Vanguard Magazine

Jun/Jul 2015

Preserving capacity, General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, Keys to Canadian SAR

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a aIr FORCE 22 JUNE/JULY 2015 o nce one of the more formidable submarine hunters in the world, the CP-140 Aurora has since Operation Unified Protector over Libya in 2011 also become one of the premier intelligence, surveillance and recon- naissance (ISR) platforms in coalition operations. The six CF-188s may be the focus of much of the media at- tention on Operation Impact in Iraq and Syria – and rightly so, with over 700 sorties flown since they were first deployed in late October – but it is the Aurora that often provides the critical ISR and targeting data. Over the past 15 years, the CP-140 has undergone a series of upgrades to its various systems as part of the Aurora Incremental Modernization Program (AIMP), but none was brought into ser- vice on such short notice as the recently added interim beyond- line-of-sight (iBLOS) satellite communications system that allows the aircraft to securely stream data, including full motion video, at high speeds to anywhere in the world. During the 2015 Air Force Outlook and at media briefings on Op Impact, commanders have repeatedly sung its praises, as well as how it was introduced. "It's a remarkable piece of kit," a senior official with the Di- rectorate of Force Development said during the Outlook, which is held under the Chatham House rule. "It's a sensing capability that we have not had in the RCAF. The new acoustics package is state-of-the-art." It's a capability that Lieutenant-General Yvan Blondin, the retiring commander of the RCAF, had been championing for some time. In January 2013, a CP-140 equipped with an L-3 Electronic Systems Services BLOS system accomplished what no other RCAF aircraft had ever done before, successfully streaming live video from just below 80 degrees in the Arctic to 14 Wing in Greenwood, a distance of nearly 4,000 kilometres. So when the air force was given orders to assemble a task force for Op Impact last October, Blondin immediately called IMP Aerospace, the prime contractor on the AIMP, for help acquiring and integrating an iBLOS SATCOM system. By December, the first of three aircraft equipped with the capability was conducting operations as part of Joint Task Force-Iraq. "This new capability wasn't expected to come online for sev- eral years but was fast-tracked given our mission," Lieutenant- General Guy Thibault, Vice Chief of the Defence Staff, said at an event in Ottawa. Incremental upgrades Tom Galley is executive vice-president of IMP Aerospace and has been involved with the Aurora program in some manner since he joined the company in 1982. He says the fast-track nature of the project was unusual but "it was a case where everybody was brought online very quickly and worked in an extremely coopera- tive manner. Within a few weeks [of the call from LGen Blondin], we were into serious discussions about design concepts and con- tractual details." From a kick-off meeting with DND and L-3 ESS by vanguard staff CollAborAtIon key to fASt-trACkIng bloS SyStem

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