Tag: Canadian

RCAF to help restore Lancaster bomber in preparation for its 100th anniversary

Lancaster bomber KB882

Ownership of Lancaster bomber KB882 was transferred Wednesday from the City of Edmundston to the National Air Force Museum of Canada in Trenton, Ont. Now the Royal Canadian Air Force will begin dismantling the plane and prepare it for transportation to the museum.

KB882 symbolizes the more than 50,000 Canadians who served in Bomber Command during the Second World War and the nearly 10,000 who lost their lives, according to the RCAF.

In addition, the aircraft represents the roles that were also conducted by Lancasters during the postwar period; those include contribution to the RCAF’s Arctic patrol activities and aerial photographic work as Canada charted its wilderness.

“Lancaster KB882 tangibly represents the RCAF’s transition from war to peacetime activities,” Lieutenant-General Mike Hood, Commander, Royal Canadian Air Force, said in a statement.As the RCAF looks towards its 100th anniversary in 2024, Lancaster KB882 will serve as a valuable anchor for our commemorative activities, and a beacon for the preservation of RCAF and Canadian history and heritage.”

A combined team from the RCAF’s Aerospace and Telecommunications Engineering Support Squadron (ATESS) and the National Air Force Museum of Canada are now dismantling KB882.

The work is expected to take three to four weeks, and it is anticipated that the RCAF will transport KB882 to Trenton by the end of October, according to the RCAF. This will be the third time that KB882 will be worked on by ATESS (and its predecessor 6 Repair Depot). The aircraft passed through their hands in 1954 and 1964.

When the aircraft arrives in Trenton, it will be restored to her post-war Mark 10 AR (area reconnaissance) configuration with the aid of donations and volunteer efforts. Restoration is expected to take five to seven years.

When KB882 is on display for public viewing, the National Air Force Museum of Canada will be the only museum in the world to have in its collection a fully restored Handley Page Halifax and Avro Lancaster, the RCAF noted.

Built by Victory Aircraft Ltd. in Malton, Ont., KB882 flew several combat missions over Europe before returning to Canada in 1945. In 1952, the aircraft underwent a major overhaul and conversion to area reconnaissance. Assigned to the photo-reconnaissance role with 408 Squadron at RCAF Station Rockcliffe, in Ottawa, in 1953, KB882 proved instrumental in the mapping and charting of Canada’s Arctic.

The aircraft was also used as an electronic and photographic intelligence gathering platform during the Cold War.

Shortly after retirement in 1964, KB882 was sold to the City of Edmundston where it has been displayed at the Edmundston Airport.

 

Canadian Navy ‘X-Ship’ frigate arrives in Europe

Canadian Navy file photo of HMCS Montréal

Royal Canadian Navy frigate HMCS Montréal arrived in Western Europe on September 18 for three months of exercises with European and NATO partners.

Deploying as part of the Royal Canadian Navy’s overarching deployment Neptune Trident 17-02, HMCS Montréal is to take part in the US-led ballistic missile defense drill Formidable Shield, which is being held in Scottish waters between September and October.

In addition to Formidable Shield, Montréal will join the Royal Navy’s bi-annual multinational exercise Joint Warrior which will involve over 20 warships in addition to aircraft and marines.

During her three months in the North Atlantic, the frigate will also continue her experimentation activities associated with the X-Ship program and initiatives, which are focused on supporting future classes of ships such as the Canadian Surface Combatant.

The experimental ship – or X-Ship – program is designed to advance naval concepts in all areas of warship deployment, crewing and sustainment. Many of the trials conducted will focus on human factors such as variations of crew size and impacts on crew rest and performance, as well as some operational trials.

 

Boeing fires back in response to Trudeau statement, Bombardier jumps in

Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had some of his toughest language yet for Boeing in the ongoing trade dispute that has affected the purchase of Super Hornets as interim fighter jets.

“We have obviously been looking at the Super Hornet aircraft from Boeing as a potential significant procurement of our new fighter jets,” Trudeau said Monday. “”But we won’t do business with a company that’s busy trying to sue us and trying to put our aerospace workers out of business.”

The full story can be read here

Boeing has countered with this statement:

“Boeing is not suing Canada. This is a commercial dispute with Bombardier, which has sold its C Series airplane in the United States at absurdly low prices, in violation of U.S. and global trade laws. Bombardier has sold airplanes in the U.S. for millions of dollars less than it has sold them in Canada, and millions of dollars less than it costs Bombardier to build them.

