IN THE NEWS

IN THE NEWS

Aug 13, 2020

A peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, announced August 13, is being described by their leaders as a “breakthrough” which could advance peace in the Middle East overall. Only the third such deal since Israel declared its independence in 1948, it commits Israel to suspend further annexation of the West Bank. However, a senior Palestinian official has condemned the deal, telling the UAE leader, “may you never be sold out by your friends.”

Aug 13, 2020

California Senator Kamala Harris, Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden’s choice as vice-presidential running mate, is opposed to further increases in U.S. defence spending but wants a bigger Veterans Affairs budget, closer cooperation with allies on security matters, and more foreign aid. This is according to a review of her voting record in Congress, which urged the withdrawal of troops for Afghanistan and an overhaul of legislation to give Congress a greater voice in combat deployments.

Aug 13, 2020

U.S. Air Force bases in Germany, including one which houses NATO Allied Air Command, have recently been overflown by Russian surveillance aircraft under terms of the Open Skies Treaty which permits its 35 signatories, including Canada, to conduct short-notice flights to collect data on military forces and activities. President Donald Trump has said he wants to pull the U.S. out of the treaty because Russia had been denying reciprocal overflights of some facilities.

 

Aug 13, 2020

Satellite imagery analyzed by 38 North, a website maintained by the Washington-based Stimson Centre think-tank, suggests recent flooding in North Korea may have compromised cooling systems at the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Centre. Located north of the country’s capital, Yongbyon houses reactors as well as fuel re-processing and uranium enrichment facilities considered central to the regime’s nuclear weapons program.

Aug 13, 2020

India has approved procurement of indigenous military systems worth 7.22 billion Rupees (CAD$1.6 billion). They include an initial 70 basic turboprop trainers and an unspecified number of upgraded 127mm deck guns for navy and coast guard vessels.

Aug 13, 2020

Four influential members of Congress are reported to have been behind a U.S. freeze on major arms sales to Turkey for nearly two years as part of an effort to have its NATO ally drop plans to acquire a Russian air defence system. The blocked sales evidently include a follow-on contract for structural upgrades to F-16 fighters and export licenses for engines needed for a Turkish sale of attack helicopters to Pakistan.

Aug 12, 2020

In a bid to increase its domestic defence industry, India -- reportedly the third-biggest buyer of military equipment last year after the U.S. and China -- has begun a phased embargo on imports of 101 items. Defense Minister Rajnath Singh says the embargo, to be phased into effect, begins immediately and the list would be updated periodically. It currently includes ships, various aircraft, radar and sonar, artillery and firearms, and various types of ammunition.

Aug 12, 2020

An inaugural U.S. Space Force policy document outlines the interdependence of civil, military, intelligence, and commercial interests as the U.S. tries to return to the moon and push farther to Mars, as well as protecting its assets from orbital attack and supporting more private-sector ventures. “Preserving freedom of action in space is the essence of military space power and must be the first priority,” the document states.

Aug 12, 2020

New satellite imagery of an already fractured ice shelf north of Ellesmere Island shows that an 80km2 section has broken off and then split into two segments which drifted into the Arctic Ocean in late July. Ellesmere was once bounded by extensive shelves covering 8,600km2 but global warming has resulted in continued shrinkage to less than 500km2.

Aug 12, 2020

SpaceX and the Lockheed Martin-Boeing partnership, United Launch Alliance, have been awarded five-year contracts by the U.S. Space Force and National Reconnaissance Office for more than heavy-lift launches. The contracts mark “a new epoch” of space activity which will wean the U.S. off Russian rocket motors engines used in the Atlas V launch vehicle.

Aug 11, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has professed confidence in Finance Minister Bill Morneau in response to a published report that they had clashed over how much the PM wanted to spend in tackling the COVID-19 crisis. “The Prime Minister has full confidence in Minister Morneau and any statement to the contrary is false,” Trudeau’s office said in a statement, lauding the finance minister’s “important work.”

Aug 11, 2020

Former Vice-President Joe Biden has chosen California Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate in the race for the U.S. presidency. Of Jamaican-Indian heritage, the former prosecutor had criticized Biden during Democratic primaries and is only the fourth woman in U.S. history to be chosen as vice-presidential candidate.

