Archive for the ‘Air Force’ Category

DAVID PUGLIESE OTTAWA CITIZEN: GETTING A LAUGH ABOUT A $3 BILLION CANADIAN FORCES SEARCH AND RESCUE AIRCRAFT PROJECT

April 15, 2010

By David Pugliese

Defence Watch

At a meeting with Air Force officers and defence industry representatives in Ottawa last week the extent of the paralysis that plagues the $3 billion Fixed Wing Search and Rescue project was front and centre.

An Air Force officer was running through the various equipment projects on the go while images were projected on to a screen.

When the slide came for FWSAR, the screen was filled with a giant question mark.

The defence industry representatives laughed but a number told Defense Watch that the incident was truly indicative of the state of the program. “The Air Force doesn’t know where it is going on this one,” said one industry representative.

The official line from the government is that it is studying a National Research Council report on the FWSAR project.

The NRC report was sought by the Department of National Defence, Public Works and Industry Canada as an independent view of what the minimal standards for the aircraft should be. That report came after allegations were made that the requirements for the fixed-wing search-and-rescue ((FWSAR) project had been rigged by the Air Force to favor Alenia’s C-27J.s

“A recommendation to Government on a proposed solution to acquire FWSAR is planned for Spring 2010,” DND stated in January. “The DND project office, with their counterparts at PWGSC and IC, is currently formulating the recommendation that will be advanced for Government approval.”

A spring 2010 “solution” appears highly unlikely now; thus the question mark when it came to the FWSAR slide in the Air Force equipment briefing.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay has not indicated if the government would follow the NRC recommendations to redo the requirements.

FWSAR was originally launched in the spring of 2004 as the top priority for the Air Force but it quickly became bogged down amid allegations from industry representatives about the favoritism towards the Alenia plane. In December 2008 MacKay said he was going to fast-track the project but again that quickly derailed amid the similar favoritism allegations made in the House of Commons and among industry.

At an industry day for the project, held last summer, company representatives were told the Defence Department would require all deliveries of aircraft to be completed within 60 months of a contract being awarded.  However, the department did not provide details on a timeline for the procurement, nor the number of planes needed, say industry officials.

At that time Canada said it was looking for an aircraft that could conduct search and rescue maneuvers equivalent to those currently performed as well as able to fly from one of four current bases to conduct a search for a minimum of an hour before returning to an airfield. According to a 14-page power point presentation from Public Works and Government Services Canada, presented at the industry day the aircraft must have a cargo compartment of sufficient height and width to allow search and rescue technicians to perform all necessary tasks and cockpit visibility to allow the crew to safely conduct maneuvers.

The FWSAR statement of requirements has never been formally released.

OTTAWA CITIZEN DAVID PUGLIESE: CANADIAN FORCES CHINOOKS OUTFITTED WITH MISSILE DEFENCE SYSTEM

March 11, 2010

By David Pugliese

Ottawa Citizen

Canada’s new Chinooks will be outfitted with a new state-of-art laser-based counter-missile defense system, military officers have told Defence Watch.

The first of the 15 Chinook F models ordered by Canada are scheduled to arrive in the summer of 2013.

They will have undergone some modifications that the military deemed to be worthwhile for Canadian scenarios. Those include the installation of larger fuel tanks for increased range and an upgraded electrical system that is designed to handle improved avioncis as well as a laser-based counter-missile defence system.

The Canadian Chinooks are different from those being operated by the U.S. Army because of the increased fuel capacity, defensive suite and improved electrical system, said Canadian Air Force Lt. Col. Rick McLaughlin, operational requirements manager for the medium-heavy lift helicopter project.

The Canadian Chinooks will be outfitted with an enhanced survivability package using a directed infra-red countermeasures system, he noted. The turreted system constantly watches for missile launches and “defeats the eyeball on the heat-seeker (of a missile) using a laser shot,” McLaughlin said.

Also on board will be more traditional countermeasures against missiles such as flares. The upgraded electrical system that is being installed on the Canadian Chinooks is designed to handle the extra power needs to run the laser-based countermeasures system.

