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what we need are aircraft that can perform needed missions within our   borders. We will never be able to afford a fighter fleet that could defend us from attacks from outside our borders.

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54 minutes ago, Super 80 said:

What we need most in 2018 is helicopter gunships for counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency missions, that is the war we're fighting for the foreseeable future.

I can’t see that happening in Canada and I will go back to saying Canada can fulfill its international commitments as well as internal commitments by investing in heavy transport able to respond to requests throughout the world. 

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I'm sure it won't happen, but the wars we're going to be fighting are down in the weeds against assholes with AK-47s and man-portable missiles and rockets that are more dangerous to person firing it than anyone else. We're not going to be participating the tip of the spear bombing raids in heavily defended airspace.

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The war we are fighting is terrorists in vans running people over, suicide bombers in the streets and active shooter incidents.  Fighter jets cannot counter that threat.  

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  • 3 weeks later...

Looks like the shortage quoted to justify the purchase does not exist. 


Military has no documents about fighter jet ‘capability gap,’ a claim used to justify aircraft purchase

‎Today, ‎November ‎19, ‎2018, ‏‎2 hours ago | David Pugliese, Ottawa Citizen

Neither Canada’s top soldier nor the commander of the air force had or produced any records about a fighter jet “capability gap” in the year leading up to the Liberal government’s announcement that such a critical issue had to be dealt with by spending billions to buy aircraft.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan used the capability gap argument in November 2016 to justify a $5-billion program to buy new Super Hornet jets, a deal since scuttled, and later a $500-million program to purchase used F-18 planes from Australia.

But in the year leading up to Sajjan’s announcement about the urgent need to acquire such planes, neither Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Jon Vance nor Lt.-Gen. Mike Hood, then head of the Royal Canadian Air Force, produced any documentation indicating there was ever a capability gap, according to Department of National Defence’s Access to Information branch. In addition, no such documents exist among the records of various members of Sajjan’s staff, according to the department.

It would be normal practice to have hundreds, if not thousands of pages of records, discussing such a key defence issue or gap if it existed, military insiders tell Postmedia.

But records obtained by Postmedia through the Access law do show that just before Sajjan’s announcement that the 18 jets were needed in the “interim” to deal with the capability gap, the minister was told the existing fleet of CF-18s was in better shape than expected and could keep flying until 2032.

Conservative MPs allege the capability gap didn’t exist and was concocted by the government to delay a larger project to buy new jets, a competition that might end up selecting the F-35 stealth fighter the Liberals vowed never to purchase.

When asked about the lack of documentation about the capability gap, a DND official said the department could not comment.

Taxpayers may get more information Tuesday when the Auditor General’s office releases its examination of the fighter jet plan.

The deal to buy the 18 Super Hornets as “interim” jets eventually collapsed after the aircraft’s U.S. supplier, Boeing, angered the Liberals by complaining to the Trump administration that a Canadian firm was receiving unfair subsidies to build civilian aircraft. Because of that complaint, the government deemed Boeing an unreliable partner and instead struck a deal to buy used F-18 jets from Australia. That project is estimated to cost $500 million.

Those jets are needed on an interim basis not only to help fill the capability gap but because the current fleet of CF-18 fighters is too old, the government has stated.

But nine days before Sajjan held his November 2016 news conference to announce the original Super Hornet interim jet deal, the minister was told the CF-18 fleet was in better shape than expected.

“Analysis over the summer indicates that the structural damage is less than anticipated and that all aircraft can be flown and retired at a predicted rate beyond 2025 without additional investment in structural work,” Sajjan was told by deputy defence minister John Forster. “Doing so would require an investment to 2032 (when the last legacy aircraft would retire).”

Shortly after Sajjan’s news conference, Hood explained to a Senate committee it was the government that brought in a policy change that required the RCAF to meet both its NATO and North American air defence commitments at the same time. That, in turn, created the capability gap.

“That demands a certain number of aircraft that our present CF-18 fleet is unable to meet on its day-to-day serviceability rate,” said Hood, who has since retired. “They’ve (the Liberals) changed the policy of the number of aircraft I have to have.”

Hood said he didn’t know the reason for the change. “I’m not privy to the decisions behind the policy change,” added the general.

In addition, a 2014 report produced by Defence Research and Development Canada recommended against the purchase of such “bridging” aircraft to deal with gaps in capability. “The costs involved with bridging options make them unsuitable for filling capability gaps in the short term,” the report states. “Any short-term investment results in disproportionately high costs during the bridging period.”

That report, which had been in the public domain for years, was removed from the DND website. The DND claimed it was pulled down from its website because the report was found to contain classified information.



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Auditor general trashes Liberal plan to keep CF-18s flying until 2032

Canada’s auditor general has shot down the Liberal government’s handling of the air force’s aging CF-18s in a blistering report that raises national security and even long-term safety questions about the viability of the country’s frontline fighter jets.

Fighter pilots, technicians are in short supply for Canada's fighter jets

Murray Brewster · CBC News · Posted: Nov 20, 2018 11:02 AM ET | Last Updated: 29 minutes ago

Canada's auditor general has shot down the Liberal government's handling of the air force's aging CF-18s in a blistering report that raises national security and even long-term safety questions about the viability of the country's frontline fighter jets.

