Canadian Power Timeline (1972-2000)
From Canadian Power Wiki
The timeline that this wiki is about.
- 1 Timeline
- 1.1 Part One
- 1.2 Part Two
- 1.3 Part Three
- 1.4 Part Four
- 1.5 Part Five
- 1.6 1994
- 1.7 1995
- 1.8 1996
- 1.9 1997
- 1.10 1998
- 1.11 1999
- 1.12 2000
HMS Eagle (R05) is decommissioned on January 26th, 1972 in favour of keeping its sister ship, HMS Ark Royal (R09), in service. In Canada the chaos of the unification and Trudeau's decisions result in mass waves of departures from the Canadian Forces, his minority government faces a Conservative opposition which is badgering for Trudeau to fix this. Purchasing the recently decommissioned HMS Eagle is seen by Conservative leader Robert Stanfield as an opportunity for Trudeau to restore some of the luster to the Canadian military. NDP leader David Lewis agrees after some convincing.
On February 20th, after being leveraged into doing so, Trudeau makes what he believes to be a ridiculous offer to Britain for Eagle, one that he fully expected would be turned down. To his surprise though, the British accept the offer. Plans are made to tow the Eagle to Halifax later in the year. Eagle is towed to Canada and arrives in Halifax, Nova Scotia on December 12th, 1972.
On February 21st, Trudeau decides to use the opportunity to throw the Canadian Forces idea back in Stanfield's face, and announces that the mammoth Saint John Shipbuilding yards, in Saint John, New Brunswick, will rebuild HMS Eagle. Plans for the work on Eagle will include stretching the hull, automatic boiler control, the AN/SPS-48E 3D air search radar as well as a lot more work to allow Eagle which is in fairly good condition to serve as late as the year 2000. The rebuild is expected to start on May 23rd that year.
The Oil Crisis shakes the world in October, and the limitations of Canada's power become immediately and obviously apparent. Trudeau decides that the best option for Canada here is to force the oil supplier provinces of the West to sell to Canada at lower prices. Trudeau's support in the West drops like a stone as a result, and the problematic economic issues, including growing inflation, are enough to cause Trudeau political problems.
In May, Stanfield and Lewis manage to get a motion of no confidence is passed against the Trudeau Government sending Canadians to the polls with the election occurring on July 8th. A political fight between him and Stanfield would rage for the next two months. On July 8th, Canadian head to the polls and to Trudeau’s surprise, the Progressive Conservatives win a slim majority gaining 135 (or 51.14%) of the 264 seats. Later in life, Trudeau would admit that he had engineered it because he believed at the time that he would be voted in with a majority. Stanfield’s policy of targeting inflation by freezing wages and prices at first produces many grumbles, but it does succeed in slowing inflation, giving Stanfield a stronger hand in domestic affairs.
Eagle's rebuild continues unabated at Saint John. The Canadian Forces leases a number of ex-USN F-4J Phantom II fighter-bombers to outfit the carrier, which quickly become the best aircraft in the Canadian Forces, something which is more than a little embarrassing to the Forces
Eagle's rebuild is completed in August 1975, with a hull and flight deck lengthened by 24 feet (7.32 meters) and with a 12 degree flight deck, modern radars and electronics, computerized propulsion controls and new boilers, three new steam catapults (salvaged from retired Essex-class carriers), much-improved HVAC systems and many other upgrades.
Sure enough, the CF makes requests to have its experienced carrier guys come back to help the Forces get the carrier back in fighting shape. Many respond. HMCS Eagle commissions on November 11th, 1975, at CFB Halifax. The 55,000-ton carrier has a crew of 1,520 and an air wing of 50 aircraft, made up of the thirty leased F-4J Phantom II fighters, a quartet of Grumman E-1B Tracer AEW aircraft, eight S-2F Tracker ASW aircraft, two C-1 Trader COD aircraft and six Sikorsky CH-124 Sea King helicopters. Even as Eagle commissions, the CF is badgering Ottawa to buy the Grumman E-2B Hawkeye AWACS aircraft and new fighters for the Air and Maritime Command.
Reversing Trudeau's decisions, in November 1975 the Liberals side with the Conservatives on the military and begin supporting a major overhaul of the Canadian Forces.
Canadian aircraft carrier HMCS Eagle leaves for its first deployment on February 17th, 1976, along with destroyers Iroquois and Athabaskan, destroyer escorts Gatineau, Terra Nova and Nipigon, the submarine Okanagan, and the support ship HMCS Preserver, bound for Cyprus to support the Canadian and British Forces stuck in-between the Turks and Greeks on the island. The island had been invaded by Turkey in 1974, and an October 1975 incident where Turkey accidentally shelled a Canadian position in Cyprus, killing six Canadians and wounding 11, had led to public opinion demanding that the Canadian Forces' new flagship be deployed to the area. The Turks were not impressed by this, of course.
