IN THE NEWS

IN THE NEWS

Feb 23, 2021

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Joe Biden used their first bilateral meeting to promise an “ambitious new partnership roadmap, based on shared values and priorities” as their governments address climate change, the post-pandemic world and China’s detention of two Canadians in December 2019. “Job One remains keeping people safe,” the PM said today after the virtual meeting.

Feb 23, 2021

The French navy’s third-generation nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine program is scheduled to deliver four boats, the first in 2035. The project will be managed by Naval Group and TechnicAtome, the latter as prime on the reactor element. Thales will develop a sonar suite.

Feb 23, 2021

Gary Walbourne, the former military ombudsman, has been called to testify before the House of Commons Standing Committee on National Defence about what the government knew about allegations of misconduct by Gen Jonathan Vance, the former Chief of the Defence Staff. Walbourne, who retired early in 2019, had declined an earlier invitation.

Feb 23, 2021

A Nova Scotia inquiry into the death of a former Army trooper who committed suicide after killing three family members in 2017 is shifting to the government’s handling of the case. Lionel Desmond of Halifax had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and a possible brain injury after a combat deployment in Afghanistan.

Feb 23, 2021

A report by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies warns that even if the U.S. manages to keep its allies from using Chinese telecommunications technology, Beijing’s “digital silk road” strategy enables China to burrow into those countries' economies and infrastructure, creating dependencies that may ultimately weaken alliance ties.

Feb 23, 2021

Saab has been chosen to develop technology which could enable drones to fly safely in European airplace near civil aircraft. Ann-Kristin Adolfsson, who leads business development and strategy at the Swedish firm’s aeronautics arm, says that “while the project focus is on military unmanned aircraft, the technology is fully applicable to also civil systems.”

Feb 23, 2021

The president of the Alabama-based shipbuilder, Austal USA, has resigned amid investigations by U.S. and Australian authorities into losses incurred from its involvement in the U.S. Navy’s littoral combat ship program. Craig Perciavalle been replaced for now by the company’s chief financial officer.

Feb 23, 2021

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is being sued by the families of U.S. military personnel killed by a Saudi air force officer training at a U.S. base in Florida in 2019. The suit filed Feb. 21 alleges that the Saudis knew the shooter had been radicalized and could have prevented the killings.

Feb 22, 2021

The projected cost of a new Canadian Coast Guard research vessel has ballooned to nearly $1 billion, according to Public Services and Procurement. The original estimate in 2008 was $108 million and the latest number is triple a 2016 estimate.

Feb 22, 2021

Effective today, most travellers arriving at Canadian airports are required to be quarantined in a hotel for three days at their own expense. They also must complete multiple COVID-19 tests before their arrival as well as on arrival and during and on completion of the quarantine period.

Feb 22, 2021

Lockheed Martin aeronautics vice president Gregory M. Ulmer says unit prices for the next three lots of F-35 fighters likely won’t be much, if any, lower than in the previous three when it fell slightly below $80 million for the first time. Ulmer said reduced procurement and increased capability will make it tough to keep costs “neutral.”

Feb 22, 2021

The new U.S. Secretary of Defense, former Army Gen Lloyd Austin III, wants NATO to help the U.S. counter a growing Chinese threat. He made the pitch during last week’s virtual meeting of the alliance’s defence ministers. “The United States is committed to defending the international rules-based order, which China has consistently undermined,” he said afterward. “NATO can help us better think through our operating concepts and investment strategies when it comes to meeting that challenge.”

Feb 22, 2021

U.S. President Joe Biden’s declaration during an online conference that “the transatlantic alliance is back” signalled a renewed commitment to NATO, but his French counterpart had a different message Feb. 19 for the Munich Security Conference. Emmanuel Macron, who described the alliance in November 2019 as “brain dead,” said he is looking for a new transatlantic “security architecture.”

Feb 22, 2021

Hundreds of thousands of protesters returned to the streets in Myanmar in one of the largest demonstrations against the country's recent military coup. Businesses closed as employees joined a general strike, despite a military statement that said protesters were risking their lives by turning out. At least two demonstrators were killed Feb. 21.

Feb 22, 2021

The U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Polar Star is back at its Seattle base after the first winter deployment of a U.S. government surface vessel since 1982. The only U.S. icebreaker rated for “heavy” ice, it transited the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea into the Chukchi Sea.