Auditor General Michael Ferguson's fall report, tabled Tuesday, methodically picks apart the recent policy change at the Department of National Defence, which requires the military to have enough warplanes to meet Canada's commitments to both NORAD and NATO at the same time.

From the get-go the policy was a non-starter, said Ferguson, and the federal government knows it.

"The fighter force could not meet the requirement because National Defence was already experiencing a shortage in personnel, and the CF-18 was old and increasingly hard to maintain," said the audit.

As of April 2018, the air force's CF-18 squadrons faced a 22 per cent shortage in technical positions, and a startling number of technicians were not fully qualified to do maintenance.

Fighter pilots are also in short supply. The air force is losing more of them than it is training each year, and among those that do remain almost one-third do not get the required 140 hours of flying time per year.

Proposed solution 'will not help solve' issues

Ferguson also took issue with both of the Liberal government's plans to fill the so-called capability gap by buying additional interim aircraft.

The current proposal is to buy used Australian F-18s, which are approximately the same vintage as Canada's CF-18s, and convert them for further use until the federal government completes the purchase of brand new aircraft.

With this plan, the auditor said, the air force faces the same issues. 

"The government's proposed solution of buying interim aircraft will not help solve either the personnel shortage or the aging fleet," said the audit.

More pointedly, Ferguson said the earlier $6.3-billion plan to buy 18 brand new Super Hornet fighter jets on an interim basis would have been even worse, and the government was told so in no uncertain terms by the air force.

Auditor General Michael Ferguson released his fall report Tuesday. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

"National Defence's analysis showed that buying the Super Hornet alone would not allow the department to meet the new operational requirement," said the audit. 

"The department stated that the Super Hornet would initially decrease, not increase, the daily number of aircraft available because technicians and pilots would have to be pulled away from the CF-18s to train on the new aircraft."

The proposal to buy Super Hornets was scrapped last spring after the manufacturer, Chicago-based Boeing, angered the Trudeau government in a separate trade dispute involving the sale of Bombardier passenger jets.

Fleet 'will become more vulnerable'

What is perhaps most stark is the auditor's warning that the Liberal government has no plan to upgrade the combat capabilities of the CF-18s to keep them current over the next decade while the air force waits for a replacement. 

The last major refurbishment of the war fighting equipment on the jets was in 2008, and Defence planners have done little because they had been expecting new planes by 2020.

"National Defence did not have a plan to upgrade the combat capability of the CF-18 even though it will now have to fly until 2032," said the audit. 

"Without these upgrades, according to the department, the CF-18 will become more vulnerable as advanced combat aircraft and air defence systems continue to be developed and used by other nations."

The fact that the CF-18s are not up to date means they will not be able to operate in certain environments where the risk of surface-to-air missiles or advanced enemy planes is great.

That, in turn, "would limit Canada's contribution to NORAD and NATO operations," Ferguson said.

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November 22, 2018 9:30 am

Roy Green: Australia’s old jets are not Canada’s first experience with military cast-offs

Roy Green By Roy Green Host, Corus Radio Network  Global News
News: Conservatives say 'no one believes' Trudeau on purchase of fighter jetsx

“Whip out our CF-18’s and show them how big they are,” said Justin Trudeau in 2014, before he became prime minister.

According to federal Auditor General Michael Ferguson, Canada will be severely limited as far as any whipping out of our ancient flying platforms is concerned.

We’re short of pilots, short of technicians and woefully incapable of quite literally keeping up with allied air forces should a hot shooting war erupt and require Canadian participation.

In the automobile vernacular, it would be like sending out a fleet of mid-1980s perhaps questionably maintained snow plows to tackle a fierce Canadian mid-winter storm. Add a worrisome deficit of qualified drivers and … well, let your mind’s eye roam.

Meanwhile, Australia is perhaps yet to be shown playing the air force version of the British navy, which sold Canada used submarines in 1998, by unloading 25 of its discarded F-18s on Canada for some $500 million. It’s a pointless expense according to Ferguson, who concludes the old Australian jets will offer little or no value to this nation.

Perhaps they may prove as airworthy as the submarines the Jean Chretien Liberals took off the hands of giggling Brits turned out to be seaworthy.

Former U.K. member of parliament Mike Hancock questioned that deal.

“Why were the Canadians daft enough to buy them? My God, it’s a sad tale isn’t it? ‘Buyer beware’ should have been painted on the sides of those submarines,” Hancock told the CBC.

The four Victoria-class Royal Navy diesel subs were decommissioned in 1993, then added to the inventory of the Royal Canadian Navy for $750 million some five years later.

WATCH BELOW: Sajjan defends buying fighter jets despite auditor general’s report


Their years of service to this country have been highlighted by leaks, rust, serious dents, lengthy and expensive stints in dry dock and in the case of one of the submarines, HMCS Chicoutimi, a tragic fire which broke out during its maiden RCN voyage. A 32-year-old Lieutenant died and nine members of Chicoutimi’s crew suffered smoke inhalation.

HMCS Corner Brook ran aground, while HMCS Windsor was dry-docked in Halifax where I saw it while on a harbour boat ride. Well, I saw tarpaulins covering something relatively large and was assured it was Windsor. Rust was later discovered during work on the boat. That’s not a good thing for a submersible.

As for intimidating potential enemies, that was also to prove problematic. Our torpedoes weren’t a match for our new submarines.  That, though, was a problem for only three of the four. Number four couldn’t fire torpedoes at all. It had developed flooding problems.  Again, not good when you’re spending time below the surface. Temporarily.