McLaughlin also said Canada will have large-size fuel tanks installed in the Chinooks for increased range, to deal with the country’s large geographic size as well as a result from lessons learned from Afghanistan. He noted that many operations being flown in-theater with Chinooks involved the use of fuel bladders, outfitted in the rear cabin area, to provide added range.

McLaughlin said Canada had safety issues about using such fuel bladders as well as concerns that putting the extra fuel containers in the rear of the aircraft would cut down on the number of troops that could be carried.

“For each one that goes in there you loose upwards of a dozen seats in the back,” he explained. “The whole issue of carrying gas in the back and losing cargo capability came into the discussion.”

All aircraft are expected to be delivered by June 2014.

CANADIAN FORCES NEW C-130J HERCULES TAKES TO THE AIR: DAVID PUGLIESE

March 8, 2010

First flight of Canada’s new C-130J. Photos provided by Lockheed Martin:

WILL THE CANADIAN FORCES BE UNDER PRESSURE TO CHANGE ITS SEARCH AND RESCUE RESPONSE? ANALYSIS BY DAVID PUGLIESE OTTAWA CITIZEN

February 13, 2010

BY DAVID PUGLIESE

OTTAWA CITIZEN

Commissioner Robert Wells, the head of an inquiry into offshore helicopter safety, has came out before his own final report has been tabled, noting the need for better rescue capabilities to be put in place immediately.

He has recommended a temporary halt to night flights and faster emergency response times. (Wells’ inquiry is looking to the March 2009 crash of a helicopter  on its way to oil platform off St. John’s–17 people died).

“The issue about which I am now writing has for several weeks been a growing concern for me,” Wells wrote in a letter to the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board. “However, the evidence which I have heard at the inquiry during the past two weeks causes me to believe it is a matter requiring immediate attention. A full-time, dedicated and fully equipped response helicopter ready to go in 15 or 20 minutes is what is needed in St. John’s and needed as quickly as possible,”

From Sue Bailey of the Canadian Press:

“One of the early recommendations from Wells spurred the federal-provincial offshore regulator to press energy companies for a fully equipped rescue chopper on standby in St. John’s whenever workers fly.Wells wrote in a letter to the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board dated Monday that emergency response provided from St. John’s “does not meet the highest standards.”

Offshore workers in the North Sea and other parts of the world can count on response times of 15 to 30 minutes, he wrote.

“There are no doubt longer response times, but a window of 15 to 30 minutes is, I believe, an acceptable standard.

“If a helicopter is forced to ditch in our waters, the life expectancy of survivors is limited, even with the best immersion or flotation suits and the best training,” he wrote.”

Will this change Canadian Forces SAR posture or will the government let private industry take the lead?

Now, for background information, below is what I wrote on Defence Watch in November, 2008:

The positioning of Canadian Forces search and rescue aircraft as well as the speed in which SAR crews respond continues to be an ongoing issue for some of those who make their living at sea or in the remote areas of the country.

Laurie Sullivan, the owner of a Newfoundland-based fishing vessel which sank in September, has criticized the fact that a SAR helicopter was not based in St. John’s to assist in responding to emergencies in the North Atlantic. Two crew members from the fishing ship died in that incident.

The recent rescue of an Inuit teenager on an ice floe in the North has also raised questions about whether more SAR assets should be based in the Arctic while other have in the past suggested that the Air Force should increase its SAR posture to a 30-minute continuous readiness posture.

Defence Watch has obtained a report on that issue, with the Air Force firmly coming out against a 24/7 30-minute readiness.

The current position is that when tasked, an aircraft must be airborne within 30 minutes during normal working hours and within two hours during all remaining quiet hours, according to the Air Force.

Unlike the two-hour SAR posture where crews and technicians hold a recall standby away from the squadron, a 30-minute SAR posture requires aircrews remain poised to launch from the flight line.

A 30-minute SAR posture is too expensive and would provide little benefit, according to The Canadian Forces Search and Rescue 30-minute Continuous Readiness Posture Force Generation Analysis obtained by Defence Watch.

