Wednesday, November 22, 2006

C-130J selected for Air Force

Ottawa Citizen reporter David Pugliese still tries to tout the A400M. One notes that he manages to avoid using the word "Airbus", the name of the company actually making the A400M. Why?
The Conservative government has quietly named Lockheed Martin's C-130J aircraft as the winner of a $4.9-billion bid to replace the military's aging Hercules transport planes.

The U.S. aerospace giant was informed of the government's decision on Monday, although there has been no official government announcement about the selection of the C-130J for the project.

Despite the government secrecy, the choice of the C-130J as the military's new tactical transport aircraft doesn't come as a surprise to those in the aerospace industry. Although the Conservative government maintained that the competition was open to all bidders and fair, the project requirements automatically eliminated the European-built A400M aircraft, the main competition to the C-130J.

The recently issued statement of qualification for the new aircraft called for a test flight sometime this year. The A400M is now being built and won't be able to fly until 2008.

Defence Department officials also declined several invitations from A400M manufacturer EADS to visit the aircraft's production line as well as view the high-tech flight simulator that has been built for the plane. The same officials did, however, spend extensive time test flying the C-130J last month [well, they would wouldn't they as it actually is flying - MC]...

The Canadian government will spend $3.2 billion to buy 17 of the aircraft and another $1.7 billion for a 20-year service contract for the planes. Lockheed, as the prime contractor, will be responsible for the maintenance contract as well.

The contract for the planes is expected to be signed by the summer of 2007. The first aircraft will be required to be delivered three years after that [seems a bit long to me - MC]...

Supporters of the A400M argue that the C-130J is older technology and the EADS aircraft is a new generation plane that will be operated in the future by a large number of Canada's allies.

But military officials counter that the aging Hercules planes needed to be replaced as soon as possible and they had concerns about whether the A400M could meet delivery schedules...
So we're getting the new Hercs, C-17s and Ch-47s; now what about the fixed-wing SAR aircraft replacement?

Update: In Question Period today MND O'Connor denied any final choice has been made.

Upperdate: As commenter Gary correctly pointed out (full text subscriber only):
James Moore, the parliamentary secretary to the public works minister [not MND O'Connor], responded that no deal has yet been signed and the contract will not be awarded until August 2007.
My mistake. I was watching Question Period (it was not a "debate") and my memory was wrong. Meanwhile Lockheed Martin says it will try to speed up delivery (old Hercs are failing fast but let's consider the A400M anyway) and DND confirms that the J has been selected. What remains are formal contract negotiations. Why they will take until next summer is quite beyond me.
Lockheed Martin is hoping to speed up delivery of its C-130J transport aircraft to the Canadian Forces to help deal with military concerns that some of its aging Hercules planes will have to be pulled from service sooner than anticipated.

The Canadian Forces is estimating that up to 14 Hercules may be grounded early because of excessive wear. The aircraft were scheduled to be withdrawn from service in 2010...

But Jack Crisler, a Lockheed Martin vice-president, said the firm is going to try to see if it can start deliveries earlier than that.

"We're giving them a range of ideas that would take it anywhere, maybe even down to 24 months, depending on what they want to do," he said...

...military officials yesterday confirmed the information in Tuesday's Citizen article that the C-130J had been selected as the only plane that can meet the Canadian Forces tactical airlift needs.

"We can now confirm that Lockheed Martin is the successful respondent of the solicitation of interest and qualification," said military spokesman Lieut. Adam Thomson. "It is now a matter of entering into negotiations with Lockheed for the acquisition of the C-130J aircraft."

Government officials expect a contract to be signed by the summer of 2007...
As to Gary's other comments, I refer readers to Babbling's post above. I would just note that my original post did say "One does wish the government were rather more straightforward." I hardly gave the government a free pass. As to Mr Pugliese's reporting on this and other matters, I suggest readers type in "Pugliese" in the "SEARCH THIS BLOG" box and check out the results.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

notice he writes the "European built", as in there is actually a fleet of these planes.

If he had written a European plane still under development and unproven as yet, I'd call him a real reporter.

But he didn't, so he's just another pond scum hack trying to torque a great news story into anti-government spin.

9:03 a.m., November 22, 2006  
Blogger Brian Mertens (Free Advice) said...

"European yet-to-be-built", surely?