Ingenuity resolved that challenge. The torpedo tubes were welded shut.

READ: Canadian navy investigates after fires, power outages hit ships around the world

The current Liberal government plans to part with $3 billion-plus to keep however many of its CF-18 roster it can in the air over the next 10 years, during which time and without an upgrade in weapons systems, the planes’ effectiveness will continue to deteriorate.

There will be, we’re told, some new jets in the skies above Canada by perhaps the middle of the next decade, after another competition for replacements for the CF-18s is concluded; $19 billion should buy Canada 88 new fighters.

If that doesn’t pan out, there are still some former Royal Air Force Spitfires roaming the skies.

Sad, isn’t it?

Roy Green is the host of the Roy Green Show on the Global News Radio network.


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NP View: The Liberals promised new fighter jets. They delivered utter lunacy instead

Incompetence is now layered atop mismanagement to such an extent that it's almost breathtaking to behold

Tories call on feds to cancel purchase of rusty fighter jets...2:29

November 23, 2018
5:43 PM EST

Filed under

Canada is a country blessed — or, make that cursed — with a long history of utterly catastrophic military procurement failures. The multi-decade Sea King helicopter replacement escapade springs immediately to mind (and it will endure for at least a few weeks longer before the last Sea King is retired). As does the disastrous purchase of rusted-out British submarines to replace Canada’s elderly sub-surface fleet; only in recent years has that 1990s-era procurement actually begun producing functioning warships. The pathetic end of service for our last two supply ships, retired without replacement because they were simply unsafe to operate any longer at their advanced age, must surely also make the list.

But even against that history of spectacular disgrace, the Liberal government’s handling of the Royal Canadian Air Force’s CF-18 fighter jet replacement still stands out as an especially shameful display. Although it’s too soon to say for certain, future historians may well come to regard this slow-motion train wreck as the defining Canadian military procurement embarrassment.

Future historians may come to regard this slow-motion train wreck as the defining Canadian military procurement embarrassment


It’s a bold claim, but the signs are pointing in that direction. Incompetence is now layered atop mismanagement to such an extent that it’s almost breathtaking to behold.

The core problem is easy enough to grasp: Canada’s fleet of CF-18 jets is approaching 40 years of age, double its intended service life. The basic design is a few years older than that. The jets have been well maintained and periodically upgraded, and remain effective weapons. But there is only so much life that can be squeezed from such a high-performance machine before it simply becomes dangerous to expect any more from them. There is a real risk that they could actually start falling apart, even in mid-air, if pushed much longer and harder than they have been already. The only solution is new jets, and those jets will cost a lot of money, something no Canadian politician has much appetite for. But there is no way around this. And considering the long delivery time for such aircraft, the clock is very much ticking.

cf-18_refuels_over_mountains.jpg?w=640&quality=60&strip=allA photo taken out the window of a Canadian Forces CC-150 Polaris tanker shows a CF-18 Hornet fighter jet being refuelled in the air over Vancouver on Feb. 18, 2010. Master Corporal Andrew Collins, 14 Wing Imaging

As it has been for years. Part of this debacle is bipartisan: the urgency of replacing the CF-18s was as clear to the Harper Tories during their tenure as it is today. They didn’t get the job done, and that’s to their shame. But that failure has now been compounded and outdone by astonishing levels of Liberal government mismanagement. This is a crisis.

The Liberal failures stemmed from their absurd campaign promise during the 2015 election to proceed with a fighter replacement process that was fair and transparent, but which also excluded the Conservatives’ preferred Lockheed Martin F-35, an advanced American stealth jet now entering service with several allied nations. It was instantly obvious that the Liberal proposal was inherently contradictory: you can’t hold a fair competition while excluding a clear front-runner. Trapped from the outset, the Liberals have been trying to find a way out ever since.

cf-18.jpg?w=640&quality=60&strip=allA Royal Canadian Armed Forces CF-18 Hornet fighter jet pilot walks down the flight line in Kuwait after a combat mission over Iraq on Oct. 30, 2014. A report by auditor general Michael Ferguson says the RCAF no longer has enough pilots or ground technicians to keep its existing fleet of CF-18s in the sky. Canadian Forces Combat Camera

They been forced to concoct an irrational fiction to provide themselves political cover: they claim that the CF-18 jet fleet has dwindled in number to such an extent that Canada can no longer meet its dual primary obligations: to North American defence in partnership with the United States, via Norad, and our obligations to assist our NATO allies abroad. It’s true that the fleet is too small, but that’s all the more reason to replace it, all of it, without further delay. Since the Liberals can’t do that thanks to their own silly promise, they’re trying to delay making that decision by spending billions not only to keep the CF-18s flying longer, but also by buying used Boeing F-18s from Australia, a similar model. This, the Liberals say, will add some bulk back to the Royal Canadian Air Force’s squadrons. (Left unmentioned is the reason the Australians can part with their F-18s: because they’ve been able to procure replacements for them — something we’ve proven incapable of.)

So, Canada will spend billions to augment a fleet that is already becoming obsolete, to avoid spending billions on replacing that augmented fleet just a few years later. And all of this misspending just to get the Liberals out of a political pickle of their own making. The government is manifestly putting its own partisan interests ahead of the national interest and the safety of our pilots. They’re barely even trying to hide it.

