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Air-Force.ca Administration

xx The Warning System

April 26, 2018, 14:53:06 by Scott
Next to the Staff turnover last year, the largest change we've had is in how we apply and manage warnings. In the old days, it was by manually slapping a huge banner on a user's account, writing it up and then manually removing it when the time came. The new approach is simpler and more transparent, for everyone. It's also streamlined to keep the Staff from becoming bogged down in managing warnings.

Overview:
  • A 0% warning can be used if a "warning shot" is needed, with no impact.
  • Users may apply a +5% warning to another user via the MilPoints Assessment screen, this falls into line with our users policing users approach.
  • At 10% a user is added to a watch list for the staff.
  • At 25% a user is moderated (all posts must be approved)
  • At 50%+ a user is muted (they cannot post)
  • Warnings automatically decay at a rate of 10% per day.
  • Each Staff can apply no more than 50% to a given user, on a given day.
  • This means any Staff can mute a user immediately, but concurrence from another Staff is required to keep it in place.
  • E.G. A user with 70% warning will be unable to post for 2 days, and back to normal usage in 7 days.
  • A user's entire warning history is displayed on the warning screen.
  • Staff can decrease warning % at any time.
  • All messages and warnings are logged, this helps any review process.

If you receive a warning that you wish to dispute, PM me and I will look into it. Please do not PM any Staff you see online. We're trying, as much as possible, to streamline how we handle matters like this, and a common approach is what is required.

Any questions, don't hesitate to contact me.
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Air-Force.ca News

xx No RCAF Maple Flag fighter exercise 2019

Yesterday at 16:30:06 by MarkOttawa
Sign of the declining CF-18 times:
Quote
Postponement of Exercise Maple Flag

The RCAF has decided to not conduct Exercise Maple Flag in 2019. The RCAF will use the opportunity to re-focus its resources to update the exercise’s mandate and to modernize the infrastructure used during the exercise. The RCAF will thereby ensure that Maple Flag remains focused and relevant to fighter operations in a dynamic and fluid battlespace, now and into the future.

“After careful consideration, we will not conduct Exercise Maple Flag in 2019. We are planning to ensure we have the right capabilities at hand while working to ensure we are able to meet the evolving training needs of Canada and our Allies,” said Lieutenant-General Al Meinzinger, commander of the RCAF. “By pausing to evaluate Maple Flag, including its role and conduct in future years, I am confident we will be able to deliver a revitalized training experience that will build on the legacy of excellence for which Maple Flag is known in Canada and around the world.”

The exercise is primarily conducted in the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range (CLAWR), a vast, restricted training area of more than a million hectares, located about 70 kilometres north of 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta. The Maple Flag pause will also allow the RCAF to upgrade and modernize infrastructure in the training area to ensure the exercise experience remains modern, safe and relevant.

“With the many technological advancements in military aviation over the decades, there has emerged a need for training methods and infrastructure to advance as well,” continued Lieutenant-General Meinzinger. “Our adversaries are innovating, and so must we and our Allies.”

Furthermore, the goal of Maple Flag has always been to prepare national and international participants for conducting operations. As the conduct of operations in a classified environment have become the norm internationally, Maple Flag must adapt to these new requirements to better replicate real-world operational situations. Therefore, the exercise will be adapted to make it a more realistic training environment for everyone involved.

Maple Flag is normally held each year over one or two, two-week periods from late May until late June. 4 Wing has hosted the international training event since 1978, when the primary purpose of the exercise was to re-create the first ten aerial combat missions a fighter pilot could expect to encounter during a conflict. It has evolved to include aircraft such as bombers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft and Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) aircraft as well as fighters. It now also integrates Air Force elements such as tactical airlift, tactical helicopters and electronic warfare assets as well as Army elements. Since 1987, the exercise has been cancelled on four occasions, all due to RCAF operational commitments.

The RCAF remains committed to conducting Maple Flag in the future. It is a core activity for the RCAF fighter force and provides personnel with an outstanding opportunity to train on Canadian territory alongside their partners and allies to develop and practice common tactics, techniques and procedures.