This is a classic case of dumping, made possible by a major injection of public funds. This violation of trade law is the only issue at stake at the US Department of Commerce.  We like competition.

It makes us better.  And Bombardier can sell its aircraft anywhere in the world.  But competition and sales must respect globally-accepted trade law. We are simply using laws that have been on the books for decades and subjecting them to a fair hearing based on the facts.”

Bombardier added its voice to the debate in a statement on its website entitled, “Boeing’s Hypocrisy.”

“Bombardier shares Boeing’s commitment to a level playing field, but in this case, they were not even on the field.  Delta ordered the C Series because Boeing stopped making an aircraft of the size Delta needed years ago.

It is pure hypocrisy for Boeing to say that the C Series launch pricing is a “violation of global trade law” when Boeing does the same for its new aircraft.

Boeing’s self-serving actions threaten thousands of aerospace jobs around the world, including thousands of U.K. and U.S. jobs and billions of purchases from the many U.K. and U.S. suppliers who build components for the C Series.

The U.S. government should reject Boeing’s attempt to tilt the playing field in its favor and impose an indirect tax on the U.S. flying public through unjustified import tariffs.”

 

Here is what the RCAF gets from Boeing and the U.S. in Super Hornet deal

David Pugliese, Ottawa Citizen David Pugliese, Ottawa Citizen
More from David Pugliese, Ottawa Citizen

I had my story in the National Post on the estimated Super Hornet package cost that was released by the U.S. State Dept. Tuesday. It can be read here:

http://nationalpost.com/news/canada/buying-super-hornet-fighter-jets-would-cost-canada-more-than-6-billion-u-s-government-confirms

Here are more specific details about what Canada gets for $5.23 billion U.S.:

“The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Canada of ten (10) F/A-18E Super Hornet aircraft, with F414-GE-400 engines; eight (8) F/A-18F Super Hornet aircraft, with F414-GE-400 engines; eight (8) F414-GE-400 engine spares; twenty (20) AN/APG-79 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radars; twenty (20) M61A2 20MM gun systems; twenty-eight (28) AN/ALR-67(V)3 Electronic Warfare Countermeasures Receiving Sets; fifteen (15) AN/AAQ-33 Sniper Advanced Targeting Pods; twenty (20) Multifunctional Information Distribution Systems–Joint Tactical Radio System (MIDS-JTRS); thirty (30) Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems (JHMCS); twenty-eight (28) AN/ALQ-214 Integrated Countermeasures Systems; one hundred thirty (130) LAU-127E/A and or F/A Guided Missile Launchers; twenty-two (22) AN/AYK-29 Distributed Targeting System (DTS); twenty-two (22) AN/AYK-29 Distributed Targeting Processor (DTP); one hundred (100) AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder Block II Tactical Missiles; thirty (30) AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder Block II Captive Air Training Missiles (CATM); eight (8) AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder Block II Special Air Training Missiles (NATM); twenty (20) AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder Block II Tactical Guidance Units; sixteen (16) AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder Block II CATM Guidance Units. 

Also included in this sale are AN/AVS-9 Night Vision Goggles (NVG); AN/ALE-47 Electronic Warfare Countermeasures Systems; AN/ARC-210 Communication System; AN/APX-111 Combined Interrogator Transponder; AN/ALE-55 Towed Decoys; Joint Mission Planning System (JMPS); AN/PYQ-10C Simple Key Loader (SKL); Data Transfer Unit (DTU); Accurate Navigation (ANAV) Global Positioning System (GPS) Navigation; KIV-78 Duel Channel Encryptor, Identification Friend or Foe (IFF); CADS/PADS; Instrument Landing System (ILS); Aircraft Armament Equipment (AAE); High Speed Video Network (HSVN) Digital Video Recorder (HDVR); Launchers (LAU-115D/A, LAU-116B/A, LAU-118A); flight test services; site survey; aircraft ferry; auxiliary fuel tanks; aircraft spares; containers; storage and preservation; transportation; aircrew and maintenance training; training aids and equipment, devices and spares and repair parts; weapon system support and test equipment; technical data Engineering Change Proposals; technical publications and documentation; software; avionics software support; software development/integration; system integration and testing; U.S. Government and contractor engineering technical and logistics support; Repair of Repairable (RoR); repair and return warranties; other technical assistance and support equipment; and other related elements of logistics and program support.  The estimated total case value is $5.23 billion.”