An analysis of incidents between the years 2000-2004 determined that had a 30-minute posture been in effect on a 24/7 basis, “only a small increase in the probability of victim survival would have been gained by adopting a 30-minute posture.”

To reach the increased level of readiness would add more maintenance, require more aircraft and infrastructure upgrades, the report noted. According to the Air Force it would cost $387 million in extra capital costs and $540 million in overall annual recurring costs.

The Air Force also concluded that the timeline to achieve the enhanced posture would likely require six to eight years.

The end result is that the status quo will be maintained well into the future.

In January 2008, DND’s Chief of Review Services examined SAR and concluded the Canadian Forces “component of SAR operations functions quite well and remains highly relevant.”

That conclusion, however, will likely not be accepted by some of those who have called for improvements.

START OVER ON CANADIAN FORCES FIXED WING SEARCH AND RESCUE, REPORT SUGGESTS

February 12, 2010

BY DAVID PUGLIESE

OTTAWA CITIZEN

There are indications that a draft report produced by the National Research Council on the Fixed Wing Search and Rescue project is recommending that the government and Canadian Forces start afresh on how they approach the $3 billion procurement.

The Defence Department, Public Works and Industry Canada brought in the National Research Council to look at the FWSAR issue and make recommendations on what is needed in an aircraft. In turn, NRC has brought in some researchers from various universities to help out.

Sources tell Defence Watch that the NRC is recommending starting over on the FWSAR procurement. But it is unclear whether such a recommendation would be accepted and sources point out that the report is at this point only a draft.

The air force has had specific ideas on what it wanted in a FWSAR aircraft right from the beginning. But those specifications have sparked claims that the competition was designed to favor the Alenia C-27J, allegations that have been hotly denied by the air force.

Among the criteria the air force wanted was a minimum aircraft speed of 273 knots/505 km/h and a flying range of 1,699 nautical miles/3,147 km, according to the FSWAR High Level Mandatory Capabilities outline produced last year and obtained by Defence Watch.

Still, the allegations of favoritism, political squabbling and intense lobbying from some domestic firms opposed to the specifications, has resulted in the program being delayed for years.

During the industry day held last year for the FWSAR project, other details were provided. Industry representatives were told that Canada was looking for an aircraft that could conduct search and rescue maneuvers equivalent to those currently performed as well as able to fly from one of four current bases to conduct a search for a minimum of an hour before returning to an airfield.

The 14-page power point presentation from Public Works and Government Services Canada, presented at the industry day, also noted that the aircraft must have a cargo compartment of sufficient height and width to allow search and rescue technicians to perform all necessary tasks and cockpit visibility to allow the crew to safely conduct maneuvers.

The new aircraft would replace both the Buffalo and the C-130 Hercules now used in search and rescue.

A recommendation to Government on a proposed solution to acquire FWSAR is planned for Spring 2010, according to Defence Department spokeswoman Lianne LeBel. “The DND project office, with their counterparts at PWGSC and IC (Industry Canada), is currently formulating the recommendation that will be advanced for Government approval,” she added.

FWSAR was originally launched in the spring of 2004 as the top priority for the air force but quickly became sidetracked.

In December 2008 Defence Minister Peter MacKay said he was going to fast-track the project, purchasing a plane in the spring of 2009 but that also went no where.

Besides the C-27J, Airbus Military is proposing the C-295.

Viking Air has proposed that it provide new production DHC-5 Buffalo aircraft, with the work being done in manufacturing facilities in Victoria, BC and in Calgary, Alberta. The Buffalo is currently used by the Canadian Forces for fixed-wing search and rescue.

Bombardier of Montreal is interested in  offering its turboprop Q400 series aircraft for the program, said Bombardier spokeswoman Sylvie Gauthier.

In early 2008 the Canadian Forces announced it would be flying the current fleet of Buffalo search-and-rescue aircraft until 2014 or 2015.

DAVID PUGLIESE OTTAWA CITIZEN COMMENTARY: MOVEMENT ON A NEW CANADIAN FORCES SEARCH AND RESCUE AIRCRAFT BY THE SPRING?

