Searching outside the box
The air force may still want the C-27J from Alenia to be Canada’s new fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft (FWSAR), but the Commons defence committee is casting a wider net for eligible candidates – much wider.

In late November, testifying at the same session as Airbus Military C295 and C-27J proponents was Bell Helicopter Textron Inc.’s Bob Carrese, on behalf of the tilt-rotor V-22 Osprey. It can land and take off as a helicopter and fly as a fixed-wing aircraft.

“I’m trying to change the CONOPS, the concept of operations, for your mission. In a way, a paradigm shift is needed to accept that,” he told the committee.

A shift might be on the way. In the spring, an independent review of the FWSAR statement of requirements (SOR) by the National Research Council recommended, among other things, that the air force take another look at the technical requirements and that “the SOR be amended to better reflect a capability-based requirements rationale rather than a platform-centric approach.”

“To me, most of the requirements I see are not written for a tilt rotor anyway. So you can change them again, and my value proposition will remain the same. I am providing you search and rescue, long range, with one platform,” Carrese said.

A not so stealthy saga
When the Minister of National Defence, Peter MacKay, announced the government’s decision to buy the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), journalists asked about the aircraft’s single engine. The incumbent CF-18 Hornet was chosen at least partly because it has two engines, making Arctic missions less dangerous. What if the Lightning’s single engine fails? MacKay explained that today’s engines are much more reliable, but the questions continued. Finally MacKay said flatly, “It won’t.”

Canadians are being asked to take a lot more than that on faith in the F-35 procurement. Officials say it is the only aircraft to meet the statement of requirements, but the SOR is classified. Standard procurement methodology is not being used, in part because the government claims that the U.S.-run “bake-off” that saw the X-35 beat Boeing’s X-32 back in 2001 represented a fair competition.

Every day seems to bring a fresh angle to the story, whether it is partner countries in the JSF program delaying or cutting their orders, to wildly differing guesses about the production and maintenance costs of an advanced fighter aircraft that is still a long way from full production. So far, there is nothing stealthy about the F-35.

TacView earns high marks at CWID 2010
Every year, the Coalition Warrior Interoperability Demonstration subjects information technology equipment to rigorous testing and evaluation in a demanding coalition environment. The goal of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff exercise is to “address a new information sharing capability or improve an existing capability.”

In the 2010 CWID exercise, Esterline CMC Electronics, based in Montreal, Ottawa, and Chicago, put its TacView Portable Mission Display to the test. The company wanted to demonstrate TacView capabilities like situational awareness, electronic flight bag and video display from a range of sources and show its suitability for a military cockpit, increasing crew situational awareness and reducing workload.

“This is a rare opportunity to get in front of a lot of interested and demanding customers,” said Alex McPhail, CMC Esterline’s director of marketing. “We’ve had good success in the United States with the TacView. It has proven a little harder to get in front of the right people in Canada. I think CWID really helped us break through that glass barrier. We had some very important people come by and talk with us. More importantly, it opened some doors for us.”

In the CWID exercise, companies loan their products to the military and first responder organizations in Canada, the U.S. and other NATO countries. Those participants bring in their own role players to run the equipment in controlled situations.

The participating countries evaluate equipment against company claims, and they hold it up against their own requirements, McPhail explained. Then they generate a report that goes out to the participating countries. In the 2010 report, released in November, CWID reported that “CMC successfully demonstrated the features and functions of TacView to provide the flight deck crew with improved situational awareness and critical real-time information which in turn can enhance mission effectiveness and safety.”

“What really comes out of it is the credibility,” McPhail said. “These guys tried hard to test the equipment and it held up and did the job.

“Next year, we are collaborating with L-3 Command and Control Systems and Software Division, Advanced Technology Department, configuring TacView as a Link-16 appliance. The goal is to demonstrate an affordable, full-featured Link-16 solution that can easily retrofit into legacy cockpits. In big terms, L-3 will provide the JRE [Joint Range Extension] software and we will supply the TacView hardware and integration.”

In Brief

BAE Systems and Soucy Group of Drummondville, QC, began trials of their jointly developed new tracked vehicle drive train technology on a Canadian M113. Soucy’s composite rubber band tracks are being tested on the CV90, which BAE is offering for the Close Combat Vehicle program…

Raytheon Canada and Let’s Talk Science have partnered on a program to engage Canadian youth in science and technology…

Eurocopter Canada delivered its 600th helicopter for the Canadian market in December. The AS350 B3 light helicopter was delivered to Héli-Inter of St- Hubert, QC…

General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada received a USD$21.2 million delivery-order modification from the U.S. Marine Corps Systems Command for upgrade kits for RG-31 Mk5E vehicles…

Vancouver’s MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates signed a contract with the U.S. Air Force Eagle Vision program, a deployable ground station, to upgrade its mobile ground system software to receive and process imagery from the constellation of RapidEye satellites…

Presagis launched HeliScene, an innovative helicopter mission and operation rehearsal application…

Genetec of Montreal was named a regional winner of the 2010 Canada’s 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures awards…

Ottawa-based Senstar was named the 2010 North American Company of the Year in the Intrusion Detection Industry by the research and consulting firm, Frost and Sullivan…

NGRAIN delivered its 5 KW Power Generator Virtual Task Trainer to the Canadian Forces School of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering…A fundamental building block for future avionics software on the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter entered flight-testing on Nov. 5 in the F-35B short takeoff/ vertical landing aircraft.