12:08 p.m., November 22, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I’m going to take the opposite view from some of the folks here. First, I’m surprised about the inaccuracies in these blog comments. For starters, Minister O’Connor NEVER responded to this issue in the Commons on Wednesday. It was the Public Works Parliamentary Secretary James Moore (which is the protocol since PWGC is the contracting agency on this project). Anyone who watched the Commons debate would know that.

Secondly, it is indeed correct to refer to the A400M as an EADS product. Airbus is a business unit of EADS and if you search the net you see that there are many references to the EADS A400M in defense journals and aerospace magazines (other journals also call it the Airbus A400M). More importantly, the response to DND’s SOIQ was from EADS so this journalist is technically right in calling it the EADS A400M (I don’t really understand Mark’s hints at a greater conspiracy so I’ll leave that one alone….it’s obvious from his other postings that he has a pretty good hate on for Pugliese but that’s his business).

I also don’t see the big deal about mentioning that the main competition to the C-130J was the A400M as well as giving that firm’s side of the story. It was clearly pointed out in the article that the first A400M is being built and is not flying, although those sentences were not included in Mark’s posting. (the article also extensively quotes the Lockheed folks about their product as well as including this key line…..“But military officials counter that the aging Hercules planes needed to be replaced as soon as possible and they had concerns about whether the A400M could meet delivery schedules.”)

In addition, I would argue that it was the Conservative government who shot themselves in the foot on this good news story. It was well known in the aerospace industry here (Ottawa) by Monday night (around 7 p.m. to be precise) that the C-130J had been picked. DND wanted to hold a press conference or at least issue a press release (as had been done when the C-17 was selected) to gain positive press. But that was nixed by Prime Minister Harper’s office, for reasons only known to them. It was only a matter of time before the news made it to the media.

11:15 p.m., November 22, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, I took a look at Mark’s last posting but it does not really address the points I came up with. Like I said, the aircraft is referred to correctly as the EADS A400M. I don’t see Mark posting any evidence to the contrary.

I also looked at the rant referred to by Babbling Brooks and Mark but it appears to be simply a long-winded reiteration that the A400M is not yet flying and that the person who posted the rant is in love with the C-130J. Everyone knows the A400M isn’t flying, even Pugliese, which he has mentioned in the article in question.

And let’s face it; despite what the rant claims, the Conservatives did “quietly” settle on the C-130J as their choice Monday night. There was no press release (there still hasn’t been one yet) unlike previously, when the government put out press releases naming the Chinook and the C-17 as their aircraft of choice. Like I said, (and I know this view is shared at DND) the government blew a good chance at positive press.

Is the A400M a good aircraft for the CF at this time? Probably not. But it’s a fact of life that EADS did respond to the SOIQ and they have their opinion on their aircraft…..which they are entitled to I might add…..and their opinion is a valid one to be reported on, as well as the opinions of the Lockheed folks as well.

And Mark, I did punch in the name Pugliese and I came up with mostly all your comments attached to his articles. But what does that prove except as I mentioned above, you’ve obviously got a hate on for the guy. We could debate each article until the cows come home but just because you post things doesn’t mean you are absolutely right.

Take for instance, the Hillier youth comment in regards to supporters of Gen. Hillier. You take great offence to this….but if you read the Pugliese story, he is saying that it is a term being used at DND to describe Hillier supporters. He’s right. I’ve heard the term Hillier Youth a couple of times even at defense industry functions to describe the general’s supporters. My friends have heard it at RMC (where Hillier fans love it, by the way…some of them do describe themselves as fanatical they are such big fans of the general…..there is also a theory circulating NDHQ that it was the RMC crowd who came up with the term in the first place!!!). Any way, the term Hillier Youth is out there and in use. It’s a fact. Are you pissed that this guy dared report on it?

You keep talking about “motives” behind all these stories but you never spell out what these motives are?

7:09 a.m., November 24, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

pugliese was merely reporting while he is in my opinion an asset to the forces by his reporting i often disagree with the fact that he seems to "know" exactly what the "troops'are feeling

as for the term "Hillier Youth" i dont know were it originates but have no doubt it is being flaunted by some RMC idiots

to me Hillier seems to be a much needed visible presence in the cforces at a critical time

is restrengthening our military and making ourselves capable of conducting real military operations making us like th nazis?

canadas political correctness and eagerness to always be the "good guys" has resulted in at least two elements of our forces being fat lazy incompetents

thank god for people like Hillier

from my personal expirience the main people who are against Hillier are those who now have to actually pass their yearly physicall fitness tests

12:10 a.m., December 12, 2006  

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