February 8, 2010

DEFENCE WATCH ANALYSIS

By David Pugliese

Ottawa Citizen

The official word from the Defence Department on the Fixed Wing Search and Rescue aircraft project is that the various government players will be ready in the “spring” to make a recommendation on how to proceed on the program.

And the unofficial response from the aerospace industry? Don’t hold your breath.

Most people in the aerospace and defence community remember Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s boast in December 2008 that he was going to buy a new FWSAR aircraft fleet by the spring of 2009. Yes, buy.

“As Minister MacKay has noted, these aircraft are a critical component of Canada’s home guard and, simply put, we need to have them,” Jay Paxton, the minister’s press secretary, told Defence Watch on Dec. 17, 2008. “The minister’s goal is to procure FWSAR early in the new year. Beyond that, it is premature to speculate on the exact nature of the aircraft.”

It also appears it was a little premature of MacKay to claim that the government would buy a FWSAR aircraft in the spring of 2009.

So now the project will be moving forward in the spring of 2010.

But then again, DND can’t even give a specific date or define what the term “spring” means.

Would that be April, May or even June?

Asked what month in the “spring” that DND expects to make its recommendation on the way forward on FWSAR, Defence Department spokeswoman Lianne LeBel responded, “Spring.” (You have to feel sorry for some of these public affairs officials who are sent out with five or six printed “media response lines” that say nothing. The FWSAR project office is too scared to put someone up front to deal with the news media since they would be facing some tough/embarrassing questions, such as how come it is taking so long to buy an aircraft?….so they shove Ms. LeBel into the fray)

That aside, LeBel did give Defence Watch a rundown on the official government “media response” on what is happening with FWSAR.

“In July 2009, the Government of Canada requested industry’s feedback on the proposed requirements and key considerations detailed during the FWSAR Industry Day,” LeBel pointed out. “Industry was given 60 days to comment. The submission period concluded on September 15 and the Department of National Defence (DND), Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC), and Industry Canada (IC) have reviewed the submissions from industry. Industry’s feedback will complement the work already done by DND to ensure the new aircraft is the best possible solution for Canada’s complex SAR environment. A recommendation to Government on a proposed solution to acquire FWSAR is planned for Spring 2010. The DND project office, with their counterparts at PWGSC and IC, is currently formulating the recommendation that will be advanced for Government approval.”

“Don’t buy into that DND line for the media,” one aerospace industry veteran told Defence Watch. “This program is moving at a snail’s pace. Don’t expect any fast action, spring or summer.”

Added another long-time FWSAR observer: “They told you it would be ready in the spring? Well, at least that’s an improvement over their usual the program will be moving forward ‘soon’.”

The Defence Department, Public Works and Industry Canada have brought in the National Research Council to look at search and rescue in the country and make recommendations on what is needed in an aircraft. In turn, NRC has brought in some researchers from various universities to help out. The report is due March 5 but could be delivered as early as Feb. 15, according to some observers.

DND does have some breathing room on FWSAR. The Buffalo will continue to fly until 2014/2015 or even perhaps beyond that date.

C-130s could also be used to contribute to SAR coverage as they do already. With the arrival of new C-130Js, older C-130s used for SAR could be replaced with “younger” C-130s now currently in the transport fleet. The only problem is that it the C-130 is an expensive aircraft to operate for SAR, air force officers acknowledge.

CANADIAN WAR VETERANS IN AVIATION HALL OF FAME: DAVID PUGLIESE OTTAWA CITIZEN DEFENCE NEWS

January 26, 2010

TWO CANADIAN WAR VETERANS TO BE INDUCTED INTO THE AVIATION HALL OF FAME

By David Pugliese

Ottawa Citizen

Defence Watch

Canadian veterans of both world wars will be among the four individuals to be induced into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame this summer.

Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame (CAHF) will induct the late Redford Henry “Red” Mulock, who earned the Distinguished Service Order in his first year of service with the Royal Naval Air Service during WW1, as well as Vi Milstead Warren who was a first officer working for the Air Transport Authority during the Second World War before going on to become Canada’s first female flying instructor.

Also to be inducted are former Chief Astronaut Julie Payette and northern bush pilot Willy Laserich.

