IN THE NEWS

IN THE NEWS

Aug 05, 2020

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

Aug 05, 2020

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

Aug 05, 2020

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

Aug 05, 2020

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

Aug 05, 2020

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

Aug 04, 2020

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

Aug 04, 2020

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

Aug 04, 2020

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

Aug 04, 2020

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

Aug 04, 2020

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

Aug 04, 2020

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

Aug 04, 2020

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

Aug 04, 2020

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

Jul 31, 2020

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

Jul 31, 2020

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

Jul 31, 2020

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

Jul 31, 2020

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

Jul 31, 2020

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

Jul 30, 2020

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

Jul 30, 2020

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

Jul 30, 2020

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

Jul 29, 2020

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

Jul 29, 2020

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

Jul 29, 2020

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

Jul 29, 2020

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

Jul 29, 2020

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

Jul 29, 2020

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

Jul 28, 2020

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

Jul 27, 2020

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

Jul 27, 2020

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

Jul 27, 2020

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

Jul 27, 2020

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

Jul 27, 2020

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

Jul 27, 2020

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

Jul 27, 2020

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

Jul 24, 2020

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

Jul 23, 2020

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

Jul 23, 2020

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

Jul 23, 2020

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

Jul 23, 2020

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

Jul 22, 2020

In a move being watched closely by other countries’ militaries, the U.S. Army is soliciting industry feedback on its latest attempt to replace its M2 Bradley Fighting Fleet. The proposed Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle is the Army’s fourth attempt to kickstart the project which has been plagued with confusion and controversy.

Jul 22, 2020

The government has confirmed that Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan received a COVID-19 briefing from military intelligence staff 10 days before it was discussed by the Prime Minister’s incident response team. The briefing 17 January took place 17 days after the World Health Organization learned of initial outbreaks in China. 

Jul 21, 2020

Austria’s legacy fleet of 15 Eurofighter Typhoons has caught the eye of Indonesian defence minister Prabowo Subianto. In a letter to his Austrian counterpart, Klaudia Tanner, he says he wants to negotiate the purchase of the aircraft to help modernize his country’s air force. Austria had announced in 2017 that it be retiring the fleet this year.

Jul 21, 2020

Seven top-tier aerospace companies have been recruited to the BAE Systems team tasked with leading development of Britain’s next-generation fighter. It has been two years since a mockup of the proposed Tempest was unveiled at the Farnborough show. The Ministry of Defence also has announced that another BAE-led partnership would begin investigating requirements for a future combat air system.

Jul 21, 2020

A month after the British defence ministry called for tenders for the next phase of its Skynet satellite communications system, the first element has been signed off. The £500 million first contract in the multi-billion-Pound project calls for Airbus Defense and Space to build a new satellite as a stop gap until the next-generation Skynet begins operations towards the end of the decade.

Jul 21, 2020

After the U.S. ousted Turkey from the Joint Strike Fighter program over concerns about security issues arising from the NATO country’s purchase of Russian missile technology, it was confirmed 20 July that the initial eight Lockheed Martin F-35s built for Turkey, which had planned to buy 100, would be purchased by the U.S. Air Force. A new contract includes modifications to USAF specifications.

Jul 21, 2020

A military intelligence team collected information from individual Canadians’ social media accounts in Ontario, ostensibly to help the Canadian Armed Forces personnel deployed temorarily to long-term care facilities as a COVID-19 response. However, critics, including from within the CAF, are reportedly concerned that the now suspended data-mining was unethical and borderline illegal.

Jul 20, 2020

Heidi Grant, the long-time deputy undersecretary of international affairs at the U.S. Air Force, has been tabbed as the new head of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which oversees weapons exports. The first civilian to run the office since it was created in 1998, she will succeed Army LGen Charles Hooper, who is retiring.

Jul 20, 2020

USN Adm. James Foggo III, a former commander of the U.S. 6th Fleet and a major advocate for NATO, says the alliance needs to push back more vigorously against Russia if the West doesn’t want to lose dominance of the Euro-Atlantic region. The son of a Canadian officer stationed in Germany in the late 1950s, Foggo retired 17 July after handing over command to Adm. Robert Burke.

Jul 20, 2020

David Mulroney, Canada’s ambassador to China from 2009 to 2012, says that rather than developing an overarching strategy for China, Canada should take a “more modest” approach to the relationship, focusing on “being clear in our thinking about what … its likely intentions are.” Done effectively, he says in a broad-ranging interview, “it would make clear that China is an increasingly adversarial state that sees Canada as a rather unimportant country.”

Jul 20, 2020

President Donald Trump’s efforts to dismantle congressional oversight of weapons exports are being called “especially troubling” by two international policy experts. Among other things, they say he misused an emergency section of the Arms Export Control Act to ram through a major sale to Saudi Arabia last year despite bipartisan opposition. Now, they warn, Trump is poised to eliminate early notification of pending sales.

Jul 20, 2020

Cockpit voice recorder data from the Ukrainian airliner shot down by Iran in January has been downloaded by a team of investigators in France, including experts from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada who will help with data analysis. Iran handed over the CVR and Flight Data Recorder during the weekend after months of discussion.

