IN THE NEWS

IN THE NEWS

Jun 16, 2020

The U.S. Air Force’s new MH-139 Grey Wolf helicopter, a Boeing-built version of the Leonardo AW-139 selected to replace Bell UH-1N Hueys for security at nuclear missile facilities, evidently is near its designed weight limit. The Government Accountability Office says that the aircraft “may not be able to meet all . . .requirements for speed or range.”

Jun 16, 2020

Thomas Alexander, the U.S. Department of Defense’s top civilian for special operations oversight since November, is leaving the post this week to join the Office of Management and Budget at the White House. President Donald Trump nominated a former naval officer to the post in May but the Senate Armed Services Committee has not scheduled a confirmation hearing.

Jun 16, 2020

The U.S. is temporarily stationing General Atomics MQ-9 Reapers to Estonia to support NATO intelligence gathering in the Upper Baltics region. U.S. The drones usually are based in northwestern Poland, but runway there prompted the move.

Jun 16, 2020

Three Indian soldiers have been killed in a clash with Chinese forces in the disputed Kashmir region amid rising tensions. China, accusing that India had cross the border, did not confirm any casualties among its troops but India says senior officials were “meeting to defuse the situation.”

Jun 16, 2020

President Donald Trump has confirmed plans to remove some 9,500 U.S. troops from Germany, but still leaving 25,000 personnel stationed in a country he continues to accuse of not upholding its financial commitments to NATO. “They owe NATO billions and they know it,” he said 15 June. “Why should we be doing what we’re doing if they don’t pay?”

Jun 15, 2020

Ninety CAF personnel are being sent to Ukraine this month to resume training which had been suspended or reduced due to COVID-19. They are rejoining some 60 who had remained there since April.

Jun 15, 2020

Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine who is a Canadian citizen by birth, has been sentenced to 16 years of hard labour by a Russian court on charges of espionage. Whelan, who reportedly had visited Russia many times, the latest to attend a wedding, was arrested in Moscow in December 2018 while in possession of a thumb drive which Russia alleges contained state secrets.

Jun 12, 2020

Russian fighter aircraft have flown training missions over the Baltic Sea in parallel to a 19-nation NATO exercise, BALTOPS 2020. The aircraft practised own-force strikes 11 June. The frigate HMCS Fredericton is a key element of Canada’s participation in the NATO exercise which runs to 16 June.

Jun 12, 2020

The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee has come up with a nearly $6-billion version of the annual Pacific Deterrence Initiative designed to counter China’s growing influence in the region. The committee said 11 June that it had authorized $1.4 billion in fiscal 2021, well above the White House’s budget request, and $5.5 billion the following year. “The best way to protect U.S. security and prosperity in Asia is to maintain a credible balance of military power, but, after years of underfunding, America’s ability to do so is at risk,” the committee said.

Jun 12, 2020

Additional weapons and other military aid for Ukraine have been approved by the U.S. under a security assistance program. The $250-million package affirms the “long-standing defense relationship between the United States and Ukraine – a critical partner on the front line of strategic competition with Russia,” the Department of Defense said 11 June.

Jun 12, 2020

Russia’s Foreign Ministry likes President Donald Trump’s reported plan to withdraw 9,500 U.S. troops from Germany. “We would welcome any steps by Washington to scale down its military presence,” a ministry spokesperson said 11 June. “Such steps would undoubtedly help reduce confrontational potential and ease military and political tensions.”

Jun 12, 2020

President Donald Trump has signed an executive order preventing the entry of International Criminal Court staff investigating whether U.S. forces committed war crimes in Afghanistan. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. would not be “threatened by a kangaroo court” and Attorney General William Barr accused “foreign powers like Russia" of "manipulating the ICC in pursuit of their own agenda.”

Jun 11, 2020

A defamation lawsuit filed two years ago by veterans’ advocate Sean Bruyea against cabinet minister Seamus has been settled out of court. The suit dates to when O’Regan, now at Natural Resources, was at Veterans Affairs and publicly criticized Bruyea’s analysis of the department’s plans for veterans’ pension reform.

Jun 11, 2020

Deputy Defence Minister Jody Thomas says she has received no indications that the federal government is considering a reduced military budget as it spends billion on dealing with COVID-19 and adds to the federal deficit. Previous Liberal and Conservative governments have cut defence spending at times of financial crises but Thomas says plans for new ships, fighters and other procurements are proceeding.

