Canadian Air Force’s F-35 jets plan facing personnel shortage challenges – National

In the place of prominence at the corner of Lt.-Gen. Eric Kenny’s desk. The miniature gray aircraft is propped up in the air by a plastic stand as if it is flying, and Royal Canadian Air Force markings are visible on its wings.

Display of such a model inside national defense headquarters, let alone on the Canadian Air Force commander’s desk, was strictly verboten before the Trudeau government officially committed to buying the aircraft last month.

Read more:

Could F-35 Jets Help Fix the Military’s Recruitment Woes? defense minister says yes

Read further:

Part of the Sun breaks apart and creates a strange vortex, scientists are amazed

With the decision made, Kenny can now do much more than just display a model on his desk. He may also talk openly about the Air Force’s plan to transition from aging CF-18s to the F-35, which he describes as a giant leap into a new era for the organization.

Story continues below Advertisement

“It’s an exciting time,” he said in an interview. “The F-35 is not only going to make us a fifth-generation Air Force, it’s really going to change how the Department of Defense looks at security and data and information, and what we do with that data.”

Amid plans to buy armed drones, launch satellites and upgrade North America’s early warning system, the F-35 is one of several high-tech additions that Kenney suggests the 21st century Air Force will make over the next decade. will firmly establish.

“The Air Force of 2035 is going to look completely different than the Air Force of 2023,” he said. “The number of projects going on now are about the same as what we saw in the late ’70s and early ’80s.”

Click to play video: 'Canada invests $19 billion for 88 F-35 fighters, buys Australian F-18s to supplement existing fleet'

Canada invests $19B in 88 F-35 fighter jets, buys Australian F-18s to complement existing fleet

Yet as Kenney and his staff develop a carefully choreographed plan over the next decade to make the transition as smooth as possible without putting the country at risk, it is not without its risks.

Story continues below Advertisement

It starts with a shortage of personnel.

Like the rest of the Canadian Armed Forces, the Air Force is struggling to recruit and retain enough people to fill its ranks. Kenney revealed that the Air Force has about 2,000 full-time members and 500 reservists, at a time when it should be expanding.

“And we expect that gap to get bigger by 2025, assuming we achieve our recruitment numbers,” he said.

Read more:

Canada signs multibillion dollar deal for F-35 fighter jets. Know here how much it will cost

Read further:

Exclusive: Widow’s 911 call before James Smith Cree Nation killings reveals prior violence

Those personnel shortages are expected to put pressure on the Air Force as it tries to coordinate, for example, personnel training for the F-35 with enough pilots, mechanics and other members to fly the CF-18. To continue the transition is complete.

“It all works only when we have people,” he said. “So I have to balance the pieces of not only today, but the people of the future.”

The successful arrival of the first F-35s on Canadian soil by 2029 will also require significant upgrades to the Air Force’s aging hangars and maintenance facilities at its main fighter bases in Bagotville, Que., and Cold Lake, Alta., as well. Army computer network.

“What we need to do is have enough time to have all the infrastructure, the security in place, the (information technology) backbone in place, so that when the F-35 comes to Canada, we actually have the capability,” he said.

Story continues below Advertisement

Click to play video: 'Army recruitment challenges remain due to increase in domestic demand: Defense Minister'

Military recruitment challenges continue as domestic demand rises: Defense Minister

Plans to modernize the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, which is responsible for defending the continent against air attack, will require significant investment in sensors and control centers over the next decades _ including in the Arctic.

Yet Ottawa’s record on military infrastructure is extremely mixed, especially in the far north. The Defense Department recently confirmed delays in upgrading and rebuilding two wharves in Esquimalt, BC, and a new arsenal in New Brunswick.

All this is in addition to persistent delays in procuring new military equipment _ and when the equipment is finally delivered, the Air Force has seen firsthand with its new Kingfisher search-and-rescue aircraft and Cyclone helicopters.

Read more:

Did Ottawa Pay Too Much for $7 Billion Fighter Jet Deal? Experts Say It’s Not That Simple

Read further:

Google AI chatbot Bard gives wrong answers, sending shares plunging

Story continues below Advertisement

The Kingfisher was an example of how carefully laid plans by the Air Force were derailed by delays, with Kenny providing transport planes and air-to-air refuellers to Canadians in distress while waiting for new planes to be ready. Had to redeploy to save.

Acknowledging the challenges, Kenney said he will do what he can to ensure a smooth transition for the Air Force in the future — a transition he says is critical as adversaries develop new weapons and new and more powerful weapons. Flex your muscles in worrying ways.

“There is always so much complexity with each of these projects, and there is the potential that some things will happen later than others and therefore have a ripple effect,” he said.

“I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that we deliver as quickly as possible. Because if we don’t, I think we’re going to be facing security threats in the future.” are at risk of not being able to.”

&copy 2023 The Canadian Press

Leave a Comment