Canadian Defence Review  

 

June 2013

 

Title: CANSEC Report 2013

Subtitle: Spirits high at sold-out annual defence event.

           

The mood was distinctly positive again this year at CANSEC, the nation’s premier defence show. More than 10,000 visitors gathered in late May at Ottawa’s Ernst & Young Center, to listen to industry leaders, do business, catch up with old friends and ogle the latest products and service innovations, displayed in 645 sold-out booths. 

 

“There was a good vibe,” said Tim Page, president of the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries (CADSI), which puts on the annual event. “The seniority of government, military and industry participants illustrates the degree which CANSEC has emerged as the place to be in the industry.”

 

The event’s tone was set by Rona Ambrose. Canada’s Minster of Public Works and Government Services who, in a luncheon presentation, grabbed everyone’s attention by accepting a key recommendation of the Jenkins report, acknowledging that the federal government would adopt a more cooperative approach towards Canadian defence companies.

 

With $240 billion worth of projected military and infrastructure procurements during coming decades, the news, which should mean big dollars for local industry, was well received.

 

Paul Maddison, outgoing head of the Royal Canadian Navy got in on the action, announcing that a design for the long-delayed Joint Support Ships program had been selected. But the vice-admiral then caused a huge collective sigh, when he declined to name the winner. (DND later announced that ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems Canada Inc.’s off-the shelf design had won).

 

Big action at the booth level

As usual much of the action took place amidst the rows of indoor and outdoor booths. Paul Jennison, L-3 Wescam’s vice-president (government sales and business development) was on hand, manning an outdoor display, set up to unveil the company’s new MX-LVSS Land Vehicle Surveillance System, for which company officials have big hopes. This scalable system is ideally suited for numerous platforms, the most promising of which is Canada’s Light Armoured Vehicle (LAV) Recce Surveillance System (LRSS).

 

General Dynamics, the country’s largest defence sector contractor group, once again had a substantial CANSEC presence. General Dynamics Land Systems and General Dynamics Ordinance and Tactical Systems both had separate booths set up. General Dynamics Canada and General Dynamics C4 Systems shared a third. GDLS, one of the biggest potential beneficiaries of increased government focus on Canadian defence contactors, showed off several of its vehicles. These included one of the first newly-upgraded Light Armoured Vehicles (the LAV III UP) which are slated to remain a key hardware Canadian land forces backbone for years to come.

 

Meggitt Training Systems’ president Spencer Fraser was also and hand. Fraser picked up a special honour at a Canadian Defence Review reception held the day before the show opened. The award recognized the company’s nomination as the country’s Top Defence Contractor. Al Dillon also picked up an award as Defence Executive of the Year for his work as vice-president (business development) at Bluedrop Performance Learning (he has since left the company) and as director of the Aerospace and Defence Industry Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (ADIANL).

 

Roger Smibert, president of HISS was also highly visible at the show, plugging the company’s systems integration and installation capabilities, which the industry veteran says could be a good fit for Canada’s upcoming Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue Program.

 

NGRAIN, led by its new chief executive officer Gabe Batstone, has continued to emerge as a world leader in interactive 3D

visualization technology and software. The company was once again was a prominent presence at CANSEC. NGRAIN leveraged the show to announce an updated version of its Constructor 5.0 tool, which enables developers to create interactive 3D apps, visualizations and simulations.

 

NGRAIN staff also talked up the use of its technology in Lockheed Martin’s virtual battle damage and repair tracking processes for the F-22 and F-35 fighters. The solution does away with traditional tools such as line drawings and spreadsheets, replacing them with streamlined processes integrated with back-end software systems.

 

Lee Obst, managing director of Rockwell Collins took advantage of CANSEC to announce that the company’s SubNet relay (SNR) has now met the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) standardization agreement Mobile Ad Hoc Relay Line-of-Sight Networking requirements. The move signals another innovation by this well-known contractor, whose systems are omnipresent in almost all the aircraft in the Canadian forces.

 

Rheinmetall Canada flew in Oliver Hoffmann, the company’s public relations head from Germany, to help man its booth and talk about its continuing Canadian presence. Rheinmetall has invested considerable sums in infrastructure at its St-Jean-sur-Richelieu headquarters and production facilities, where personnel have been overhauling a slew of Leopard main battle tanks, including 12 which are to be converted into armoured recovery vehicles.

 

The updated facilities will also house the $205 million worth of systems integration, final assembly and testing work that Rheinmetall’s 250 employees will handle on Canada’s 500 recently-ordered Tactical Armoured Patrol Vehicles, as part of a contract handed out by Textron Systems Canada.  The work, which will be carried out between 2014 and 2016, will include integration of key sub-systems such as a remotely controlled weapon station, vehicle navigation system and driver vision enhancement technology. After the vehicles are shipped, Rheinmetall will provide ongoing in-service support for the entire TAPV fleet.


Hoffman also made a point of stressing the advantages of Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles (RMMV) HX 77 as an ideal Medium Support Vehicles Systems Standard Military Pattern platform.