In March, the US approves the sale of eight Grumman E-2B carrier AWACS aircraft, though the Americans expect that Canada will also want to use the Hawkeyes as land-based AEW. That year, the New Fighter Aircraft program also begins. The competitors for the NFA were the Grumman F-14 Tomcat, McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle, General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon (and Vought V-1600), McDonnell-Douglas F/A-18 Hornet (though it was not called this at the time), Dassault Mirage F1 and Panavia Tornado. The Mirage F1 was eliminated because it's performance was too low, Dassault replied by proposing the Mirage 2000 instead. The Tornado, F-14 and F-15 were eliminated due to being too expensive, though Grumman, strapped for cash, quickly offered to reduce the price of the F-14 somewhat, it was still too pricey for Canada's wishes.
On April 21st, 1976, Turkey demanded the removal of all foreign forces from Cyprus at the UN in New York, specifically attacking the Canadians for "interfering with the affairs of Cyprus and insulting Turkey in the process. Prime Minister Stanfield angrily replied that the Turks had killed six Canadians in Cyprus and that the carrier was there to protect the Canadian Forces. Turkey's ambassador, clearly incensed, snapped back "that's our island anyways, you have no right to be there."
Turkey's comment raised a shitstorm. Cyprus demanded additional UN peacekeepers, and Greece angrily told Turkey that any Turkish attempt to take all of the island would see Greek forces garrison the island. The Canadian media was similarly amazed that Turkey had the balls to say that in the UN, at the expected cost of their international support.
US President Gerald Ford at this point stepped into the picture, offering up a plan to integrate Cyprus under its own jurisdiction, while mandating that Nicosia respect the rights of all involved, and offer 1/3 representation in parliament and a Cypriot Constitution that would not allow discrimination based on ethnicity or religion. Greece agreed, as did both divisions of Cyprus. Turkey, rather than trying to help the settlement, got angrier, including inflaming the Turkish population, saying that the UN was trying to take Turkish land and give it to Greece and saying that if they allowed this, the UN would give Greece Istanbul next.
Sensing a storm brewing, Eagle is deployed for a second time to the area, rapidly refueling and fixing things in Halifax before departing for Cyprus on July 25th, 1976. The vessel cleared Gibraltar on August 11th and reached Cyprus on August 20th. They joined HMS Ark Royal (R09), Nimitz and USS Saratoga (CV-60), three other carriers on scene.
On August 25th, despite the naval forces there, Turkey began moving troops to the island in big numbers again. The powers involved asked, and got, the Greeks not to respond, but Greece did begin moving forces to Cyprus. The Peacekeeper UN forces became UN armed forces, though they made it clear that if Turkey didn't step over the de facto boundary, there would be no problem. President Ford made it clear that the US did not support Turkey's current position and that the Turks should let it be.
Despite all of this, the Turks didn't listen at all. On September 10th, the Turkish Army invaded the southern portion, one of its first acts being sending F-4 Phantom II fighter-bombers against UN positions in Nicosia, killing over 60 men including 28 Canadians.
News of that hit Ottawa to an immense roar from the government and the nation. The next day, war was declared in Ottawa, followed simultaneously by Washington, London and Athens. A UN declaration of war followed suit. That day, the Canadian carrier performed its first combat missions, attacking Turkish positions in northern Cyprus. The Turkish Navy tried to remove the allied military forces - but this failed dramatically. The first sinking by Canadian Naval Forces occurred on September 18th, when HMCS Okanagan sank a Turkish destroyer. The Turks made two attempts to sink Eagle, both ending in abject failures.
Turkey's strong army fairly easily beat down the Greek Cypriot land forces, as they retreated back to the British Naval Bases. Turkey never scratched these - they feared a British nuclear retaliation. But Turkey's Navy, badly beaten up by British, American and Canadian carrier-based air and naval forces, couldn't hope to support their troops on the island. The troops exacted ugly revenge on the Greek Cypriots, killing hundreds of them (though rumors say that number was actually thousands).
A UN force, led by the United States Marine Corps, Royal Marines, Greek Army and Canadian Forces Land Force Command, showed up on October 21st, 1976, to clean up in Cyprus. They quickly routed the larger in number but badly under-supplied Turkish forces. By November, the UN was demanding that the Turks get off the islands altogether. The Turks fought bitterly, but their failure was inevitable. On November 19th, the Turkish commander on Cyprus surrendered - symbolically, he surrendered to the Canadian Princess Patricia's Light Infantry, rather than surrender to the British or Americans.
