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Dutch launch JSS build
A robust multi-functional platform designed to support maritime missions, strategic sealift and operations in littoral waters, capable of replenishment at sea, extensive medical, technical and logistic support, and transport of materiel and personnel – sound familiar?

If you are thinking joint support ship, you’re correct. Unfortunately, it is not for Canada.

Just before Christmas, the Netherlands and Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding (DSNS) signed a contract for a joint logistic support ship for the Royal Netherlands Navy, to be delivered in July 2014. The JSS will replace HNLMS Zuiderkruis, a vessel now in its 34th year of service.

The JSS, with a speed of approximately 18 knots, will measure 205 meters in length and 30 meters in breadth and displace 28,000 tonnes, figures very similar to three joint support ships planned for the Canadian navy.
Progress on Canada’s JSS, however, has stalled pending the creation of a national shipbuilding strategy, expected sometime this spring. Announced in 2004, the project was halted in August 2008 when the two contending bidders exceeded the government’s budget projections.

The Dutch may be saving some costs by building the hull at the Damen shipyard in Galati, Romania; the Canadian ships are expected to be manufactured entirely in Canada.

Delays, costs prompt Gates to curtail F-35 program
Just days after Lockheed Martin trumpeted its first engagement of the propulsion system of the “B” variant of the Joint Strike Fighter, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates confirmed restructuring in the F-35 program office.

Determined to get what The New York Times has called “the Pentagon’s biggest budget-buster” back on track, Gates fired the head of the JSF program office, Marine MGen David R. Heinz, and said he would withhold $614 million in performance fees from Lockheed-Martin, the lead contractor. A replacement for Heinz has yet to be named.

The navy, air force and marines are expected to buy over 2,400 F-35s in the next 25 years. Gates is on record as saying the U.S. military cannot afford not to have the aircraft, but delays and ballooning costs prompted the secretary’s intervention. It’s not yet clear whether these changes will affect the number of aircraft purchased. Eight allied nations, including Canada, have invested in the program.

The F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) stealth fighter, which will test short takeoffs, hovers and vertical landings, is being built for the Marines.

In Brief
Boeing has laid out its proposed subcontracting plan for the in-service support of the 15 Boeing CH-47 Chinook medium-to-heavy lift helicopters acquired by the Canadian Forces. At a presentation in Ottawa in January, Boeing said the performance-based ISS program could provide industry benefits of approximately $2 billion over 20 years, and includes work packages in engineering support; logistics support analysis; supply chain support; aircraft maintenance training systems and services; technical publications; ground support equipment; and maintenance site operations…

In a move to divest itself of non-core assets not aligned with its maritime strategy, OSI Geospatial of Ottawa confirmed the sale by its U.S. operations of all rights to its soldier systems intellectual property to Harris Corporation for US$6.5 million…

Insitu, located south of Vancouver in Bingen, Washington, has successfully flight-tested an electronic fuel injection heavy fuel engine on both its Integrator and ScanEagle unmanned aircraft. The CF is leasing the ScanEagle for operations in Afghanistan. Insitu says the technology provides a 40 percent improvement in mission endurance, especially in extreme temperatures and at high altitudes…

Oregon-based Evergreen Unmanned Systems teamed with Elbit Systems of Israel to survey remotely located orphanages in Haiti employing Elbit Systems’ Skylark I LE Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, possibly the first such joint venture involving a commercial operator and a defence contractor in a humanitarian mission…

Portable satellite units from Vancouver-based Norsat International were deployed to assist with communications in Haiti. The joint public affairs support element of the Joint Enabling Capabilities Command, a capability to assist the joint force commander gain initiative in the information domain, is using Norsat’s GLOBETrekker, while the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit and the U.S. Navy both deployed NewsLink, a Ku-Band portable satellite terminal capable of broadcast quality MPEG-2 video…

Montreal-based Presagis announced that its Lyra and Lyra Sensors COTS Visual Runtime software were integrated into a Boeing-developed solution for the U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagle tactical fighter training program. The tools provide realistic out-the-window, infrared sensor, and night vision goggle views for the fighter jet scenarios.

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