Canada's Aerospace and Defence WeeklyClick here for TWR History

Defence History Reference Section
Do a keyword search.

Defence Policy White Papers 1987 ~ 1994 ~ 2004


Page 1 ~ 2 ~ 3 ~ 4 ~ 5 ~ 6 ~ 7 ~ 8 ~ Home

RSS Feed Reader The Wednesday Report Current Issues are Syndicated Via RSS Feed

Life Beyond Elections and SSNs

There was, of course, life beyond the federal election and the SSN issue during 1988. For Canada's navy, 1988 saw the handover to MIL-Davie of HMCS Iroquois, the second of two Tribal-class destroyers to undergo conversion from a primary anti-submarine warfare (ASW) role to a primary anti-air warfare (AAW) role. With the first of the TRUMP conversions, HMCS Algonquin, still in dockyard hands (but expected to re-enter service in 1989) and HMCS Huron now stationed on the west coast (having been transferred to Esquimalt, B.C., in return for the transfer to Halifax of the Improved Restigouche-class frigate HMCS Gatineau in 1987), the handover to MIL-Davie of HMCS Iroquois temporarily reduced the Atlantic fleet to only one Tribal-class destroyer, HMCS Athabaskan. The decision as to the shipyard for TRUMP (Tribal-class Update and Modernization Project) conversions three (Athabaskan) and four (Huron) is expected to be announced in April of this year. The TRUMP conversions also look set to receive the Block III variant of the Standard 2 (MR.) surface-to-air missile instead of the originally specified Block II version.

Also noteworthy were the launching of HMCS Halifax (the first of the long-awaited City-class patrol frigates) and the keel laying ceremonies (or the modular equivalent thereof) for the second and third City-class patrol frigates (Vancouver and Ville de Quebec). The first two events took place at the New Brunswick shipyard of Saint John Shipbuilding; the third at the Lauzon, Quebec, yard of MIL-Davie Inc. It was also an unprecedented year for Canada's small, but increasingly resurgent, Naval Reserve. Announced during 1988 were the acquisition of two ex-civilian offshore supply vessels (for conversion into MCM (Mine Countermeasure) auxiliaries), the launching of project definition studies for a fleet of twelve Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels (for minesweeping, minehunting and, to a lesser degree, coastal surveillance), and the creation -- over the next three years -- of new Naval Reserve divisions at Sept-Iles, Quebec, London, Ontario and Charlottetown, P.E.I. Other naval developments of note included the initiation of crew training for the City-class patrol frigates, the phasing out of the St. Laurent-class frigate HMCS Assiniboine (the first of the old steamers to be displaced by the City-class), and the 20th anniversary of the Standing Naval Force Atlantic, NATO's multinational frigate and destroyer squadron. A Canadian frigate or destroyer -- and in some instances a replenishment vessel -- has served with the squadron since its inception.

For Canada's air force, 1988 saw the activation of the eighth and final CF-18 squadron (the NATO-assigned No. 416 at CFB Cold Lake, Alberta), the disbanding of the last frontline CF-5 squadron, No. 434 at CFB Chatham, New Brunswick (although No. 419 Tactical Fighter (Training) Squadron will continue to operate a large fleet of CF-5 fighter-trainers at CFB Cold Lake), the completion of the original order for 138 CF-18s and the completion of Phase I of the North Warning System (i.e. the installation of eleven General Electric AN/FPS-117 long-range radars). On the organizational front, the year saw the reactivation of 1 Canadian Air Division at CFB Lahr in the Federal Republic of Germany. Originally disbanded on July 1, 1970 (and reduced to Air Group status with three squadrons of CF-104s), the reincarnated Air Division includes three CF-18 squadrons permanently stationed in Europe (Nos. 409, 421 and 439) and two 'rapid reinforcement' squadrons normally stationed in Canada (Nos. 433 and 416).

Other developments during the year included the selection of Sanders Canada Inc. for Phase I of the Electronic Support and Training (EST) programme (which includes modifying three Canadair CE-144A Challengers to an interim electronic warfare training configuration), the awarding, to EH Industries (Canada) Inc., of the definition contract for the New Shipborne Aircraft-configured EH 101, and the selection of EDO Canada Limited to supply 959 external fuel tanks (480-gallon) for the CF-18. Also noteworthy were the first flight of a military Turbo-Tracker (a CP-121 on loan to IMP, although there was still no formal DND commitment to the type), the awarding of a $3.8 million contract to Northwest Industries to make two CC-130H Hercules (ex-Abu Dhabi) compatible with the rest of Canada's Hercules fleet, and the awarding of a $6.5 million contract to Innotech Aviation for a Depot Level Inspection and Repair (DLIR) programme on the Canadair CC-109 Cosmopolitan. With the DLIR and other improvements (Kelowna Flight Systems was last year awarded a $10.9 million contract to conduct a CC-109 avionics update), the veteran Cosmopolitan could remain in service beyond the turn of the century.