The Canadian victory had proven the worth of the Forces to win in a modern war, and in doing so had dramatically increased the stature of the military in the eyes of Canadians, and ensured that its rebuilding would be much bigger and faster than before.
Cyprus would become home to one of the largest UN peacekeeping groups ever, some 26,000 men. Cyprus was a unified nation again. Greek Cypriots, as disgusted at Turkey as they were, made it clear that they would not retaliate against Turkish Cypriots for Turkey's actions. The plan put forward by President Ford would be implemented through 1977, and the first Cypriot government was formed in April 1978. Turkish Cypriots were allowed to leave if they wished, and while some did most didn't. The festering hatred between the two groups died away over time, though the UN peacekeeping force remains to this day.
Turkey, incensed, ordered US troops out of Turkey. The Cypriots, sensing the opportunity, allowed a much expanded base at Akrotiri, which in the 1980s would grow to be home to American and British bombers, as well as many other forces. Canada and Greece were also allowed to use the base, and both countries would make use of it.
Coming off the victory in Cyprus, programs to rebuild the Canadian military grew rapidly. The NFA program had its budget increased from 2.34 billion USD to 3.1 billion USD, which put the Panavia Tornado and Grumman F-14A back into the competition. In a completely unexpected surprise, the Soviet Union also offered up the Mikoyan MiG-23, which the Canadians liked as an aircraft but politically was not likely to be acceptable. The Tornado and Tomcat however were found to be too specialized for the multiple roles that the Canadian Forces envisioned for them.
The Forces, having narrowed the competition to the F/A-18A/B Hornet, its de-navalized version the F-18L and the F-16A/B Fighting Falcon.
The forces also began looking for replacements for its aging fleet of naval vessels, which were in particular starting to show their age, despite having performed quite admirably in the Mediterranean.
Rumors begin to surface about the Canadian Forces selecting the F/A-18 Hornet to do the job of a new high-performance fighter, and also select the P-3 Orion to be its new maritime patrol aircraft. The twin-engined Hornet impresses the Canucks due to its BVR and multirole capabilities compared to the rather limited F-16.
General Dynamics and Pratt and Whitney, not wanting to see the F/A-18 gain the potentially very lucrative contract, offered to have the Pratt and Whitney F100-P200 engines made in Quebec, a massive windfall indeed, and led to the Premier of Quebec publicly wanting the F-16 to be the winner of the NFA program, because it provided more benefits for Quebec.
This, however, backfired in GD and P&W's faces when Levesque's plans for a referendum on Quebec independence began turning up in Quebec newspapers in 1979. Knowing of this backfire and wanting to make up ground, the companies offered to not only build the F-16s in Canada, but also allow Canadair to have a license to produce them on their own. Northrop and General Electric fired back with a similar offer, allowing the Canadian government the ability to make future aircraft entirely in Canada, with just license fees and expertise deals being paid to the Americans. President Carter supported this idea - he was wanting to limit the sales of front-line US gear to prevent it from falling into Soviet hands, but Canada was about as likely to go communist as the United States was.
While the companies battled, the Maritime Command did its own studies. Their studies found that the F/A-18 would work on Eagle, but it was somewhat large to do the job and would make space kind of limited aboard the carrier, and they began to look for an attack aircraft to complement the Hornet. They also found that two-seat aircraft were better for close-in attack roles, something the US knew through its experience with its A-6 Intruder and F-111 Aardvark attack aircraft.
Stanfield was forced to call an election, and while some were expecting a minority government, Stanfield kept his narrow majority. The Liberals and NDP swapped seat between then, the NDP rising to 35 seats from 16. The Liberals gained eight from the collapsing Social Credit party, which was sinking fast and had almost nothing with which to save itself. Stanfield kept 147 seats of the 282 up for grabs.
The NFA program reached its conclusion thanks, indirectly to the Maritime Command. They announced that while the F/A-18 was a great fighter for its purposes, they wanted an attack aircraft. Rumors about the forces asking discreet questions about the A-7 Corsair II began circling.
General Dynamics, realizing this, went to LTV and asked about buying the rights to make the A-7E for the USN and Canadians. LTV said that the company, losing money, could simply buy the company's aircraft divisions. With orders for the F-16 rolling in, the extra capacity was a good idea in the eyes of General Dynamics, and they bought LTV's aircraft division on April 20th, 1979. The next day, they offered to end their objections if the Navy bought the A-7E Corsair II for the Navy.