The government is manifestly putting its own partisan interests ahead of the national interest and the safety of our pilots


But as if the above wasn’t bonkers enough, a report by auditor general Michael Ferguson this week revealed that, due to chronic underfunding and mismanagement, the RCAF no longer has enough pilots or ground technicians to keep our existing fleet of CF-18s in the sky. Our fleet is too small to meet Canada’s needs and yet we cannot even properly use the small fleet we have for want of pilots and technicians. And the Liberals want to spend billions of precious defence dollars adding yet additional planes to a fleet that’s already beyond our ability to fly and maintain.

But wait. There’s more. To add one final ridiculous insult to this farcical injury, since the Australian hand-me-downs will require work to get into service with Canadian squadrons, by adding new jets to the fleet, the technician and pilot shortage will actually be made worse than it already is. That work requires Canadian pilots and technicians, of whom there are already too few. The government does not have the ability to train more pilots and technicians in a timely manner without further cannibalizing our scant resources.

gary-clement-1.png?w=640. Gary Clement/National Post

What can possibly be said of this utter fiasco? What could be more damning, more embarrassing for Canada and its government, than these uncontested facts above? Rhetorical flourishes here cannot hope to match the impact of the sobering reality. Our air arm has been allowed to wither to the point where it’s going to be almost impossible to rebuild it. We can’t buy new planes, we can’t sustain the ones we have and we can’t absorb the used Australian planes, or train the staff that would make that possible.

The only thing we do have, arguably, is a new humiliation in Canadian military procurement history — the one thing Canadian forces already had in abundance.

cf-18_lithuania.jpg?w=640&quality=60&strip=allA Canadian CF-18 Hornet manoeuvres over Lithuania during a NATO operation on Sept. 15, 2014. Cpl Gabrielle DesRochers


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Although a bit dated now and not a fighter guy, it seems to me that the Liberals changed the daily availability requirements to demand meeting both NORAD and NATO commitments at the same time . Presto… instant capability deficit requiring “immediate action.” Then they used that requirement to delay the acquisition of new aircraft via the need for a capability bridging effort. Like the gun debate statistics, it was totally manufactured IMO.

Regardless, the costs involved with bridging a short term capability gap almost always exceeds its own value in the context of military procurement as does incremental updates to existing equipment over extended periods.They didn't understand that aspect of it nor did they get the full impact of the manpower situation. The pilot shortage is a separate but contributing issue here and it was largely self inflicted. The RCAF can no longer train itself out of the pilot deficit which IMO is the real definition of a pilot shortage. Lunacy is exactly  the right word. The next step in lunacy is coming to the conclusion that an air force doesn't need fighters. After that everything gets easy because armies don't need guns and navies don't need ships and divers can just be trained to hold their breath.Remember when we didn't need tanks and we didn't need Chinooks? When I first joined the infantry, we had to shout bang bang, during small section tactics and CQB due to a shortage of blank rounds. Lunacy tends to be circular and easily repeatable.

Edited by Wolfhunter
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58 minutes ago, Wolfhunter said:

The next step in lunacy is coming to the conclusion that an air force doesn't need fighters.

IMO you are away off track here and your following statements, (army/navy), do not bolster your original quoted statement above 

As well .NORAD/NATO commitments can be changed in a blink of the eye.

Think hard on what it is costing, us, the tax payers to have a token "fighter group"  that is NOT required and could be replaced, for instance, by any USAF reserve squadron. Do you really think we need fighters for the defense of Canada and to fulfill a NATO/NORAD commitment where our token appearance has done little, if anything, to shift the balance of peace or war in the past 75 years? 

Most people have no idea what it costs to train and maintain the capability  of a fighter pilot or the required aircraft and maintenance of said aircraft and that the sum is staggering. Yes, flying whiz-bangs' is a lot of fun , been there done that and, ("why yes, young lady I am a fighter pilot"), certainly is a morale and ego booster but economically, for Canada, it is a total waste of money.

Yes, we need the RCAF but NOT in a fighter role. Canada should put their $$$ into heavy transport  that can be utilized more effectively in peace time disasters and ready air transport for NORAD and NATO. Search and Rescue needs to be shored up as well, in order to  cover our large country, both land and sea.

The roles of the military in  "small" countries, (pop. wise), have to be justified based on need, not world perception, not on personal egos, and not on " because we always have done it that way. "

Times are, (should be), a changing......

Personally I feel what I have advocated will never happen, not because the "plan" is ludicrous, but because politicians have to justify their existence and few, if any have the guts to make decisions that they know are correct but will not sit well with their constituents and could result in their failure to be re-elected.

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As always, I am willing to support the wishes of the majority and only ask that they have the courtesy to continue to want what they say they want after they get what they want…  a tall order because simple choices do not imply easy and interoperability with allies is worthy of consideration here as well lest you end up with a fleet of paper weights.

There are lots of capabilities that could meet your level of scrutiny. ASW is a perishable skill to be sure, do we need to absorb the cost of maintaining that? Ya, separate thread, less costly, but no less topical IMO as it has fleet replacement overtones and navel implications as well. As would the loss of tactical support in maritime operations. In any case, I will vote against you and the chips will fall where they may. Cheers

Edited by Wolfhunter
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  • 2 weeks later...