Go Back To Page Index At Top Of This PageA rather busier year for the army than 1987, last year saw the reactivation of 1 Canadian Division (with its peacetime Headquarters located in modest facilities at CFB Kingston, Ontario, and a small forward Headquarters at CFB Lahr, Federal Republic of Germany), the return to Winnipeg from Europe of the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (which was replaced in CFB Baden-Soellingen by the 3rd Battalion, the Royal Canadian Regiment), and the announcement that the first Militia Training and Support Centre would be established at Meaford, Ontario. Budgeted at $60 million, the Centre -- the first of several envisaged under the Total Force Concept -- was scheduled for completion by 1992. It will initially offer support services and accommodation for up to 500 Militia members. By about 1995, the Centre will have the equipment and facilities to train a full battle group of 1,000 soldiers.

Activity on the peacekeeping front -- overwhelmingly but not exclusively an army affair -- saw the dispatch of reservists to join the long-established Canadian contingent in Cyprus, the provision of a small observer contingent to serve with the United Nations Good Offices Mission in Afghanistan and Pakistan (UNGOMAP) and the dispatch of a much larger, 525-man, contingent to serve with the United Nations Iran-Iraq Military Observer Group (UNIIMOG). The Canadian contingent was primarily composed of signalers, all of whom were repatriated to Canada by the end of 1988. Fifteen Canadian observers, however, are still serving with UNIIMOG. Completing the remarkable renaissance of United Nations peacekeeping was the creation, in December, of the United Nations Angola Verification Mission (UNAVEM). Comprised of 70 military observers and 20 civilian support personnel, UNAVEM is charged with overseeing the withdrawal of 50,000 Cuban troops from Angola. Its claim to fame from a Canadian perspective, however, is the fact that it is the first UN peacekeeping force or observer mission which does not include Canadians. The lack of Canadian representation does not reflect any waning of Canadian support for peacekeeping, but rather a UN desire to broaden the base of peacekeeping by adding new nations to the roster. This process has been made easier by the resurgence in the popularity of peacekeeping (not to mention a Nobel Peace Prize) and the concomitant willingness of more nations to get involved. Canada is, however, still expected to provide a 300-man logistics element for the long-mooted United Nations Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG) in Namibia.

Also announced, in mid-summer, was the decision to make the Canadian battalion group currently assigned to the Allied Command Europe Mobile Force (Land) available for the proposed NATO Composite Force. The multinational Composite Force is designed to replace the Canadian Air-Sea Transportable (CAST) Brigade Group previously earmarked for the defence of north Norway. Under the new arrangement -- which caused no end of confusion for the general media -- the battalion group would deploy only to northern Norway, either as part of the Allied Command Europe Mobile Force (Land) or, should the AMF(L) be assigned elsewhere, as part of the new NATO Composite Force in company with units from the Federal Republic of Germany, the United States and, of course, Norway.

It was also an exceptionally busy year on the procurement front. Dominating the agenda were the Heavy Logistic Vehicle Wheeled (which saw the awarding of a $250 million contract to UTDC Inc. of Kingston, Ontario, for the production of 1,122 Steyr-Daimler-Puch-designed heavy trucks), the Tactical Command, Control and Communications System (which received approval for project definition in September) and the northern terrain vehicle project (which received approval-in-principle for the production, in Calgary, of approximately 820 Bv 206s by Canadian Foremost Limited and Hagglunds Vehicle AB of Sweden. Also noteworthy were the selection of Spar Aerospace to produce 233 Night Observation Devices Long-Range (NODLR), the roll-out of the first production ADATS fire unit, the delivery of the first Oerlikon GDF-005 35mm anti-aircraft guns to the air defence regiment in Germany, the awarding -- to MIL-Vickers -- of a contract to upgrade almost 200 M113A1 armoured personnel carriers, and the awarding, to Thomson-CSF Systems Canada, of a contract valued at over $700,000 for the advanced development of a minefield breaching system (FALCON).

