IN THE NEWS

IN THE NEWS

Dec 15, 2020

A U.S. Army’s plan to acquire a long-range assault aircraft seems to be boiling down to a choice between two manufacturers. Bids are to be solicited without a “full and open competition,” which means that unless a third manufacturer is hiding in the wings, Bell and a Sikorsky-Boeing team which have been pitted against each to build and fly technology demonstrators, will be the likely finalists.

Dec 15, 2020

Ben Wallace, Britain’s Secretary of Defence, is signalling that a recent budget package for the military carries with it the prospect of “some tough choices” for his ministry. However, he adds, they "will allow us to invest in new domains, new equipment and new ways of working”, including “simply letting go of some capabilities.”

Dec 14, 2020

Industry complaints to government and the news media about the state of the Canadian Surface Combatant project are being criticized as distracting “noise” by DND’s Deputy Minister Jody Thomas. The pushback comes as one company pursues a lawsuit against the government whose lawyers want to limit the amount of information which can be disclosed in court. There also is concern that soaring CSC costs could affecting other capital projects.

Dec 14, 2020

In the second such mission in less than a month, the U.S. sent two Boeing B-52 Stratofortress bombers on a round-trip to the Middle East to underscore its commitment to the region even as President Donald Trump’s administration withdraws troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Dec 14, 2020

It’s reported that there was a sharp disconnect last year between the National Defence and Global Affairs departments on the issue of military cooperation with China. Alarmed by a decision by the Chief of the Defence Staff to cancel winter exercises with China, diplomats were concerned that it would annoy Beijing generally and, more specifically, could worsen things for Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who Canadian detained in China for the last two years.

Dec 14, 2020

Integration into the RCAF of surplus Boeing F/A-18 Hornet fighters from Australia evidently is proceeding at a snail’s pace. The Department of National Defence, still struggling with an overall fighter replacement program, will only say that the aircraft will be added to the RCAF CF-188 fleet at unspecified “regular intervals.”

Dec 14, 2020

Airbus Defense and Space and its partners in developing Europe’s next-generation combat aircraft and weapon system face a “very tough roadmap” to finalize designs and begin preliminary development, says the ADS leader on the project. The next goal is to begin a preliminary aircraft demonstrator development phase in 2021.

Dec 14, 2020

Health Minister Patty Hajdu says anyone who reacts adversely to COVID-19 vaccines will be eligible for compensation. “"Canadians can have confidence in the rigour of the vaccine approvals system,” she says. “In the rare event that a person experiences an adverse reaction, this program will help ensure they get the support they need.” Applicable to all vaccines, the program is similar to those already in effect in all other G7 countries.

Dec 14, 2020

Canadian Armed Forces personnel have been deployed to the Shamatawwa First Nation in northern Manitoba to help with a spike in CONVID-19 cases. At least a quarter of the fly-in community’s residents have tested positive.

Dec 14, 2020

An Opposition motion to set up a national suicide prevention helpline has been unanimously approved in the House of Commons. As proposed by B.C. Conservative MP Todd Doherty and if endorsed by the Senate, the 9-8-8- helpline would consolidate all jurisdictions’ suicide crisis numbers.

Dec 10, 2020

The RCAF Snowbirds flight demonstration team has published a 2021 calendar of events but it’s subject to change due to local COVID-19 situations. “The team will work with each air show and event to ensure . . . measures are in place for both the Snowbirds team and the general public,” it says.

Dec 10, 2020

The Veterans Ombudsman is dissatisfied with how Veterans Affairs Canada terminated an outspoken critic’s child-care benefit. The decision to cancel Sean Bruyea’s benefit was taken in 2018 a day after then VA Minister Seamus O’Regan had publicly criticized Bruyea, resulting in a defamation lawsuit which was settled out of court. VAC evidently disagreed with Bruyea’s placement of his son in a private school but the Ombudsman’s office says there are no “eligibility criteria other than participation in a rehabilitation program.”

Dec 09, 2020

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says a multinational nuclear inspection accord can be restored without negotiations. Stating that U.S. President Donald Trump “scribbled on a piece of paper” to withdraw from the accord in May 2018, Rouhani says “the next person can put up a nice piece of paper and sign it and it just needs a signature, we’ll be back where we were” in the accord which also involved Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.

