Canadian Defence Review

June 1, 2015

CANSEC 2015 report

Innovation, international competition, new procurement plans and pending elections dominate industry trade show.

Defence contractors, procurement professionals, government officials and Canadian Armed Forces personnel gathered in late May for CANSEC, the Canadian Aerospace and Defence Securities Industries’ annual trade show and conference. The event took place amidst a turbulent pre-election environment, as the sector faces the beginnings of an activity lock-down which generally precedes politicians’ move to the campaign trail.

Attendance was surprisingly strong at what Christyn Cianfarani, CADSI’s president, bills as “Canada’s largest defence trade show.” CANSEC, which has almost doubled in size during the past ten years, drew 11,000 registrants this time. Visitors hailed from 330 exhibiting companies and included VIPs from 50 countries as well as six Canadian federal cabinet ministers, all of whom jammed the 135,000 square foot Ernst & Young Center. “We are literally bursting out,” said Cianfarani.

Jason Kenney, Canada’s Minister of National Defence, used his CANSEC keynote address, to list the Harper Government’s accomplishments in the sector since it took office. These, said Kenney, include a 38% increase in defence expenditures, from $14.5 billion in 2006 to $20.1 billion for the year just ended. Kenney also renewed a commitment to raise annual defence spending increases by 3% per year (from 2%) starting in 2017, which he claims represents a $12 billion cumulative increment over the coming decade (some defence industry experts contest the federal government’s funding claims).

A pending DAG update
Kenney also provided an update on how recently acquired kit has been used by the Department of National Defence. For example the government’s new C-17 transports enabled Canadian Armed Forces personnel to land in Kathmandu Nepal, with a mobile hospital, within 48 hours after an earthquake took place there. In April, two Canadian CH-147 Chinook helicopters were deployed in Northern Ontario following local flooding; two recently modernized CP-140 Auroras have flown hundreds of sorties in Iraq; and the HMCS Fredericton, an upgraded Halifax class frigate has been patrolling the Eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea.

Kenney also announced that an update to the recently introduced Defence Acquisition Guide (DAG), which has become an important industry reference tool, is now complete. However the seasoned politician avoided mention of the Harper Government’s backtracking on its stalled next-generation fighter procurement initiative, ducking out the back door, to avoid media questions.

This year, as always, one of the event’s highlights was Canadian Defence Review’s prestigious invitation-only dinner, during which Peter Kitchen, the magazine’s publisher, presented its “Defence Executive of the Year” award, to Ray Castelli, president of Weatherhaven, and the “Defence Company of the Year” award to Thales Canada president Mark Halinaty.  Lynette Corbett, chief of staff to Diane Finley, the Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, stopped by to offer congratulations to Castelli, who at one time was a top official in the Progressive Conservative government of former Prime Minister Kim Campbell.

A focus on innovation
Business-wise the big action at CANSEC took place at the booth level, where hawkers pitched their wares. CAE, led by Mike Greenley, its vice-president and general manager in charge of the Canadian “region,” got a head start, by assembling media and industry insiders the day before the event started, for a briefing regarding recent progress. The flight simulator and training services provider’s recent acquisition of the Bombardier unit responsible for the NATO Flying Training in Canada (NFTC), is going well said Greenley, who noted that work needed to obtain final deal approval is almost complete.

One theme uniting most of the wide range of land, sea and air forces suppliers gathered at CANSEC was innovation, which is becoming an increasingly important, in a rapidly changing, tight budget defence environment. For example Steve Day, a former officer in JTF2 and a director at Reticle Ventures Canada, was on hand to talk up the new venture, which he founded in 2013, to help provide optimized firearms and other training solutions to the Canadian Armed Forces and security personnel. “Canada is currently sending students to the United States for training because we don’t have the right facilities and supporting capabilities here,” said Day. “We are trying to change that, so that governments can bring some of those funds back home.”