Aug 11, 2020
A decision by the U.S. Department of Defense to rely on a company to exploit a questionable rare earth minerals deposit in California is itself being questioned. Nevada-based MP Materials says its investment is part of a strategy to ensure U.S. access to minerals widely used in military applications. However, the privately-held company is partly funded by China, a potential problem highlighted by the Department of Energy.
Aug 10, 2020

The U.S. Department of Defense Department requested a 30-day court extension to resolve ongoing issues with its Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud contract. The multibillion-dollar contract had been expected to be awarded 17 August after numerous delays, notably the need to address a legal protest by Amazon Web Services after the contract was initially awarded to Microsoft last fall. Already two years behind schedule, there evidently are still “areas of concern with respect to the revised proposals,” the DoD said 10 August. 

Aug 10, 2020

German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has suggested that her country could shoulder 10% of NATO’s requirements by taking into account what a spokesperson says would be “cash, capabilities and commitments” rather than the 2% of gross domestic product urged by the U.S. The push for a change evidently is tied to the economic impact of COVID-19 and the implications for future defence spending. Germany’s nearly $50-billion military budget last year represented nearly 1.3% of GDP.

Aug 10, 2020

Transport Canada has certified EHang Holdings Ltd., of Guangzhou, China, to conduct flight tests of its EHang 216 autonomous aerial vehicle in Quebec, following special operating certificates issued by several other countries. “It conveys a positive signal from global regulators to establish a supportive and sustainable regulatory environment,” the company said in a statement.

Aug 10, 2020

The Royal Canadian navy’s sixth Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship will be named for Robert Hampton Gray, a member of the WWII Royal Canadian Naval Reserve who flew with the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm. Lt Gray was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross, the only one awarded to an RCN member during the war for his role in leading an attack on Japanese ships in August 1945.

Aug 10, 2020

A team of Canadian Army veterans has completed a 36-hour walk from Canadian Forces Base Petawawa, 175 kilometres or more than 220,000 steps up the Ottawa River Valley from the nation’s capital. The event, which featured hourly exercises wearing weighted vests, raised money for Wounded Warriors Canada.

Aug 10, 2020

Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux plans to compare the $60-billion cost of replacing the Royal Canadian Navy’s Iroquois-class destroyers and Halifax-class frigates. Requested by the House of Commons standing committee on government operations and estimates, the review of the Canadian Surface Combatant program will look at two large frigates: the FREMM built for the French and Italian navies and the Type 31 ordered for the Royal Navy.

Congress pushes drone export ban
Aug 10, 2020

Draft legislation designed to limit exports of large armed unmanned aerial vehicles has been introduced by a bipartisan group in the U.S. Senate. They are responding to a White House measure which would permit U.S. companies to circumvent part of a 1987 agreement controlling such sales. “If we allow Trump to start selling drones, we set a dangerous precedent,” says one of the Democrats behind the move.

Aug 10, 2020

A recent two-day U.S. Air Force exercise was designed refine how stealthy aircraft can work with legacy crewed platforms and drones in a highly contested airspace. The test at Nellis AFB in Nevada involved Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II and F-22 Raptor fighters and RQ-170 Sentinel drones as well as Northrop Grumman B-2 bombers and U.S. Navy Boeing E/A-18G Super Hornet Growler electronic warfare aircraft.

Aug 10, 2020

Any ballistic missile fired at Russia would be automatically considered a nuclear attack warranting nuclear retaliation, according to an official military publication, Krasnaya Zvezda. An article by several members of the General Staff follows the Kremlin’s release of a deterrence policy that envisages just such a scenario.

Aug 10, 2020

A Venezuelan court has sentenced two former U.S. soldiers to 20 years in prison for their participation in a failed bid to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro. Found guilty of conspiracy, illicit trafficking of weapons and terrorism, they were among 13 people arrested in May when they attempted to enter Venezuela by sea from Colombia. Proceedings against others are continuing.

Aug 07, 2020

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to reimpose a 10 per cent tariff on Canadian aluminum is nothing more than back-stabbing. “I just have to say how disappointed I am with President Trump,” Ford said 7 August. “In times like this, who tries to go after your closest ally, your closest trading partner, your number one customer in the entire world? Who would do this? Well, President Trump did this.”

Aug 07, 2020

NATO is studying the feasibility of replacing its fleet of Boeing E3-A Sentry airborne early-warning aircraft. Canada and 17 other members of the alliance currently operate modified 707s which entered service in 1978, from a base in Geilenkirchen, Germany. Menwhile, NATO plans to spend $1 billion on a final life extension for the legacy fleet.

Aug 07, 2020

British Columbia-based OSI Maritime Systems contracted to supply a new Tactical Dived Navigation System for Canada’s four submarines. Other OSI systems are already aboard the boats as well as those operated by eight other countries.

