IN THE NEWS

IN THE NEWS

Jun 22, 2020

Tension between the two perceived front-runners to replace Andrew Scheer as Conservative Party leader heightened over the weekend with former Veterans Affairs Minister Erin O’Toole accusing former Defence Minister Peter Mackay’s campaign of stealing confidential information. The allegation is being dismissed as preposterous even though a member of MacKay’s team has been specifically named.

Jun 22, 2020

Jiří Šedivý, the former Czech Republic’s defence minister and now head of the European Defence Agency, has challenged the European Union to “deliver . . . to its full extent” by avoiding pressure to cut military spending and pooling resources “because a collective approach is much more cost-effective than national solo efforts.”

Jun 22, 2020

The first Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk surveillance platform co-owned by 15 NATO members has begun test flights over the Mediterranean. Based at Sigonella in Sicily, the five-aircraft Alliance Ground Surveillance fleet is designed to reduce demand for U.S. assets.

Jun 22, 2020

The U.S. Department of Defense is broadening its Comply-to-Connect (C2C) program to encompass the entire U.S. military in a bid to ensure that any device touching its network complies with DoD cybersecurity standards. Set up by the National Security Agency, the Marine Corps and the Air Force in 2013, C2C continuously analyzes all connected devices such as smartphones and computers to ensure compliance.

Jun 22, 2020

The U.S. says its Defense Space Strategy is designed to counter what it says is Chinese and Russian “weaponization” of the domain. “Their actions pose the greatest strategic threat with ongoing development, testing and deployment of counter-space systems and the associated military doctrine designed to hold allied and U.S. space systems at risk,” Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Stephen Kitay said on publication of an unclassified section of the strategy.

Jun 19, 2020

More than 18 months after they were detained by China, two Canadians – former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor – have now been charged with espionage. They were arrested in December 2018 a few days after Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was detained in Vancouver at the request of the United States. China has denied any link but Prime Minister Trudeau has accused China of “using arbitrary detention as a tool to achieve political goals.”

Jun 18, 2020

Some $87 billion in government spending measures have been approved by the House of Commons with the minority Liberals supported by Opposition MPs. The measures tide over federal departments until the fall as well as underwriting COVID-19 assistance programs.

Jun 18, 2020

Former Conservative cabinet ministers Peter MacKay and Erin O’Toole, generally considered the front-runners in the race to succeed Andrew Scheer as leader of the Conservative Party, pretty much dominated a French-language debate 17 June. O’Toole, a former RCAF officer, accused MacKay, a former defence minister, of lying several times.

Jun 18, 2020

A $600-million sale of 16 high-speed patrol boats to Ukraine has been approved by the U.S. State Department. The package, which also includes weapons, sensors and communications gear, is a response Russian expansionism in contested areas of the Azov Sea.

Jun 18, 2020

A pair of extensively upgraded Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets has been delivered to the U.S. Navy for flight tests. The Block III variant incorporates conformal fuel tanks which reduce drag and extend range while presenting a lower radar cross-section than earlier versions.

Jun 18, 2020

For the first time in three years, the U.S. Air Force has sent Boeing B-52 Stratofortress bombers to Alaska in a demonstration of its capability to deploy strategic assets on short notice. The three B-52s from Barksdale AFB in Louisiana arrived 14 June at Eielson AFB near Fairbanks to train with allies, partners and other U.S. services.

Jun 18, 2020

John Bolton, a former U.S. Ambassador to the UN and national security advisor to President Donald Trump, paints a detailed and derogatory picture of his former boss in a new book the White House is trying to supress through a lawsuit. Among other things, Bolton, an acknowledged policy hawk, says Trump, whom he describes as “servile” in dealings with foreign leaders, asked Chinese President for help in winning next November’s election.

Jun 17, 2020

A package of upgrades to 36 of the RCAF’s Hornet fighters has been approved by the U.S. State Department. It includes new radars and weapons and initial delivery is scheduled for 2023. NORAD said 16 June that “this sale will provide Canada a two-squadron bridge of enhanced F/A-18A aircraft to continue meeting NORAD and NATO commitments while it gradually introduces new advanced aircraft.”

Jun 17, 2020

On the eve of a two-day NATO defence ministers’ videoconference, which will involve Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says the U.S. proposal to reduce its presence in Germany has not been finalized. The reiterated proposal by President Donald Trump has been widely criticized at home and abroad.

Jun 17, 2020

Jim Taiclet, a former USAF transport pilot who went on to carve out a high-level career in the U.S. private sector, has been confirmed as President and CEO of Lockheed Martin. He succeeds Marillyn Hewson, who is now executive chair of the board.

Jun 16, 2020

The helicopter had been in a “low level environment” when returning to the Royal Canadian Navy frigate HMCS Fredericton when the “high energy” crash occurred. More details on the 29 April Cyclone accident were released in today's briefing.

Jun 16, 2020

The Indian Army says 17 of its soldiers were killed in a confrontation with Chinese soldiers in the disputed Kashmir region. “Chinese troops have disengaged at the Galwan area where they had earlier clashed on the night of 15/16 June,” the Army said in a statement, referring to the previous loss of three soldiers. China has not confirmed any casualties.

Jun 16, 2020

Seaspan Shipyards in Vancouver has been awarded a $2.4 billion contract to complete two long-awaited Royal Canadian Navy support ships. The project has been more than a decade and a half in development and total cost is projected at $4.1 billion compared with an earlier estimate of $3.4 billion. Deliveries are expected in 2023 and 2025.

Jun 16, 2020

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

Jun 16, 2020

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

Jun 16, 2020

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

Jun 16, 2020

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

Jun 16, 2020

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

Jun 15, 2020

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

Jun 15, 2020

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

Jun 12, 2020

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

Jun 12, 2020

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

Jun 12, 2020

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

Jun 12, 2020

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

Jun 12, 2020

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

Jun 11, 2020

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

Jun 11, 2020

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

Jun 11, 2020

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

Jun 11, 2020

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

Jun 10, 2020

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

Jun 10, 2020

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

Jun 10, 2020

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

Jun 10, 2020

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

Jun 10, 2020

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

Jun 10, 2020

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

Jun 09, 2020

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

Jun 09, 2020

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

Jun 09, 2020

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

Jun 08, 2020

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

Jun 08, 2020

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

Jun 08, 2020

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

Jun 08, 2020

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

Jun 08, 2020

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

Jun 08, 2020

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

Jun 05, 2020

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

Jun 05, 2020

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

Jun 05, 2020

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

Jun 05, 2020

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

Jun 05, 2020

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

Jun 04, 2020

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

Jun 04, 2020

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

Jun 04, 2020

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

Jun 04, 2020

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

Jun 04, 2020

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

Jun 04, 2020

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

Jun 04, 2020

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

Jun 04, 2020

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

Jun 03, 2020

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

Jun 03, 2020

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

Jun 02, 2020

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

Jun 02, 2020

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

Jun 02, 2020

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

Jun 02, 2020

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

Jun 02, 2020

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

Jun 01, 2020

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

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