Feb 22, 2021

A Lockheed Martin anti-missile defense system is about to undergo extensive testing on U.S. Army tanks and other vehicles. The Modular Active Protection System includes sensors and countermeasures designed to detect, track and destroy rocket-propelled grenades and anti-tank guided missiles.

Feb 22, 2021

Sig Sauer Inc. is being sued by a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer seeking $10 million in damages arising from the accidental discharge of his P320 pistol. The former U.S. Marine alleges that “potentially deadly design defects” resulted in the holstered weapon firing a 9mm round into his leg.

Feb 22, 2021

A mid-year government review of Australia’s defence budget suggests that there has been little change since the figures were first published last October despite financial pressures from the country’s COIVD-19 effort. Procurement accounts for some 40 per cent of the $41.8-billion budget.

Feb 19, 2021

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced Feb. 18 that the alliance will expand its security training mission in Iraq in order to prevent it from becoming a haven for terrorists. “The size of our mission will increase from 500 personnel to around 4,000,” he said at the end of a two-day virtual meeting of defence ministers.

Feb 19, 2021

A massive hack that may have revealed government and industry secrets to Russia evidently has U.S. officials scrambling to reinforce cyber defences after acknowledging that the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency needs more resources to counter sophisticated attacks. “It's really highlighted the investments we need to make in cybersecurity to have the visibility to block these attacks,” says Anne Neuberger, newly-appointed Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber and Emergency Technology.

Feb 19, 2021

Britain’s ministry of defence has contracted with Suffolk-based Aeralis to continue development of a modular jet aircraft for potential Royal Air Force use. “Aeralis is focused on re-inventing how future military aircraft are developed and operated,” CEO Tristan Crawford said. The Deputy Chief of Defence Staff added that Aeralis’ innovative approach “offers the potential to break the capability cost curve that has dogged military fast jet programs for many generations.”

Feb 19, 2021

A replacement for the U.S. Air Force’s F-16 fighters is included in a study of its tactical fleets in preparation for the government’s 2023 budget. “If we have the capability to do something even more capable for cheaper and faster, why not?” asks Gen Charles Brown, the USAF Chief of Staff. “Let’s not just buy off the shelf; let’s actually take a look at something else out there that we can build.”

Feb 18, 2021

Saab’s proposal of its Gripen fighters as a replacement for Finland’s current Boeing F/A-18 Hornets is being supported by Swedish defence officials as an opportunity for unprecedented cooperation against any “aggressive moves” by Russia. April 30 is Finland’s deadline for final offers by Eurofighter; Dassault, Lockheed Martin and Saab.

Feb 17, 2021

A proposed House of Commons committee would have a mandate to scrutinize “all aspects” of Canada’s economic relationship with the U.S. A Conservative motion to create the committee was endorsed Feb. 16 by the Liberals, New Democratic Party and Bloc Québécois MPs in a 326-3 vote.

Feb 17, 2021

Aero Vodochody, a Czech aircraft maker based in Prague, has contracted to sell 12 L-39NG jet trainers to Vietnam’s Ministry of National Defence. Deliveries are scheduled for 2023-2024 but the value of the deal was not disclosed. The Czech Ministry of Defence certified the aircraft last last September.

Feb 16, 2021

The Canadian Armed Forces has a shortfall of several thousand troops as COVID-19 has been compelled it to curb recruit training. “It is too early to determine how the reduced number of recruitment files being processed during the pandemic will affect CAF operations in the medium to long term,” a spokesman says.

Feb 16, 2021

Design, construction and equipment challenges evidently mean that it will be at least another decades before the first of a planned 10 Surface Combatant ships enters services with the Royal Canadian Navy. Kevin McCoy, the outgoing president of Irving Shipbuilding, expects first steel to be cut by mid-2024 and “our build cycle will be seven and a half years.”

Feb 16, 2021

During a Feb. 17-18 virtual meeting with his NATO counterparts, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin plans to renew the long-standing call on allies to spend at least two per ceng of their gross domestic product on defence. A spokesman says “collective security is a shared responsibility” which must include “an adequate level of defense spending.”

Feb 16, 2021

The Taliban says NATO must withdraw its troops from Afghanistan by May or face a fresh insurgency.” Our message to the upcoming NATO ministerial meeting (Feb. 17-18) is that the continuation of occupation and war is neither in your interest nor in the interest of your and our people,” the militants said in a statement. “Anyone seeking extension of wars and occupation will be held liable for it just like the previous two decades.”

