilities needed for the future RCN. Those claims were quickly shot down by then Conservative House leader Peter Van Loan, who noted “there is no plan to replace the diesel-electric fleet.”

In February 2012, then-Navy Commander Vice-Admiral Paul Maddison told the Senate defence committee that he envisioned initiating discussions about a next-generation submarine by 2015 or 2016. He noted that maintaining a submarine capability was critical for the future. Replacement of the Victoria class, if approved, would take place in the late 2020s, he suggested.

That was enough to spark interest among some firms. In 2012, a German trade delegation to Canada, led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, had senior executives from ThyssenKrupp Marine. Media reports at the time noted the connection between the interest in buying new submarines and ThyssenKrupp’s Howaldtswerke Deutsche Werft (or HDW), which has built a number of classes of subs.

But RCN Commander Vice Admiral Mark Norman has told Esprit de Corps that he has no plans for a submarine replacement at this point. The focus of the Navy has been, and will continue to be, on improving submarine operations, he noted. That doesn’t mean, however, that the RCN is not planning a life-extension program for the Victoria class.

In 2015 it will begin its options analysis for what has to be done to extend the predicted end-of-service life of the submarines, which is set at around the mid-2020s.

“The Submarine Equipment Life Extension (SELEX) Project will maintain the safety and serviceability of the “Float” components of the Victoria class,” the RCN has noted in the DAG. “It will maintain and, where appropriate, improve operational capabilities in both the ‘Move’ and ‘Fight’ components of the Victoria class.”

A detailed scoping study has already been completed and the recommendations of that will be used to define what is needed for the SELEX Project. Preliminary estimates put the cost of this project at more than $1.5 billion. Request for proposals and contract award would take place between 2021 and 2025. Work would begin in 2026 with deliveries of the upgraded submarines completed by 2035, according to the DAG.