Ken Pole is currently the longest-serving continuous active member of the Canadian Parliamentary Press Gallery. A staff writer and desk editor with The Canadian Press in several bureaus across the country before moving to newspapers, he has been a freelance journalist since 1979, writing extensively on a range of military issues as while maintaining a keen interest in all aspects of civil fixed-wing and rotorcraft aviation. He is an avid sailor, diver and photographer as well as an aspiring guitarist.
Articles by this writer
The Federal Court has dismissed six applications for a judicial review of the federal government’s 2020 move to reclassify certain types of rifles as “assault” weapons.
Less than two months into his new job as Minister of National Defence, Bill Blair has returned from a whirlwind visit to Scotland, England and Germany in what could be construed as a "charm offensive" designed to defuse NATO's frustration that Canada remains well short of the alliance's military spending targets for its members.
The Department of National Defence is increasing its 24/7 emergency contacts service for uniformed and civilian employees who have been sexually assaulted. In announcing the upgrade, which includes some backdated financial help for legal costs, the Canadian Armed Forces' Chief of Professional Conduct and Culture also acknowledged that alcohol abuse is a frequent factor in assault and other misconduct.
The federal budget plans a 3% reduction in across-the-board spending and new spending is squarely focusing on domestic economic issues. The defence policy review, announced a year ago, will likely be stalled while to government turns its attention to domestic needs.
It is estimated that Ukraine is firing as many as 5,000 artillery rounds and missiles a day in its counteroffensive against Russian invaders, as much as some of its European allies manufacture in a year. That pales against more than three times as many Russian "fires" on any given day, but as Ukraine needs to ramp up its own stockpiles in preparation for a spring escalation of the conflict, Canada and other allies are having to deal with their ability to meet that need.
With imaginations running wild over the four objects sighted over North American airspace, it is likely that a new definition of UFO and new technology, such as sensors that can detect low profile and low heat signatures, will be required to spot and neutralize future Unauthorized Flying Objects (UFOs).
A new paper from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute explores the financial cost of war using links between taxation and defence spending and drawing on data from 100 countries, including Ukraine. It offers evidence to understand how increases in military spending may affect tax structures, but also how low-income, autocratic and conflict-affected countries fund their military spending.
Speculation ended today when Defence Minister Anita Anand confirmed that four of the Canadian Army’s 82 “combat ready” main battle tanks will be sent to Ukraine “in the coming weeks” to support an expected spring counter-offensive against a renewed push in Russia’s brutal invasion. Training by Canadian Army personnel will take place in an unspecified “third country.”
This procurement has been politically turbulent for both Liberal and Conservative governments over the years, but Canada has finally announced it will begin taking deliveries of its first 16 F-35 Lightning II fighters in 2026 despite protesters who call for vulnerability in the name of peace.
Leonardo U.K. has been awarded a contract for up to $1.168 billion for helicopter upgrades and to increase the CH-149 fleet size from 13 to 16 helicopters to support the national 24/7 SAR service. A second contract, worth $78 million (taxes included), went to Montreal-based global simulator giant CAE for the training solution.
Louise Arbour, former Supreme Court of Canada judge and chief prosecutor for high-profile International Criminal Court cases, is openly skeptical about the military’s willingness or ability to implement the culture change required to make the military a "safe place" for all members.
The federal government announced today that its approach to the ongoing challenge of sexual assault in the Canadian Armed Forces will begin at ground level – at Canada’s two military colleges where Defence Minister Anita Anand says there is a “well-documented” entrenched problem.
Major General Dany Fortin was acquitted today by Quebec Court Judge Richard Meredith after a civil trial during which his accuser testified that that she was certain “without a doubt” that Fortin had assaulted her in the middle of the night. However, during the trial, significant inconsistencies came to light between her testimony and what she had told police investigators.
Troy Crosby, Assistant Deputy Minister (Materiel) at the Department of National Defence will attend an upcoming meeting in Brussels with counterparts of some 50 countries looking at how they will sustain support of Ukraine in its counter-offensive against the invasion by Russia.
Eight million in new defence spending and "a swift defence policy review", are part of the latest pledge to better equip the CAF for an increasingly complicated global environment.