“It’s too early to say exactly what changes will take place or what our timeline will be,” said Lieutenant-General Meinzinger. “Our first step is to identify how Maple Flag should look in the future and then develop the processes to make those changes happen.

“The landscape of warfare has evolved, and Maple Flag must also evolve to ensure it remains operationally relevant for ourselves and our joint and combined partners, both now and into the future.”
http://rcaf-arc.forces.gc.ca/en/article-template-standard.page?doc=postponement-of-exercise-maple-flag/jpa6gejf

Matthew Fisher tweeted:
https://twitter.com/mfisheroverseas/status/1072899986554277888

Quote
@mfisheroverseas

Matthew Fisher Retweeted RCAF

Ominous. This is a cruel example of what happens when you make granstanding pokitical remarks about jets & don't buy new aircraft or respond to market pressures or demands from foreign air forces with far better jets who want Canadian fighter jocks & pay a premium for them.

And LGEN (ret'd) Michael Day responded:
https://twitter.com/DMike_Day/status/1072906890068287493

Quote
@DMike_Day
Replying to @mfisheroverseas

Would be interested in seeing portion of YFR that Maple Flag represents.

2 macro ways to extend the life of a platform:
Use them less,
Use them more gently.

Maple Flag = lot of hours x high demand = high cost to Airframe longevity.

Consequence = Less Training = Less Capable

Mark
Ottawa

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xx Hunting submarines from the air

November 09, 2018, 09:30:23 by Eye In The Sky
Decent Article (open source).  Yellow parts of mine and BOY the start kills me!  RAF MPA and crew!   :D  Someone is being...creative!

All you have to do is get past the fairy-tale start...because they RAF doesn't have MPAs and MPA 'crews', haven't for a while and won't have a single P-8 for some a while yet.  That's why for 4+ years, when they get a sniff of something, they call in the USN, RCAF and France to do the air piece.   ;D

Hunting submarines from the air


13 Jun 2018
 
Taken from the June 2018 issue of Physics World

Far above the ocean’s surface, aircraft hunt for an unseen enemy below the waves. To mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force, tactical co-ordinator Jason Furlong and pilot John Ryder describe how they use physics (and other countries MPAs and crews  :rofl:) to find submarines
 
At a Royal Air Force (RAF) base in northern Scotland, it has just turned 0200 GMT on a blizzardy winter morning. A bleary-eyed maritime patrol crew make final aircraft and mission system checks before air traffic control clears 1JF to line up on runway 08. As the plane positions itself for departure, a final brake check is conducted just as take-off clearance is issued. Auto-throttle is engaged and the two throttles advance to full power. The engines spool up with a howl, and the cold silence of the night is shattered as this hunter powers down the runway. At the call of “rotate”, the pilot pulls back on the controls propelling 1JF into a pitch-black moonless sky and en route to a long night over the north Atlantic. The hunt for submarines is on.  And it must be a unicorn the RAF is flying because they don't have MPAs.


A very short underwater history

While submarines are now relatively commonplace in the world’s oceans, it has taken mankind thousands of years to get there. Underwater military operations can be traced back to the Peloponnesian War from 431 to 404 BC, which was fought between the Delian League led by Athens and the Peloponnesian League led by Sparta. Thucydides (a main source from that era) records the Athenians using “divers” – probably men just holding their breath – during the Siege of Syracuse in Sicily. The divers cleared stakes that had been driven into the harbour floor by the Syracusans to defend against and damage Athenian ships.

Skipping forward to the early 1500s, Leonardo Da Vinci made some sketches of potential underwater vehicles, and the first prototype submersible was designed in 1578. However, it took another 42 years for the first successful submarine to be built. It was made by Cornelius Jacobszoon Drebbel, a Dutch engineer in the service of King James I of England. Propelled by oars and supplied with air from floating tubes, it was a simple vehicle and probably was not able to travel much below the surface.