 

Keith Stoodley of Provincial Aerospace (PAL) was as prominent presence at CANSEC, as was a delegation from Trinidad and Tobago, where the company has been doing systems integration and in-service support work on two C26 maritime patrol aircraft. During a recent visit to Canada, Trinidad and Tobago’s prime minister pledged to strengthen ties such with PAL, a development Stoodley credits to the Canadian government’s new focus on exports. PAL has also been looking for a new partner on the Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue Program, after Alenia withdrew its offer on their teeming deal, due to conflicts the two companies have in the Caribbean market.

 

Tony Russo, vice-president & general manager (international communications systems) from Canadian technology leader, Ultra Electronics, showed up again this year at CANSEC, to take part in yet another innovation announcement. This time it was the launch of its 4th generation of High-Capacity Line-of-Sight (HCLOS) radio, the Ultra Orion. This multi-mission radio acts as a high-capacity backhaul for tactical networks which integrate various C4ISR elements.

 

Newfoundland-based Virtual Marine Technology (VMT), which employs engineers and subject matter experts that develop maritime simulation solutions for the defence and other industries, was also on hand. VMT took advantage of the increased visibility provided by CANSEC to announce a contract win to develop and build an embedded simulation-based training system for Raytheon Anschütz GmbH’s integrated navigation system. Company officials claim that the technology provides defence stakeholders with an efficient platform that they can use to reduce training costs.

 

Boeing Company officials, including Michael Gibbons, its vice-president (F/A-18 & EA-18 programs) were also on hand, to talk up the V-22 Osprey’s potential as a contender in Canada’s FWSAR program. Gibbons also provided a detailed briefing on the F/A-18 Super Hornet, which Boeing now believes has a real chance to emerge as a contender in Canada’s fighter jet program, now that the government is looking at alternatives to Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lighting II.

 

Gibbons cited the F/A’s two engines, its lower unit costs, and comparable acceleration, manoeuvrability and range as factors that merit the aircraft getting consideration. While minister Ambrose has released few details about PWGSC’s decision to prioritize Canadian defence manufacturers, Boeing’s bid, could provide a good test case as to how serious she is. An F/A-18 Super Hornet proposal would stand an excellent chance of including a Canadian in-service support partner, possibly Mirabel Quebec-based L-3 MAPPS, which services Canada’s existing F-18 fleet.  This in turn would add a hefty Canadian content to the package which would be hard to match.

 

Lockheed Martin, which has also been promoting the F-35 Lightning in a series of cross-country presentations (see our story on page XX) was also on hand to talk up the program’s economic benefit. Company officials noted that a variety of Canadian sub-contractors including Héroux-Devtek, Pratt & Whitney Canada, Magellan-Bristol and many others, are doing work on various aircraft components. 

 

Developments on Canada’s Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue initiative, as noted earlier, were a major source of buzz throughout the event. Antonio Rodriguez-Barberan and Paul Bouchard, from Airbus Military and Discovery Air took part in a photo session to announce their teaming on a joint bid. The pair talked up the advantages of the twin-engine C295 aircraft and of Discovery Air’s proposed role as the deal’s main in-service support partner. As selling points they cited the aircraft’s installed base of 121 units in 17 countries and what they claim are the lowest life-cycle costs in the category, which would save Canada as much as “$1 billion in fuel costs alone over the life of the frame.”

 

Oshkosh Defence, which is looking to get work from Canada’s Medium Support Vehicle System (MSVS) initiative also had a substantial CANSEC presence. The company set up an outdoor booth where it demonstrated a variety of sustainment solutions for both MSVS and other upcoming programs. According to Serge Buchakjian, a senior vice-president, the SMP vehicle, Oshkosh’s proposed MSVS solution, includes advanced features that were specifically designed to meet the Canadian program requirements. These include a high-performance drive train, suspension, braking and armoured protection systems. The company also demonstrated a related MSVS trainer solution. 

 

John Witherspoon, CEO of HFI Pyrotechnics, which also had a booth set up, talked up the company’s product line and recent achievements. HFI recently shipped first article acceptance test (FAAT) MK 58 Marine Location Marker samples related to a $12 million contract that it won last year. The move, which marks HFI’s first major foray in to the US military market, was a big one for this Ontario player, which hopes to build on that success in coming years.

 

Quebec City-based night vision camera supplier Obzerv Technologies Inc., which, earlier this year landed on Deloitte's 2012 Technology Fast 50 list for a second consecutive year, was also on hand. The company, which announced a major new product earlier this year, the IC-75, its latest passive intensified night vision camera core, was looking to leverage the launch at CANSEC, to take advantage of the fast growing coastal, border, ports and airport surveillance market.  

 

Navistar Defence Canada for its part demonstrated its MaxxPro Recovery Vehicle’s (MRV) commercial towing and recovery technology. The company also demonstrated its military commercial off-the-shelf (MILCOTS) armoured cab solution in a multimedia presentation.

 

In short, there was a lot of movement at CANSEC. That said, despite the event’s clear success, parking once again emerged as a headache, with many conference attendees once again forced to park off-site.

 

That said, CANSEC’s president Tim Page was unfazed.

“Everyone agrees that show’s location has considerable advantages over other available venues. So we have to make compromises,” said the industry veteran. “We got together with exhibitors and asked: would they prefer to take an extra three-minute shuttle to get to the event or should customers? When the issue was framed that way everyone came to a quick agreement.”

 

Cansec 2014 will take place on the last Wednesday and Thursday in May (the 28th and 29th.

 

 

peter@peterdiekmeyer.com

 

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