Dec 09, 2020

Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., says the upcoming presidential transition in the U.S. still leaves time to extend the Strategic Arms Control Treaty, due to expire in February. “We can get it done very quickly,” he says, adding that his government remains in “close contact” with the U.S. administration about “new security agreements” that cover a range of issues.

Dec 09, 2020

A Royal Canadian Legion branch in Nova Scotia has been fined $7,500 for violating provincial rules against large gatherings. RCMP say they found “nearly 100 people” at a recent event at which COVID-19 “social distancing measures were not set up.”

Dec 09, 2020

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen says her country faces military threats daily from what she described as “authoritarian forces.” The comment coincided with confirmation that the U.S. had approved its sixth arms sales to the island nation this year, prompting unspecified Çhinese threats of retaliation.

Dec 09, 2020

Fourteen U.S. Army leaders at Fort Hood in central Texas have been dismissed or suspended over a pattern of violence at the sprawling base, including murder, sexual assaults and harassment. The Secretary of the Army says the situation is “directly related to leadership failures.”

Dec 09, 2020

Health Canada has approved the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech. An initial batch of 249,000 doses is to arrive next week for distribution to provinces on a per capita basis. Canada has contracted for 20 million doses and is reviewing three other vaccines, including one from Moderna which is expected to arrive in the first quarter of 2021.

Dec 09, 2020

A U.S. Army wife driving to Alaska from the southern states to join her husband encountered all manner of problems, compounded by the fact that she had five days to get through Canada due to COVID-19 constraints. As it happened, all manner of Canadians came to the rescue.

Dec 08, 2020

Newer technologies have brought about significant changes in the threats being faced, driving nations to modernize their defences, which are becoming vulnerable to counter-attacks and countermeasures. IAI’s BARAK MX sets new standards for modern air defence capability.

Dec 08, 2020

A NATO special operations command organized by Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark is now officially active. Expected to provide “the participating nations with a capability that exceeds the sum of their individual national contributions,” the Composite Special Operations Component Command was launched in 2017.

Dec 08, 2020

The Canadian military’s SkyHawks parachute team has cancelled its summer demonstration tour this year due to concerns about COVID-19. Established in 1971 and part of the Canadian Army Advanced Warfare Centre in Trenton, Ont., the team has performed at more than 5,000 venues across the country and hopes to resume in 2022.

Dec 08, 2020

French President Emmanuel Macron says his country’s next aircraft carrier, expected to be operational by 2038, will be nuclear-powered. At 75,000 tonnes and 300 metres, it is expected to be capable of 27 knots with two 220-megawatt reactors.

Dec 08, 2020

President-elect Joe Biden has reportedly selected Lloyd Austin III, a retired four-star U.S. Army general as his nominee for Secretary of Defense. He would require a congressional waiver due to his recent service in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since leaving the Army, he has joined several corporate boards, including that of Raytheon Technologies.

Dec 08, 2020

Japan, France and the U.S. plan joint drills next May in response to increased Chinese activity in the region. To be conducted on one of Japan’s uninhabited outlying islands, the exercise reportedly will focus on how to provide relief during natural disasters but there is speculation that it also could improve military readiness. “This is a message aimed at China . . . about multi-lateral partnerships and the freedom of passage,” says Adm Pierre Vandier, chief of staff of the French navy.

Dec 08, 2020

Australia and the U.S. plan joint development of a virtual cyber training range. U.S. Cyber Command will incorporate Australian Defence Force feedback into the Persistent Cyber Training Environment , an online portal for military deployed anywhere in the world to conduct individual or collective training and mission rehearsals.

Dec 08, 2020

The USN’s 5th Fleet commander, VAdm Sam Paparo, says the U.S. in in an “uneasy deterrence” as tensions remain high between Washington and Tehran. Having taken command in August, he says he has found “Iranian activity at sea to be cautious and circumspect and respectful, to not risk unnecessary miscalculation or escalation.” His predecessor had called Iran’s manoeuvres in the Persian Gulf “reckless and provocative.”

Dec 08, 2020

Iran says the U.S., having been the “main source of tension” in the Persian Gulf, has “got the message and made its behaviour more respectful.” A foreign ministry official says his country’s Revolutionary Guard vessels have always acted appropriately during encounters, the U.S. “has often had an unprofessional approach toward Iran’s navy.”