On May 25th, 1979, the NFA program was ended, and the Canadian Forces announced a $3.1 Billion program. On order were 138 F/A-18 Hornets, including 40 two-seat Hornets, and 54 A-7E Corsair II attack aircraft, all of them two-seaters. The contrac
But a back-door situation just about derailed the whole process. On April 1st, 1979, Iran became an "Islamic Republic", to the chagrin of the United States. President Carter's at first cordial relations with the new government went downhill fast, after the new government demanded the United States return the former leader, Shah Reza Pahlavi, for trial. As negotiations over this continued, militant students broke into the American Embassy in Tehran and took some 52 people hostage.
Overnight, some five billion dollars worth of military equipment purchased by the Iranian government could not be delivered, including over 300 fighter jets and numerous warships, tanks and other military gear. For Canada and its plans, it was a bonanza.
On September 15th, 1979, the Canadian Forces made a proposal to the Iranian government for Canada to purchase its fleet of 79 F-14A Tomcats. This broke in the Canadian media two days later, to the shock and disgust of McDonnell-Douglas, which had banked on the F/A-18 Hornet deal.
Having been recently re-elected and knowing that they didn't want to be sued for breach of contract, the DND made the decision that if the government could afford it, they would field all three aircraft. Stanfield decided to gamble the total.
On September 27th, 1979, the Canadian Forces announced that the F-14s would be in addition to the NFA program, and that the aircraft would be used to replace the CF-101 Voodoo in the interceptor role. A few pointed out that the Tomcat would be doing what had been envisioned for the Avro Arrow, though the National Post sent a reporter to ask Grumman about how good the F-14 was. That reporter was invited to a test flight by Grumman of a Tomcat, to which he was amazed.
Iran, knowing that it could not get parts for its fleet of sophisticated American-made aircraft and that fixing the Tomcats was far beyond them, were happy to sell. On January 27th, 1980, the Iranian government agreed to sell its 79 F-14A fighters to Canada for $1.3 Billion. Canada's deposit went quickly, and all of the fighters were flown to Canada between February and August 1980.
As soon as news of the sale of the Tomcats was on, the United States offered to also sell Canada the stock of AIM-54 Phoenix missiles that Iran didn't take delivery of, which Canada again took advantage of. Armed as such, the first reformed Canadian Forces CF-184 (the designation for the Tomcat) squadron activated on April 25th, 1981.
The first CF-188 (F/A-18 Hornet) aircraft were delivered to Canada in December 1982, with the last one delivered in January 1988. The first unit to get the Hornet was HMCS Eagle, which wanted to retire and return the F-4s leased from the United States. The refit to allow Eagle to carry the Hornets was done from February-October 1983, and the carrier reactivated with its new air wing on January 10th, 1984.
The CF-187 saw its first delivery to CFB Halifax on November 15th, 1980, with the order completed in June 1982. All 54 aircraft were assigned to squadrons of the Maritime Command's Fleet Air Arm. They replaced several of the F-4 Phantoms on Eagle during its 1981 and 1982 deployments, before the Hornets finally allowed the Phantom's retirement in January 1984.
The Canadian Forces' effort in 1980 is focused on the arrival of its new CF-184 and CF-187 aircraft. The first CF-184 arrived at Halifax on February 24th, 1980, to a large crowd anxious to see just what the new fighter of the Canadian Forces looked like. The massive, swing-wing Tomcat certainly sparked imaginations.
The Americans, not displeased that Canada's new planes would constitute a massive upgrade of the Canadian and NORAD air defenses, had no issue with Canadian pilots using American simulators for training. Most of the new CF-184 pilots were fighter veterans anyways, so the move up to the Tomcat, while a massive jump from the CF-101, CF-104 and CF-116, was one that the pilots could make. Meanwhile, the United States began its sale of many of the auxiliaries to the Maritime Command, including Sparrow, Phoenix and Sidewinder missiles. Meanwhile, the government decided, in a move which surprised many, to keep some of the CF-116 Freedom Fighters, largely as trainers and backup fighters. This was done with an eye towards being able to keep the fighters, which had all been manufactured in Canada, able to be used if they were needed.
Another deal was offered to the Canadians in 1980 from the Americans, again courtesy of Iran. Four guided missile destroyers had been ordered by Iran but not delivered due to the revolution. President Carter was not keen on the vessels being commissioned into the USN, and asked the Navy to find a buyer for the vessels if they could. Canada was first in line, and with its fleet of destroyers starting to show their age (particularly the St. Laurent and Restigouche-class destroyer escorts), the offer - $600 million for all four vessels - was a steal. Canada bargained the price down to $550 million, and the deal was signed on August 26th, 1980. The first vessel arrived at Halifax on November 10th, 1980.