The four Canadians will be inducted into the CAHF at its 2010 annual dinner and ceremony in Vancouver, B.C. on June 10.

Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame is located in the hangar at the Reynolds-Alberta Museum in Wetaskiwin, Alberta, south of Edmonton. It describes its role as trying to increase the public’s understanding and interest in aviation history by making its displays, archives, records and artifacts accessible to current and future generations. The CAHF hopes that “the heroism and courage embodied in the Members of the Hall serves to kindle the spirit of adventure in Canada’s youth.”

The CHAF has inducted 196 people into its ranks since it was established 37 years ago. Each has played a key role in Canada’s aviation history while at the same time contributing to the country’s technical and commercial growth.

The four latest honorees will bring the total of inductees to 200.

Here are the biographies of the four provided by CHAF:

Julie Payette (1963 – ) is a multilingual pilot, musician and singer who epitomizes the talents and education of Canadians selected as astronauts.  She logged more than 1,200 hours as a pilot, before becoming the chief astronaut of the Canadian Space Agency from 2000 to 2007.  Julie has now spent more than 25 days in space where she supervised a spacewalk for space shuttle Discovery, operated the ‘Canadarm’ robotic arm, served as mission specialist on a number of operations, and as flight engineer aboard space shuttle Endeavor.

Vi Milstead Warren (1919 – ) is a pilot and role model for women in aviation.  She achieved the rank of first officer working for the Air Transport Authority in WW2 flying more than 47 types of aircraft.  Following the war, she worked as Canada’s first female flying instructor, before breaking new ground as Canada’s first female bush pilot flying in some of the country’s most remote and dangerous conditions.  In 2004, she was inducted as a Member of the Order of Canada.

Redford Henry “Red” Mulock (1886-1961) of Winnipeg, distinguished himself as one of Canada’s most highly skilled pilots, earning the Distinguished Service Order in his first year of service with the Royal Naval Air Service during WW1.  His extraordinary career trajectory continued as he rose in rank and responsibility through the Royal Air Force.  As group captain he led a bomber group, and following the war was honored as a Companion of the British Empire, going on to join Canadian Airways Ltd and rising to the rank of air commodore in the RCAF reserve.

Willy Laserich (1932 – 2007) earned admiration as both an individual and as a pilot during his career.  He maintained a perfect safety record for 50 years, but was also known as someone who could take calculated risks.  He continually campaigned for better air services and facilities for the people of the Northwest Territories.  He flew more than 3,000 medevac flights, more than 100 search and rescue operations and saw six babies born aboard his aircraft.

For more Canadian Forces and Defence Department news or articles by David Pugliese of the Ottawa Citizen go to David Pugliese’s Defence Watch at:

communities.canada.com/ottawacitizen/blogs/defencewatch/

CANADA’S MARITIME HELICOPTER THE CYCLONE TO BEGIN TESTS: DAVID PUGLIESE OTTAWA CITIZEN MILITARY NEWS

January 26, 2010

By David Pugliese

Ottawa Citizen

Defence Watch

Dec. 17, 2009

Sea trials for the new Cyclone helicopter will take place before the end of January on the east coast, Defence Watch has been told.

Sources originally said the first of the new maritime helicopters was supposed to arrive at Canadian Forces Base Shearwater in December but now that delivery has slipped slightly.

But Public Works and Government Services spokeswoman Tricia Van der Grient confirmed to Defence Watch the sea trials will be taking place in the new year.

“The first sea trials are expected to take place prior to the end of January 2010,” she said.

“After the sea trials and completion of other flight testing to verify compliance, Sikorsky is required to start the delivery of the Interim Maritime Helicopter (IMH) in November 2010 as per the contract,” she added.

It was almost a year ago that the government announced that the $5 billion project was not going to make its original deadlines and that it would cost taxpayers more than originally expected.

But little additional information has been released on the troubled project, sparking concerns about further cost overruns and delays. The ongoing secrecy has also raised issues about a lack of public accountability concerning the money being spent.

The Defence Department has declined to discuss the project.

Van der Grient also confirmed PWGC does “not grant interviews on this issue.”

