The Ukrainian War left Ottawa finding its army lacking key equipment. What else could I be missing?


After Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) found itself lacking equipment such as anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, as well as systems to defend against drones.

The military is now rushing to purchase these weapon systems, which are known to be critical to its defense capabilities. occurs and Canada is caught off-guard.

Robert Hubert, an associate professor of political science and defense policy expert at the University of Calgary, said, “The major challenge facing Canada lies at the heart of political leadership that fundamentally sees war as unthinkable. That element is still there, in an interview.

“While ugly indeed war is, it remains a constant and continuous element of the international system, and while acknowledging that Canada is not immune to it just because we are Canadians. No.”

The government recently announced a $19 billion purchase of 88 F-35 fighter jets from US firm Lockheed Martin to replace an aging fleet of CF-18 Hornets.

A full fleet of jets is not expected to be delivered until 2032. The jets will be delivered in installments over the next nine years, with the first 16 delivered between 2026 and 2028.

defense equipment needs

But the purchase of the F-35 jet only scratches the surface of Canada’s overall defense needs, Hubert says.

“We need to modernize the surface component of our Navy, and we need to modernize and rebuild our submarine capabilities,” he said. “On the maritime side, these are the two biggest factors, but we also need to integrate systems to recognize the evolving maritime threat environment.”

Canada’s 2017 Defense Policy, “strong, safe and enthusiastic,” including commitment Ottawa will invest in 15 Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) ships, which it said would become “a major surface component of Canada’s naval combat force.”

construction of First CSC ship It is not scheduled to start later this year or until 2024.

Huebert questions whether CAF has the necessary technology under the hood to accommodate “new, much smaller, much faster self-driving underwater vehicles.”

“In the North, we are discussing the modernization of NORAD. [North North American Aerospace Defense Command]but there is no discussion of its underwater dimensions,” he said.

According to a recent Canadian Press report, some CAF officials do not have access to certain cutting-edge military technology Canada possesses because it is not included in the AUKUS trilateral treaty between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. concerned by some of its closest allies.

The treaty includes US and UK plans to provide nuclear submarine technology to Australia.

James Ferguson, deputy director of the Center for Defense and Security Studies at the University of Manitoba, said Russia’s aggression against Ukraine would also show Canada’s need to improve its defense capabilities against long-range, medium- and short-range strike missile systems. It states that

Ferguson says Russia has a number of air- and ground-launched missile systems that it has used to hit long-range targets in central Ukraine.

He added that Canada’s investments in missile defense systems to date only cover “relatively short- to medium-range airborne missiles.”

“They don’t have any ranged abilities and enter that world [of long-range missile defence systems] It will cost a lot of money,” Ferguson told the Epoch Times.

“You’re talking about a very expensive missile defense system like America’s. [MIM-104] Patriot or American THAAD [Terminal High Altitude Area Defence] system. I have no plans to buy them now and they are very expensive. ”

sky and land

The purchase of the F-35 jet represents an important advance for Canada’s air defense capabilities, but certain issues still remain, Huebert said.

“We’re not buying the F-35 for dogfighting,” he says, referring to close-range aerial combat. “This is a system-of-systems aircraft. In other words, it leads to a whole attempt to dominate the air.”

Huebert said this would cause problems with system connectivity with international allies, and the lack thereof could pose problems for F-35 interoperability.

“To get the most out of the system, you need to work with allies.”

Huebert notes that while Canada’s investment in the F-35 will strengthen its future air defenses, some outstanding ground defense issues remain.

“We are Ukrainians [anti-aircraft] We have protection systems, but nothing for our military,” he said. Canadian Leopard 2 tank.

“I think one of the biggest challenges we face has to do with the basic equipment to protect our ground forces. Do we have the money to send them to the modern battlefield? ”

Another lesson learned from the war in Ukraine, Huebert said, is the continued importance of ground forces and their strategies despite advances in missile and aviation technology in modern warfare.

“Getting your feet on the ground and slugging it – that part is still an integral part of war.”

Canada’s Arctic surveillance is in jeopardy, as Inspector General Karen Hogan reported in November 2022 that aging equipment is jeopardizing Canada’s ability to effectively monitor the Arctic. received, and recently attracted attention.

The report also says that traffic in Canada’s Arctic waters has more than tripled since 1990, reaching all-time highs in 2019 and 2020.

“To be able to monitor the Arctic and monitor what is happening, we need tools – ships, aircraft, satellites, infrastructure … they are all aging,” Hogan told reporters. rice field.

Canada’s north alarm systemIt consists of a series of radar stations that provide aerospace surveillance of the northern approaches of Canada and the United States.

“A new generation of threats, the hypersonic threat, is flying above everyone in the lower regions of outer space, completely undetectable,” he said, noting that the North Warning System was originally a Soviet capable It was designed to detect gender, he added. bomber invasion.

“You can barely see north,” said Ferguson.

Hubert on the House Committee on Defense, October 2022he believes China will soon try to bring nuclear submarines to the Arctic region.

Defense Chief of Staff General Wayne Eyre Committee hearing That month, he believed China would challenge Canada in the Arctic in about 20 years, but Hubert told The Epoch Times he believed it would be sooner.

“They are not going to come in and invade the island,” he said, believing that China’s main purpose in the Arctic is to disrupt international norms and “challenge the U.S. Navy’s hegemony.” added.

“If Chinese submarines are likely to appear here and there, the United States must take that into consideration in its planning,” he said. “Mere existence matters.”

The Canadian Press and Tara MacIsaac contributed to this report.

peter wilson

Peter Wilson is a reporter based in Ontario, Canada.