1980 was a big year in politics in Canada, too. Quebec's Parti Quebecois government, which had been agitating for Quebec independence since its inception in 1968, had planned a referendum on the subject for May 1980. Stanfield, not at all sympathetic to the separatists, asked Trudeau to lead the government forces. Trudeau accepts, and with his right hand men Claude Ryan and Jean Chretien, are instrumental in defeating the referendum. The relations between the opposition leader and his archrival from across the aisle had never been openly hostile, though before this they had never shown a lot of respect for each other. After Trudeau's fervent fight to beat the separatists, however, that changed. At Trudeau's suggestion, and with the support of much of the country and most of his cabinet, Stanfield announced on October 15th that he would follow through on a promise made during the fight against the separatists to repatriate the Canadian Constitution.
A major PR coup for the CF is done when the Forces' offer to provide a helicopter to support Terry Fox in his attempt to run across the country. Terry's attempt is cut short due to spreading cancer at Thunder Bay, Ontario.
The first operation CF-184 unit, 421 Tactical Fighter Squadron, is activated at CFB Cold Lake, Alberta, on April 25th. This squadron is the first of five 16-aircraft squadrons that are activated through 1981 and 1982 - two at Cold Lake, two at Goose Bay, Labrador and one at Bagotville, Quebec.
At the same time, Eagle returns from its last deployment with a full F-4 Phantom/E-1 Tracer air wing, trading in the Tracers for E-2B Hawkeye radar aircraft and half the F-4s for 18 brand-new CF-187 Corsair IIs. All of the Corsairs are part of the MARCOM's Fleet Air Wing, similar to the F-4s. The Forces undertake a highly public mission on June 25th, when one of the CF Corsairs flies Terry Fox's father, who was on business in Halifax, Nova Scotia, home to Westminster, British Columbia to be at his son's bedside. Fox's death on June 28th is a big event for Canada in General. The CF offers to do a fly-over as part of Fox's funeral, but the family wishes it not to be so public an affair, and the CF agrees. On August 11th, destroyer HMCS Qu'Appelle is renamed HMCS Terry Fox. The Canadian Forces after this event becomes a very regular supporter of the Terry Fox Run, which grows to be a major event to raise money for cancer research across Canada.
The four Kidd-class guided missile destroyers - named HMCS Ontario (DDG-284), HMCS Quebec (DDG-285), HMCS British Columbia (DDG-286) and HMCS Alberta (DDG-287) - are commissioned through 1981, after crews are trained. They are first non-US vessels to use the RIM-67 SM-2 Standard surface to air missile, and are among the best air-warfare destroyers on the planet. The four destroyers are primarily used to support Eagle, providing Canada with a full setup for a battle group.
The first CF-188 Hornet fighters arrive in Canada in October, the first of the 138 fighters. That year, the Canadian Forces announces the development of the Canadian Patrol Frigate Project, and a full plan for the future of the Canadian Forces in general.
The plan proposes for the Forces to be focused on three goals - the defense of Canada's airspace, coastline and realm; active involvement in NATO and other alliances and the assistance of good government all around the world. The specifics call for a modernized and upgraded land and naval commands, along with an independent air force capable of deployment anywhere in the world if needed. The goals of the plans are proven by the Falklands War between Argentina and Great Britain, which kicks off on April 2nd, 1982. That 74-day war results in the deaths of 255 Brits, 650 Argentines and three Falkland Island residents but allows Britain to retake the islands. After the war, the British MoD would revive development of the Type 43 destroyers in order to provide the Royal Navy with better air defense capabilities.
On September 21th, 1982, Canada's patriated constitution is signed in Ottawa by Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Robert Stanfield. The ceremony also includes opposition leaders Pierre Trudeau and Ed Broadbent. On May 26th, the Queen opens Canada's first session of Parliament after the constitution's repatriation.
The first operational Hornet unit commissions on June 17th at Bagotville, Quebec, while the last CF-187 is delivered to the Navy. Shortly thereafter, HMCS Eagle gets her first operational squadron of the Hornets, with that squadron of the Fleet Air Wing being activated on November 24th, 1983, at CFB Shearwater near Halifax.
That year, the Canadian Forces begins many of the programs that its plan for the Forces' future outlines, with the frigates and new equipment for the land force being high on the list. Other programs, such as new helicopters and AWACS aircraft, are lower on the list but still being considered.