One of the next major advances occurred in 1775 when the Turtle – among the first military submarines to be constructed – was built by the US. Its purpose was to attack British warships by attaching explosives to the enemy hulls. Although it looked more like an acorn than any well-evolved sea creature, its design pioneered underwater propulsion by using hand-screws to turn a propeller.

As technology advanced and various engineering challenges were solved, submarine propulsion and power evolved from human to mechanical, electrical, diesel and nuclear. Some modern vessels even power themselves with radical technologies that don’t rely on nuclear motors or access to atmospheric oxygen either. Indeed, the ability to remain submerged without surfacing for air is a critical advantage so the submarine can avoid poking bits of the vessel above the water’s surface, which could lead to a “detection opportunity” for a hunter’s sensors.

The first submarines were designed to sink surface ships, but today’s military vessels have many different roles: they can carry and launch cruise or ballistic nuclear-tipped missiles to hit far away land targets (deterrence and/or attack), deploy special forces for midnight raids, conduct surveillance, or simply deter an enemy by their assumed presence in a critical sea lane.

Many world powers possess and invest in an undersea military capability including the UK, US, Russia, China and North Korea, while the technology has also been exploited to a lesser extent by drug cartels, the tourist industry, adventurers and even the Beatles. Consequently, the cat-and-mouse game you might recall from Hollywood movies such as The Hunt for Red October is alive and well, with surface warships, aircraft and other submarines all used to detect and deter these (almost) silent vessels.


Submarine spotting in the First World War

In response to the big threat posed by enemy submarines in the First World War, which saw more than 5000 ships destroyed and 15,000 sailors lose their lives, the British Board of Invention and Research (BIR) came up with multiple counter-strategies. Working “to initiate, investigate and advise generally upon proposals in respect to the application of science and engineering to naval warfare”, the BIR included top physicists such as William Bragg and Ernest Rutherford. Switching his focus during the war from radioactivity and atomic structure to underwater acoustics, Rutherford made significant contributions to improving the underwater detection of sound from submarines.

There were, however, some rather odd solutions too for detecting submarines. One of the more unusual ideas proposed by the BIR involved dragging a dummy periscope behind a ship while food was discharged nearby. The aim was to attract a flock of seagulls to the periscope and, following repeated runs, condition the birds to associate periscopes with a good meal. Ergo, anytime a periscope popped above the surface, a flock of seagulls would beeline towards it giving the game away. Sadly, this idea didn’t work and the seagulls were left in peace to harass small children with ice creams.

Enter the maritime patrol aircraft

As with all new military technologies, the construction of submarines soon led to the development of techniques to spot enemy vessels. Some of these, dreamt up during the First World War, were rather odd (see box, above). That conflict also saw the introduction of aerial anti-submarine warfare (ASW) patrols. Blimps and early land-based planes became the first marine patrol aircraft (MPAs) and, by the Second World War, converted bombers and airliners were used in addition to purpose-built aircraft. Since then, most MPAs have derived from civilian airliners as they can fly long distances, stay airborne for a long time and have lots of interior space for the crew and mission equipment.

Two early examples of converted-airliner MPAs were the RAF’s Nimrod (originally the de Havilland Comet), which was retired in 2010, and the US Navy’s still-active P-3 (originally the Lockheed Electra). The most recently developed MPA, the Boeing P-8A Poseidon, is based on the Boeing 737, and is set to enter service with the RAF in the near future. Related to the MPA is the shipborne maritime ASW helicopter. It cannot fly as far or for as long as the planes but operates closer to the threat as the landing pad is at sea – something that keeps the crew highly motivated to hunt submarines so their own base doesn’t get sunk.

Submarine search science

All these aircraft are designed to exploit the fact that submarines can be found using physics. During an ASW mission, an aircraft crew use an array of hi-tech sensors to find any tell-tale trace left by a submarine as it glides under the water. Broadly speaking, these sensors can be classified as acoustic or electromagnetic, and active or passive.

