Random 10 List: Things I learned on the first day of CANSEC

  1. Canada’s plan unveiled last year to invest $240 billion over 20 years in military equipment has transformed the formerly sleepy CANSEC show into a bustling, sprawling event, with three packed exhibit halls, about 7,000 attendees and a nearly full showing by industry.
  2. Watch your back, F-35.  Boeing and Eurofighter are pitching the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and Typhoon, respectively, here at CANSEC despite Canada’s participation in the nine-nation F-35 partnership.
  3. Elbit Systems will unveil a new small tactical unmanned aircraft system (STUAS) at the Paris Air Show. The aircraft will be offered to the US Navy and US Marine Corps, via the newly-formed UAV Dynamics joint venture with General Dynamics.
  4. Peace protestors in Ottawa are extremely polite. One of them even wished me a nice day, even though she thought I was a defense contractor — or, as her sign put it, “merchant of death”.
  5. An industry day scheduled on 26 May to launch the joint unmanned surveiillance target acquisition system (JUSTAS) contract competition was canceled at the last minute by the Canadian government. No explanation.
  6. Canada is the only major NATO power I can think of that lacks a defense industrial policy.
  7. Sikorsky (CH-148 Cyclone) and Bombardier are the most surprising exhibit hall no-shows at CANSEC.
  8. Canada’s Viking Air Ltd is proposing to modernize Canada’s fleet of DHC-5 Buffalos – designated the CC-115 — rather than replace them with all new aircraft, such as C-27Js or C-295s.
  9. Ottawa weather in late-May can be as bad as Washington DC weather in early March.
  10. Despite its growing popularity, CANSEC is still not used as a platform for Canadian government or industry to announce major policy or equipment decisions.

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8 Responses to Random 10 List: Things I learned on the first day of CANSEC

  1. Dominic 27 May, 2009 at 10:15 pm #

    I could have sworn I saw a Bombardier banner in the General Dynamics Hall…

  2. Dave 27 May, 2009 at 10:32 pm #

    I wouldn’t worry to much about the “challenge” from Boeing or Eurofighter- The Canadian Armed Forces are pretty much sold on the F-35- if you go through some of their documents, you’ll quickly find the only two planes they’re interested in are the F-35 and Raptor. Most there know the F-22 is way too expensive and not available for sale. Also, the air component of the CF is in love with the USAF and want to be just like them, so they’re going with the JSF.

    The reason that the Canadians don’t have a defense industrial policy as part of their DND is because that function is carried out by Industry Canada. They do have a defense industrial policy, but its essentially tied into the internal East-West and Anglo-Francophone divisions within the country. I.e. Companies will get contracts so long as they’re in Quebec and what not.

    I can top you peace protestor story- I had a white supremacist nutcase overt here help me with directions… and he was totally polite (which as you know given my circumstances, bizarre).

  3. airplanejim 28 May, 2009 at 3:45 am #

    Dave, I believe your assessment that the CanAF would love to be like USAF but if the F-22 is too expensive how are they going to be able to afford the F-35? The price of the F-35 whenever “production” starts, I believe, will be approaching that of the F-22 with much less capability. Canada with its military budget and the biggest guy on the block just to the south, has no reason to go the expensive route no matter what CanAF wants. Either the Typhoon or the Super Hornet should serve any purpose that Canada would have at much less cost.

  4. Cyrus Hawkins 28 May, 2009 at 9:47 am #

    Sorry, Dave. Given your circumstances, why was it bizarre?

    BTW, I thought I read somewhere that Canada wasn’t going to purchase any F-35s? I could totally be wrong though.

  5. Matt 28 May, 2009 at 5:00 pm #

    “Sorry, Dave. Given your circumstances, why was it bizarre? ”

    Maybe Dave is black?

  6. Cyrus Hawkins 28 May, 2009 at 7:44 pm #

    Matt, maybe. That’s why I want to know.

  7. Dave 28 May, 2009 at 9:14 pm #

    Airpanejim- You’re making a few assumptions.

    First you’re correct the initial production F-35s will be as expensive as the F-22, however, according to both Lockheed Martin and the DOD, that price will start to fall off rapidly. However, the Canadians have already committed to buying 65 nex-gen fighters, and their requirements pretty much spell out F-35 in all but name, and by the time the CF will probably be looking to buying new jets (and given the way Canada does things, 2017, is the very earliest it’ll happen), the JSF will be well along it’s production run and will have stabilized its cost- which should be close to what is predicted.

    Despite the BS often tossed around the internet, the JSF is pretty damn capable. Having talked to numerous program officials- including the PEO, and two test pilots- I’m convinced of that. It’s going to better at the strike role than the F-22- despite what the internet “experts” have to say. Obviously, the F-22 is much better for the air-to-air role, but not by the margin some would believe.

    The Typhoon is way to expensive, and frankly, not what the CF is looking for based on their own documents (and having a chat with a VERY senior CF general). The Super Hornet, would be ok, and in my opinion perfectly fine, but again doesn’t meet the CF requirements as stated by DND. They want a huge leap in capability because they don’t get to buy new planes very often. So really neither Typhoon or the F/A-18E/F is what they’re looking for.

    Personally, given the nature of the tasks the CF does as a whole my personal view is to buy a few aircraft for air sovereignty mission (not F-35, something dirt cheap) and instead buy stuff that is desperately needed i.e. helicopter gunship and more transports helos. The lack of helos severely impacts the CF’s operation in tha ‘stan- and that according to someone I know who been there done that (and there right now).

    PS> Not black, not white. Mind you there are many other races than black and white…

  8. Royce 1 June, 2009 at 4:03 pm #

    The big risk for the F-35 is that the USAF may not have the money to buy them in bulk. They think they’re going to have the money to buy them in huge annual lots, but that will depend on what else the service has to buy at the same time. We are likely on top of the wave in funding, staring at huge deficits. Doubtful the money will be there when the time comes.

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