Canada’s Future Fighter Capability Project continues to stutter its way to completion with a federal government announcement that while it has chosen the Lockheed Martin F-35 over the Saab Gripen E, it still has to “finalize” details with the U.S. aerospace giant on a procurement estimated to cost $19 billion.
A new report from the Parliamentary Budget Office has reignited the political controversy over which shipyard should build the new polar-class icebreakers.
Public Services and Procurement Canada has confirmed that Lockheed Martin and Saab are the only contenders that “remain eligible” in the long-delayed plan to supply the RCAF with 88 new fighters as replacement for its legacy fleet of CF-188 Hornets.
CANSOFCOM has confirmed that an investigation into the accidental discharge of a new pistol that wounded a Joint Task Force 2 member last November, has found an improper holster was a contributing factor in the incident.
Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) warships are deployed in the Baltic Sea as part of a multi-national exercise. This year, the annual Baltops exercise involves 4,000 personnel from 19 countries and featuring air defence, anti-submarine warfare, amphibious operations, maritime interdiction, and mine countermeasures operations.
While there were no major military capital projects in the federal budget tabled on 19 April, it reinforces a policy that will impact the Future Fighter Capability Project and many others going forward.
With its main operations at the Canadian High Arctic Research Station in Cambridge Bay on Victoria Island, Nunavut, it’s a key stop for marine traffic through the Northwest Passage – an increasingly accessible region that presents environmental, political and strategic opportunities.
The Speech from the Throne signals that the new minority Liberal government is prepared to stay the course on the defence, security and foreign policies it committed to in the previous Parliament. Read the full text and some context here.
Replenishment is widely acknowledged as a critical element of any modern navy, but what should have been a fairly straightforward procurement has fallen victim to government and industry politics. After years of delays, the government is now reviewing reduced capability, reduced cost options – and DND is pushing back with the survivability card.
As 2020 rolled in, few could have guessed that members of the Canadian Armed Forces would soon be helping elderly Canadians battle an invisible enemy: the novel coronavirus that had emerged in China's Wuhan province in late 2019.
Accurate plotting of a potential enemy's next moves has seen militaries worldwide rely increasingly on sophisticated technologies for strategic advantage, and that's where NATO's Airborne Early Warning Control force comes in.
Accurate plotting of a potential enemy's next moves has seen militaries worldwide rely increasingly on sophisticated technologies for strategic advantage, and that's where NATO's Airborne Early Warning Control force comes in.
Airbus has revealed its formerly-classified stealth project that has been under development for nearly two decades. The project has been funded by the German Defence Ministry, which believes Low Observable Unmanned Aerial Vehicles such as this will be integral to air power in the near future.
After more than a year of operations, Canada's Air Task Force involved in Operation Presence-Mali has almost completed its mission. All that’s left is to ship eight helicopters and other sensitive materiel safely home.
Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Canadian supply chain could factor into the replacemant of Canada's ageing fighter jets. The supply chain includes 71 first- and second-tier Canadian suppliers – a clear benefit of Canada’s long-term involvement in the multi-national JSF project.
The Prime Minister is being pressed to release the results of a review of arms exports to Saudi Arabia, specifically Light Armoured Vehicles manufactured by General Dynamics Land Systems Canada in London, Ontario.
On 12 June, at 10:17 EST, under heavy fog cover, Canada’s newest satellite venture successfully launched all three satellites of the RADARSAT Constellation Mission into orbit from Vandenburg Air Force Base in California. These next-gen satellites will provide better resolution and accuracy than previous technologies.
The Middle East funding includes $441 million to renew Operation Impact, the Canadian Armed Forces presence in the region.
The defence portion of the 2019 federal Budget includes renewing the Government's Middle East Strategy, and the security portion suggests changes to the business model of the Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA).
The defence portion of the 2019 federal Budget includes commitments to spend $1.39 billion (over the next two years) for renewing its Middle East Strategy, and up to $105.6 million (over three years) in continued support for Ukraine, while also stepping up Canada’s cyber security efforts.
Public Safety Minister Goodale says Canadians captured while fighting alongside terrorist groups in Syria will have to assume responsibility for their own decisions.
Seaspan has selected Lockheed Martin Canada’s modern Command Management System (CMS 330) for the future Protecteur-Class Joint Support Ships (JSS).