Feb 16, 2021

The U.S. F-35 joint program office says there is a shortage of Pratt & Whitney engines for the Lockheed Martin platform. A key maintenance centre has been unable to process engines as quickly as expected and “premature distress of rotor blade coatings” have been found in a “small number” of engine power modules.

Feb 16, 2021

The U.S. Supreme Court has been asked to rule that the military draft is unconstitutional because it applies only to a specific male demographic and excludes women. Among those who have signed a legal brief are a former National Security Agency director and nine former senior military officers.

Feb 16, 2021

Former British military personnel stripped of their medals because of their sexuality will be able to get them back after a Royal Navy veteran’s victory in a lengthy battle. The Feb. 15 announcement by Veterans Minister Johnny Mercer came nearly 21

Feb 16, 2021

Claude Carignan, a Quebec Conservative Senator, has complained to the Commission of Official Languages about the recent report on GovGen Julie Payette’s behaviour having been only in English. “Persons targeted by the investigation and the witnesses who participated in it must . . . be able to consult this report in the official language of their choice,” he said Feb. 15.

Feb 12, 2021

Indian and Chinese troops are being pulled out of a disputed part of their Himalayan border after “sustained talks” between the nuclear neighbours. Tensions have remained high after a clash last June which resulted in 20 Indian casualties and an unconfirmed number on the Chinese side.

Feb 12, 2021

Despite warnings by the international community that it was breaching a 2015 multinational agreement, Iran has begun producing uranium metal, one use of which is for weapons manufacturing. International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors verified the existence of 3.6 grams at a facility in Isfahan. Iran continues to insist that its aims are peaceful as it continues to argue about economic sanctions with the U.S., which withdrew from the agreement in 2018.

Feb 11, 2021

Citing a recent Russian buildup in the Black Sea, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has underscored the alliance’s commitment to Ukraine. “This includes more exercises, port visits, and information sharing,” he said during a Feb. 10 news conference with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Schmyhal. The PM announced the start of construction of two naval bases with British support and noted that an increased in his country’s defense budget to 5.93 per cent of gross domestic product is “the biggest allocations for defense and security” in years.

Feb 11, 2021

President Joe Biden has announced a review of how the U.S. is postured to deter China in the Pacific theatre. “It will require a whole of government efforts, bipartisan cooperation in Congress and strong alliances and partners,” he said Feb. 10. “That is how we will meet the China challenge.”

Feb 11, 2021

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the procurement of more Polish-built Sikorsky S-70 Black Hawk helicopters as replacements for his air force’s 1960s Bell UH-1 Hueys. The first five aircraft of an earlier order for 16 were delivered in November by PZL Mielec, a Lockheed Martin subsidiary.

Feb 11, 2021

A prototype high-energy weapons for use against drones by U.S. Special Forces is the goal of a new Army project. “The primary opportunity and purpose of this effort is to integrate a government owned High Energy Laser subsystem with a power and thermal subsystem and sensor package to demonstrate increased lethality,” the Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office says in calling for proposals.

Feb 10, 2021

Manitoba MP James Bezan remains the Conservatives’ defence critic in the House of Commons after Opposition Leader Erin O’Toole shuffled his roster of critics today. Ontario MPs John Barrie and Michael Chong remain, respectively, the veterans affairs and foreign affairs critics. The shadow cabinet shuffle affected about a dozen members of the caucus, the most significant being O’Toole’s decision to reassign Ottawa-area MP Pierre Poilievre from his finance critic to a jobs-and-industry role. Poilievre is succeeded by B.C. MP Ed Fast.

Feb 10, 2021

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau evidently is disinclined to update federal whistleblower legislation which makes it illegal for civil servants to publicly flag internal wrongdoings. While conceding that it is “extremely important” to have a workplace free from inappropriate behaviour, he declined Feb. 9 to explain his reluctance to improve protections. “The level of transparency and confidence a government can give Canadians in constantly improving and constantly doing better and sharing what we need to do to improve is something we have always been committed to.”

Feb 10, 2021

Allegations of inappropriate behaviour by the former Chief of the Defence Staff, Army Gen Jonathan Vance, are to be investigated by the House of Commons defence committee at the instigation of Conservative members. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and other senior officials will be called as witnesses.

Feb 10, 2021

Days after the U.S. began limiting some military sales to Saudi Arabia, it has been confirmed that Britain signed off on arms exports worth nearly £1.4 billion in the third quarter of 2020. The government had imposed a moratorium in June 2019 after a court ruling raised concerns that some weapons could be used in violation of international humanitarian law.