Aug 07, 2020

Just five weeks after the new North American free trade agreement went into effect, U.S. President Donald Trump’s announced 6 August that he would impose a 10 per cent import tariff on Canadian aluminum. As with a previous aluminum tariff, Trump cited national security concerns. In Ottawa, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland promised “dollar-for-dollar countermeasures.” 

Aug 06, 2020

The federal government is partnering with two major international companies to secure millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses for national distribution. Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand says the deal with Pfizer and Moderna will help to position Canada at the front of the line when a vaccine becomes available. Fifty-five potential COVID-19 drugs, including vaccine candidates, are currently being investigated in clinical trials authorized by Health Canada.

Aug 06, 2020

U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has outlined a reorientation of his department with the overarching goal of countering China’s growing influence. He recalled becoming aware of China’s evolution while he was a Pacific Command war planner in the mid-1990s. “China’s been on this path for some time,” he said 5 August. “It’s time that we woke up and addressed it, that we competed much more vigorously.”

Aug 05, 2020

Last fall, leaders in the biosecurity field ranked the U.S. at the top of the Global Health Security Index, which graded 195 countries in terms of their preparedness to fight outbreaks. Canada ranked fifth behind the U.K., the Netherlands and Australia. President Donald Trump even held up the copy of that report during a White House briefing last February. So what happened when COVID-19 hit? The Journal Nature offers an explanation and looks ahead.

Aug 05, 2020

The main element of this year’s Operation Nanook, Canada’s biennial northern sovereignty exercise, which began 3 August, has been scaled down due to the continued impact of COVID-19. However, it also has taken on a distinct NATO look with the participation of Danish, French and U.S. ships and is focusing on gunnery and ship-tracking exercises.

Aug 05, 2020

General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada has begun production of Armoured Combat Support Vehicles t its London plant. Replacing the Army’s M113 Tracked Light Armoured Vehicles and LAV II Bisons, the ACSVs will fulfill a variety of roles such as command posts, ambulances, troops and cargo transports, and mobile repair and recovery platforms.

Aug 05, 2020

Dr. Theresa Tam, the country’s Chief Public Officer of Health, says Canadians should no expect a COVID-19 vaccine to quickly end the pandemic. “We're going to have to manage this pandemic certainly over the next year,” she said 4 August, adding that the country should be prepared “for the longer term of the next two to three years during which the vaccine may play a role.”

Aug 05, 2020

After the federal government information watchdog testified to finding evidence of internal activity to thwart access to information searches related to the failed case against VAdm Mark Norman, the Public Prosecutions office had contacted the RCMP in March 2019. The RCMP determined it was in a conflict of interest due to its investigation of Norman and it had planned to refer the case to the OPP. However, “due to an administrative error and changes in senior staff at the time, it appears we never made that referral,” said RCMP spokesman Daniel Brien in response to recent questions from the Ottawa Citizen.

Aug 05, 2020

New ways for foreign buyers of U.S. arms are being developed in an effort to ensure that allies and others don’t drop planned procurements during the COVID-19 pandemic. The director of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, Army LGen Charles Hooper, says one option would be financing arms procurement through U.S. bank loans and altering existing payment schedules.

Aug 04, 2020

DND has confirmed that it will supply a Lockheed Martin CC-130 Hercules for continued support of UN peacekeeping efforts in Africa for another year. The RCAF transports have operated out of Uganda since 2017, fulfilling a commitment by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a peacekeeping summit that year.

Aug 04, 2020

Construction of an Arctic refuelling station at Nanisivik, announced by the federal government in 2007, now is not expected to be operational until at least 2022. A key element of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s northern strategy, the port was to service federal ships, including patrol vessels, the first of which entered just last week. The constraints of a limited summer construction season have been exacerbated by the impact of COVID-19.

Aug 04, 2020

Hoping to address concerns about growing Russian and Chinese influence in the Arctic and Antarctic, President Donald Trump wants the U.S. government to outline how it could “at least three heavy polar-class” vessels and smaller support ships, potentially nuclear-powered. A senior U.S. Coast Guard official has agreed that the U.S. lacks “the ability to project the presence we need” in the polar regions simultaneously.

Aug 04, 2020

Most of the costs of having 5,00 U.S. troops stationed in Poland as part of a new security cooperation deal will be borne by the Polish government. That positions Warsaw to surpass the NATO goal of spending two per cent of GDP on defence by 2024.

Aug 04, 2020

Boeing has received a $265 million U.S. Army contract for nine more MH-47G Chinook transport helicopters for Special Operations Aviation Command. It increases the total under contract to 24 of an expected 69.