Go Back To Page Index At Top Of This Page

Opinions, Opinions

It was also a busy year for assessments, critiques and criticisms of Canadian defence policy, procurement and organization. Published during 1988, for example, were two reports by the House of Commons Standing Committee on National Defence. The first, dealing with the reserves, was published in July and offered the Mulroney government 16 key recommendations. The report stressed the need for "a more credible conventional defence in Europe and at home" and "a considerable increase" in Canada's military manpower while, at the same time, "keeping defence costs under control." The Committee chairman, Patrick Crofton (PC, Esquimalt-Saanich), saw the reserves as "a crucial pillar in Canada's security structure," and noted that "in an era of soaring defence costs, the resuscitation of the reserves will provide Canadians with more effective security for the dollars they spend on defence." In a subsequent response, defence minister Perrin Beatty expressed support for the general thrust of the report, but cautioned that fiscal constraints made it difficult to implement the complete set of recommendations. The Standing Committee also published a report on CASAP-SSN, but it was essentially an overview of the pros and cons and was devoid of specific recommendations. A report on Canada's land forces by the Special Committee of the Senate on National Defence was originally expected to appear in the Fall of 1988, but is now likely to appear early in 1989.

Also offering assessments of varying aspects of Canadian defence procurement and/or defence policy were the Auditor General (who, among other things, found a significant surplus of training ammunition), the Jane's Information Group (which produced a NATO handbook suggesting that Canada "has long had a reputation as being less than fully committed to a strong defensive capability"), and NATO's Defence Planning Committee (which noted that Canada has been doing reasonably well in terms of real growth increases in defence expenditure, but stressed that the country had started from a low baseline). Weighing in late in the year with their own examination of burden-sharing within the North Atlantic Alliance were the U.S. Departments of Defense and State. Their report offered a number of trenchant criticisms of Canada's military posture, including the relatively limited manpower in both the regular and reserve forces.

Go Back To Page Index At Top Of This Page

The State of the Industry 1988

Dominating the Canadian defence industrial scene during 1988 were an impressive number of plant openings and/or expansions, an equally impressive number of corporate reorganizations and realignments, and some noteworthy acquisitions -- both of foreign firms by Canadian companies, and of Canadian companies by foreign firms. Among the companies opening or projecting new or expanded facilities were Oerlikon Aerospace (which expected to double the size of its still-new Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu facility by mid-1989), Bendix Avelex Inc. (which moved its Aero-Marine Division to new facilities at Vancouver International Airport), Bombardier (which began the relocation of Canadair's military aircraft division to Mirabel, Quebec) and Litton Systems Canada Limited (which opened a new Halifax-area plant for its Atlantic Division on August 16). Also making news were Menasco Aerospace (which opened a 40,000-square foot addition to its Oakville, Ontario, facility), Leigh Instruments (which broke ground for a new 63,700-square foot corporate headquarters and engineering facility in Kanata, Ontario), Thomson-CSF Systems Canada (which opened a new 20,000-square foot facility in Nepean, Ontario) and Field Aviation Company Limited (which opened a 2,000-square foot aircraft parts depot in Halifax).

Corporate reorganizations and realignments during 1988 involved Marine Industries Limited (which modified the work-sharing arrangements for the three Quebec-built City-class patrol frigates and announced the disposal of several subsidiaries), Hughes Aircraft Company (which in January opened a new marketing office in Ottawa), Rockwell International (which announced the formation of a new Ship Systems Division within Rockwell International of Canada Limited), Devtek Corporation (which created the Devtek Systems Division and the Devtek Precision Components Division to better serve the aerospace, defence and electronics markets) and MacDonald Dettwiler (which established a new space and defence business group). Also making changes were Ernst Leitz Canada (which was assigned to Wild's Special Products Division and also opened an office in California) and Lockheed Corporation (which announced that a new Canadian subsidiary, Lockheed Canada Inc., would be created by combining the current operations of Sanders Canada Inc. and the existing Lockheed Canada Inc.).

In the realm of acquisitions and takeovers, the major players were CAE Industries Limited of Toronto (which invested $665 million in the acquisition of Singer's Link Domestic Simulation and Training Systems Division, thereby creating a genuine simulator 'superpower'), Canadian Marconi Company (which acquired Cincinnati Electronics for $39 million [U.S.]), and Leigh Instruments (which was acquired by Plessey Company plc of the United Kingdom). Among the smaller acquisitions was the purchase of Miller Communications Systems Limited of Kanata, Ontario, by Ottawa-based Calian Technology Limited.

Go Back To Page Index At Top Of This Page

Complete Issue

1 ~ 2 ~ 3 ~ 4 ~ 5 ~ 6 ~ 7 ~ 8 ~ Home