IN THE NEWS

IN THE NEWS

Sep 08, 2020

U.S. Air Force trainee pilots who will be flying the single-seat Lockheed Martin F-35 are being trained on decades-old instruments and techniques. “Our training system hasn't fundamentally changed, probably in six decades,” a senior USAF officer acknowledges. “We don't want to throw out the things that work, but the question is: in the 21st century, is it right that our primary training techniques still revolve around putting a poster on a wall and pretending we're flying an airplane?”

Sep 08, 2020

The International Atomic Energy Agency says Iran has a 2,105kg stockpile of enriched uranium, more than 10 times the amount permitted under the terms of a 2015 agreement. Iran, which insists its development is for peaceful purposes, began reneging on its commitment after the U.S. abandoned the deal which also involved Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.

Sep 08, 2020

In an attempt to reduce tensions in a disputed border region, defence ministers from India and China met in Moscow l4 September. Rajnath Singh said that recent Chinese buildup and aggression had violated an agreement but that his meeting with Gen Wei Fenghe was designed to ensure that the situation “should be handled responsibly and neither side should take any further action that could either complicate the situation or escalate matters.”

Sep 04, 2020

Unpublished research prepared for an Afghan Peace Dialogue Project at Queen’s University in Ireland indicates that many Taliban prisoners released as part of a deal brokered by the U.S. have been returning to the insurgency. It has found that they were “participating in combat, being killed fighting, being taken prisoner and one case of an ex-prisoner being involved with revenge assassinations.”

Sep 04, 2020

Microsoft has again been awarded the U.S. Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud computing contract – but the journey may not be over yet. The latest decision by the Department of Defense follows a 10-month legal battle challenge by Amazon after Microsoft was awarded the original contract. Amazon could continue an outstanding protest before the Court of Federal Claims.

Sep 04, 2020

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan is being pressed by a major human rights lobby to have all suspected acts of racism and white supremacy in the Canadian Armed Forces handled by a special internal task force or the RCMP. “We need to end this culture of tolerance for neo-Nazis and neo-Nazi activities within our Armed Forces and it needs to be done now,” said Jaime Kirzner Roberts, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Toronto, after a teleconference with Sajjan.

Sep 04, 2020

A survey of U.S. troops indicates widespread concern that white nationalism presents a national security threat on par with al-Qaida and the Islamic State and more worrisome that dangers posed by North Korea, Afghanistan or Iraq. Approximately one-third of troops surveyed had reported signs of white supremacy or racism in the ranks.

Sep 04, 2020

There evidently is growing unease in the U.S. and among its NATO allies about the prospect of a complete U.S. withdrawal from the alliance if President Donald Trump is re-elected in November. Former senior national security officials in his administration are said to be warning that Russia would welcome a withdrawal, which would be one of the largest global strategic shifts in generations.

Sep 04, 2020

Career federal public servant Lisa Campbell has been appointed president of the Canadian Space Agency, succeeding Sylvain Laporte, who led the CSA since 2015. Campbell comes from a senior position in Veterans Affairs and previously had spent three years at Public Services and Procurement as its assistant deputy minister for defence and marine procurement.

Sep 04, 2020

The Norwegian port of Tromsø has been improved to accommodate more visits by U.S.Navy nuclear submarines, facilitating closer monitoring of Russia’s northern fleet movements into the North Atlantic. Some 306 km above the Arctic Circle, Tromsø has a relatively moderate climate due to the influence of the Gulf Stream.

Sep 04, 2020

Despite confirmation by senior U.S. military officials, President Donald Trump is dismissing as “fake news” published accusations that he disparaged troops who had been captured or killed in battle. Among other things, he is reported to have cancelled a visit to a U.S. cemetery in France because it was “filled with losers” and called one group of casualties “suckers.” Trump infamously questioned the record of the late Republican Senator, John McCain, who was captured during the Vietnam War, saying he liked “people who weren’t captured.”

Sep 04, 2020

A New U.S. Marine Corps facility currently under construction in Quantio, Va., has been designed to run classified wargaming scenarios to deal with increasingly technology-sophisticated enemies. Once the facility opens in 2024, the Corps plans more than a dozen wargames annually, including two which would involve 250 personnel.

Sep 03, 2020

Canada’s Air Task Force–Romania has received its NATO readiness certification at Romanian Air Force Base Mihail Kogalniceanu, enabling it to begin its enhanced air policing mission 5 September under the umbrella of Operation REASSURANCE. Some 135 RCAF personnel and six Boeing CF-188 Hornets will help to secure the country’s airspace until December.