Feb 10, 2021

An air-launched drone which carries its own weapons to attack multiple targets is the goal of a new proposal by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. A DARPA official says the LongShot concept, by enabling piloted host aircraft to loiter at a distance, would change “the paradigm of air combat operations.” First-phase contracts have been awarded to General Atomics, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.

Feb 10, 2021

Nothrop Grumman CEO Kathy Warden says more defence sector mergers and acquisitions can be expected over the next two decades as industry deals with rapid development of new technologies. “There will also be more new entrants, and so it’s hard to say there will be fewer players,” she says, “but the ones that exist today will likely continue to consolidate as we have seen in recent years and we’ve seen in other cycles.”

Feb 10, 2021

Canadian Security Intelligence Service Director David Vigneault says China is undermining Canada through its efforts to steal valuable technology and silence critics of Beijing's policies. “The government . . . is pursuing a strategy for geopolitical advantage on all fronts” and is “using all events, all elements of state power, to carry out activities that are a direct threat to our national security and sovereignty.”

Feb 10, 2021

Canadian officials are reviewing a recording in which a man identified as Iran’s foreign affairs minister is heard discussing the possibility that the January 2020 shooting down of a Ukrainian airliner with many Canadian passengers was intentional. Mohammad Javad Zarif, is heard saying that while a deliberate attack involving two or three “infiltrators” was “not at all unlikely,” his government would not disclose details because that could “open some doors into the defence systems of the country that will not be in the interest of the nation to publicly say.”

Feb 10, 2021

Effective Feb. 15, anyone arriving in Canada must have had a negative COVID-19 test result within the 72 hours prior to their arrival. In announcing the policy, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Feb. 9 that while the government cannot prevent Canadians from returning to the country at a land border, even without a test, they can be fined up to $3,000 for non-compliance.

Feb 09, 2021

After focusing for decades mainly on traditional training platforms, CAE is moving to diversify into the cyber and space realms. Dan Gelston, who took over CAE’s its defence and security business unit last August, also is looking to partner with defence primes early in new competitions for contracts as national defence budgets shrink.

Feb 09, 2021

The head of U.S. Central Command says the proliferation of small and cheap commercial drones is the “most concerning tactical development” in Iraq since the advent of improvised explosive devices. Marine Gen Kenneth McKenzie says the threat is amplified by the lack of dependable countermeasures.

Feb 09, 2021

Airbus and Thales have signed a €160 million contract to provide the French armed forces with their first joint tactical signals intelligence system. Initial deliveries are expected in 2023, setting up for full operational capabilities by 2025.

Feb 09, 2021

Denis McDonough, the White House Chief of Staff during the second half of President Barack Obama’s administration, has been confirmed as Secretary of Veterans Affairs at a time when a major departmental overhaul is planned. His immediate priority is “getting our veterans through this pandemic”, which has seen more than 210,000 test positive for COVID-19 and more than 9,300 die.

Feb 09, 2021

The federal government is being urged by the Toronto-based Centre for Free Expression to amend whistleblower protection legislation. “Study after study has confirmed that insider tips . . . are the most effective way of detecting misconduct in organizations,” CFE Senior Fellow Ian Bron told the House of Commons Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates Feb. 1.

Feb 08, 2021

The new U.S. administration will not lift its predecessor’s ban on Turkey buying Lockheed Martin F-35 fighters unless Ankara’s abandons its Russian air-defence system. “Turkey is a longstanding and valued NATO ally, but their decision to purchase the S-400 is inconsistent with Turkey’s commitments as a U.S. and NATO ally,” the Pentagon reiterated Feb. 6. “The S-400 is incompatible with the F-35 and Turkey has been suspended from that program.”

NATO chooses France for space CoE
Feb 08, 2021

The southern city of Toulouse, already home to France’s national space studies centre and some Airbus space programs, has been chosen for NATO’s new centre for excellence in military space programs. Germany had also lobbied to host the CoE.

Feb 08, 2021

Virtually all personnel at U.S. military installations now must wear masks indoors and outdoors as well as practising social distancing as the Department of Defense steps up efforts to contain COIVID-19. An earlier directive essentially ignored outdoor activities.