There has existed for a long, long time, a rivalry in the Air Force between pilots who fly different equipment. 50 years ago, when I joined up, I wanted to be a fighter pilot but even back in my day there were those who professed to see no purpose for fighter aircraft in the then today’s Air Force and I came to realize that no minds were going to be changed in the oft-times vigorous debates of my day. I have always seen the requirement and necessity for different aircraft types and missions in our Air Force, but of course we are all not like-minded (that’s a good thing) and hence the perpetual debates concerning what aircraft are, or are not required/necessary. 

History is once again repeating itself. Just like the Liberals under Chretien had cancelled the Sea King replacement, thereby costing us taxpayers hundreds of millions; now the Liberals under Justine have all but abandoned our investment in the development of the F35 and worse, seem comfortable spending a billion plus on end-of-life Aussie F-18’s. 

I’m in your camp, Wolfhunter: “the next step in lunacy is coming to the conclusion that an air force doesn’t need fighters”. Our small contributions to NORAD and NATO, alliances within which we have been members for many decades, are contributions nonetheless. If Canada as a country is unwilling and/or unable to contribute our share in those alliances, then we risk becoming a shameless satellite to those countries that take up our slack.

I suspect most Canadians understand and accept that with any threat to the North American continent, the US will run the show. That does not, however, in my view, rationalize our throwing up our hands and abandoning responsibility for our own defence, however regrettably small our contributions continue to be. 

As for fighters in our Air Force, I would use the analogy of carrying a set of jumper cables in the trunk of your car: you’ll never need them … until you do. And when you do need them, you need them now.

You’ll get no disagreement from me regarding our heavy haulers that in peacetime resupply Canadian embassies and consulates around the world, that in times of crisis provide emergency aid wherever and whenever asked. Our search and rescue people provide yeoman service despite being undermanned and underequipped. They are just two organizations of many within our military that are able to serve Canada and Canadians in times of peace as well as war.

Fighters, on the other hand, are combat machines. In times of peace, it’s easy to dismiss them as being unnecessary, even irrelevant and particularly today, certainly expensive. After all, they can serve only as a visible sign of deterrence and only a preparedness to fight. The alternative however, of being caught up in a fight without the equipment you need, will prove to be far costlier than the peacetime expense.

The Cold War was my kind of a war wherein no shots were fired. That war was fought through the strength of deterrence. Let’s not forget that, as we struggle with the F-18 replacement. It would appear from the YouTube video above, that the Norwegians haven’t forgotten, but then again, they experienced an occupation by a foreign power whereas we Canadians never have.

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Push to use allies to train needed Canadian fighter pilots no longer being considered

‎Today, ‎December ‎16, ‎2018, ‏‎3 hours ago | David Pugliese, Ottawa Citizen

A Canadian military plan to boost the number of fighter pilots through a one-time push using allied training won’t be happening, and instead the number of aviators will be increased gradually over the next seven years using the existing domestic system.

The plan to make use of allied training to increase the numbers of pilots to fly the interim fighter jets being acquired by the Liberals was outlined to Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan in November 2016, according to documents obtained by Postmedia.

“Fighter pilot production would need to be increased above current numbers to fly the additional mission ready aircraft,” Sajjan was told as the number of jets in the military’s inventory would be boosted. “This would be done by utilizing allied training capacity with a one-time investment.”

That initiative would allow Canada to have the needed pilots in place by 2023, the briefing added.

The push for more pilots was to coincide with the purchase of 18 Super Hornets from Boeing, a U.S. aerospace firm.

But that deal collapsed after a trade complaint and Canada is now buying 25 used F-18 aircraft from Australia.

A one-time push for allied training would no longer be needed. “As the Australian F-18 jets are very similar to our CF-18’s, there will be no difference in training our pilots,” an email from the Canadian Forces noted.


Minister of National Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan takes part in a NATO Engages Armchair Discussion at the NATO Summit in Brussels, Belgium on Wednesday, July 11, 2018.

“We will be using our existing pilots and growing their number gradually over the next five to seven years,” it added.

Last month Auditor General Michael Ferguson noted that the additional aircraft being acquired as an interim measure meant that the Canadian Forces “would need to considerably increase the number of trained pilots. National Defence is unlikely to be able to do so because pilots have been leaving the fighter force faster than new ones could be trained.”

Military aviators worldwide are being lured away from their jobs by the growing demand in the civilian aviation market for airline pilots.

But RCAF commander Lt.-Gen. Al Meinzinger told the Commons public accounts committee Dec. 3 that the main reason for Canadian pilots leaving had to do with family. “Certainly the feedback from those who are releasing is it’s a question of family, challenges for their family,” Meinzinger said. “There’s a dimension of ops tempo, work-life balance, predictability in terms of geographical location, and then typically fifth or sixth are comments about financial remuneration.”

Canada’s main fighter bases are in Cold Lake, Alta., and Bagotville, Que.

Meinzinger said there can also be issues with spouses finding employment in the locations where the pilots operate from. In addition, some pilots don’t want to be transferred to desk jobs and want to continue with flight operations.The specific number of fighter pilots the Canadian Forces is short of is considered secret.

In the email to Postmedia, the RCAF says it is looking at several ways to attract and retain fighter pilots “which include initiatives to make living and working in our organization the best it can be.”