Sep 03, 2020

Walter Reid National Military Medical Center in Maryland is one of several U.S. sites chosen by the Department of Defense for Phase 3 clinical trials of a COVID-19 vaccine contender. The others are in Virginia, Texas and California. The British-based multinational, AstraZeneca, which developed the vaccine in collaboration with Oxford University researchers and is already undertaking late-stage trials in Brazil, Britain and South Africa, hopes to recruit 30,000 volunteers for the U.S. test.

Sep 03, 2020

Peter Jennings, Executive Director of the independent Australian Strategic Policy Institute, considers Canada “a valuable player” in the Indo-Pacific region but would like to see more military presence and cooperation with countries in the region. “We should be doing a better job is talking to each other more effectively on issues like China,” he says. “We must share internal thinking about how we are going to deal with the problem of this assertive, authoritarian state.”

Sep 03, 2020

As the U.S. Navy shifted increasingly to remote work for many personnel early in the COVID-19 pandemic, its chief information says there was a jump in malicious cyber activity. Aaron Weis says it began with basic phishing activity but ramped up to spoofing and outright attacks from ostensibly “trustworthy” sources even after the U.S. deployed countermeasures.

Sep 03, 2020

Airbus and its Satair Group subsidiary have completed the absorption of one of the last pieces of Bombardier’s engagement with the A220, its spare parts distribution. Airbus acquired Bombardier’s part of the A220 aircraft program, developed as the CSeries passenger jet, last January, but the Montreal company continued to purchase, stock, sell and distribute spares.

Sep 03, 2020

A new type of fragmentation bomb designed to diminish the risk of unexploded legacy cluster munitions has been tested by the U.S. Air Force. “The operational tests were designed to gather data to determine the operational performance of the BLU-136,” says LCol Daniel Lambert, adding that the data would to demonstrate the 2,000lb weapon’s viability as an alternative.

Sep 03, 2020

The U.S. and Russia both have indicated a willingness to extend the New START nuclear pact before it expires next February, but a Pentagon official says it’s now up to Russia to deal with U.S. proposals. The U.S. said during recent talks in Vienna that it would consider an extended deadline if Russia’s range of unconstrained nonstrategic nuclear weapons and the implementation of stronger verification measures were included. The U.S. also has suggested the eventual inclusion of China in the treaty but Beijing has said it’s not interested and Moscow is disinclined to put pressure on China. 

Sep 03, 2020

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Urusky says a recent visit to Turkey is part of a push toward increased defence sector cooperation between the NATO Black Sea neighbours. The possibilities evidently include development of a new aircraft engine and co-production of the Antonov AN-178 heavy transport.

Sep 03, 2020

Oracle Corp. has lost its latest legal challenge of how the U.S. Department of Defense awarded a multi-billion-dollar cloud-computing contract for its Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure. The contract originally was awarded to Microsoft after a competition with Amazon Web Services, but Oracle contended that the contract requirements had been tailored to the other companies’ advantage.

Sep 03, 2020

The new U.S. Air Force chief of staff, Gen Charles Brown, says budget pressures likely will require major reductions in the range of platforms the USAF flies in the next couple of years as it reorganises to meet “near-peer” foreign competition. Calling it “the most difficult force structure decisions in generations,” he says the USAF must divest or take risk in legacy missions and capabilities.

Sep 03, 2020

Colorado-based AMERGINT Technologies Holdings has completed the purchase of Collins Aerospace’s space-based optics business from Raytheon Technologies, renaming the business Danbury Mission Technologies. The divestiture was required by the Justice Department when it approved the merger of Raytheon and United Technologies in March.

Sep 02, 2020

Senior officers of the International Criminal Court, including its chief prosecutor, are being sanction by the U.S. for what Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says are “illegitimate attempts to subject Americans to its jurisdiction.” Created by the UN in 2002 and never recognized by the U.S., which calls it a “corrupted institution,” the ICC is currently investigating whether U.S. forces committed war crimes in Afghanistan.

Sep 02, 2020

A 59-year-old retired U.S. Marine has just graduated from Army basic training, a prerequisite for entry to the Army Reserve. SSgt Monte Gould, who served in Afghanistan in 2004, retired in 2009 to spend more time with his family but then sought to re-enlist when things quieted down. “For some of these kids, I’m older than their grandparents,” he points out.

Sep 02, 2020

The Department of Defense says that the U.S. is falling behind China in shipbuilding and missiles. It also says in its latest annual China Military Power report that while much of China’s modernization remains a work in progress, it could rival the U.S. militarily by mid-century.