Jun 11, 2020

As debates continued this week over police services’ excessive use of force, Halifax city council has dropped plans to spend up to $500,000 on a “rescue” vehicle from Ontario-based Terradyne Armoured Vehicles. "We know that we can put some resources toward anti-black racism programs,” Mayor Mike Savage said. “A lot of us thought this was the right thing to do at this point in time, and partly to send a signal to people that we're listening to the concerns that people have.”

Jun 11, 2020

Two formations of Tupolev Tu-95 “Bear” bombers escorted by other Russian aircraft were intercepted near Alaskan airspace this week by NORAD-deployed Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptors. The first pair were escorted by two Sukoi Su-35 “Flanker” fighters and a Beriev A-50 “Mainstay” early warning and control platform, and the second pair by an A-50. NORAD said both formations remained in international airspace and that no RCAF Boeing CF-188 Hornets were involved in the laest interceptions.

Jun 10, 2020

Gen Charles Q. Brown, a former fighter pilot and currently commander of Pacific Air Forces, has been unanimously confirmed as the U.S. Air Force’s 22nd chief of staff, the first African-American in the post. The U.S. Senate voted 98-0 for Brown to succeed Gen David Goldein, another former fighter pilot who had been chief since July 2016.

Jun 10, 2020

A three per cent pay increase for U.S. troops, effective next January, has been approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee. Part of an annual defence authorization bill, it would be the first time in a decade that there has been an increase of this scale in two consecutive years.

Jun 10, 2020

A €15-billion support plan for the French aeronautical industry was unveiled 9 June by Finance Minister Bruno le Mair. It focuses on safeguarding 300,000 jobs in the sector as well as making the supply network more robust and setting the direction of new projects.

Jun 10, 2020

Full production of Boeing’s KC-46 tanker has been postponed by the U.S. Force to the end of 2024 to correspond with the timeline for fixing issues with one of the fleet’s key systems. Robert Behler, Director of Operational Test and Evaluation at the Pentagon, says operational testing will end only after Boeing fixes the issue and finalizes its production configuration.

Jun 10, 2020

Assistant Secretary of Defense Bruce Jette says the U.S. Army is standing fast on 34 priority procurements despite budget pressures, but most will evolve beyond the prototype stage to mass production only in the latter half of this decade. Thirty-one programs range from new intermediate-range missiles to “smart” rifles while the other three involved hypersonic missiles and two defensive laser projects.

Jun 10, 2020

Canadian Armed Forces assets and personnel are involved in BALTOPS 2020, the 49th iteration of a NATO maritime/air exercise in the Baltic Sea controlled this time out of Portugal with the air element commanded from Germany. Running to 16 June, it involves 3,000 personnel, 30 ships and submarines, and 30 aircraft honing air defence, ASW, maritime interdiction and mine countermeasures skills. For the first time, however, there will be no amphibious landings due to COVID-19 concerns.

Jun 09, 2020

The Canadian Forces may be preparing to defy its mandated obligation of truth and transparency by controlling unclassified information. DND confirmed to the Ottawa Citizen that a new directive is being written, but no details have yet been provided. 

Jun 09, 2020

Indications that President Donald Trump is prepared to withdraw 9,500 of the 34,500 U.S. military personnel in Germany is seen by the country’s defence minister as a threat to NATO overall. “The presence of U.S. soldiers in Germany serves the entire NATO alliance security, including America’s own security,” Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said 8 June, adding that Berlin had not been officially advised of the mooted drawdown. “The fact is that . . . is the basis on which we work together.”

Jun 09, 2020

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg wants the alliance to take on a greater political role in world affairs and help nations in the Asia-Pacific region contend with China. “Military strength is only part of the answer,” he said 8 June, calling on NATO states to take a more global approach to security issues.

Jun 08, 2020

Airworthiness Investigative Authority has issued a report on the accident involving a Royal Canadian Air Force CH-148 Cyclone helicopter on 29 April 2020. The report includes a brief summary of the circumstances and factual information known at this time.

Jun 08, 2020

Two years after the need was identified, the federal government has announced it is replacing two of its Bombardier 601 Challenger jets with 650s at a cost of $105 million, including training and spares. The current CC-144s, half of Ottawa-based 437 Transport Sqn, entered RCAF service in the 1980s but will be non-compliant with new U.S. and European regulations later this year.

Jun 08, 2020

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Army Gen Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have turned down a request to testify in front of the House of Representatives’ armed services committee. “That is simply unacceptable, says committee chair Adam Smith, a Democrat from Washingon State. “It is the constitutional duty of the House Armed Services Committee to perform rigorous oversight, just as it is the constitutional duty of the Administration to be accountable to the American people.”