Acoustic sensors look for sound pressure waves under the water, while electromagnetic sensors identify various parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. As for active sensors, they emit a shaped pulse of energy, or a ping, and collect any returning signal that has reflected off part of the submarine. Passive sensors, meanwhile “listen” to and collect any noise in the environment, which hopefully includes an emission from the target.
 
Perhaps the most familiar sensor is radar (which stands for radio detection and ranging). Radars send out a pulse of a radio frequency and then wait for a return pulse as it bounces off a target. Knowing the speed of light and the time it takes to get a return, you can calculate the distance to the target. This active method has been around since the late 1930s and while its original purpose was military, it is now used in a wide variety of commercial applications including weather tracking and crop surveillance.

The two most common passive sensors for the electromagnetic spectrum are electronic support measures (ESM) and optical devices. Optical sensors are possibly the oldest method of detecting submarines, dating back to the venerable but still useful, “Mk 1 eyeball” – the military nickname for the human eye. Modern variants are sophisticated electro-optical digital devices that extend beyond the visual spectrum and into the infrared, and include a high-power zoom function to see at extended ranges. Meanwhile, ESM listens to a broad range of radio frequencies, hoping to pick up the submarine’s emissions, such as its radar.

Both of these sensor types can, however, only be used when the submarine is at the surface or lies at “periscope-depth” – the depth at which their periscope and mast-mounted sensors can break the surface. Given that this is when a submarine is at its most vulnerable, it’s not surprising that submarine commanders prefer to keep their vessels fully underwater, leaving only the acoustic domain as the main detection medium for an MPA crew to exploit during their hunt.

There is, however, one exception – the magnetic anomaly detector (MAD). This is an extremely sensitive magnet usually housed in a pod at the back of an aircraft to isolate it from electromagnetic noise generated by the aircraft. This sensor measures the Earth’s magnetic field and senses any anomalies, alerting the crew to the potential presence of a submarine (or other large metal object) under the water. (That is the very basics, a good MAD operator can tell more than that from his trace.  That basically shows the level of knowledge most pilots and Tac's have about mad though  ;D).

Sounds like trouble

One of the issues with using underwater acoustics as a submarine detection device is that it is unfeasible to get an aircraft down into the water to listen and ping for the submarine. This is why the disposable sonobuoy was developed during the Second World War. Sonobuoys are cylindrical canisters dropped by parachute from an aircraft. They contain a hydrophone (special microphone) tuned to the water and a radio transceiver to send the information back to the aircraft. When it hits the water, the sonobuoy immediately deploys the hydrophone to a preset depth and erects a small floating antenna for a simple on-board radio to transmit the signal back to the aircraft. The range of sonobuoys and where they should be placed depends on the target and the local environment and is one of the most highly classified areas in ASW operations.

Sonobuoys come in two basic varieties: active and passive. The passive sonobuoy is a fairly simple, inexpensive hydrophone; its sole job is to gather all the acoustic energy in the water and convert it to a radio signal, which is transmitted back to a computer processor on the aircraft. The active sonobuoy (sonar), on the other hand, works like an underwater radar, but instead of radio waves, it transmits high-frequency sound waves (the pings) that can be remotely controlled by the crew. Any wave that leaves the sonobuoy and hits a solid surface in the water reflects back towards the transmitter, where a hydrophone collects the acoustic energy and transmits it back to the aircraft via its radio. Once received on the aircraft, the passive and active signals are digitally processed and converted into a visual format for the crew to analyse. This allows them to establish whether they’ve found an acoustic contact of interest and, more importantly, determine if it is a submarine. The crew can then calculate its course and speed using a variety of techniques including Doppler analysis.

There are several difficulties with finding submarines using sound. The biggest of these is other sources of sound in the water. The oceans are a noisy place and they are getting noisier all the time. Everything from ships to oil rigs creates noise but there are also geophysical movements and marine animals that inject their signals into the water.

