Tidbits from Both Sides of the Fight

What’s Canada Buying? January 26, 2013

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  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1)  A questionnaire meant to gauge what options exist to replace the air force’s aging CF-18 fighters has landed on the desks of aerospace companies in North America and EuropeThe 15-page survey is considered the first step in evaluating whether the Conservative government should bail out of its planned and controversial F-35 stealth fighter deal with U.S. defence giant Lockheed Martin.  It is considered a “draft” and asks potential rivals to outline the capabilities of their aircraft, but does not request detailed cost information.  That will come in a follow-up survey next month. It also leaves the door open for aerospace companies to give suggestions on what questions the government might have missed, or what technical aspects should be explored.  Lockheed Martin has been asked to fill out the survey along with other potential bidders including: U.S.-based Boeing with its Super Hornet; EADS Eurofighter, also known as the Typhoon; Dassault, which is selling its French-built Rafale; and the Saab-manufactured Gripen from Sweden.  The request for information falls short of the demand by critics and the opposition to open the program up to a full-fledged competition, but is part of the government’s promise to review all of the potential options to replace the CF-18s ….” – more from the Government’s Info-machine on what’s been sent out here and here, and from media here and here.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2)  After two and a half years of political dogfighting on and off Parliament Hill, the federal government rebooted its procurement of new fighter jets on Dec. 12, potentially opening the door to aircraft other than its preferred Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II A week earlier, rumours had exploded that the proposed acquisition of the conventional “A” variant of the F-35 had been scrapped. However, senior officials from the Department of National Defence (DND) and Public Works & Government Services Canada (PWGSC) insist that the so-called “fifth generation” F-35 stealth platform is still a viable option for replacing the current fleet of Boeing CF-18 Hornets.  In a background technical briefing, officials stressed that the basic acquisition cost of 65 aircraft had always been around $9 billion, which was confirmed by an independent KPMG audit commissioned in September at a cost of $643,535. The audit was the government’s response to allegations by Auditor General Michael Ferguson that DND had mismanaged its selection of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). More embarrassing was Ferguson’s charge that DND had manipulated the numbers used to justify its mid-2010 decision to sole-source the purchase with Lockheed Martin, through an agreement with the U.S. government. “There was a lack of timely and complete documentation to support the procurement strategy decision,” Ferguson said.  Having aggressively disputed similar allegations by Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) Kevin Page, Ottawa subsequently froze funding and referred the contentious program to a new secretariat overseen by a committee of deputy ministers. But DND, dismissing Ferguson’s allegation that it had not exercised due diligence, said its numbers were “appropriate” for the 2001-2011 period covered by his audit ….”
  • The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, (yesterday) announced a major investment of more than $110 million in contracts for infrastructure projects at 8 Wing Trenton. This investment will result in the construction of a new maintenance hangar, and a new building to house the Canadian Forces Land Advanced Warfare Centre, in addition to the infrastructure upgrades to the National Air Force Museum, the Air Mobility Training Center and the Military Family Resource Centre already completed or underway. The estimated overall value of these projects, once complete, will be more than $200 million ….  Construction recently began on a $36.5 million building that will serve as the new home of the Canadian Forces Land Advanced Warfare Centre. The contract for the 12,000 square metre building was awarded to Varcon Construction of Brampton, Ontario. The new facility is designed to a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) silver level and is expected to be ready for occupancy in early 2015.  The construction contract for the new $72.9 million Maintenance Hangar 6 was awarded to Bondfield Construction of Concord, Ontario. It will be primarily used for first-line maintenance activities on the CC-177 Globemaster III fleet, as well for housing the contracted maintenance support for CC-150 Polaris aircraft. Construction started in December 2012 and the building is expected to be ready for use in early 2016 ….”
  • More LAV Love here, this time with treats for Winnipeg.
  • Big Honkin’ Ships  “Seated in the heart of traditional wooden-boat building country Thursday, Premier Darrell Dexter released a report on how Nova Scotia companies can help build some of the world’s most complex ships“This is … a tremendously valuable analysis and one that will chart the course for companies over the next little while,” Dexter said of the study, conducted by Duke University’s Center on Globalization, Governance and Competitiveness.   The centre conducted an analysis into what it will take to create, build and maintain the arctic offshore patrol ships, polar icebreakers and scientific research vessels — the non-combat ships that are part of the federal government’s National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy.  The report also analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of Nova Scotia companies, how they could access the multinational supply chain and the importance of knowing the trends in innovation and technology so that it can win future contracts with Seaspan Marine of Vancouver, B.C., and Nova Scotia’s Irving Shipbuilding Inc., which is building the combat ships.  Lukas Brun, one of the report’s authors, said there are opportunities for Nova Scotia companies in three specific areas: selling components and systems, joining the supply chains of multinational firms and upgrading skills and technology to ensure they remain competitive in the future shipbuilding industry ….”

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26 January 13 at 13:00

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