Sep 02, 2020

First flight of the Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider long-range strike bomber has been postponed by the U.S. Air Force to no earlier than 2022 rather than late next year as originally scheduled. USAF Force MGen Mark Weatherington says, however, that initial operation could happen earlier than expected if eventual deliveries are accelerated. The B-21 is part of an initiative to modernize the entire bomber fleet, much of which has been flying for decades.

Sep 02, 2020

After a fatal crash in British Columbia 17 May resulted in their grounding, the first of the RCAF’s Snowbirds demonstration squadron returned to their Saskatchewan base 01 September. The rest of the team is expected to return within the next week. The crash, which resulted in the death of the team’s public affairs officer, has been attributed to a bird strike on takeoff from Kamloops during a cross-country tour.

Sep 02, 2020

CAE USA Mission Solutions, a Florida-based unit of Montreal-based CAE’s U.S. subsidiary, has been awarded a contract to support Special Operations Forces' Global Situational Awareness initiative. The contract will facilitate research and development as well as prototyping software which could enhance readiness and interoperability with allied forces.

Sep 01, 2020

Prince Fahad bin Turki has been relieved of command of joint forces in a Saudi-led coalition fighting rebels in Yemen and his son has been removed as deputy governor of a northern Saudi province. They and four military officers are being investigated for alleged corruption.

Sep 01, 2020

Dr. Victoria Coleman, an artificial intelligence and microelectronics specialist, is the new director of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. She previously had been the inaugural chief executive office of Atlas AI, a 2018 California startup company.

Sep 01, 2020

California-based Capella Space has successfully deployed the first satellite in a planned private-sector constellation of 36 designed to offer global on-demand synthetic aperture radar imagery for a broad range of civil and defence applications. The Palo Alto company plans to cover the Middle East, the Korean Peninsula, Japan, Europe, Southeast Asia, Africa and North America.

Aug 31, 2020

U.S. Army Gen Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has told Congress that his forces will have no role in November’s presidential election or in resolving disputed results. He was effectively responding to suggestions by the incumbent that mail ballots will make the vote “fraudulent” and he might not accept the results if he loses. “In the event of a dispute over some aspect of the elections, by law U.S. courts and the U.S. Congress are required to resolve any disputes, not the U.S. military,” he replied to questions from Democratic members of the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee.

Aug 31, 2020

The U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency plans to call for bids within the new few weeks on an $11.7-billion sole-source information technology contract to be awarded in 2021. The goal is “common-use IT systems” which would cover infrastructure, networking and cybersecurity as the Pentagon consolidates its agencies.

Aug 28, 2020

The recent virtual dogfight between an F-16 pilot and an artificial intelligence enemy is seen by an expert on unmanned systems as evidence of a “need to be thinking harder about the changes that smart machines are bringing to the battlefield.” Current U.S. policy requires human oversight of autonomous weapons but Zachary Kallenborn says the long-term outlook is unclear as robotics and AI evolve.

Aug 28, 2020

The U.S. Navy is turning to cloud-based technology to improve how it identifies corrosion on its ships with a view to enhancing predictive maintenance. Google vice-president Mike Daniels says the technology facilitates rapid examination of thousands of images and while physical inspection remains the norm, the USN stands to save “billion” of dollars annually and improve its fleets’ readiness by using artificial intelligence-supported drones to capture images.

Aug 28, 2020

A U.S. Army unit has been given permission to reboot an advisory mission in Colombia after the country’s Senate concluded that the mission does not constitute deployment of foreign troops. A court had ordered to government to suspend the mission in July after opposition legislators filed suit.

Aug 28, 2020

Shinzo Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, has announced that he plans to resign for health reasons as soon as a successor is chosen. The 65-year-old, who has strengthen his country’s defence capabilities since 2012, has suffered for many years from ulcerative colitis.

Aug 28, 2020

An unspecified number of Chinese officials and business executives the U.S. says are responsible for Beijing’s military buildup in the South China Sea are the target of new travel restrictions which might also apply to immediate family members.

Aug 27, 2020

The U.S. embassy in Ottawa is commending “the service and sacrifice of our Canadian allies” after a top White House adviser criticized the Canadian Armed Forces’ role in Afghanistan. In his capacity as acting ambassador, Chargé d’Affaires Richard Mills has issued a statement that his country “deeply values the service and sacrifice of our Canadian allies in support of the defense of freedom and global security.”

Aug 27, 2020

As part of a move “to create a more inclusive environment within the workplaces”, the Royal Canadian Navy has chosen new English junior rank designations. Effective in early September, Ordinary, Able, Leading and Master seamen will be Sailor Third Class, Second Class, First Class and Master Sailor, respectively.