Sikorsky has not responded to a Defence Watch request for comment made more than a month ago.

Several months ago Defence Minister Peter MacKay said the first Cyclone maritime helicopter was expected to arrive “soon” at Shearwater but he did not give details.

The first helicopter was originally supposed to be delivered in November 2008 but that never happened.

Because of that delay, Sikorsky faced financial penalties of up to $89 million but that was set aside by the Harper government. Little explanation has been provided on why penalties that could have been imposed were not.

In January 2008 MacKay brought up the penalties after news reports suggested Sikorsky would fail to deliver the aircraft on time. He suggested they would be a deterrent to Sikorsky. “There are penalties and clauses that will kick in,” he warned.

The helicopter arriving for the January sea trials is not being actually accepted by the Canadian Forces; it is still sometime away from being on the Canadian Air Force’s flight line.

The first Cyclone (MH02) was recently painted at West Palm Beach in Canadian Forces colors but with its US/Sikorsky Experimental registration number on the tail.

This paint job is essential as protection against the elements during the sea trials for which the Cyclone is being sent to Canada.

The sea trials should have been completed almost 20 months ago, according to the delivery schedule contracted with Sikorsky in 2004.

Successful completion of the sea trials, followed by development and approval of the ship-helicopter operating limitations (SHOL) for the new helicopter, which will require several months at least, are a MHP contractual obligation that must be met long before Canada accepts delivery of the first aircraft and can begin training its own pilots on the Cyclone, according to sources.

The first 19 helicopters delivered to the Canadian Forces will be designated as Interim Maritime Helicopters (IMH). These IMH aircraft will be fully functional and able to conduct testing and evaluation and training for MH maintenance and air crews, yet will not be fully compliant with the delivery contract, according to DND. Delivery of the first fully capable MH aircraft that meets all contract specifications will be in June 2012, at which point the previous IMH aircraft will then be retrofitted.

For more Canadian Forces and Defence Department news or articles by David Pugliese of the Ottawa Citizen go to David Pugliese’s Defence Watch at:

communities.canada.com/ottawacitizen/blogs/defencewatch/

CANADIAN FORCES YEARS AWAY FROM FIELDING A UAV: OTTAWA CITIZEN DAVID PUGLIESE

January 26, 2010

CANADA YEARS AWAY FROM FIELDING A UAV: OTHER OPERATORS STYMIED IN ATTEMPTS TO GET PERMISSION TO USE THEIR AIRCRAFT

By David Pugliese

Ottawa Citizen

Defence Watch

As U.S. government agencies continue to make use of unmanned aerial vehicles for domestic security, such operations in Canada remain blocked by bureaucratic inaction.

Just recently the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency branched out in its UAV operations by acquiring its first maritime variant of the Predator B unmanned aerial vehicle.

Nothing similar will be happening anytime soon in Canada, industry representatives tell Defence Watch.

The Defence Department’s JUSTAS (Joint Unmanned Surveillance Target Acquisition System) program is still years away from fielding UAVs for domestic patrols.

But private operators say they can augment the Canadian Forces and government’s maritime surveillance capabilities by operating small UAVs for domestic coastal patrols and to support Canadian military search and rescue missions. The government already uses private firms to conduct some of its secondary surveillance needs using fixed-wing aircraft.

But private UAV users who want to operate the aircraft have been stymied in their efforts. Current federal aviation regulations are designed for manned aircraft and do not take into account unmanned flight operations.

“The technology and customers are there now but it’s a matter of the regulator trying to figure out how to fit these aircraft into the civilian air regulations,” said Pip Rudkin, chairman of the industry group, Unmanned Systems Canada.

Canadian operators want to use the UAVs in domestic settings ranging from support to police tactical and explosive ordnance teams, security patrols over key infrastructure such as oil pipelines in remote areas, and maritime surveillance patrols. Other operators have suggested using UAVs, outfitted with infrared sensors, to support domestic Canadian Forces search-and-rescue missions.

So far the Ontario Provincial Police has been using UAVs on a limited basis. It must receive special permission from Transport Canada, which oversees the country’s aviation rules.