A new U.S. report indicates that the effects of climate change should be considered an issue of national security with potential impacts on DoD missions and military installations around the world over the next two decades.
Prime Minister Trudeau made it clear today that he is unwilling to be drawn into debate over foreign military intervention in Venezuela after President Donald Trump had indicated that “all options” were on the U.S. table.
Announcement confirms that Romania will take over from Canada on the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA) in July 2019.
The Government of Canada is ramping up efforts to ensure that neither the coming election campaign, nor the vote itself, are influenced by malicious, net-based interference.
Despite the killing of at least 10 peacekeepers from Chad earlier in the day, Canadian personnel and helicopters will remain in Mali to continue their mission to provide secure medevac transport services.
Despite the killing of at least 10 peacekeepers from Chad earlier in the day, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan confirmed on Sunday 20 January, that the 250 Canadian Armed Forces personnel and eight helicopters providing medevac services in support of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali will stand fast.
With Government said to be reviewing the LAV contract, CADSI President says a cancellation “would represent a significant blow to our entire industry, with reverberations across the country.”
The six RCAF pilots on this Op Reassurance deployment work with Romanian Air Force fighters for air policing and alert response.
The Military Flying Training System (MFTS), a contract that facilitates the Ministry of Defence (MOD) in preparing aircrews for eventual assignment to frontline squadrons, is operated by Lockheed Martin and Babcock International, using Airbus helicopters.
NATO has established defensive battle groups in the three Baltic states (Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia) to protect them from potential Russian advances. How is Canada helping this effort?
Cybersecurity is expected to be featured prominently in the first annual report from the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians.
The RCAF fighter community is facing a personnel shortage and, although DND is aggressively moving to address the issue, Auditor General Michael Ferguson is not optimistic.
Fully operational by mid-August, the Canadian task force is fully involved in logistical support, ferrying UN soldiers around the country in Chinook and Griffon helicopters for “presence projection” missions.
The Canadian Centre for Cyber Security has been set up by the government as a single point of authority for combatting cyber crime.
The Canadian government says it is planning a simpler approach to how it buys goods and services from small and medium-size enterprises in the defence and other sectors.
While the Government Accountability Office notes that the DOD faces “new challenges as adversaries try to steal national security information and technology at unprecedented rate, ” the White House eliminated its Senior Cyber Policy Office.
During a press conference on Parliament Hill today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg answered questions about cyber security and Northern defence.
The recent decision by Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte to cancel a $234 million deal to buy 16 combat-configurable Bell helicopters because of potential restrictions on what they can and cannot be used for, has refocused attention on Canada’s arms export practices.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan is optimistic that companies in the Canadian defence and aerospace sectors can do more business with India, which has one of the largest standing military forces in the world.
The Procurement Ombudsman does not have the authority to stop a procurement, cancel a contract, or enforce its recommendations.
Having supported the Kurdish military in a non-combat role for years, Minister Sajjan comments on Canada's assessment of the current situation in Iraq.
The space industry’s role in the Canadian economy is significant, including earth observation, communications, robotics, and pure and applied research.
Given the public response each time the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) calls for astronaut applications, it is clear that thousands of us feel we possess the necessary qualifications to get into space, however, only a few make it through the selection process.
The PM has reaffirmed that Canada will continue to push for one of the temporary seats on the United Nations Security Council when it becomes open in four years.
A trade dispute has upended Canada's defence plan, announced this Spring, to fill a "capability gap" in the RCAF fleet with Boeing Super Hornets before the production line for this platform winds down.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan announced the long-awaited Defence Policy. He stated that the Canadian military would see funding grow by more than $70 billion in 10 years.
Announcing the long-awaited Defence Policy, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan stated that the Canadian military would see funding grow by more than $70 billion in 10 years.
Against a global backdrop of decreasing personnel deployments in all kinds of peacekeeping operations, Canada stepped up to the plate again May 29 with a four-year extension of its participation in Operation ARTEMIS counterterrorism and maritime security in the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Gulf of Oman and the Indian Ocean.
The long-awaited Defence Policy Review will be unveiled June 7, two weeks after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends a NATO heads of government meeting in Brussels. Defence Minister Sajjan confirmed the date to reporters on Parliament Hill, and revealed that Canada has been “working with our allies” on policy development.