 

Bids for Canada’s $62-billion warship program expected in by early November — with a chance for a do-over

An aerial image of Irving Shipbuilding’s Halifax Shipyard.

The Canadian government expects bids for a multi-billion dollar fleet of new warships to be submitted by early November, with a winner selected sometime next year. But bidders will be allowed a one-time free pass if their proposals initially don’t meet Canada’s requirements, giving them the opportunity to rejig their bids for the $62-billion program.

“They’ll get feedback on whether the bids meet all of Canada’s mandatory requirements,” Lisa Campbell, an assistant deputy minister at Public Services and Procurement Canada, said in an interview. “Where there are gaps they’ll be allowed one time — only once — to submit additional information to demonstrate that their bids meet our requirements.”

She said having that option improves the competition in the long run and removes past issues where firms had been punted immediately for not meeting all criteria.

Canada has pre-approved 12 firms to bid on various aspects of the Canadian Surface Combatant program, which will see Irving Shipbuilding construct a fleet of new ships for the Royal Canadian Navy.

The Surface Ship Combatant Program is intended to replace the Halifax-class Frigate. HMCS St. John’s (pictured)

Those companies will receive the final bid package by the end of the month, and will then have another month to prepare their proposals. “We expect the final date for submission is early November,” Campbell said.

Evaluation of the bids was originally expected to be finished by the end of this year but that has been delayed slightly, added Campbell. Instead, bids will be evaluated in early 2018 and a winner is expected to be determined later that year. Construction of the ships would begin in the early 2020s, Campbell said.

She said at this point no company has withdrawn from the program. Some industry officials, however, predict that may soon happen as a number of firms could decide that bidding on the program is not worth their while.

Campbell said she believes that concerns over companies having to turn over the intellectual property rights on equipment they’ve developed have been dealt with. “We think we’ve struck the right balance,” she added. “Canada will make sure that whatever we pay to develop, we own. For the rest we have licensing and access.”

The program calls for the construction of 15 ships. The original budget for the CSC program was $26.2 billion, or $1.7 billion per ship for 15 ships. But parliamentary budget officer Jean-Denis Fréchette estimates the program will cost $61.82 billion, or $4.1 billion per ship — roughly 2.4 times more than originally budgeted.

This estimate includes costs resulting from development, production, spare parts, ammunition, training, government program management and upgrades to existing facilities. It does not include costs associated with the operation, maintenance and mid-life refurbishment of the ships, other than the spare parts that will be purchased when the ships are built, the PBO said in a June report.

The PBO also estimated the cost due to inflation for delaying the awarding of the contract after 2018. “We estimate that for each year of delay, the program would cost about $3 billion more,” Fréchette wrote in the study.

Irving Shipbuilding president Kevin McCoy has said his firm is ramping up to work on the CSC, with its current workforce of around 1,800 expected to grow to 2,400 by 2020.

The date for submitting bids has been extended a number of times. The original deadline was set for April 27, 2017. It was then extended to June 22, and after that extended again to sometime in August. Potential bidders had previously complained they didn’t have enough time to recruit Canadian firms to work with them on the program. Promoting industrial benefits for Canadian companies is a key aspect of the government’s overall shipbuilding approach.

 

 

 

Last of Canadian troop contingent returns from Poland

The final rotation of soldiers of the Land Task Force (LTF) in Poland returned to Canada Wednesday, after deploying for approximately six months on Operation REASSURANCE.

This rotation was made up of about 200 Canadian Forces soldiers, mainly from 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry out of Canadian Forces Base Edmonton, Alberta, according to the Canadian military.

Since the LTF first deployed in Poland in May 2014, various rotations have participated in military exercises throughout the region to improve interoperability with allies and demonstrate NATO’s resolve to protect alliance territories and partners, according to the Canadian Forces.

The first group of soldiers returned to Canada on a Royal Canadian Air Force service flight on August 27.

  • Canadian soldiers from the last rotation of the LTF took part in Exercise ALLIED SPIRIT VI in Hohenfels, Germany, from March 7 to March 30, 2017.
  • The LTF also took part in Exercise SABRE STRIKE from June 4 to 15, 2017, in Orzysz, Poland, which was hosted by the Polish Armed Forces. Units from Estonia, Germany, the United States, Latvia, and Lithuania, among others, also took part, according to the Canadian military.