“This includes looking at increasing the number of staff positions where pilots still get to fly and reviewing options of longer flying tours, which would provide our members with added stability, enable them to fly longer, and retains valuable experience at the squadrons to train or upgrade qualifications of junior members,” the RCAF added.

The RCAF also says it may consider sending its trained pilots to work with allied air forces to gain further experience if there is a need.

There have been problems, on and off, since the late 1990s with producing and retaining Canadian military pilots. Postmedia reported that the Canadian Forces had to send fledgling fighter pilots down to the U.S. between 2011 and 2013 because of ongoing issues, including the availability of training aircraft provided by civilian contractors at the flying training facilities in Moose Jaw, Sask., and Cold Lake.

That reduction in aircraft availability reduced the level of training, which in turn “negatively impacted the pilot production capability,” according to a briefing for then Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Walt Natynczyk.


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  • 3 weeks later...

Deal to buy used Australian fighter jets finalized, with Canadian Forces set to be flying them by summer

‎Today, ‎January ‎3, ‎2019, ‏‎4 hours ago | David Pugliese, Ottawa Citizen

Canada has finalized a deal to buy 25 used fighter jets from Australia, the first of which are expected to be operating by this summer, says the top procurement official at the Department of National Defence.

“The first two aircraft will be here this spring,” Pat Finn, assistant deputy minister for materiel at DND, told Postmedia in an interview. “I would say it could be by the summer the first couple are on the flight line and painted with the maple leaf.”

A second group of planes would arrive later this year. Eighteen of the Australian F-18 aircraft will eventually be flying for the Canadian Forces, while another seven will be used for testing and spare parts.

Canada is paying Australia $90 million for the aircraft. The federal government originally estimated the purchase of the Australian jets would cost around $500 million, but Finn said that price reflected every aspect of the associated deal, not just the cost of purchasing the jets. Canada is also acquiring extra spare parts, the Australian jets will have to be outfitted with specific Canadian equipment and software and testing will be needed.

The $500-million project estimate also included $50 million in contingency funds to cover any problems and another $35 million for the salaries of all civilian and military personnel involved over the life of the project. An additional $30 million will be spent on new infrastructure needed to accommodate the aircraft.

Those costs add up to $360 million, Finn said. But DND also plans to upgrade its existing fleet of CF-18s with new communications gear and equipment required to meet regulations to operate in civilian airspace, improvements which the Australian jets will also eventually receive at a cost of around $110 million, an amount that brought the original estimate to nearly $500 million.


Royal Canadian Air Force CF-188 Hornet jets from 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta are refuelled by a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron on October 30, 2014, over Iraq during the first combat mission in the area of operations, supporting Operation Inherent Resolve.

The Liberal government had planned to buy 18 new Super Hornet fighter jets from U.S. aerospace giant Boeing to augment the Royal Canadian Air Force’s CF-18s until new aircraft can be purchased in the coming years.

But in 2017 Boeing complained to the U.S. Commerce Department that Canadian subsidies for Quebec-based Bombardier allowed it to sell its C-series civilian passenger aircraft in the U.S. at cut-rate prices. As a result, the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump enacted a tariff of almost 300 per cent against the Bombardier aircraft sold in the U.S. In retaliation, Canada cancelled the deal to buy the 18 Super Hornets, which would have cost more than US$5 billion.

Instead of buying the new Super Hornets, the Liberals decided to acquire the used Australian jets.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has said the extra jets are needed to deal with a “capability gap,” as Canada does not have enough fighters to handle its commitments to NATO as well as protecting North America.

But Conservative MPs say the capability gap doesn’t exist and was concocted by the government to delay a larger project to buy new jets, a competition that might end up selecting the F-35 stealth fighter that during the 2015 election campaign the Liberals vowed never to purchase.

In the fall of 2016, then-Royal Canadian Air Force commander Lt.-Gen. Mike Hood told senators that the Liberal government brought in a policy change which required the RCAF to be able to meet both its NATO and North American air defence commitments at the same time. That, in turn, created the capability gap, he said. Hood said he was not told about the reasons for the policy change.

In November 2018 Auditor General Michael Ferguson issued a report noting that the purchase of the extra aircraft would not fix the fundamental weaknesses with the CF-18 fleet which is the aircraft’s declining combat capability and a shortage of pilots and maintenance personnel.

“The Australian F/A-18s will need modifications and upgrades to allow them to fly until 2032,” the report said. “These modifications will bring the F/A-18s to the same level as the CF-18s but will not improve the CF-18’s combat capability.”

“In our opinion, purchasing interim aircraft does not bring National Defence closer to consistently meeting the new operational requirement introduced in 2016,” Ferguson’s report added.

The Canadian Forces says it is bringing in new initiatives to boost the numbers of pilots and maintenance staff.

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RAAF Hornet sale to Canada finalised – Report

written by australianaviation.com.au January 7, 2019

Three RAAF Hornets parked on the ramp at Cold Lake alongside Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 Hornets ahead of Exercise Maple Flag 51 in 2018 (RCAF)

Canadian media has reported the sale of 25 former RAAF F/A-18A/B classic Hornets to Canada has been finalised and the transfer of the aircraft will commence this year.

The January 3 report in Canada’s National Post says 18 RAAF Hornets will be acquired by Canada to bolster the Royal Canadian Air Forces’ own CF-18 Hornet flying ranks, while an additional seven aircraft will be acquired for spares and testing.