Aug 27, 2020

EllisDon Construction Services of Edmonton has been awarded a $9.2-million contract to design of a new fighter facility at 4 Wing Cold Lake, one of two main operating bases for Canada’s future fighter aircraft. A contract for a new facility at 3 Wing Bagotville is expected to be awarded in September.

Aug 27, 2020

The U.S. Navy is being warned that inadequate repair capacity and a looming change in U.S. Navy combatant ship requirements could force the industry to rethink its construction and maintenance roles, a panel of officials has warned. RAdm Eric Ver Hage, Navy Regional Maintenance Center commander and Director of Surface Ship Maintenance and Modernization agreed that “we don’t have enough capacity for peacetime,” let alone during wartime.

Aug 27, 2020

The latest iteration of the Patriot missile system used by the U.S. Army and several allies misfired during an 20 August test of the Lockheed Martin hardware at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

Aug 27, 2020

Peter Navarro, a senior advisor to President Donald Trump, says disparaging comments about Canadian Armed Forces personnel who served alongside U.S. troops in Afghanistan were taken out of context. He says the comments recorded on audio and included a new book were part of a discussion about Canada-U.S. trade issues.

Aug 27, 2020

International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors are being granted access to two suspected former nuclear sites in Iran. The country says its about-face, announced 26 August during a visit by IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi, should resolve a number of issues.

Aug 26, 2020

More than 40,000 Canadian Armed Forces personnel were deployed to Afghanistan in the 12 years after the 2011 terrorist attacks in the U.S., including 158 who died, but a senior advisor to U.S. President Donald Trump is reportedly dismissive of their contribution. “Were they doing us a favour, or were they brought into the idea they needed to do that as part of the global effort against terrorists?” Peter Navarro is quoted as saying in a new book. “If they were just doing us a favour, maybe their government should have been thrown out of office.” Former Chief of the Defence Staff Gen Rick Hillier calls the comments insulting.

Aug 25, 2020

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says his department is investigating its counterintelligence branch’s handling of the case of two B.C. members of the Canadian Rangers with ties to foreign far-right organizations.

Aug 25, 2020

A full-sized autonomous ship developed by a global consortium of partners is scheduled to transit the North Atlantic next spring. Monitored remotely by a team of engineers and other specialists, the Mayflower will rely on artificial intelligence and solar power for the voyage from Plymouth, England, to Plymouth, Mass., which is expected to take two weeks.

Aug 25, 2020

The U.S. Marine Corps is enhancing close-combat capabilities with an array of new arms while working with the Army and Special Operations Command on future to pursue next-generation capabilities. A spokesman says that nearly two decades of counterinsurgency in the Middle East against lightly armed militants, the government’s latest defence strategy has turned U.S. attention to more potent adversaries.

Aug 25, 2020

Maintaining military might, improving support for veterans, eradicating “global terrorism” and ending the U.S. involvement in “endless wars” are at the heart of President Donald Trump’s bid to retain power in November’s election. In another repetition from his 2015 platform, he also vowed to “get allies to pay their fair share” of military alliances.

Aug 24, 2020

Rafael Grossi, the Argentinian diplomat who heads the International Atomic Energy Agency, is expected to visit Tehran this week to press for access to sites where the country is thought to have stored or used undeclared nuclear material. He says he hopes “to establish . . . direct dialogue with the Iranian government which will be valuable now and in the future.” A 2015 multinational deal with Iran has been shaky since the U.S. withdrew and began imposing economic sanctions in 2018.

Aug 24, 2020

Lockheed Martin should begin full production of its F-35 Lightning II fighters by March 2021, according to Ellen Lord, U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisitions and Sustainment. She says she is “confident” that the company is catching up after a series of delays to comply with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 guidelines “to make sure we had a safe working environment.”

Aug 24, 2020

The 2020 Snowbirds demonstration schedule has been cancelled but the Tudor fleet is cleared to return to flying operations with increased maintenance requirements.

Aug 24, 2020

Sound intelligence was behind Canada’s decision not to participate in the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, according to a recently-published research paper. The U.S. and Britain justified their decision on grounds that Saddam Hussein’s government had developed “weapons of mass destruction” but the paper’s author, who was involved in the early intelligence effort, says the pro-invasion intelligence was “flawed.”

Aug 24, 2020

Allegations by Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko that “foreign powers” are organising a troop buildup on his country's border, are being dismissed as “baseless” by NATO. Europe’s last dictator, who is facing widespread protests that his recent reelection was fraudulent, donned military fatigues for his announcement that his forces are on “high alert” for a possible invastion by neighbouring Poland and Lithuania.

Aug 24, 2020

All branches of the U.S. military evidently are wrestling with pilot shortages but the Army is addressing the issue by requiring its prospective flyers to serve at least a decade after graduation from training. This is four years longer than the previous commitment and brings the Army requirement into line with the Air Force.