From July 13 to 24, 2017, the LTF participated in Exercise SABER GUARDIAN. Under the US Army’s lead, troops from Canada, Greece, Italy, and Romania trained in air mobile and air assault operations, the Canadian Forces noted in a news release.

 

 

 

Canadian-led battlegroup in Latvia certified as combat effective

AFP PHOTO / Yuriy DyachyshynYURIY

The Canadian-led multinational battlegroup, under NATO’s enhance Forward Presence (eFP), has completed its Certification Exercise (CERTEX), at Camp Ādaži, in Latvia, according to the Department of National Defence. The completion of CERTEX confirms that the battlegroup meets NATO’s strategic directives and certifies multinational interoperability and combat effectiveness, the department noted.

While each nation conducted its own respective pre-deployment training, Canada was responsible for the collective certification of the battlegroup.

To plan and conduct CERTEX, the Canadian Army’s Canadian Manoeuvre Training Centre, based in Wainwright, Alberta, provided the personnel and expertise in partnership with sending nation partners, the DND added. “Using a combination of troop manoeuvres and simulation, soldiers were challenged and tested with a variety of scenarios,” according to the department.

Personnel from Albania, Canada, Italy, Poland, Slovenia and Spain are involved.

The Canadian Forces is contributing over 450 troops, the majority of which are from 3rd Canadian Division, based in Edmonton, Alberta, to the eFP battlegroup Latvia, including headquarters staff, an infantry company with Light Armoured Vehicles, military police, and logistical and communications support.

  • NATO eFP battlegroups have also been established in Estonia, Lithuania, and Poland, and are led by the United Kingdom, Germany, and the United States, respectively.

 

Propaganda and provocation: Russia scoffs at Canada’s Baltic war games

 

Photo by Sgt Bern LeBlanc, Canadian Army Public Affairs, 3rd Can Div PA HQ

A high-level Russian official is unimpressed with Canada’s war games in the Baltics.

“There is no other way to interpret what’s going on in the Baltic republics [than] as a very provocative action,” Maria Zakharova, chief spokesperson for Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in an interview with CBC News.

“How can that bring more stability to European security?” said Zakharova. “I cannot understand that. Nobody in Russia can understand that.”

Maria Zakharova, spokesperson for Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, says “nobody in Russia can understand” how bolstering NATO’s presence in the Baltic border region will make Europe more secure. (Corinne Seminoff/CBC)

Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its military support to separatists in eastern Ukraine spooked some Baltic republics and prompted the request for NATO to bolster its presence in the border region.

That led the Trudeau government to commit more than $350 million dollars to send Canadian troops to lead the NATO force in Latvia for three years.

Five other countries — Italy, Spain, Poland, Slovenia and Albania — are also part of Operation Reassurance.

The exercise they’ve been engaged in this past week — their first major one — is essential for testing their battle-readiness.

After five days and nights living out of a mud trench, the end is finally in sight for Maj. Chelsea Braybrook and the rest of Bravo Company.

“We’re in the last phase now,” said Braybrook, a member of the Edmonton-based Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and one of 450 Canadian soldiers stationed here as part of the Canadian-led NATO battle group.

“I’d say we have at most another 48 hours of defensive operations,” said Braybrook.

Repel attack

The aim of the exercise was to repel a conventional enemy attack with armour and infantry units and to hold a forested area about an hour’s drive north of Latvia’s capital.

Every member of Canada’s battle group wears thick camouflage makeup on their faces.

Some hunker down in foxholes, listening to orders come in over the radio in the make-believe battle.

Others are perched nearby inside LAVs — light armoured vehicles — scanning the horizon for movement.

Cpl. James Thoman says the simulation has been intense even though it hasn’t involved using live ammunition.

“It’s real as it can be without rounds flying both ways,” he said.

The enemy in this case is being role-played by their hosts — the Latvian military — and Canadian commanders say the exercise has fine-tuned communications and helped the multinational force work together.

Brig.-Gen. Trevor Cadieu is overseeing the certification exercise for Canadian troops. (Corinne Seminoff/CBC)

“Although this team has been together for a very short period of time, what they have achieved so far is very impressive,” said Brig.-Gen. Trevor Cadieu. As the senior Canadian officer at the certification exercise, it’s his job to confirm to NATO command that the Canadian-led task force is battle-ready.