INKAS Armoured Vehicle Manufacturing, for its part, used CANSEC to announce the launch of its Sentry APC, which Philip Daskal, its vice-president (sales) labels as “a tactical attack and defence vehicle, designed to serve in extreme climate conditions.” The Toronto-based company, which recently landed a contract in Peru, will be pursing new opportunities both at home and on the export front, in the coming months. Not to be outdone, Doug Wilson-Hodge, manager (corporate affairs) at General Dynamics Land Systems was on hand showcasing the new upgraded LAV UP 6.0. The vehicle was mounted atop a pit, with a mirror underneath so visitors could see the company’s innovative, blast-resistant, Canadian-designed “double V” hull.

Alain Tremblay, a former Canadian Armed Forces Brigadier General, who is now vice president (business development) at Rheinmetall Canada was also on hand, to talk about the company’s plans. “Re-capitalization of the Canadians Forces equipment worn out or destroyed in the Afghanistan conflict is almost over,” said Tremblay. “During coming years we will be contributing assembly work to the Tactical Armoured Patrol Vehicles program. However we will also be boosting exports, targeting 70% of our billings outside the country.” Rheinmetall is also pitching a range of naval solutions in Canada, including remote weapon stations that it hopes to provide in conjunction with Elbit Systems through a new teaming deal.

Next generation fighter suppliers have big hopes…
Harper Government efforts to delay any Joint Strike Fighter announcement until after the election, so bungling on the file does not emerge as a campaign issue, did not deter Lockheed Martin’s competitors, from showcasing alternatives to the F-35 Lightning II, which continues to have the inside track.

For example Eurofighter executives were on hand to talk up performance of the aircraft’s new weapons and radar capabilities, and the fact that the 431 aircraft delivered have now logged close to 300,000 flying hours. Boeing executives for their part lauded the F/A-18 Super Hornet and, Howard Berry, the company’s international sales vice-president for the aircraft provided journalists and selected visitors access to a simulator. Boeing also provided a briefing on its maritime surveillance aircraft as did several other companies who are hoping to offer solutions that meet Canada’s Fixed Search and Rescue requirements.

Rockwell Collins personnel for their part were provided what they call a “Live Virtual Constructive” demonstration of a Joint Terminal Attack Controller guiding a L-29 jet on a simulated close air support mission, as well as a RealFires simulation demonstration using virtual reality oculus rift glasses.

Thales announced a teaming with Sanmina Corporation, to develop and manufacture advanced radar equipment sub-systems. Thales, which is angling for work on the Canadian Surface Combattant project, is also hoping to sell any new products that emerge from the new partnership, in global export markets.  

Didier Toussaint, of Discovery Air Defence was also on hand to showcase the company’s 50,000 hours of global contracted air combat training. Toussaint is looking into ways that Discover can contribute to Canada’s future pilot training requirements in coming years, particularly with regards to fifth-generation fighters.

A star is born
However CANSEC’s real star was CADSI’s Cianfarini herself, who had big shoes to fill when she took over from seasoned pro Tim Page (who has moved on to Seaspan), as its president. Page had been a steady show presence, but Cianfarani, a former CAE executive from Montreal, provided a younger, fresher, and yes female face, a welcome relief in an industry which continues to be male-heavy.

Cianfarani, who is also former naval officer, provided a media briefing, a first for a CANSEC head in several years, during which she announced several new CADSI initiatives.  These included a bid to increase public awareness regarding the industry’s overall economic impact, which includes $15 million that CANSEC alone pumps into the National Capital Region. Canada’s defence industry accounts for more than 100,000 direct and indirect full-time equivalent jobs that pay, 60% higher than the average industrial wage. Cianfarani said.

CANSEC 2016 will be back again next year on May 25th and 26th at the Ernst & Young Centre, Ottawa.

Photo caption #1. Christyn Cianfarani, CADSI’s new president has big shoes to fill.

Photo caption #2. INKAS Armoured Vehicle Manufacturing, used CANSEC to announce the launch of its new Sentry APC


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