Today is Air Force day on my blog …
Therefore, today I have set my sights on three projects that the RCAF’s leadership (and, indeed, the whole of the defence staff) has said Canada needs – military operational requirements are what we used to call them ~ and all three of those words (military, operational and requirement) mattered because they were what uniformed experts, admirals and generals and strategic analysts, said Canada’s armed forces must have to give effect to approved government policies.
Here is the first of three posts, today, about the Royal Canadian Air Force’s procurement woes.
David Pugliese, writing in the Ottawa Citizen, reports that “The Royal Canadian Air Force’s Joint Unmanned Surveillance and Target Acquisition System or JUSTAS is currently in the options analysis phase, the RCAF announced Tuesday … [which is a pretty mundane status, except foe the fact that] … In 2007 the Canadian Forces noted that JUSTAS had officially entered its options analysis phase. Options analysis allows departmental senior management to make informed decision on the best way to implement a project. During this phase, options are formulated, cost and benefits assessed, and a business case for the options developed.“
That’s ten year to formulate options, assess costs and benefits and develop a business case. All the RCAF has managed to do in that decade is to change the name of the project from Joint Unmanned Surveillance and Target Acquisition System (JUSTAS) to Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS). I’m not sure how big the project staff is but if it more than one very, very low ranked, part time clerk then I don’t think the Canadian taxpayer is getting value for money.
Why has that happened?
Most likely because, despite the fact (and I believe it is a fact) that most senior RCAF officers and, indeed, most admirals and generals and others tasked with assessing what Canada needs to give effect to the government’s policies and priorities, a few people, mostly on the political side will not allow this project to come up to the decision and funding levels. The cabinet does not want to hear about drones for Canada, so the project languishes in limbo.
Maybe it’s time to throw in the towel, to surrender, to just quit pretending that the government of the day, Conservative or Liberal, cares enough about the military to equip it with the tools that almost every modern force from Australia to Turkey use … good grief even Botswana, Ireland and Tunisia use armed remotely piloted vehicles. The technology is neither new nor unproven.
The simple fact is that, in official Ottawa, the public relations professionals understand that most Canadians equate a remotely piloted vehicle (RPV) with President Obama ordering drone strikes on unarmed civilians in some poor, remote, dusty village. Those PR professionals, who are trusted far more on strategic issues than are bureaucrats and generals, keep telling the politicians that RPVs are political poison. The Canadian Forces will not get a useful RPV until:
- There are Canadian troops back in full scale combat ~ we used RPVs to very good effect in Afghanistan; or
- Politicians begin to think about something more than how
to winnot to lose the next election.