“The first two aircraft will be here this (northern) spring,” Canada’s assistant deputy minister for materiel, Pat Finn told Postmedia.

“I would say it could be by the (northern) summer the first couple are on the flight line and painted with the maple leaf.”

The report says the acquisition cost of the aircraft is C$90m (A$95m), while a total of C$500m (A$525m) has been budgeted for the acquisition which will also include spares and the fitting of unspecified “Canadian-specific equipment” and upgrades.

Canada’s CF-18s are of a similar configuration to those of the RAAF, having undergone an extensive upgrade in the late 1990s and early 2000s to a configuration similar to that of Australia’s multi-phased AIR 5375 Hornet Upgrade Program (HUG). Canadian CF-18s are fitted with a spotlight on the forward port fuselage, and there are minor differences in the weapons carried and in operational flight program software.

Canada’s Trudeau Liberal government froze the country’s planned acquisition of about 90 F-35As when it came to power in late 2014, and instead looked to acquire 18 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets as an interim capability while it conducted a competitive evaluation for a permanent fighter replacement. Canada remains a JSF partner nation pending the outcome of the evaluation.

But the Super Hornet acquisition was cancelled in 2017 in response to a complaint by Boeing to the US Commerce Department over what it said were unfair Canadian Government subsidies of commercial manufacturer Bombardier’s new C Series airliner (now the Airbus A220). Boeing’s complaint was subsequently dismissed by the US federal trade tribunal in early 2018, while the C Series line was sold to Airbus.

In November 2018 a Canadian Auditor General report found that the purchase of the RAAF aircraft would not fix what it said was a declining combat capability and an overall shortage of pilots and support personnel.

“The Australian F/A-18s will need modifications and upgrades to allow them to fly until 2032,” the report reads.

“These modifications will bring the F/A-18s to the same level as the CF-18s but will not improve the CF-18’s combat capability.”

“In our opinion, purchasing interim aircraft does not bring National Defence closer to consistently meeting the new operational requirement introduced in 2016.”

In the meantime, Canada plans to complete its competitive evaluation in 2020, with the first of 80 new fighter aircraft scheduled to enter service in 2025. The current contenders include the F-35, the Super Hornet, the Saab JAS-39E/F Gripen, and the Eurofighter Typhoon. Dassault withdrew its Rafale fighter from the evaluation in late 2018 over reports it could not meet Canada’s strict industry offset requirements.


A RCAF CF-18 over Alberta. (RCAF)


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Canada can afford new fighters or new frigates — but not both at once: report

The Trudeau government can't afford to buy ultra-modern warships and advanced warplanes at the same time within its current funding envelope, a new research paper argues.

U of Calgary paper says Ottawa may have to abandon the idea of a multi-purpose military

Murray Brewster · CBC News · Posted: Jan 08, 2019 4:00 AM ET | Last Updated: 5 hours ago
A Gripen fighter aircraft performs on the second day of Aero India 2017 at Yelahanka air base in Bangalore, India, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017. (The Associated Press)

The Trudeau government can't afford to buy ultra-modern warships and advanced warplanes at the same time, given the limits of federal finances, a new research paper argues.

The study, written for the University of Calgary's School of Public Policy, says that — contrary to the assurances offered in the government's defence policy — Ottawa will soon be forced into a series of tough, far-reaching choices about the structure and capabilities of the Canadian military.

Using the government's own figures, researcher Alex McColl concluded that the Liberals either will have to pour more money into their defence budget in the mid-2020s or scale back their ambitions by buying a less expensive fighter jet.

The reason, according to McColl, is that the bills for both new frigates and new fighters will come due at the same time.

Absent the political will (to spend more), the Canadian Forces can no longer afford to be a modern, multipurpose force ...- University of Calgary researcher Alex McColl

"Not only will the CF-18 replacement program have to fight for funding against the general austerity and easy riding nature of Canadians, but it will also be running concurrently with the largest military procurement in Canadian history: the National Shipbuilding Strategy," he wrote.

During the 2015 election campaign, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged Canada would not buy the F-35 stealth jet — that it would go with something cheaper and pour the savings into rebuilding the navy.

The way the defence policy figures roll out, McColl wrote, suggests the government is on track to do just that.

"Absent the political will to provide considerably more than 1.15 per cent of GDP in defence spending," he wrote, "the Canadian Forces can no longer afford to be a modern multipurpose force and should instead move to a Navy centric force structure."

The Liberal defence policy, released just over 18 months ago, forecasts that by 2025, annual defence spending will rise to $32.7 billion, or about 1.4 per cent of GDP.

However, the projections in the defence policy do not go past the fiscal year 2024-25 — something the Parliamentary Budget Office flagged in a report in November 2017.

That PBO report also raised concerns about whether the Liberals would even meet their procurement targets and predicted the numbers would fall off a cliff before the 20-year defence spending policy reaches its halfway mark.

"Measured as a share of the economy, the new spending plan will raise the defence budget by over 17 per cent to about 1.1 percentage points of GDP by 2024," the PBO analysis said. "Following this, spending will decline by 38 per cent to 0.69 percentage points of GDP by 2035."

McColl said Canada may be left with no choice but to buy a cheaper fighter.

"The best value solution to the CF-18 replacement is the least expensive jet in the competition: the Saab Gripen," he wrote in his report.