Transport Canada has had a UAV working group in place since 2007 in an effort to determine how best to proceed on the issue of unmanned aerial vehicles in civilian airspace. But little has happened, say UAV industry officials.

Transport Canada spokeswoman Mélanie Emma Quesnel stated in an email that the department is consulting with the UAV industry to develop a regulatory framework that would deal with public safety issues while allowing for the development of the unmanned aerial vehicle sector. “There is no set timeline for that process,” she added.

The department’s main concern centers on the potential for UAVs to collide with manned aircraft.

There are similar concerns in the U.S. but regulators are working out the issues.

The U.S. Customs department maritime UAV is expected to be ready for Operational Test and Evaluation in early 2010. After the UAV completes operational testing this spring, it will be deployed to the drug source and transit zones to support joint counter-narcotics operations.

The UAV, called the Guardian, has been modified from a standard Predator B with structural, avionics, and communications enhancements, as well as the addition of a Raytheon SeaVue Marine Search Radar and an Electro-optical/Infrared (EO/IR) Sensor that is optimized for maritime operations.

Canadian UAV specialists say it will take between five and 10 years at least before Transport Canada alters existing rules to take into account UAVs for domestic uses.

For more Canadian Forces and Defence Department news or articles by David Pugliese of the Ottawa Citizen go to David Pugliese’s Defence Watch at:

communities.canada.com/ottawacitizen/blogs/defencewatch/

NORAD REVIEWS ITS AIR DEFENCE: DAVID PUGLIESE DEFENCE WATCH OTTAWA CITIZEN

January 26, 2010

DEFENCE WATCH COMMENTARY

By David Pugliese

Ottawa Citizen

NORAD is now examining the state of its air defence capabilities to see if it has the right mix of aircraft, number of bases and alert times to properly conduct its homeland defence mission.

And should the joint U.S.-Canadian military organization cut back on the number of aircraft and bases it needs to do the job?

The news of the review has sparked some angst in the U.S., with former U.S. Air Force officers suggesting that the process is being driven by budget cuts and will ultimately undercut North American air defences. Lt.-Gen. Thomas McInerney, a former commander for NORAD’s Alaska region, says he is concerned air defences could be cut back and that the U.S. is  “being lulled” into removing dollars from NORAD to put into other areas of defence.

The U.S. no longer conducts regular combat fighter aircraft patrols over its cities as it did in the years following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington. Such missions were expensive, at one point costing more than $50 million a week.

But in an interview with Defence Watch, Canadian Maj.-Gen. Pierre Forgues, NORAD’s director of operations, played down the money angle. Forgues said although fighter aircraft and support planes are costly to operate, the price tag for such equipment wasn’t behind the decision to review the state of air defences.

He also suggested that the air defence status quo could continue.

Forgues said that the review will start “with a blank slate” and that there are no pre-conceived notions of what exactly would be needed to do such at job. But at the same time, Forgues readily acknowledged that NORAD is relatively happy with the current situation. “We’re comfortable at this point we’re meeting the requirements,” he added.

The New York Times reported that the study is focused on circumstances in which the attack would be aimed not at a public building or landmark but instead at a power plant or a critical link in the nation’s financial network, like a major electrical grid or a computer network hub.

But Forgues told Defence Watch that such scenarios have been on NORAD’s radar since Sept. 11, 2001.

So why this review now?

In January, the Government Accounting Office, similar to Canada’s Auditor General, called on the U.S. air force to improve the management of its operations to protect American airspace. It recommended that the U.S. portion of NORAD routinely conduct assessments to determine the requirements of air sovereignty alert missions as well as the appropriate numbers of personnel and aircraft assigned to support those operations.

In 2008, the GAO also took the Pentagon and NORAD to task for understating the security problems and vulnerabilities involved when NORAD moved from Cheyenne Mountain to Peterson Air Force Base.

Perhaps the GAO’s criticisms struck a chord with NORAD’ senior leadership.

For more Canadian Forces and Defence Department news or articles by David Pugliese of the Ottawa Citizen go to David Pugliese’s Defence Watch at:

http://communities.canada.com/ottawacitizen/blogs/defencewatch/


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