Aug 04, 2020

President Donald Trump has bypassed the congressional approval process by appointing retired Army BGen Anthony Tata as Acting Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Policy. The Senate Armed Services Committee had cancelled a confirmation hearing when it became clear that there wasn’t enough Republic support for Tata’s appointment to the Pentagon’s top policy job.

Aug 04, 2020

BAE Systems has completed a $1.9 billion purchase of Collins Aerospace’s military GPS business from Raytheon Technologies Corp. The acquisition follows a merger of United Technologies Corp. and Raytheon approved by the U.S. government in March subject divestment UTC’s military GPS and large space-based optical systems businesses, as well as Raytheon’s military airborne radios business.

Aug 04, 2020

Two U.S. astronauts returned to earth 02 August aboard a SpaceX capsule, completing the first commercial crewed mission to the International Space Station and the first all-American mission since the Space Shuttle was retired and the U.S. had to rely on Russian launch facilities. They were launched to the ISS at the end of May on a SpaceX Falcon rocket.

Jul 31, 2020

The RCN marked a most significant milestone in its shipbuilding programme with a July 31st delivery of the first new Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS) built by Irving Shipbuilding in Halifax.  

Jul 31, 2020

The three potential aircraft manufacturers bidding to supply the next generation of RCAF fighters evidently met the government’s 31 July deadline. Lockheed Martin is offering its F-35 Lightning II, Boeing its F/A-18 Super Hornet, and Saab its Gripen E. The government could make a decision by year’s end, setting up for initial delivery in 2025.

Jul 31, 2020

U.S. Navy plans to test a range of weapons off the West Coast is encountering resistance in Washington state. Gov Jay Inslee’s administration is concerned about the effect on the resident Orca population and other marine life despite a federal study which concluded that the impact would be “negligible.”

Jul 31, 2020

The proposed appointment of former Army BGen Anthony Tata as the senior policy officer in the U.S. Department of Defense is reported to have been withdrawn by the administration. Senate confirmation hearings were abruptly ended 30 July to unspecified “obstacles” but Tata has been criticized for politically-loaded public comments.

Jul 31, 2020

Shortly after Secretary of Defense Mark Esper confirmed plans for a lengthy and costly withdrawal of 11,900 U.S. personnel from Germany, President Donald Trump seems to have put another option on the table by suggesting that the troops could remain if Germany increases its NATO budget.

Jul 30, 2020

Nearly 12,000 U.S. troops will be withdrawn from Germany as soon as is practicable, the Department of Defense has confirmed, but it has left open the possibility that they could be recalled for rotating deployments elsewhere in Europe. “This plan is subject to, and likely will, change to some degree as it evolves over time,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters 29 July.

Jul 30, 2020

President Donald Trump says he did not discuss with Vladimir Putin allegations that Russia had offered Taliban extremists bounties for killing U.S. troops in Afghanistan. His rationale during an interview was that the intelligence behind the claim was suspect and that he believes Putin does not want to “get involved” in the region.

Jul 30, 2020

Babel Street, a data analytics company headquartered in Reston, Va., says major Chinese technology and manufacturing concerns not only have links with their government but also help to expand China’s influence into other countries’ manufacturing sectors. Moreover, it says, China and Russia coordinate their investments to avoid conflict.

Jul 29, 2020

Canadian involvement in the war against ISIS has entered a new phase which requires fewer troops compared with up to 850 at one point. About half the contingent was recalled in March when COVID-19 began its global spread, the expectation being that most would eventually be redeployed. However, Army BGen Michael Wright, head of Joint Task Force IMPACT, says allied commanders have determined the Iraqi military is now largely able to fight ISIS unaided.

Jul 29, 2020

Three months after the crash of its Lockheed Martin Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone helicopter crashed off the coast of Greece, killing all six aboard, the frigate HMCS Fredericton has returned to its homeport of Halifax. It was docked in Italy for two weeks after the crash but resumed its NATO deployment in mid-May.

Jul 29, 2020

U.S. Army plans for a future long-range assault rotorcraft evidently are being pushed toward a prototype contract award in 2022. A draft proposal is expected by the end of this year, setting up for a Request for Proposals in 2021. Bell and Lockheed Martin Sikorsky are the potential suppliers.

Jul 29, 2020

U.S. Air Force LGen Kevin Schneider, the commander of U.S. Forces Japan, says the U.S. military will help Japan to monitor “aggressive and malign” Chinese incursions around East China Sea islands controlled by Japan. China’s foreign ministry insists the islands are its territory and has responded to Schneider’s statement by calling on “all parties to uphold stability in the region”.