Another problem is that underwater sound doesn’t travel in a straight line. Much like light refracting through lenses, sound waves are subject to Snell’s law of refraction and bend in fluid because of changes to the speed of sound in the propagation medium. In the case of the ocean, the principal factors affecting the speed of sound in water are: temperature, depth, salinity and amount of suspended particulate.

In the first 900 m of the ocean, temperature is the most important factor in determining the speed of sound (figure 1), while below that depth, the dominant factor is how far you are below the surface (figure 2). A sub hunter can measure or calculate most of these and as a result, vertical and horizontal profiles of the sound speed can be determined.

The most common way to measure the vertical speed component is to drop a disposable bathythermograph (a temperature and depth sensor) sonobuoy into the water, which gives a temperature profile similar to that in figure 1. If you know the temperature as a function of depth, you can now fairly accurately calculate the sound speed.

In the arbitrary example of figure 1, you will notice that from the surface to about 68 m, the temperature of the water increases before it suddenly decreases; this inflection in the graph is called the sonic layer depth (SLD) and is typical of a North Atlantic water mass early in the morning. The residual heat from the previous day is still latent in the lower levels of the SLD, but the higher levels have cooled off overnight. The consequence is that the speed of sound increases with depth in this shallow region as shown in figure 2, resulting in what is called a “surface duct” (figure 3). Sound waves from here heading towards the bottom of the ocean will be refracted back up to the surface. As for sound waves heading from this region towards the surface, they will bounce off the air–water interface and then refract off the lower layer much like light in a fibre-optic channel. Any sound source emanating in this region will therefore get trapped. Both active and passive sonobuoys in the surface duct will detect noise at extended ranges; however, all moving surface vessels inject noise into this duct, making it a very noisy region, allowing a submarine to blend into the background.

Below the SLD, as mentioned, the ocean water cools with depth, until the temperature eventually levels out. From this point the sound speed then increases dramatically due to the effects of water pressure. This increase creates a different, deeper sound duct. Known as the deep sound channel (DSC), it exists all over the world. Lacking all the noise of the surface duct, it tends to be quieter and, because it is physically larger, it favours lower frequencies, which attenuate less as a function of distance. These two types of propagation paths (surface and deep) are jointly referred to as direct-path propagation.

Two other types of sound propagation that bear mentioning are bottom bounce and convergence zone (CZ). Bottom bounce occurs when the sound waves reflect off the ocean floor and return back to a receiver. These are the most downward-oriented rays of sound that emanate from the source, overcoming the refracting effects of the layers to strike the ocean bottom and reflect back up to the receiver.

CZ occurs in very deep water, where there is space between the ocean floor and the bottom of the sound channel. High-volume sounds emanating from the near-surface area, like bottom bounce, penetrate the layers and then return back to the surface at a distance of 40–50 km away from the source. Because the sound waves are travelling at extreme depths, there is a blank region where there is no signal. This forms a doughnut-shaped annulus around the submarine making it vulnerable to detection in a specific area, but also creating areas called shadow zones where the submarine can hide. Plotting these other types of propagation paths on a diagram for a typical submarine, you get something that looks like figure 4.

Mission planning

Given all these factors, an MPA crew will spend a lot of time calculating the optimal placement of the sonobuoys and their depth settings before taking to the air. A variety of mathematical models have been developed that take into consideration all these factors so the crews can maximize their detection chances. Satellite images, weather buoys and underwater topographical charts all contribute to building an environmental picture so the crew has an idea of how to best configure the sensors. If the surface duct is weak, will the submarine hide in the noisy shallows or will it descend below the layer to hide? What is the time of day of the search? If it is late afternoon, then diurnal heating will increase the surface temperature and the water immediately below, erasing the effect of the surface duct so only the DSC exists. All these factors need to be taken into consideration by the crew. Of course, the submarine’s mission needs to be factored into the planning as the submarine captain will use tactics that best exploit the observed conditions to achieve mission success.

Now, this is just how sound works in the deep ocean. Once you get closer to shore, sea-bottom topography plays a larger part in the propagation of sound, adding to the already formidable list of factors that make it difficult to find an underwater target.