Big political news comes in April as Stanfield announces his retirement. He says he will stay on as Prime Minister and party leader until his successor is chosen. The battle for the Conservative Party leadership is fought bitterly between Joe Clark and Brian Mulroney. Mulroney is victorious, and with the succession complete, Stanfield resigns from the Prime Minister job on October 20, 1983, allowing Mulroney to take his place. Mulroney is quite rapidly on good terms with both Canadians (Conservative popularity is high as the country comes powering out of its deep 1981-82 recession) and foreign allies. Him and US President Ronald Reagan in particular develop a strong relationship. That year, an interview by US Navy Chief of Naval Operations James Watkins is a chuffer for the Canadian Forces, as Watkins calls Canada the United States' "strong right hand", and expressing satisfaction that the CF was quickly becoming a very modern military force.
A massive milestone for the Maritime Command is passed when the first "Canada Squadron" sails into the Atlantic Ocean, departing Halifax on April 25th, 1984. The fleet, made up of Eagle, missile destroyers Ontario and British Columbia, anti-sub destroyers Annapolis and Terry Fox, and submarine Ojibwa, sails out into the Atlantic and faces off with USS Forrestal, which finds the Canadian carrier, with its CF-18 Hornets and CE-2 Hawkeyes, to be a fairly tough rival. Ojibwa makes things even worse for the Americans when it shows up during the exercise immediately behind Forrestal, leading to a comment by Forrestal's CO "We got beaten. I don't know how, but the igloo-dwellers beat us!"
The success surprises the Maritime Command, which expected the aging Oberon-class subs to be easy prey for American nuclear subs. The success of the Canadian Forces' rebuild of Eagle and the problems faced by British forces in Argentina leads to Thatcher's decision in June 1984 to order HMS Ark Royal, which had been decommissioned in 1978 and laid up, to be reactivated. In late 1984, the Royal Navy asks for Canadian Forces technicians to assist them in rebuilding Ark Royal back to battle-readiness. The Canadian Forces of course agree, and the United States, where President Reagan is undertaking his own big defense buildup and is more than happy to allow two of his staunchest allies to work up their military capacity. HMS Ark Royal enters dry dock at Marconi Marine's year in Glasgow on September 14th, 1984, while work is still done on her design. They Royal Navy also announces plans to construct eight Type 43 destroyers to replace the recently decommissioned County-class guided missile destroyers.
The 1984 Canadian elections are the third-straight Conservative majority government, but this time Mulroney grows the Conservative Majority to 150 seats out of a possible 282. The Liberals score decently under John Turner, winning 91 seats. The NDP gets their best-ever showing, grabbing 41 seats. Mulroney continues with the plans for Canada's military.
1985 begins for the Canadian Forces with its carrier at sea. HMCS Eagle, having spent its entire commissioned career in the Atlantic, moves to the Pacific, but its size requires it to sail the long way around Cape Horn. The carrier and her group take 46 days to sail from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Esquimalt, British Columbia, arriving on February 8th, 1985. The "Canada Squadron", as it is now affectionately known as, makes port stops at Norfolk, Miami, Santo Domingo, Rio de Janiero, Buenos Aires, Stanley, Valparaiso, Lima, Acapulco, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle along the way. The numerous stops are more for PR and show-the-flag purposes than anything else, but its a successful tour. The highlight of it is at San Francisco, when Eagle's crew is part of the commissioning ceremony for American Battleship USS Iowa, which is recommissioned in San Francisco on January 30th, 1985.
At Halifax, the flag duties are assumed by guided missile destroyer HMCS Quebec (DDG-285), along with a small but well-trained surface fleet. They spend 1985 mostly exercising with the American, French and British naval forces. The exercises, however, show that Canada's forces, well trained as they are, are lacking in equipment. But all of the allies realize that the solution to that problem is underway.
On the Pacific, Eagle puts on yet more mileage, departing Esquimalt for east Asia on June 17th. After making a stop at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, Eagle and her group arrive in Sydney, Australia, on July 7. After exercises, the group sails to Singapore, Hong Kong and Subic Bay before making Tokyo on July 24. Six days later, the big carrier heads for home, arriving in British Columbia on August 15th.
The tour is by all accounts a major success, though it causes a bit of a row in Australia, with some asking why Australia didn't replace its carrier after seeing the usefulness in Cyrpus and the Falklands of such vessels. The Majestic-class light fleet carrier HMAS Melbourne had left Australia in April and was being scrapped, so that option was out. PM Bob Hawke was ripped mightily by most of the opposition after he announced that there would still be no replacement for Melbourne, to the point that several members of his own cabinet went against this. In September, a Canadian Forces ex-member wrote in to the Sydney Morning Herald that one option could be buying and rebuilding a decommissioned Essex-class carrier from the US. This struck a nerve, to the point that in November, Australia made a request to the United States what it would cost to purchase one. To Australia's surprise, the United States pointed out that it had offered an Essex-class to Australia for free if it Australia paid its operation and refit costs, and that the deal was still on the table.