Dec 07, 2020

Up to 249,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, the first of millions the government has contracted for, will be available in Canada before the end of the year, potentially as early next week if Health Canada approves the Pfizer vaccine. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the initial batch will be delivered directly to 14 distribution centres across the country, except in the territories where appropriate storage is unavailable, on a per capita basis and that vaccination will begin with highest-risk populations.

Dec 07, 2020

RCAF Gen (retd) Tom Lawson, the former Chief of the Defence Staff and former deputy NORAD commander, says that despite “bitter disagreements” with the U.S. over the past four years, the tradition of shared security should prevail. “As global threat levels mount with the uncertain objectives of great power competitors, we can expect our instinctive and institutionalized ways . . . to kick in once again,” he says in a joint analysis with former NORAD commander U.S Army Gen (retd) Charles H. Jacoby Jr.

Dec 04, 2020

The U.S. government is finishing the current fiscal year with a total of $84 billion in potential foreign military sales approved by the State Department. “This isn’t technically the ‘real’ number bukt it’s still impressive,” an analyst points out. Of $68 billion approved last year, $55 billion in sales were actually completed.

Dec 04, 2020

Iran will not accept preconditions on its nuclear program from the incoming U.S. administration of President-elect Joe Biden, saying the U.S. must rejoin a 2015 multinational agreement before any new talks. Biden has said he will rejoin the agreement and and lift sanctions if Tehran returns to “strict compliance” but Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has counted that the U.S. has its own “commitments” to implement.

Long-term deployments possibly outdated
Dec 04, 2020

Gen Mark Milley, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, says the long-standing practice of sending troops and their families overseas for years-long tours is no longer the best idea. “We have too much infrastructure overseas, and too much permanent infrastructure,” he says, acknowledging that while it gives some allies comfort, “from a strategic standpoint and an operational standpoint, I’m not so sure.”

Dec 04, 2020

A defence policy bill currently before the U.S. Congress has a particular focus on China’s growing global influence in that it includes $6.9 billion for a new Pacific Deterrence Initiative. A Senate Armed Services Committee summary of the overall $740.5 billion in proposed spending says that the bill “will send a strong signal to China and any potential adversaries, as well as to our allies and partners, that America is deeply committed to defending our interests.”

Dec 04, 2020

The federal government is planning a dry run in every province next week of its proposed distribution of two COVID-19 vaccines as it prepares for actual distribution in “the coming weeks and months.” MGen Dany Fortin, tasked with overseeing logistics, says the aim of the “soft launch” is to ensure procedures are correct and that “people are comfortable with the very unique requirements of handling an ultra-low temperature vaccine.”

Dec 03, 2020

Dr. Howard Njoo, the deputy federal public health officer, says Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccines should be available early next year, setting the stage for the start of a national immunization program. Initial supplies will be enough for about three million persons but Njoo says “Canada is well-positioned to provide access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines to all Canadians in 2021.”

Dec 03, 2020

Israel has taken delivery of the first of four German-built corvettes for coastal defence as well as to protect its offshore economic management zone, including natural gas infrastructure. Hezbollah militants consider the gas facilities as high-priority targets.

Dec 03, 2020

The United Arab Emirates and France are participating in Medusa 10, a training exercise organized by Greece, Egypt and Cyprus. The UAE involvement comes less than two weeks after it had signed a strategic partnership with Greece due to growing concern about Turkey’s influence in the region.

Dec 03, 2020

Six foreign military sales approved by the U.S. State Department include $275 million in upgrades for the RCAF’s five Boeing Globemaster III strategic transports. It involves, among other things, hardware and software improvements, ground-handling equipment, parts and accessories, GPS receivers, mission equipment, and sundry support services.

Dec 03, 2020

As tensions continue to rise in the Mediterranean, Italy is planning to buy up to eight Gulfstream G-550 surveillance aircraft at a cost of €1.23-billion (C$2-billion). The project also would involve construction of a maintenance hub.

Dec 03, 2020

Polar Star, the U.S. Coast Guard’s only working heavy-duty icebreaker, is preparing for an Arctic voyage after COVID-19 scuttled an Antarctic mission earlier this year. The crew are being tested for the virus while in quarantine and will remain in an operational bubble until the ship returns to Seattle in February.