Jun 08, 2020

The exact date is as yet unknown, but fighter pilots should note July 2021 on their calendars. LGen Jack Shanahan, head of the U.S. Department of Defense artificial intillegence centre, says that’s when the Air Force plans to pit one of its pilot against an AI-controlled autonomous fighter.

Jun 08, 2020

New Zealand has ordered five Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules transports, a $1 billion replacement for the current breakdown-prone 1960s fleet. “Generations of New Zealanders have grown up and grown old with the Hercules,” says Defence Minister Ron Mark. “They know these aircraft are an essential first line of response.”

Jun 08, 2020

France’s defence minister, Florence Parly, says her country’s forces in the Sahel have killed Abdelmalek Droukdel, leader of al-Qaida’s North Africa affiliate. French President Emmanuel Macron and his counterparts in Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad launched a new plan in January to fight jihadists in the area.

Jun 05, 2020

Britain’s first dedicated cyber regiment has been officially established as part of a concerted response to growing digital threats. Officially the 13th Signals Regiment, it has a core of some 250 specialists based at Blanford, Dorset, home of the Royal Corps of Signals.

Jun 05, 2020

Italy and France agreed 4 June to equally share the costs of new technologies launched by Naviris, the joint venture launched last year by their leading shipyards. Computer-aided engineering, vessel lifecycle simulation, energy efficiency and fuel cells are among the technologies being assessed. 

Jun 05, 2020

President Donald Trump has indicated he is backing down on his threat to deploy federal troops to states or cities which refuse the option for suppressing widespread protests about the recent death of a black man in police custody. ““I don't think we'll have to,” Trump said in a televised interview 3 June, conceding that National Guard units, which under dual federal-state control, could be as effective.

Jun 05, 2020

Even as the RCAF plans to continue operating its updated Lockheed Martin CP-140 maritime surveillance aircraft into a “2030 timeframe”, the U.S. Navy has retired the last of its P-3 Orions on which the CP-140 is based. After six decades of service, the Orions are being replaced by P-8 Poseidons, a militarized version of the Boeing 737.

Jun 05, 2020

Reported musings by President Donald Trump about using nuclear weapons to disrupt evolving tropical storms evidently at the reason for draft legislation introduced in the House of Representatives by a Texas Democrat. Sylvia Garcia says her Climate Change and Hurricane Correlation and Strategy Act would not only require the White House to advise Congress in general about its strategies but also would prohibit the mooted nuclear option.

Jun 04, 2020

The Department of National Defence is being accused by New Democratic Party defence critic James Bezan of using the COVID-19 pandemic an excuse for withholding information. DND suggests that there is a timeliness issue arising from having staff working remotely with limited access to files.

Jun 04, 2020

In a program watched closely by Canada and other allies, the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command has budgeted $106 million in 2021 for the first five of a proposed procurement of up to 75 light attack aircraft for ground support. They would replace the current AFSOC fleet of U-28 Dracos, modified Pilatus PC-12 single-engine turboprops.

Jun 04, 2020

An updated Russian policy permitting a nuclear response to a conventional strike against government and military infrastructure has been endorsed by President Vladimir Putin. It reflects concerns about U.S. potential to knock out key assets with convention weapons.

Jun 04, 2020

Counting on increased demand by European and Asian militaries for more sophisticated digital communications, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems of Israel is offering its latest software-defined radios. Partnership programs in Indian and Germany set the stage for similar market pushes elsewhere, including Britain.

Jun 04, 2020

A newly-released report to the UN Security Council that some elements of the Taliban maintain ties with the al-Qaeda terrorist network is seen as evidence of the fragility of the U.S. peace talks with the Taliban. Among other things, the report states that “Al-Qaida has reacted positively to the agreement, with statements from its acolytes celebrating it as a victory for the Taliban’s cause and thus for global militancy.”

Jun 04, 2020

The 2020 Canada Army Run set for September has been cancelled due to COVID-19. Organizers have given entrants until 12 June to decide whether to participate in a “virtual” race or defer to next year.

Jun 04, 2020

President Donald Trump’s threat to deploy active duty military personnel to crack down on public protests has been openly challenged by Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. The former infantry officer said 3 June that invocation of the Insurrection Act must be “a matter of last resort and only in the most urgent and dire situations.”