Springing the trap

Back in the North Atlantic and five hours into the patrol, the bleary-eyed crew of 1JF wait for the curry in the oven to heat up, while staring at their screens looking for a faint whisper to indicate the presence of their prey. Suddenly, the acoustic sensor operator cries out “Contact!” over the intercom, jolting the crew into action. The tactical co-ordinator sends a new waypoint to the pilot; the plane banks and the chase is on. With careful co-ordination between pilots and tactical crew, sonobuoys are surgically deployed to capitalize on the weak signal and soon the presence of the submarine is confirmed as it is trapped in a carefully laid pattern of submerged “trip-wires”. Now the crew must maintain acoustic contact until it can be handed over to another aircraft, helicopter, ship or possibly even a friendly submarine. Of course, in wartime, the crew will be waiting for another call over the radio; one that authorizes an attack.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I'm thinking of our Sqn ASO Stds O and trying to picture him "crying out".  He's former PPLCI and Federal Corrections; not exactly the type to 'cry out' in the Brit drama ways.   ;D
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xx RCAF aircrew shortage

September 18, 2018, 10:33:30 by Eagle Eye View
Link to article,

https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/air-force-pilots-shot-1.4827862

The Royal Canadian Air Force is contending with a shortage of around 275 pilots and needs more mechanics, sensor operators and other trained personnel as well in the face of increasing demands to conduct and support domestic and international missions.
The Air Force says it is working to address the deficiencies and that they have not negatively impacted operations.
Still, officials acknowledge the situation has added pressure on Canada's flying corps and will represent a real challenge for the foreseeable future.
"Right now we're doing everything we can to make sure we recruit, train and retain enough personnel to do our current mission," said Brig.-Gen. Eric Kenny, director general of air readiness.
"In the next 20 years, it's going to be a challenge to grow the force at the rate that we would like."

The shortfall in pilots and mechanics was referenced in an internal report recently published by the Department of National Defence, which also flagged underspending on maintenance for bases and other infrastructure, as well as reductions in annual flying times thanks to Conservative-era budget cuts.
Some of those issues have since started to be addressed by the Liberals through their new defence policy, but the personnel shortage remains an area of critical concern given the need for pilots and others to fly and maintain the military's various aircraft fleets at home and abroad.
Those include the planes and helicopters involved in Canada's military missions in Iraq, Latvia, Mali, and Ukraine; domestic search-and-rescue aircraft; and the CF-18 fighter jets deployed in Romania and guarding against a foreign attack on North America.

The Air Force is authorized to have 1,580 pilots, but Kenny said in an interview that the Air Force is short by around 17 per cent, or about 275 pilots. It is facing similar deficiencies when it comes to navigators and sensor operators who work onboard different types of aircraft as well as mechanics, he added.
'It's definitely a challenge'
Kenny also acknowledged the threat of burnout as service members are forced to pick up the slack left by unfilled positions, and the added challenge in the coming years as the Air Force receives new drones, fighter jets and other aircraft — which will require even more people to fly and maintain.
Efforts have been made to address the shortfalls, including more focus on retaining service members with tax breaks, additional support and services for family members to ease military life, and plans to free up experienced personnel by assigning administrative staff to do day-to-day tasks.
Several initiatives have also been introduced to speed up recruitment and training and attract older pilots back into the Forces, which has borne some fruit, while the military looks at changing the length of time pilots and others are required to serve before they can leave.
But the current training system means the Air Force can only produce 115 new pilots each year, which commanders have said is insufficient to meet its needs given the number that have been leaving for commercial opportunities in recent years.

The Department of National Defence is drawing up plans for a new system that officials hope will be in place by 2021 and include the ability to expand or shrink the number of trainees in any year given the Air Force's needs.
Kenny said the shortfalls will remain a challenge since the current system will remain in place for several more years — and because it takes four and eight years to train a pilot from scratch.
"We know what capabilities we're receiving and now we can start working to make sure that we have personnel that are trained to be able to meet those requirements," he said. "But I'm not going to lie: It's definitely a challenge."