Not ‘aggressors’

In the past, Russian officials have denied any ambitions to move into the Baltic states and said the expanded NATO presence along their eastern borders has only added to tension in the region.

Zakharova, known for her robust defense of Russian foreign policy, offered CBC News a more extensive explanation of Russia’s opposition.

“We are not spreading all over the world. Why do you regard us as aggressors?” she said.

Russia’s position, she said, is that NATO is wasting money putting troops in the border region when there are more serious common threats at hand.

“We’re watching more and more terrorist attacks take place all over Europe,” said Zakharova.

Western ‘propaganda’

The NATO exercises, though, may pale in comparison to manoeuvres Russia has planned in its eastern region in mid-September.

Whereas NATO’s exercises in three Baltic countries over the past month have featured roughly 5,000 troops, Zapad 2017 — Russia’s war game — is expected to be an order of magnitude larger. There are estimates suggesting as many as 100,000 Russian troops will take part.

Some security analysts have raised red flags that Russia may use the Zapad exercise as a cover to make more territorial gains.

Zakharova calls that more fearmongering. It’s just part of the “western propaganda” machine aimed against Russia, she said.

 

 

Royal Canadian Navy ships to conduct operations in Canada’s northern waters

This file photo shows HMCS Montreal passing an iceberg in Strathcona Sound near Nanisivik, Nunavut Territory, during a previous Operation NANOOK. Corporal Rick Ayer / Corporal Rick Ayer

Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships (HMCS) Montréal, Kingston, and Goose Bay have left from their home port of Halifax, NS to conduct operations in northern waters.

During their deployments, Montréal, Goose Bay and Kingston will conduct surveillance in Canada’s northern waters and will visit a number of communities.

HMCS Montréal and HMCS Goose Bay will also participate in Op NANOOK, Canada’s main annual northern military operation, the Royal Canadian Navy noted.

As a part of this year’s Op NANOOK, Montréal and Goose Bay will work together with the Canadian Army, the Canadian Rangers, the Royal Canadian Air Force and other government agencies.

NANOOK started on Aug. 12 and runs until Aug. 27.

 

HMCS Charlottetown supports NATO assurance and deterrence measures on Operation REASSURANCE

HMCS Charlottestown

News Release (UPDATE)

August 8, 2017 – Ottawa – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces

Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Charlottetown joins Standing NATO Maritime Group One (SNMG1) today on its way to the Mediterranean Sea, North Atlantic Ocean, and Baltic Sea as part of Canada’s support to NATO assurance and deterrence measures in Central and Eastern Europe.

On its second deployment under Op REASSURANCE, HMCS Charlottetown replaces HMCS St. John’s, which arrived in its home port of Halifax on July 17, 2017, after a six-month deployment.

The deployment of HMCS Charlottetown demonstrates Canada’s ongoing commitment to international security and cooperation as part of NATO assurance and deterrence measures in Central and Eastern Europe.

“Canada’s participation in regional maritime security operations as part of NATO assurance activities is another demonstration of Canada’s ongoing commitment to international security and cooperation. The excellent crew of the HMCS Charlottetown is demonstrating our continued leadership on the world stage by making meaningful and enduring contributions to NATO activities in Eastern and Central Europe.”

—    Harjit S. Sajjan, Defence Minister 

“The highly trained and professional ship’s company is well prepared to meet the challenges of this mission. HMCS Charlottetown is committed to further increase the Canadian Armed Forces’ ability to work alongside our Allies, contribute to enhancing NATO readiness, and help strengthen international and regional stability.”