On January 24th, 1986, the United States announced that the ex-USS Oriskany (CV-34) was to be given to Australia. Oriskany left Bremerton, Washington, under town on February 20th, 1986, arriving in Melbourne, Australia, on May 10th. Like the Canadian carrier, a plan to rebuild it was drawn up. The carrier was dry-docked at Williamstown, Victoria, on June 18th, 1986, for rebuild.
Back in Canada, Eagle and her escorts were proud units, but the rest of the Navy was, in the worlds of Conservative MP Donald Ravis, "Well-trained but under-armed and underequipped." The Patrol Frigate project was well underway, but it was also clear that the submarines and destroyers needed replacing, too. Realizing that the cost of doing it all at once was too high, Canada on September 23rd, 1985, put out requests for a new destroyer for the Canadian Forces, specifying a design that used as many off the shelf components as possible to reduce time taken to build and the cost.
By the beginning of 1986, the British had offered the Type 42 and the United States had the Spruance-class. Privately, the Americans also said they would be willing to sell the Ticonderoga-class, but the price of the Ticos was considered to be too high for the Forces.
The first big news of 1986 for the Canadian Forces the Patrol Frigate Project. A design was shown off by the forces, a 5,000-ton frigate which had quite a loadout. The original design had been finished in early 1985, but the Forces had spent most of the previous year fine-tuning it. The Commons, which was a big supporter of its being built to a Canadian design and using many Canadian components, approved the first four units on July 10th, 1986, with all three parties in Parliament supporting the idea on various grounds.
That year, the government also asked for tenders on new submarines, and stated that it would consider both nuclear and conventional designs, but would prefer nuclear subs. Prime Minister Mulroney, under fire from some corners for the country's big spending, justified it by pointing out that Canada had a huge land mass, a long coastline and many responsibilities under NATO, and that if the country was to be both safe and able to fulfill its duties and goals in the world, it had to have the tools to do so, and right now it didn't have them.
By late 1986, it was clear that the Forces were going to have lot of commissioning ceremonies not that many years into the future. Debate was now raging on just how to proceed with the destroyer and submarine projects, as well as other gear for the future. NATO's Next Generation Common Frigate project was starting to show promise, but many differences remained on that one. Germany offered to bring Canada into its project to replace the Hamburg-class destroyers, but it was looking increasingly like the destroyer competition would be between the British and Americans.
The Destroyer competition got a left turn when Argentina offered to sell its two Type 42 destroyers, which they for all the obvious reasons could not get parts for, for just $75 million, a 70% discount on their price new. It was far too good a deal to pass up, and Canada bought them. Both Canadian crews collected the vessels on September 10th, 1987, and sailed home to Canada with them. With that Canada put the plan on hold, but said that it wasn't cancelled. That was fine with the US and UK, the UK especially. The two Type 42 destroyers were renamed HMCS Manitoba (DDG-288) and HMCS Newfoundland (DDG-289), and while they proved to be decent, they were not the caliber of the Kidd-class vessels already in service with MARCOM.
HMCS Halifax (FFH-330), the first of the Patrol Frigate project, was laid down at MIL Davie shipyard in Lauzon, Quebec, with no small amount of fanfare. It was hoped that the new frigates would allow the retirement of Canada's 1950s era frigates which they had in significant numbers. The Patrol frigate design was itself plenty impressive, though two important design changes happened fairly early on - four 8-cell Mk.48 SAM systems were installed instead of just two, and the original 57mm gun was found to be inadequate for attacking many of its intended targets. The original upgrade plan was for the OTO Melara 76mm unit, but as the frigate was being built his was changed again, this time to the 5"/54-caliber Mk.45 lightweight naval gun used by the Ontario-class destroyers.
HMCS Eagle went into dry-dock once again, this time to be fitted with new electronic systems and decoys, being fitted with the American AN/SLQ-32 electronic warfare system, and the addition of anechoic tiles and a synthetic hull coating, designed to reduce noise and eliminate corrosion.
On the submarine front, the first offers began rolling in. The Germans offered the Type 209/1500, the French offered the Rubis-class, the United States offered the Sturgeon and Los Angeles classes, the British offered the Trafalgar and Upholder classes and Sweden offered the Västergötland-class, and all of them had their own backers and supporters. The backers of the Type 209 and Vastergotland-class pointed out that the SSK design was much cheaper than a nuclear vessel to buy and maintain, while the nuclear sub backers pointed out the SSKs had no way of having the capabilities of a nuclear vessel. The Americans jumped on the British, claiming that the British couldn't sell the Trafalgar-class due to non-proliferation concerns, but when this broke in the media on November 1987, the government demanded an explanation. The Americans quickly backtracked, calling it an "unfortunate mistake".