Jun 04, 2020

Former U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis has denounced President Donald Trump’s threat to deploy Army personnel to quell protests in several U.S. cities. “We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution,” the retired Marine General writes. Mattis quit the cabinet in 2018 over Trump’s policy on Syria.

Jun 03, 2020

A contract valued at $35 million was awarded to Zodiac Hurricane Technologies for the acquisition of 30 new multi-role boats. In a press release, Defence Minister Sajjan said the "new multi-role boats represent an important investment in our Navy and the women and men who serve Canada.”

Jun 03, 2020

A Canada-U.S. team has completed recovery of the RCAF CH-148 Cyclone helicopter which crashed 29 April in the Ionian Sea, killing all six personnel aboard. In a statement on 3 June 2020, RAdm Craig Baines said that “multiple pieces” of the aircraft as well as “some remains” had been retrieved from a depth of more than 3,000 metres, using a remotely-operated vehicle provided by the U.S. Navy. The remains are to be sent to Toronto for forensic examination to confirm the victims’ identities. Click for full statement.

Jun 02, 2020

The RCAF deployed two CF-188 Hornets and a CP-140 Aurora and the RCN sent the supply ship Asterix and the frigate Ville de Quebec to a joint exercise off the east coast last week with the U.S. Northern, Space, Transportation and Strategic commands. Designed to test their response to an attack on the U.S., with a USAF B-1B bomber playing the role of enemy infiltrator, the four-day exercise ended 31 May.

Jun 02, 2020

NATO is being accused by Russia of conducting “provocative” exercises near its borders and has proposed that each side scale down activities for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. The accusation follows recent NATO maneuvers in the Barents Sea which Russia says emulated strikes on its territory and the interception of ballistic missiles. Russia also cited what it says are increasing flights by USAF B-1B strategic bombers in other border areas.

Jun 02, 2020

Lower unit costs are being reported in the costliest single military procurement in U.S. history, the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, but there are concerns about ongoing support and upgrades for the stealthy aircraft. The latest annual Pentagon assessment shows development and procurement costs have been trimmed by 7.1% to $397.8 billion, but the bill for lifecycle operating and maintenance is projected to rise 7.8 per cent to more than $1.18 trillion.

Jun 02, 2020

A series of often violent protests in several major cities following the death of another black man in police custody in Minneapolis prompted President Donald Trump to insist 1 June that state governors call out their National Guard units to resolve the situations. “If a city or state refuses . . . I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.”

Jun 02, 2020

Legal experts are parsing President Donald Trump’s threat to deploy the U.S. military to put down continued and sometimes violent protests in several cities after the death of a black man in police custody. Even though the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act precludes that kind of intervention, the 1807 Insurrection Act does give the President authority to deploy federal forces in states unable to put down an insurrection or where federal law is being defied. The exports do agree that legal challenges are inevitable and some state governors are calling Trump’s move an overreaction

Jun 01, 2020

A new European Union budget plan would restore most of the bloc’s defence priorities once COVID-19 has been addressed. The European Defence Fund and the Military Mobility initiative would receive €8 billion and €1.5 billion respectively, over the next seven years. Lower than earlier proposals for €13 billion and €6.5 billion, the latest revision is an improvement from recent negotiations involving EU members hit hard by the pandemic.

Jun 01, 2020

A suggestion by U.S. President Donald Trump that Russia rejoin the G7 Summit group of nations has been flatly dismissed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “Russia was excluded from the G7 after it invaded Crimea a number of years ago,” he said 1 June. “Its continued disrespect and flaunting of international rules and norms is why it remains outside of the G7, and will continue to remain out.”

Jun 01, 2020

In a preliminary report released on 1 June, DND’s Airworthiness Investigative Authority noted that while there has not yet been a final determination of the Snowbirds crash that killed Captain Jenn Casey, detailed analysis of video footage shows one bird “in very close proximity” to the starboard engine air intake shortly after takeoff from Kamloops, B.C.

Jun 01, 2020

Transport Minister Marc Garneau says Canada and four other countries are “pressing” Iran to release the flight data and cockpit voice recorders from Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, shot down by Iranian missiles minutes 08 January shortly after takeoff fom Tehran airport. They had been promised by 25 March, which essentially coincided with a COVID-19 eruption in Iran.

Jun 01, 2020

Injured military veterans were waiting an average of more than eight months at the end of April to learn whether were eligible for financial assistance from the government. The 34.5-week average was two weeks longer than at the beginning of 2020, when there were more than 46,200 backlogged applications. Veterans Affairs has not said whether COVID-19 is a factor as staff process applications while working from home.