—    Commander Jeff Hutt, Commanding Officer, HMCS Charlottetown

Quick Facts

  • HMCS Charlottetown is a Halifax-class frigate with a crew of approximately 240 personnel of all ranks, including an Enhanced Naval Boarding Party and a CH-124 Sea King helicopter air detachment.
  • The Enhanced Naval Boarding Party provides a relatively new capability for the Royal Canadian Navy that is used in support of maritime interdiction operations.
  • HMCS Charlottetown’s deployment is part of a range of military activities undertaken by the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) to support NATO assurance and deterrence measures through the provision of military capabilities for training, exercises, demonstrations, and assigned NATO tasks and demonstrates Canada’s commitment to promote security and stability in Central and Eastern Europe.
  • During its first deployment in support of Op REASSURANCE, HMCS Charlottetown conducted maritime security operations and joint NATO training exercises between June 2016 and January 2017, in the North Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean, Aegean and Baltic Seas, as part of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2).
  • The Standing NATO Maritime Groups are multinational, integrated maritime forces made up of vessels from various Allied countries. These vessels are made available to NATO to perform different tasks ranging from exercises to operational missions. They also help to establish Alliance presence, demonstrate solidarity, conduct routine diplomatic visits to different countries, support partner engagement, and provide a variety of maritime military capabilities to ongoing missions.
  • Commander Jeff Hutt, from Lunenberg, Nova Scotia, has served in the CAF since 1998. After his initial naval training, he was assigned to HMCS Charlottetown and was twice deployed with the ship to the Arabian Sea. On board HMCS Athabaskan, he served in Operation HESTIA, Canada’s response to the earthquake in Haiti. He was Chief of Staff to the Commander of Naval Reserves in Quebec City from July 2015 to December 2016.
  • Operation REASSURANCE refers to the military activities undertaken by the CAF since 2014 to support NATO assurance and deterrence measures in Eastern and Central Europe, aimed at reinforcing NATO’s collective defence and demonstrating the strength of Allied solidarity.

Contacts

Media Relations
Department of National Defence
Phone: 613-996-2353
Toll-Free: 1-866-377-0811
Email: mlo-blm@forces.gc.ca

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Canadian government being ‘prudent’ with jets: RCAF chief

OTTAWA — The head of the Royal Canadian Air Force has refuted suggestions, including from more than a dozen of his predecessors, that the Trudeau government is needlessly dragging its feet on new fighter jets.

Lt.-Gen. Mike Hood instead said the Liberals are taking “a prudent amount of time,” as choosing Canada’s next fighter is a big decision — especially since it will likely be in use for decades.

“Fighter operations, there is a lot to chew on,” Hood said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

“The timelines the government and the minister have articulated will let them be absolutely sure that they’re making the right choice for a final fighter that will probably be flying when I’m going to the grave.”

The Liberals’ new defence policy includes a promise to replace Canada’s 76 aging CF-18s with 88 new warplanes, which is an increase from the 65 previously promised by the Harper Conservatives.

The policy estimates the new fighters will cost between $15 billion and $19 billion, up from the $9 billion previously budgeted by the Tories.

The Liberals say the extra fighter jets are required to meet a new policy, adopted in September, that increased the number of warplanes that must always be ready for operations.

But fighter-jet companies such as Lockheed Martin and Boeing, which make the F-35 and Super Hornet, respectively, won’t be asked to submit formal bids until next year at the earliest.

Canadian AF F-35 mock-up. Photo: courtesy of Lockheed Martin.

That is despite many defence experts, including 13 retired Air Force commanders in February, saying a competition to replace the CF-18 fleet can and should be launched immediately.

They say doing so would negate the need for 18 “interim” Super Hornets, which would save taxpayer dollars and keep from diverting personnel and resources away from other areas of the Air Force.

But Hood played down those concerns, saying that he’ll have no trouble operating an interim fighter fleet if “I’m given the resources and the priority that I need.”

That doesn’t mean there won’t be challenges in growing the size of Canada’s fighter fleet, he admitted, notably in terms of having enough pilots and technicians to fly and fix the new jets.

The problem has been exacerbated by the fact that while airlines are currently on a hiring binge, Hood said, the Air Force can’t ramp up the number of pilots it puts through flight school each year.

“We brought in a pilot-training system in the early 2000s that had a maximum capacity to deliver about 115 pilots a year. With attrition going up, I’d probably want to produce 140 this year, but I can’t.”

However, Hood is hoping planned changes to the training regime and new initiatives such as recruiting potential technicians directly out of community college will help grow his ranks.

At the same time, the military is looking at ways to improve working conditions across the board to keep experienced personnel in uniform and not lose them.

The plan to grow the number of fighter jets is only one area in which the Air Force is slated to grow in the coming years, with new armed drones, search-and-rescue aircraft and other equipment having also been promised.

Hood said that represents a significant and welcome turn of events after the service was dramatically weakened by years of cuts.

“When General (Rick) Hillier talked about the ‘Decade of Darkness,’” Hood said, “the lion’s share of that was done on the back of the Air Force in the ’90s.”

Original article: The Canadian press.