Feb 08, 2021

More than 1,000 troops are being deployed to five COVID-19 vaccination centres, the first step in the new administration’s campaign to have at least 100 million citizens vaccinated in the first 100 days of Joe Biden’s presidency. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has asked the Pentagon to supply as many as 10,000 personnel to staff 100 centres.

Feb 08, 2021

President Joe Biden says the U.S. will not lift economic sanctions against Iran until it complies with a multinational nuclear agreement from which his predecessor withdrew in 2018. However, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, says negotiations will only resume if the U.S. lifts its sanctions.

Feb 06, 2021

Chinese coast guard vessels entered Japanese territorial waters near the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands today. After approaching two Japanese fishing boats, the Chinese vessels moved out and joined two others in contiguous waters.

Feb 06, 2021

U.S. President Joe Biden said his predecessor’s “erratic behaviour” should preclude him from having access to classified intelligence briefings. “What impact does he have at all, other than the fact he might slip and say something?” Biden responded rhetorically when asked about the possibility of the historical practice continuing.

Feb 06, 2021

The International Criminal Court, which has never been recognized by the U.S., is claiming jurisdiction over territories occupied by Israel after the 1967 Mideast war. The decision opens up the prospect of investigations into alleged war crimes by Israel. Washington has expressed “serious concerns” about the court’s “attempts to exercise its jurisdiction over Israeli personnel.”

Feb 05, 2021

The Canadian Armed Forces reservist arrested on the grounds of Government House last July after ramming the main gates with his truck pleaded guilty today to eight charges. The charges against Manitoba resident Correy Hurren included possessing firearms for “a purpose dangerous to the public peace.”

Feb 05, 2021

In a Feb. 4 speech to the U.S. diplomatic community, President Joe Biden announced a policy reset at home and abroad, effectively moving to undo many of his predecessor’s initiatives. “America is back,” he said during a State Department visit, hoping “to begin the habits of cooperation and rebuilding the muscles of democratic alliances that have atrophied from four years of neglect and abuse.” He also announced an end to U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s offensive operations in Yemen.

Feb 04, 2021

Renewal of the 2010 New START nuclear arms treaty is an opportunity for the U.S. to press for “verifiable limits” on Russian strategic weapons, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Feb. 3. “Extending the . . . treaty makes the United States, U.S. allies and partners, and the world safer” because “unconstrained nuclear competition would endanger us all.”

Feb 04, 2021

The U.S. Army’s senior commander in Europe, Gen Christopher Cavoli, says the region “absolutely” needs a multidomain task force, a concept proposed several years ago but which has evolved largely as a training environment. The strategy would address potential conflict with near-peer adversaries across air, land, sea, space and cyberspace.

Feb 04, 2021

A short-range nuclear-capable ballistic missile was tested by Pakistan’s Army Strategic Forces Command Feb. 3 in “the culminating point” of an annual field exercise. With a claimed range of approximately 180 miles, it is designed to counter threats from its nuclear-equipped neighbour.

Feb 04, 2021

The F-15EX Eagle, an advanced version of the fighter that entered service in 1974, has had a successful first flight, a 90-minute test which the company says “proves the jet’s safety and readiness to join our nation’s fighter fleet. Boeing says the aircraft’s “digital backbone” and open architecture permit incorporation of the latest advanced battle management systems, sensors and weapons.

Feb 04, 2021

Adm Art McDonald, the Chief of the Defence Staff, says allegations of inappropriate behaviokur by his predecessor, Gen Jonathan Vance, will be formally investigated. “I fear that situations like these erode the trust you have in leadership,” he said in a department-wide statement Feb. 3. “As this situation unfolds and we learn more, I promise to be open and transparent in communicating with you.” One of the allegations is that the former CDS had a long relationship, which he said was platonic, with a subordinate.

Feb 04, 2021

The accidental discharge of a SIG Sauer P320 pistol, a new issue for the Canadian Special operations Forces Command, has been withdrawn from service after a member of Joint Task Force 2 suffered a flesh wound to one leg. The newly-disclosed Nov. 5 incident occurred during training at an Ottawa-area firing range. Pending a review, the troops will revert to their older P226s.

Feb 03, 2021

Kathleen Hicks, U.S. President Joe Biden’s nominee as Deputy Secretary of Defense, says she is concerned by the consolidation of arms manufacturers and suppliers. “Some consolidation is probably inevitable,” she said during Senate confirmation hearings. “The Defense Department isn't sized . . . in many areas to maintain a large base, but extreme consolidation does create challenges for innovation.”

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