Transport Minister Marc Garneau has suggested that the Defence Policy Review, initiated by the Liberal government more than a year ago, will be made public within the next two weeks.
The ability of the Canadian Armed Forces to carry out core roles have been undermined by successive government, a critical situation which Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said May 3 will require “significant” new funding.
An April 24 report to Congressional committees reviewing the program, the GAO said the DOD should not commit any more money to developing “future capabilities” of the F-35 before resolving issues with the baseline Joint Strike fighter.
The “wow factor” generally associated with the Royal Canadian Air Force’s annual Demonstration Hornet has gone into afterburner mode in the 2017 iteration which commemorates the country’s sesquicentennial.
“We need to have a political solution,” Defence Minister Sajjan told reporters when pressed for details about Syria. Sajjan said the fundamental instability of Syria, even in the long term, means Assad has to go.
Plans and processes for improving the safety of Canadian Armed Forces personnel at all facilities should continue to be strengthened, said a House of Commons Standing Committee report to parliament.Plans and processes for improving the safety of Canadian Armed Forces personnel at all facilities should continue to be strengthened, said a House of Commons Standing Committee report to parliament.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s March 22 budget speech made only passing reference to veterans but devoted an entire section of the document to how former members of the Canadian Armed Forces are treated by their country.
The federal government is ready to hold back some 10 percent of the Department of National Defence’s funding.
The RCAF’s new Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue aircraft will be a “game-changer.”
The government’s decision to award Airbus Defence & Space the contract for 16 new C295W fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft for the RCAF is being challenged in Federal Court by Team Spartan.
Peacekeeping is one of the most visible and ostensibly celebrated United Nations activities, but the nature and scope has evolved significantly since 1948.
A new report from that Senate Committee on National Security and Defence is proposing to revolutionize peacekeeping.
Peacekeepers do more than monitor ceasefires and separate warring parties; they manage conflicts within fragile states and facilitate peacebuilding and development. However, the results of these multi-dimensional missions is mixed.
A five-nation review by SIPRI looks at the prospects of increased tensions and notes that only Russia has "significantly" increased its Arctic capabilities.
FrontLine has gathered the key Industry Leaders, Project Primes, Support Agencies and Specialized Subcontractors for the defence sector.
Richard Fadden, who announced his retirement last week after nearly 40 years of public service, told CBC Radio's As It Happens that while ISIS does not pose an "existential" threat to Canada, it is accomplishing its prime objective of breeding terror.
As the world is reeling from another massive terror attack in Europe, the Liberal govt’s first budget includes a “steadfast” commitment to enhancing security.
Defence Minister Sajjan explains the government support efforts in the fight against Daesh.
These last few years have seen a flurry of activity. The bids have now been submitted – finally setting the stage for first delivery of new aircraft. FrontLine looks at the process and the contenders.
Is propping up old platforms for a two-year gap, rather than speeding up procurement of newer alternatives, the best use of scarce resources?
Although the words “veteran”, “defence” and “military” appeared only once each in the new Liberal government’s Speech from the Throne...
The new Liberal administration is moving quickly on its campaign promise to have an open competition to replace the RCAF's aging fighter fleet.
The new ministers of National Defence and Veterans Affairs offer a potential message of cautious optimism to the military community.
The new Liberal government-in-waiting in Ottawa evidently is about to call “eject, eject, eject” on the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II for the Royal Canadian Air Force.
There’s a body of opinion which holds that retired military officers should eschew politics, that lending their names and/or ranks to a political campaign is a form of prostitution, and that using their experience and leadership skills in the civilian world is somehow "wrong".
The Perley and Rideau Veteran's Health Care Centre is examining its funding options.
The U.S. is simplifying how Canadian companies can export and re-export a broad range of aerospace- and defence-related hardware.
The RCAF is working diligently to ensure the air strikes are very tightly targeted and incur no collateral.
VAdm Mark Norman discusses the state of the Naval fleets.
FrontLine Staff Writer Ken Pole looks at the latest in simulators and their role in training our officers in situations that they may not otherwise experience and examine how they react.
The Ombudsman, Frank Brunetta, and his Deputy, Lorezo Ieraci, make sure the OPO staff is ready to spring into action when a potential defence supplier calls for assistance in the complex matters related to defence procurement.