Jul 20, 2020

The United Arab Emirates' mission to Mars, Al-Amel (Hope), has been launched from Tanegashima spaceport, Japan, the start of a 500-million-kilometre journey to study the planet's weather and climate. Expected to arrive next February, it is one of three Mars launches set for this month with the U.S. and China planning to send surface rovers.

Jul 17, 2020

German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer says the European Union should prepare for a possible gradual U.S. “disengagement”, even if Democratic challenger Joe Biden beats President Donald Trump in the November election. She told the European Parliament that that since Europe remains dependent on NATO support, she expects only the “tone” of transatlantic relations to change.

Jul 17, 2020

Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarrthy is demurring about when and how the U.S. would implement President Donald Trump’s proposed withdrawal of 9,500 personnel from Germany. About all he was prepared to say this week was that “we are in the process of looking” at how to do it without undermining NATO.

Jul 17, 2020

A $464-million U.S. Navy proposal for unmanned surface evidently isn’t sitting well with Congress. A Senate committee so far is declining to approve any funding and its House counterpart is authorizing only $270 million as part of a broader spending bill.

Jul 17, 2020

Industry advice on technologies which could improve the lethality of an array of small arms and associated equipment is being solicited by the U.S. Army. “These technologies will be used for experimentation, technical evaluation, and/or assessment of operational utility focused on enhancing system performance, sustainment, and/or training,” the Army says.

Jul 16, 2020

A fire which blazed for four days aboard a U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship, the USS Bonhomme Richard, docked in San Diego for maintenance, finally was extinguished 16 July. However, crews managed to prevent the fire from reaching the ship’s massive fuel tanks.

Jul 16, 2020

Russian military contractors are being accused of planting land mines and other explosive devices around Tripoli as they fight alongside Libyan forces. U.S. Africa Command says it has verified images of the mercenaries’ activities which it says are harming civilians.

Jul 16, 2020

Seven Turkish security personnel died 16 July when their reconnaissance aircraft crashed in a predominantly Kurdish-controlled mountainous region north of the Iraq border.

Jul 15, 2020

A $694.6-billion Department of Defense funding bill cleared the House of Representatives appropriations committee 14 July, including measures to improve cyberspace capabilities. “It procures the latest military systems while investing in research and development needed for future capabilities,” said Committee Chair Nita Lowey.

Jul 15, 2020

The Department of Defense announced 14 July that U.S. troops had withdrawn from five military bases and reduced the size of its forces in Afghanistan as part of a February agreement with the Taliban. A DoD spokesman said “U.S. forces in Afghanistan remain in the mid-8,000s and . . . we will continue to execute our counterterrorism mission” while supporting NATO training of Afghan forces.

Jul 14, 2020

The Canada-U.S. agreement to limit cross-border traffic is being extended by another month, to 21 August, and government officials indicate that further extension is likely due to the sharp resurgence of COVID-19 in most U.S. states. “We recognize that the situation continues to be complex in the United States,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said after he and President Donald Trump had discussed the situation 13 July. “Every month, we have been able to extend the border closures to all but essential goods and services and those discussions are ongoing.”

Jul 14, 2020

Will Roper, Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, says that unless the Department of Defense can come up with new ways to buy aircraft that stimulate more competition, it might need to nationalize parts of the industry. “We have multiple vendors who can still build a high-end, tactical platform,” he told reporters 14 July. “I think it’s really important that we find a new model where there are no big winners and no big losers, but continual competition.”

Jul 14, 2020

In an attempt to curb China’s growing presence in the South China Sea, the U.S. administration has formally rejected most of Beijing’s significant maritime claims which have been challenged by other nations around the region. U.S. policy hitherto had been that disputes be resolved peacefully through the UN, but Secretary of State Mike Pomeo said 13 July that the U.S. now “stands with our Southeast Asian allies and partners in protecting their sovereign rights to offshore resources, consistent with their rights and obligations under international law.”

Jul 14, 2020

U.S. Army transport and tactical helicopters are being staged out of the port city of La Rochelle in western France to Latvia, Poland and Germany, part of a rotation connected to NATO’s Atlantic Resolve operation to deter Russian aggression on the alliance’s eastern flank.

Jul 14, 2020

Boeing has been awarded an initial contract, worth up to some $1.2 billion, to supply a first batch of enhanced F-15EX Strike Eagles, along with support and engineering, to the U.S. Air National Guard. The fighters have been described as “the most affordable and immediate” option for replacing older F-15s.

Jul 14, 2020

An interim U.S. ban on federal agencies contracting with entities which use equipment from Chinese telecommunications and surveillance companies could cost the government $11 billion in its first year, according information in the 14 July Federal Register. Beginning 13 August, government contracting officers, who can issue waivers in emergencies, will required bidders to confirm compliance with the new rule.

Jul 14, 2020

RAdm Douglas W. Small has been selected as the new commander of the U.S. Naval Information Warfare Systems Command, which oversees the acquisition of command and control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance technologies. He succeeds RAdm Christian Becker, who had led NAVWAR since March 2017.

Jul 14, 2020

Michael Kratsios, the chief technology officer in the White House since 2019, has been named acting director of engineering at the Department of Defense, filling a vacancy resulting from the departure 10 July of Mike Griffin, first undersecretary for research and engineering. Unlike his predecessor, Kratsios came from the private sector when he was appointed as an advisor to the President in 2017.

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