Jun 01, 2020

The 1,657 Canadian Armed Forces personnel sent to long-term care homes in Ontario and Quebec as part of the COVID-19 response are eligible for the same benefits as those serving overseas, says the Chief of the Defence Staff. Gen Jonathan Vance says designation of the assignment as a “specialty operation” during the pandemic “ensures that members have the timeliest access to disability and pension programs."

Jun 01, 2020

The first privately-operated spacecraft ferrying crew to the International Space Station docked 31 May some 19 hours after liftoff from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The success of the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, which carried two U.S. astronauts but was completely automated, sets the stage for more U.S. missions later this year rather than continuing to rely on Russian launch capabilities.

May 29, 2020

Navantia, a Spanish state-owned shipbuilder, has formed a joint venture with Northern Ireland’s Harland & Wolff to pursue a contract for up to three logistics ships which would support the Royal Navy’s new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers. The British defence ministry cancelled the program last year, saying initial bids did not represent value for money, but is expected to restart the procurement in September.

May 29, 2020

Three contracts worth a combined $1.425 billion for upgrades to Kuwait’s Patriot missile defence system have been approved by the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency. Still subject to congressional endorsement and then negotiation of details, the upgrades are described as necessary for “greater security for its critical oil and natural gas infrastructure.”

May 29, 2020

Italian Defence Minister Lorenzo Guerini is rejecting calls on his government to cancel its procurement of Lockheed Martin F-35 fighters. Responding to calls by another political party which wants funds redirected to rebuilding the country’s economy in a post COVID-19 environment, he counters that cancellation would damage an industrial sector which offers “very significant economic returns to our nation.”

May 28, 2020

An initial round of some 6,700 layoffs by the Boeing Co. will have its greatest impact on the aerospace giant’s commercial aircraft division but only a minimal effect on its military development and manufacturing divisions. “The ongoing stability of our defense, space and related services businesses will help us limit overall impact, and we will continue hiring talent to support critical programs and meet our customers’ evolving needs,” a spokesman said 27 May.

May 27, 2020

In the early morning of 27 May 2020, a combined Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and United States Navy (USN) search and recovery team deployed a remotely-operated vehicle at the crash site and quickly located the remains of fallen CAF personnel and a large piece of the fuselage at a depth of 3,143 metres.

May 27, 2020

Canadian Armed Forces personnel deployed to help civil authorities with long-term care facilities during the COVID-19 crisis have confirmed conditions in facilities which critics say have been known for some time. A CAF report states that personnel found that equipment was used on both infected and non-infected patients without being disinfected, and that a disregard for basic cleanliness had resulted in insect infestation and rotten food.

May 27, 2020

Russia says the U.S. administration’s impending withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty will erode global security by making it more difficult for governments to interpret the intentions of other nations. President Donald Trump’s justification for the decision has been that Russian violations made it untenable for the U.S. to remain involved.

May 27, 2020

The U.S. public is being asked to comment on the White House’s strategy for controlling the evolution of fifth-generational telecommunications networks. The administration and the Department of Defense are pushing for the removal of what they see as “foreign adversaries” from the 5G supply chain, notably China’s Huawei telecom giant.

May 27, 2020

Hundreds of Taliban prisoners were released 26 May by the Afghan government in what is described as the single largest release since the U.S. and Taliban leaders signed a peace agreement earlier this year. The government announced it would release 900 prisoners as a three-day ceasefire was drawing to an end.

May 27, 2020

Glenn Fine, deputy inspector general in the Department of Defense, resigned 26 May after he had been effectively removed as head of a special board auditing the government’s $2.2-trillion COVID-19 economic relief package. His departure is the latest in a series of what are seen as political moves by the administration to curb its critics.

May 26, 2020

Billie Flynn, the former RCAF pilot who has been a test lead on Lockheed Martin’s development of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, was at the controls during two flights which damaged the aircraft’s stealth coating and tail. The incidents raised concerns about the F-35’s supersonic capabilities but Flynn has opted to set the record straight.

May 26, 2020

Initial height requirements for prospective pilots has been scrapped by the U.S. Air Force in a bid to encourage more female candidates. The long-standing policy, applicable for all types of aircraft, essentially limited candidates to between 5′4″ and 6′5″ standing or 34-40” seated. The new type-specific approach will use “anthropometric screening” as a first step.

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