Jul 29, 2020

Singapore-based ST-Engineering and Israel Aerospace Industries hope that a new joint venture, Proteus Advanced Systems, will fulfill a growing demand for guided naval munitions. Declining to divulge details, STE says it has been collaborating with IAI on guided munitions for a number of years.

Jul 29, 2020

An Iranian mockup of a U.S. aircraft carrier has been used by the Revolutionary Guard as a target for land-launched missiles after it was moved offshore into the Strait of Hormuz. Drones were also used to target the fake carrier’s bridge.

Jul 28, 2020

The Royal Canadian Navy hopes that aggressive maintenance will ensure that its four 1980s-vintage Victoria-class submarines remain operational for one and possibly two more decades. This is according to a newly-released briefing note prepared for the government’s 2017 policy paper – Strong, Secure, Engaged. The former Royal Navy diesel-electric boats, decommissioned in 1994 after brief service, were purchased after the British government opted for an all-nuclear fleet.

Jul 27, 2020

The prospect of the Department of National dropping “seaman” as outdated and sexist evidently has been widely criticized on social media. However, RAdm Chris Sutherland has turned to social media himself with a warning that the Royal Canadian Navy has no place for personnel who harbour "hateful, misogynistic and racist” beliefs. The challenge now is to come up with a gender-neutral alternative. “Mariner” anybody?

Jul 27, 2020

Canada’s participation in this year’s Exercise Rim of the Pacific, the world’s largest war-game held biennially off Hawaii, has been reduced to a bare minimum. The original commitment was to have been a submarine, various ships and aircraft, but COVID-19 means it is reduced to two frigates and one CH-148 Cyclone helicopter, scheduled to deploy from the West Coast 31 July.

Jul 27, 2020

U.S. Africa Command says more Russian military equipment is being positioned in Libya in violation of a UN arms embargo and to potentially put UN and U.S. personnel at increased risk. The statement is based on overhead imagery of aircraft and vehicles believed to be controlled by a Kremlin-backed contractor.

Jul 27, 2020

The U.S. State Department has eased restrictions on exports of military-grade unmanned aerial systems. The decision removes restriction which prevented foreign sales of larger UAS such as the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper and the Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk.

Jul 27, 2020

The U.S. Army has patented a combined muzzle brake and suppressor which helps to maintain machine gun accuracy while reducing the noise. Twelve years in development, the “smuzzle” traces its origins to a muzzle brake designed for the 155mm howitzer.

Jul 27, 2020

Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Atomics and Kratos Defense & Security Solutions ech has received a contract worth up to $400 million to develop an AI-enabled drone wingman dubbed Skyborg. The contract include neither quantity nor delivery deadlines.

Jul 27, 2020

Lockheed Martin says the U.S. State Department has cleared a contract for extensive upgrades to Chile’s F-16 fighter fleet. The aircraft include 10 later-generational models purchased in the early 2000s and 36 older General Dyanmics models bought from the Netherlands

Jul 24, 2020

The impending retirement of Army Gen Jonathan Vance as Chief of the Defence Staff, which he announced 23 July, is prompting speculation that the Liberal government would like to appoint a female successor. However, there evidently is a shortage of potential candidates with one of the two most experienced women set to retire herself and the other a relative unknown outside the Department of National Defence.

Jul 23, 2020

Gen. Jonathan Vance, Chief of the Defence Staff since July 2015, announced 23 July that he is planning to retire but did not specify a date. In a letter to Canadian Armed Forces personnel on social media, he said he had informed the government of his decision “to relinquish command of the Canadian Armed Forces in the months to come.”

Jul 23, 2020

The U.S. Department of Defense is partnering with Chicago-based NanoGraf Technologies to develop what the military hopes will be lighter and more powerful batteries for the sundry gear carried by modern soldiers. The company has been given a $1.6-million research grant to develop silicon anode lithium-ion portable batteries to replace the graphite anode units currently used by the military.

Jul 23, 2020

U.S. Space Command Gen. John Raymond says Russia’s recent launch of a projectile from an orbiting satellite is “further evidence of Russia’s continuing efforts to develop and test space-based systems” and “consistent with the Kremlin’s published military doctrine to employ weapons that hold U.S. and allied space assets at risk.” At least one outside expert has confirmed last week’s event.

Jul 23, 2020

China has launched a Mars mission from its Wenchang spaceport on Hainan Island. It should enter Mars orbit next February but is not expected to deploy its Tianwen-1 (Questions to Heaven) rover to the planet’s surface for at least two months afterward.

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