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xx Cf aircraft designation numbers

September 13, 2018, 22:46:37 by Spencer100
Would anyone know or have a list of the CF aircraft designation numbers. Or where I can find it.  Eg CF-100 Avro Canuck. CC-130 Lockheed Hercules.  I am looking for the numbers and the missing names and holes in the sequence.
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xx WW2 Air Force Vet Passes Away

August 28, 2018, 11:43:51 by OldTanker
I wasn't sure if this should be posted in "The Mess" or under Air Force, so mods if you want to move it, please do so. But since there is a specific Air Force connection to this story, I've posted it here.

My Dad, WO Eric Black, passed away on August 16. He was 92 and had lived a full and, up until very recently, healthy life. His passing was quick and painless and went as well as could be expected. Dad joined the Canadian Army in 1942, serving with the 2nd Battalion North Nova Scotia Highlanders. He lied outrageously about his age, adding two years to the truth and as soon as he could qualify to go overseas, joined the RCAF in 1943. After basic training he was posted to Linton-on-Ouse with a Canadian bomber wing. Right at the end of the war he was posted to mainland Europe where he served with a Canadian Spitfire wing. Dad's service was pretty innocuous, he wasn't air crew and most of the work he did on the ground was un-glamourous in the extreme. In fact, he told me the most dangerous thing that happened to him during the war involved a motorcycle, bottle of Canadian Club and a dare. Dad was never shy to talk about the war years, but it is interesting that there are two stories that only surfaced recently and that I think he had repressed for all these years. I want to share them with you.

Working as ground crew in Linton, one of Dad's jobs was to collect the personal effects from the bomber crew before they headed off. He would collect wallets, photos, etc and store them until they returned. If they returned. Only in the last few weeks of his life did he share with me one of the more poignant aspects of his job. He told me the ground crew would stand on a small hill on the base and wave good bye to the bombers, then later count them back. It was at this stage he would break into tears and say "So many of the boys didn't come back. And they were all just boys". He was only 18 himself. 65 years later this memory still affected him.

The second story he had repressed involves the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Dad's fighter wing was located somewhere in northern Germany at the end of the war. He never told me this story until about a year ago when we were watching a documentary on the TV concerning the concentration camps. It was like a shadow fell over him and he just muttered "I was there. I remember that". When I pressed him for the story, this is what he told me. When the Canadians were getting their pay there was an issue of chocolate and candy as part of their rations. There was a box on the table that said "for the camp victims" or something similar. Of course neither Dad, nor any of the others really understood what this meant. So Dad, always being of a curious nature, asked one of the drivers who was taking the chocolate and candy away if he could go with him. The driver said sure, but to be ready for a shock. So they drove to Belsen and unloaded the goods. This was shortly after it had been liberated and Dad said there were still piles of dead bodies lying around and the survivors were in terrible condition. He said it struck him speechless, and he never discussed this for over 60 years. When he saw the documentary all he said is "it was a hell of a lot worse that it shows on TV". And said no more.

Dad went on to serve with the RCAF until 1968. He couldn't stomach unification and refused to wear a green uniform. He retired to Victoria but remained a proud RCAF veteran and paraded every Remembrance Dad proudly wearing his medals, always brightly shone. He will be buried in the Esquimalt Veterans' Cemetery on September 4, and I have made sure there will be a military padre in attendance (thank you Capt Ken Nettleton of the Canadian Scottish Regiment) to send him off appropriately, and that his grave marker will proudly display the RCAF crest.

Dad loved the RCAF. Per Ardua Ad Astra. I will miss him.
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Military Quote
Remembrance, like a candle, burns brightest at Christmas Time.

- Charles Dickens, 1812 - 1870

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Military Word Of The Day
NWT
:
Northwest Territories


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Today in Military History

December 13



1937:

Nanking falls to the Japanese, followed by the brutal "Rape of Nanking", up to 200,000 Chinese massacred (to 5 Feb 38)




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