Aug 24, 2020

Former Veterans Affairs Minister Erin O’Toole is the new leader of the Conservative Party, defeating former National Defence Minister Peter MacKay on a third ballot of the mail-in election. O’Toole eventually defeated MacKay by winning 57 per cent of the points required to MacKay’s 43 per cent. Toronto lawyer Leslyn Lewis, the first black woman to run for the leadership, finished third, while Ontario MP Derek Sloan finished fourth, having dropped off after the first ballot.

Aug 21, 2020

The Army reservist arrested after a July security breach at the Governor General’s residence made a brief court appearance by video 21 August but remains in custody pending a September hearing. It has been reported that Manitoba resident Corey Hurren, who faces 22 criminal charges in connection with the incident, was the focus of a Department of National Defence internal review.

Aug 21, 2020

British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace has confirmed that the Royal Navy will lead a multinational training initiative for the Ukrainian navy. Scheduled to begin in early fall, Canada, Denmark and Sweden will also be involved, and the U.S. will provide “security assistance.”

Aug 21, 2020

A UN Security Council refusal to endorse an extension of the U.S. arms embargo on Iran has prompted Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to exercise what says is his country’s right to reimpose the sanctions. The so-called “snapback” mechanism is tethered to the nuclear deal brokered between world powers and Iran in 2015, which the U.S. administration quit on grounds that the deal didn’t do enough to curb Iran’s regional agenda and malign activities.

Aug 21, 2020

An artificial intelligence “pilot” developed by a small U.S. company has soundly defeated a U.S. Air Force F-16 pilot in simulated dogfights organized by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The AI beat its human opponent 5-0 in tests over three days.

Aug 21, 2020

Effective in September, U.S. government agencies will be able to buy small unmanned aerial systems which have been proven secure. The selection of five suppliers is designed to give agencies what the Defense Innovation Unit calls “an alternative to Chinese-made small drones.

Aug 20, 2020

As it has in other countries, the COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in more government employees working from home on unclassified information but U.S. agencies are considering a move onto classified telework. “We’ve put a tremendous more amount of capability out there with respect to how to deal with classified missions, both on premise and off,” says Stephen Wallace, a systems innovation scientist at the Defense Information Systems Agency’s Emerging Technology Directorate.

Aug 20, 2020

Israel is pushing back against suggestions that the United Arab Emirates should be permitted to acquire Lockheed Martin F-35 fighters. The notion comes in the aftermath of the recent Israel-UAE peace agreement. “The U.S. has made it clear that it will always take strict care to maintain Israel's qualitative edge”, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office. (President Donald Trump, acknowledging during a media briefing 19 August that the UAE has expressed interest in the F-35, said “they’ve definitely got the money to pay for it.”)

Aug 20, 2020

Ignoring U.S. calls for Iran to stop its missile development programs, Defence Minister Amir Hatami has unveiled a cruise missile and a surface-to-surface ballistic missile with claimed ranges of 1,000 and 1,400 kilometres, respectively. “Missiles and particularly cruise missiles are very important for us,” President Hassan Rouhani said, adding that “our military might and missile programmes are defensive.”

Aug 20, 2020

As the U.S. Air Force readies for the arrival of next-generation Boeing F-15EX fighters in 2022, it is revising its 1960s anthropometric specifications to accommodate more female pilots. USAF Service Acquisition Executive Will Roper says that by deploying a system normally tailored to male pilots, the USAF could shut out promising potential pilots or other aircrew.

Aug 20, 2020

Two British members of the Islamic State charged with murdering Western hostages in Iraq and Syria would not be sentenced to death if found guilty, the U.S. says. Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, stripped of their citizenship and now in U.S. military custody in Iraq, have been at the centre of a legal dispute which has stalled progress, but U.S. Attorney General William Barr has told U.K. Home Secretary Priti Patel that if a U.S. court did opt for capital punishment, “it will not be carried out.”

Aug 19, 2020

The first of 16 H125s configured for U.S. Customs and Border Protection Services’ air and marine operations has been delivered by Airbus Helicopters in Texas. The rest are to be built at a Missouri plant where 40 per cent of the workforce are military veterans.

Aug 19, 2020

Problems in some sectors could cause the U.S. to “panic and hand out blank checks to defense contractors,” say two senior members of Congress who have been concerned about a “lack of detail” in the Department of Defense’s stimulus funding request. However, the DoD has provied details which evidently made it clear that “essential” sectors, including shipbuilding and aerospace, need $11 billion in extra funding to support more than 100,000 direct jobs.

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