Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Auroras to be upgraded after all

But, if I read this right, only ten aircraft will be fully modernized. Meanwhile preliminary work on a replacement will continue:
News Release
The Future of the CP-140 Aurora

NR–07.105 - December 18, 2007

OTTAWA - The Department of National Defence today confirmed its commitment to the Aurora fleet through continued modernization and structural upgrades, keeping the aircraft flying until 2020 [emphasis added]. As part of the Government of Canada’s pledge to ensure the Canadian Forces have the equipment they need and provide value for taxpayers’ dollars, the Aurora modernization will ensure that the CF continues to protect Canada’s maritime and northern sovereignty.

“The Department will capitalize on these investments by upgrading the structure on the majority of the fleet,” said the Honourable Peter Gordon MacKay, Minister of National Defence and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. “The investment will keep the aircraft safe and operationally viable until 2020.”

“I am pleased to let our Aurora communities know that this valuable information gathering aircraft will continue its proud legacy,” said Lieutenant-General Angus Watt, the Chief of the Air Staff. “The Aurora will provide the Air Force with a significant surveillance capability until such time as a future replacement capability is acquired.”

As part of its reexamination of long-term projects, the Department has rescinded a work suspension and moved forward with the next phase of Aurora modernization which will incorporate radar, computer and other systems on Aurora aircraft. Core structural upgrades will also be carried out to ensure the longevity and safe operation of these 10 aircraft.

Three aircraft have been delivered under phase two of the fleet modernization program and three are undergoing these communication and navigation upgrades. The prototype aircraft for the third phase is in for a two-year modification and testing period, and is expected to fly in early 2009.

The Air Force and Navy are assessing and defining their needs for a long-range maritime surveillance aircraft to succeed the Aurora. Technology upgrades already made in the fleet may be transferred and reinvested in the replacement aircraft.
More here and here. And note this (the Aurora is our version of the P-3C Orion):
US Navy Grounds One-Quarter Of P-3C Fleet Over Structural Concerns
Update: The future of the Aurora fleet is still rather murky:
The news that only 10 of the 18 planes would be refitted was buried in the news release. That, and the late afternoon timing, suggests the government is trying to play down the announcement.

Neither IMP nor the union that represents the workers at the plant was available for comment on Tuesday. And the Defence Department could not answer basic questions such as how much the work will cost, whether the reduction in the number of planes will reduce the number of patrols, when the military will buy replacement planes or where the planes that won’t be refitted are based.

Fourteen of the 18 Auroras are based at 14 Wing Greenwood.

"The 10, the majority of the fleet, keep us flying until 2020 and allow us to plan for a replacement of the Aurora," Mr. MacKay’s spokesman, Dan Dugas, said in an e-mail. "There will be a savings of a couple of hundred million because we aren’t going to put money into extending them beyond their best-before date like the Sea Kings. Money should be used to equip the forces with modern aircraft." ..

Mr. Coderre [Liberal National Defence critic] said Tuesday that he’s glad that some of the work will go ahead, but he doesn’t understand why only 10 planes are being refitted.

"If it’s good for 10, it should be good for 18, so what’s the rationale here?" he said. "It will have an impact on the job loss. If we accept to modernize these planes, that means . . . what we’ve been saying is accurate."

Mr. Coderre predicts the reduction in the number of planes will affect operations.

"It will have an impact on the multi-mission factor, which is surveillance, which is intelligence gathering, which is antisubmarine warfare, and it will have an impact also on the smugglers. If we want to fulfil our job, we need those 18 planes."
Another noted expert on things military, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, is also critical of the government's decision; note her mission priority.

Here's a comment thread at Milnet.ca.

Upperdate: More at this blog:
If you have any other questions, tips or thoughts about Canadian defence matters, please send them along to David Pugliese at dpugliese@thecitizen.canwest.com
And more on the Global Express (aka the ASTOR) at the end of this post.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

pretty much have to keep some flying until then because if we were to buy new P8's tomorrow, we wouldn't receive any until then, maybe later. First one is not due off the line until 2103

Last lines are revealing - saying that equipment from upgraded Auroras could be transferred to new aircraft.

Might mean the last flight for some of the Auroras might be to a Boeing plant.

5:19 p.m., December 18, 2007  
Blogger Dave in Pa. said...

Fred, I don't think you meant 2103. That'd be 96 years from now. Even the slackest NATO members have somewhat quicker aircraft acquisition practices than that! :-)

Seriously though, here in the US, I also wonder at some of the decisions made by some Pentagon "geniuses".

For example, they're keeping about ninety 45 yr. old B-52Hs flying, while they've mothballed thirty seven of the 100 B-1Bs that were built! That's 37 quarter billion dollar bombers that are pretty new, in excellent condition, with low flight hours, in order to keep 45 year old B-52Hs in the air.

That's even more inexplicable than investing more money in 40 yr old Auroras, instead of committing those funds now to new birds.

In both cases, I think I smell a pork barbecue in the background. Ya think?

1:51 a.m., December 19, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2013 it is.

We could have had a shot at some ealy production but declined to participate in the program a few years back.

Right now the USN has the priority on P8's

Really no choice - either stop flying the missions or extend the flight life until a new plane gets acquired.

The MSM talking about the ASTOR is just more stupid reporting.

ASTOR can't do MMP jobs - wrong plane for the mission.

8:48 a.m., December 19, 2007  

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