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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Can the CF (airforce) do more with less?

Why does the Canadian Air force need multi billion dollar equipment to do their jobs?

With a Northern expanse of Arctic waterways and routes opening up the CF is discovering a renewed interest in the commercialization of the arctic.
Policing, search and rescue and security are all issues that will need to be addressed.
The equipment the CF uses in these inhospitable environments is beginning if not at the end of its life cycle.  Below are examples of some of the airframes used by the CF and if there are replacements on the books and what and when they are expecting.


Aurora (Orion) CP 140 purchased in  1979
no replacement on order

News Photo
Twin Otter

Twin Otters CC 138 purchased in 1971
no replacement on order
Sea King
Sea Kings CH 124 purchased in 1963

Cyclone to be delivered in 2012 (purchased in 2004)

Hercules J
Hercules CC130 purchased in 1960
Hercules CC 130 (J version) purchased in 2010

Search and rescue crews
Search and rescue with the Girffon
Griffon CH146 purchased in 1994
no replacement on order

Cormorant CH 149 purchased in 2000 
replaced the Labrador

Chinook D
Chinook CH 147 D(Kandahar versions) purchased in 2006 (Vietnam issue USMC)
Chinook CH 147 (F version) on order to be delivered starting 2013

CT155 Hawk
Hawk CT 155 purchased in 2000
no replacement on order

F-35 Lightning IIs in flight.
CF- 35
CF 18 purchased in 1980
CF- 35 Lightning II on order  (delivery expected 2016)

So what does Canada do with this mix of old and new equipment?

"Canada's Air Force is at work every day here at home, through  our 13 Wings stationed across the country. Whether it's defending Canadian airspace, flying search and rescue missions that save lives, intercepting aircraft or ships carrying illegal drugs or providing relief during national disasters like floods or ice storms, we play a direct role in keeping Canada and Canadians safe. 
CF 18 and Bear Recce Bomber

The North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) is a bi-national United States and Canadian organization charged with the missions of aerospace warning and aerospace control for North America, as well as monitoring our respective maritime regions.

The Air Force is the key component in Canada's contribution to NORAD. Approximately 300 Canadian Air Force personnel are based at various NORAD locations in the U.S., including NORAD Headquarters in Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado and at U.S. bases in Tinker, Oklahoma and Elmendorf, Alaska.
NORAD ensures air sovereignty and air defence of the airspace of Canada and the United States, using satellites, ground-based radar, airborne radar and fighters to detect, intercept and, if necessary, engage any air-breathing threat (ie not ballistic missiles) to North America."


 Keeping Watch for Illegal Immigrants
Sea King 
Can the CF do more with less?
Equipment and manpower shortages will be the standard as we move forward in a competitive environment.

No longer just pilots moving to commerical aviation but highly skilled ground crew, maintenance staff and even controllers are looking outside the CF model for employment.  Aircrews take thousands of hours to be the ones at the "pointy end of the stick", but so do the maintenance and other crews.  CF schools are looking for expertise wherever they can find it and retention will always be a factor in whether Canada can truly support and fly the missions requested of it.

So what could be the future?
In Kandahar

Predator in Canadian colours
Drones can offer a way for some missions that require large crews and a human element (not at the scene).  They can be used for maritime surveillance, drug and border control and even overseas to provide troops with and eye on the ground.  Drones have proven themselves with the American air force and have done exceedingly well, in all environments.
There still is a time (SAR, combat and interdiction) that a human touch is needed to ensure decisions are based on Canadian values and not algorithms.

On Guard We Stand           Robert Landry

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