Dec 03, 2020

Gen Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says U.S. Department of Defence planners need a “reality check” on budgeting. “I suspect that, at best, the Pentagon’s budgets will start flattening out” due to overall economic conditions. “In an ideal world, I believe that we would need three per cent to five per cent sustained level of real growth . . . but I don’t anticipate that it will happen.”

Dec 02, 2020

Having for months recommended a 14-day quarantine period following potential exposure to COVID-19, generally accepted as a global standard, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still sees it as the safest option. However, it now is proposing two alternatives: seven-day quarantine for asymptomatic individuals, followed by a negative test result, or 10 days without a test. The CDC medical officer overseeing the pandemic response acknowledges “a small residual risk that a person who is leaving quarantine early could transmit to someone else if they became infected.”

Dec 02, 2020

The growing global presence of China and its military is a key element of NATO 2030, a report which includes 138 recommendations for a general policy overhaul within the alliance. It is seen as a riposte to French President Emmanuel Macron’s statement last year that NATO was suffering “brain death.”

Dec 02, 2020

The U.S. Navy has halted operations of its Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopters after two accidents only days apart at separate bases. Officials are declining to speculate about possible causes. Flown by squadrons in Maryland and California, the aircraft are used for reconnaissance and targeting.

Dec 02, 2020

The U.S. Army is testing a new sound suppressor it hopes will quiet the ubiquitous 7.62mm medium machine gun to a point where gunners can hear commands more easily. Ironically, the tests come as the Army begins a study to identify a potential replacement for the weapon.

Dec 02, 2020

Australia and the U.S. are collaborating on development of an air-launched hypersonic cruise missile, building on more than 15 years of cooperative research. A senior official says it would ensure that the U.S. and its allies “lead the world in the advancement of this transformational warfighting capability.”

Dec 02, 2020

The U.S. says Russian mercenaries in Libya are likely being financed by the United Arab Emirates. The mercenaries are said to be from the paramilitary Wagner Group, which has close ties with Moscow.

Dec 02, 2020

China’s latest robotic space mission has placed a lander on the moon.It is programmed to collect about two kilograms of material to be returned to Earth by an orbiter. The last such mission, 44 years ago, saw a Russian mission collect a smaller amount of material for research.

Dec 01, 2020

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan is “very happy” with the progress of the RCAF's plan for a new generation of fighter aircraft. Also confident about as the overall future of the defence budget and Canada’s multilateral relationships, he shared his thoughts with a U.S. online publication after the latest Halifax International Security Forum.

Dec 01, 2020

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says the alliance is face with a dilemma about its future in Afghanistan as the U.S. begins a troop drawdown. He says one choice is “to leave, and risk that Afghanistan becomes once again a safe haven for international terrorists.” The other is to “stay and risk a longer mission with renewed violence.”

Dec 01, 2020

The RCN’s new surface combatants will have the first installations of a new Lockheed Martin radar system. The decision to go with the AN/SPY-7 technology, which can be upgraded to a ballistic missile defence system, has been the focus of an intense debate within the defence procurement sector.

Dec 01, 2020

Some 650 RCN and RCAF personnel are involved in Exercise Trident Fury 20, a two-week joint operation with U.S. ships and aircraft off southern Vancouver Island. Essentially designed to improve coordination and to provide tactical training on how to deal with offshore threats, the exercise also provides pre-deployment training for the crew of HMCS Calgary before an overseas counter-terrorism deployment.

Nov 30, 2020

Promising that the federal government will do “whatever it takes”, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland closed out November with an economic statement which includes a short-term stimulus package valued at up to $100 million. “Spending roughly three to four per cent of GDP, over three years, our government will make carefully judged, targeted and meaningful investments to create jobs and boost growth,” she said. The 2020-2021 deficit was already forecast to top $381 billion.

Nov 30, 2020

A German administrative court has ruled that the government cannot be compelled ensure that U.S. drone strikes controlled from Ramstein comply with international law. The case was brought by human rights groups on behalf of Yemenis whose relatives were killed in a 2012 strike. The ruling restores a lower court’s finding that the government could balance its legal obligations with “foreign and defense policy interests.”