The Office of the Veterans Ombudsman continues its efforts to resolve issues between veterans and VAC, protecting the interests of approximately 800,000 Canadian veterans and retired RCMP officers.
Gyroscopically-stabilized equipment produces surveillance imagery for diverse requirements – from environmental to military surveillance.
Modern technologies enable ground forces to not only secure that information but also integrate it into useful intelligence for timely response.
Four teams have each submitted a demo system to GDLS for evaluation, and are now being evaluated on technical merit and cost. The winner will supply the new LAV Reconnaissance: Surveillance System Upgrade to complement the overall LAV upgrade.
A new Defence Procurement Strategy and an independent Defence Analytics Institute have been announced. Will they have a key role to play in fixing defence procurement?
The scope of products and technology subject to the CGRs would be significantly changed through proposed changes.
Troubling questions remain about quality control in the F-35 supply chain.
An opportunity to “KIC-start” a long-overdue overhaul of problem-plagued defence procurement process.
The program is steadily progressing. A look at the latest numbers. Are Canadian companies benefitting?
Is Canada's sovereignty vulnerable? The answer obviously depends on our level of political and financial commitment. How does the NSPS fit into this equation?
The Royal Canadian Air Force’s hopes of having new FWSAR aircraft in service by 2015 received a boost, of sorts when PWGSC released an LOI to potential suppliers. But new options are appearing on the horizon.
List of CF Vehicles
Stretched... But not broken
DND's inability to spend it's budget in any given fiscal year is irresponsible.
Imminent announcement on FWSAR? Or just more delays?
A common knock on the F-35 is that it only has one engine. Is this a problem?
A look at Canada's myriad vehicle programs still not awarded. Will they ever be awarded?
More than 16,800 participants from all over pledged donations over $100,000.
Numerous entities provide input to Defence Procurement, why? And do their roles really need to be a whole of government effort?
Each, to varying degrees, would be expected to address deficiencies in the current fleets of relatively “soft-skinned” vehicles which are deemed no longer capable of meeting current and future requirements for protection, mobility, ergonomics, information and intelligence sharing.
The F-35 would be only the third Canadian frontline fighter to have a single engine. What happens if power is lost?
A quick update on the recent U.S. announcement of changes.
With a focus on core technologies, CMC Electronics quietly takes on the global avionics market, and wins.
Specialized and Amphibious Aircraft division optimize aircraft to meet a broad range of customer priorities.
The Buffalos, which should have been retired 19 years ago, now cost an estimated $20 million a year to maintain operationally.
A war of words continues to surround what would be Canada’s most expensive war-fighting machine: the F-35 Lightning II.
Controversy over Canada’s next-generation fighter aircraft, is it valid?
The challenge for the federal government is balancing the need for security against industry’s need to do business.
Canadian defence and security companies are waiting to see how U.S. President Obama’s proposed overhaul of export controls will affect them.
In many ways, ITARs backfired on U.S. companies. A review by the Obama administration is set to eliminate unnecessary obstacles on both ends of the ITAR supply chain.
In our ongoing look at the challenges of IRBs, Ken Pole reports on the key changes being considered for an IRB policy update.
The Industrial Regional Benefits program, the cornerstone of Canadian military and security procurement, has been undergoing detailed scrutiny with a view to increasing transparency, fairness and efficiency.
''Save Shearwater'' has become the rallying cry of a determined rearguard campaign to roll back the clock on the sale of nearly half of 12 Wing’s base in Shearwater, Nova Scotia. Cogent arguments for its preservation as a key element of Canada’s strategic capability may be for naught. Critics of the divestment argue that reinstating Canada's strategic airlift capability underscores the need to preserve the base in its entirety.
Imagine more than 700 aircraft in a country’s airspace in one day. Not generally a big deal. Then imagine them without a single pilot aboard.
Its unique flying characteristics make the helicopter ideally suited to search and rescue missions worldwide.
Articles by this writer
10 May update: Partial remains of second crew member, Captain Brenden Ian MacDonald, have been identified after CH-148 Cyclone accident. A repatriation ceremony for all six Canadian Armed Forces members killed at sea in a helicopter crash, took place on 6 May 2020. Read original story and updates here.