In an interview CBC News, McColl said he chose the Gripen because it is "the dramatically least expensive option," although the Super Hornet is also a cheaper alternative.

92942615.jpgA Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18F Super Hornet drops two flares as it performs during the T150 Defence Force Air Show on October 15, 2016 in Townsville, Australia. (Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

"I wouldn't say we would be forced (to buy them)," he said. "What I would say is that buying an inexpensive fighter that meets the minimum requirements of what we use the CF-18 for today would be the optimal policy."

National Defence announced last week it had concluded a deal with Australia to buy 18 used F-18 fighters to bolster the current CF-18 fleet until a brand-new replacement is selected.

That competition to replace the CF-18s with new aircraft is slated to kick off this spring, when the federal government puts a tender on the street. A contract award is not expected until 2022.

The first new fighters won't arrive until 2025 — and it will be another year after that before they are operational.

Dave Perry, a procurement expert at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, said that new accounting rules — which allow National Defence to spread the cost of weapons system over their lifetime, instead of accounting for them all at once — give the Liberal government a bit of flexibility.

But he also pointed out that, by trying to rebuild the navy and the air force at the same time, the Liberals are trying to do something rarely accomplished outside of a wartime setting.

li-frigate-halifax-620-0026.jpgHalifax class frigates like HMCS Charlottetown, seen heading out of Halifax harbour for Libya on March 2, 2011, are expected to reach the end of their usefulness by about 2025. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

"Between new fighters and surface combatants [frigates], those are by far the two biggest projects that have gotten underway in this country in a long time, and doing them at the same time is not something we've done in peacetime before," said Perry. "Previously, we've done these things in sequential order."

The question of whether the federal government is organizationally and fiscally prepared to start paying big defence bills is open to debate, he added.

Almost four years ago, Perry co-wrote a seminal report that noted the number of staff dedicated to defence procurement at National Defence had never recovered from the budget cuts of the mid-1990s — dropping to 4,300 positions from 9,000.

In the time since his report was released, Perry said, there's been progress at the Department of National Defence in hiring procurement specialists and getting systems in place, but he's not certain the rest of the federal government is prepared.

"I think the biggest shortcoming is whether the Government of Canada writ large has the capacity, across government, not just in defence, to manage files this size with that level of complexity," he said.

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Canberra confirms sale of 25 Hornets to Canada at A$95 million

  • 09 January, 2019
  • SOURCE: FlightGlobal.com
  • BY: Greg Waldron
  • Singapore

Australia’s Department of Defence (DoD) has confirmed a deal to sell Canada up to 25 surplus Boeing F/A-18 A/B “Classic” Hornet fighters.

“Defence can confirm that under the current arrangement, if the full scope of aircraft is acquired, the sale price is worth up to A$95 million ($68 million) and includes a range of spare parts and equipment as agreed with Canada,” says the DoD.

“A purchasing agreement is in place with the transfer of assets occurring over the next three years.”

The statement follows media reports in Canada that the deal, first mooted in 2017, has been confirmed by Ottawa.

The plan calls for 18 airframes to serve as combat assets with the Royal Canadian Air Force, with seven used for spare parts and testing.

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Eurofighter Typhoon to bid to replace Canadian CF-18 fleet

  • 14 January, 2019
  • SOURCE: FlightGlobal.com
  • BY: Garrett Reim
  • Los Angeles

Eurofighter intends to pitch its Typhoon aircraft to replace the Royal Canadian Air Force’s fleet of Boeing CF-18A/B Hornet fighters.

Eurofighter, a joint venture among Airbus, BAE Systems and Leonardo, was assumed to be one of the bidders in the competition to replace the RCAF’s fighter fleet with 88 advanced jets, but it hadn’t yet publicly acknowledged its desire to play for the contract. Simon Jacques, head of Airbus defense and space in Canada, said at a company event in Montreal that his firm intends to submit a proposal for the Typhoon.

“We are very engaged,” he says. “We want to propose the Typhoon, the most advanced new generation multi, swing-role fighter on the market today."

Asset Image

Italian Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon

Italian Air Force

In October, RCAF issued a draft request for proposal to replace its aging CF-18A/B fleet. Ottawa listed five suppliers eligible to compete: Dassault Aviation, maker of the Rafale; Saab, maker of the JAS 39 Gripen; Airbus Defense – on behalf of the Eurofighter joint venture, maker of the Typhoon; Lockheed Martin, maker of the F-16 and F-35; and Boeing, maker of the F/A-18 Super Hornet and F-15E Strike Eagle. Only those five will be allowed to submit proposals.

The RCAF plans to receive initial proposals from bidders between summer and winter 2019. A contract is anticipated to be awarded during the winter months of 2021-2022.

Canada wants initial aircraft to be delivered in 2025, with initial operational capability achieved by 2026. The government wants all aircraft delivered by 2031 or 2032, at which time the CF-18 fleet will be retired.

Jacques says the Eurofighter bid will include some sort of participation from Canadian manufacturers, though the type of involvement in the aircraft’s supply chain or extent was not specified.

"With our Canadian partners, it is going to be a Canadian solution and a good value for Canada," he says. "The RFP is coming out in mid of this year, right before the election."

Additional reporting by Jon Hemmerdinger



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So this fleet renewal plan will see three government changes before its complete.  So likely we will be operating the F-18 well beyond 2032.  its just the way our government works.


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