Nov 30, 2020

Several members of the U.S. Department of Defense’s senior advisory board have been suddenly dumped by the Trump administration. A directive issued by the DoD’s White House liaison removed 11 board members, including several former members of Congress, two former secretaries of state and a former chief of naval operations.

Nov 30, 2020

An Ottawa-based military family has filed a complaint with the Ontario Landlord & Tenant Board, alleging that the Saudi Arabian embassy evicted them in bad faith. They say that Chargé d'affaires Sulaiman AlAqeel had said he planned to move into the property but that it was subsequently listed for sale.

Nov 30, 2020

Canada is extending its ban on non-essential entry by most travellers who are not Canadians, permanent residents or people entering from the U.S. The ban on entries from the U.S. is extended to Dec. 21 and on others until Jan. 21, as are 14-day quarantine requirements.

Nov 30, 2020

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is blaming Israel for last week’s killing near Tehran of nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. “Iran's enemies should know that the people of Iran and officials are braver than to leave this criminal act unanswered,” he says. “In due time, they will answer for this crime.”

Nov 27, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has chosen former NATO commander MGen Dany Fortin to spearhead the government’s distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Most recently chief of staff for Canadian Joint Operations Command, he becomes vice-president for logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Nov 27, 2020

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, generally considered the driving force behind Iran’s nuclear weapons program, has been killed. State media report that he had been wounded in the attack while travelling near Tehran Iran but that doctors’ efforts to save him had failed.

Nov 27, 2020

The Canadian frigate HMCS Ottawa was able to transit strategically contentious waters between Taiwan and China in September 2019 but only after the plan had been discussed by senior officials at National Defence and Global Affairs. Officials had been told to keep quiet about the voyage three months after Chinese fighters buzzed two other Canadian ships transiting the Taiwan Strait.

Nov 27, 2020

Thirteen Australian special forces troops have been sent notices of likely dismissal in the wake of a recent report that 39 civilians and prisoners had been killed in Afghanistan. These are in addition to 19 other troops who could face prosecution. The Australian report blamed the killings between 2009 and 2013 on a “warrior culture” among some of its peacekeepers.

Nov 27, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his provincial counterparts held a virtual meeting Nov. 26 to discuss distribution of COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available. The premiers of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick say per capita distribution will be based on vulnerability. “We expect certain vaccines to become available in early 2021,” says Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada's deputy chief public health officer, meaning that six million Canadians could be vaccinated by March.

Nov 26, 2020

Construction has begun on a new $144-milliion Defence Research and Development Canada facility at CFB Valcartier, Que., the first phase of a $270-million upgrade. Eighty multi-disciplinary laboratories will consolidate nearly 500 scientists from various locations on the base.

Nov 26, 2020

Nearly 500 persons accused of participating in a 2016 attempted coup in Turkey, including 337 military officers, have been sentenced to life imprisonment. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government said the attempted overthrow directed from Akinci air base near Ankara resulted in 251 deaths and more than 2,000 injuries.

Nov 25, 2020

Michael Flynn, the retired U.S. Army General who pleaded guilty twice to lying to FBI investigators about interaction with Russian contacts during Donald Trump’s transition into power in 2016, has received a full presidential pardon. Flynn, who led the Defense Intelligence Agency from 2021 to 2014 and became Trump’s National Security Advisor, was fired in February 2017.

Nov 25, 2020

The U.S. Department of Defense’s contract management office says “recent negative trends” in mishaps at three Boeing facilities have resulted in damage to military aircraft. Saying that incidents “far exceeds historical rates” and are “not consistent with expected performance,” the office cites, among other things, damage due to disregard for overhead clearances when moving aircraft.

Nov 25, 2020

MilSOFT, a privately-owned Turkish company says it has developed an artificial intelligence-based software which enables swarms of fixed-wing or rotary drones. “They are quick, cost-effective and easy to operate,” a Turkish government official says. “Most importantly, they are assets designed to minimize human loss in asymmetrical warfare.”

Nov 25, 2020

The U.S. Government Accountability Office reports that various military aircraft have not been ready to fly when needed for years. “The average annual mission capable rate . . . decreased since fiscal year 2011,” it says. Of 41 aircraft reviewed, only the Bell UH-1N Huey utility helicopter had been consistently available.

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