A Canadian consortium, Canada Submarine Solutions, was also in the news with the sub program, and on November 18th, 1987, said that Canada could buy the Trafalgar-class hull and systems and develop their own reactor for it. This grew to be the choice of the NDP, which always advocated Made-in-Canada solutions to the defense problems. This group began to be taken more seriously as the debate went on.
The first part of the year was taken up by the debate over the submarines. The Americans' decision to not allow the sale of the straight Trafalgar-class design had infuriated both nations, and had even caused more than a little bit of friction between Thatcher and Reagan, though Reagan rather liked the idea of Canadian SSNs being out there able to back up American subs.
But that fight wasn't over. In February 1988, the Canadian Submarine Consortium released an initial plan for a Trafalgar-class SSN with two ten-foot hull stretches, one front and one aft, and a heavy-water reactor, a scaled-down version of Canada's CANDU design. This, along with the idea of Canadian designed systems, came to be considered a prominent option. The liberals weren't really very keen on the nuclear subs, but the NDP changed tune on it. It seemed that the Trafalgar-class ban by the US had backfired dramatically. The front hull stretch allowed for eight vertical launch cells, an idea stolen from the newer Los Angeles-class class SSNs.
On August 15th, 1988, the Canadian Forces announced that they would go with the design, now named the Lake Superior-class, for one initial submarine, to see how the design worked. The Brits, pleased that their design had gone through, approved the same of the base Trafalgar-class design, and supplied all of the systems needed. The Americans, wanting to save face, had no issues supplying the Mk.36 VLS system for the subs. The 326 foot long, 5,820-ton submarine was the largest submarines ever operated by Canada. The keel of the sub was laid down at the Canadian Shipbuilding shipyard in Montreal, Quebec on January 10th, 1989, with the sub scheduled for mid-1991 delivery.
That year, the first Halifax-class frigate rolled out of dry dock at MIL-Davie and headed into intensive training. This was watched closely by the Americans and others, who found the design's characteristics quite impressive. Far from a single-role ASW design some had figured it would be, the design, with its Harpoon Anti-ship missiles, Sea Sparrow SAMs and other systems, was a real multi-role platform, and a big step up from the destroyer escorts it was going to replace.
That year, the Air Command, which had been agitating for some plans of its own, made a formal request the House of Commons to buy a number of Airborne Radar aircraft, pointing out that these had become absolutely critical to the effective defense of Canada's skies and as part of Canada's NORAD operation. With the sub program underway and the frigate program in testing, the Air Command, against its own expectations, was cleared to make its formal request for bids on September 27th, 1988.
Politically, Mulroney led what was becoming known as "The Big Blue Machine" to its record fourth-straight majority government in the elections, held on November 18th, 1988. The government's seat count grew to 159 out of 295, but the stunning ascender was the NDP, which swelled its count from 41 to 55, while the Liberals were the losers, sinking from 91 seats to 81 and leading some to figure that the 1990s would see the NDP replace the Liberals as the primary opposition. That loss of support saw Liberal leader John Turner be sacked on February 17th, 1989.
The Halifax-class frigate, despite being an all-new design, was being found to be a very satisfactory vessel indeed. It boasted lower radar and thermal signatures and was a better seaboat than its predecessors, and possessed much more armament, and to the surprise of most, even came in under its projected $275 million CAD cost. Impressed by the results and ready to move with the project, the Canadian Forces commissioned HMCS Halifax in her namesake city on August 3rd, 1989. Halifax joined its first battle group six days later, when she sailed out with Eagle on a North Atlantic deployment. The second, third and fourth vessels of the Halifax-class frigates - Vancouver, Ville de Quebec and Toronto - were under construction by the end of the year.
Another big deal that surprised most was the decision to change many of the ranks, insignia and uniforms. The Maritime Command in particular had been agitating for a change in this regard, wanting to return to its blue uniforms and ranks. On July 25th, 1989, they got their wish, when Secretary of Defense Bill McKnight announced the return of many of the pre-unification insignia, ranks and uniforms, to be instituted through 1989 and 1990.
For the air command, the AWACS project went into high-gear. The first RFI came from the United States, which offered Canada the E-3B Sentry, though Israel, in its first attempt to sell military gear to Canada, offered to fit one of its Phalcon systems in a Canadian aircraft. While other proposals would come in, these two were considered the prime candidates.
Israel's proposal was to install the Phalcon system in an airliner, but the proposal Israel produced was to have the work done in Canada - a key advantage over the American proposal. The Israeli system, which had recently begun service for the IDF, was a system which did not use a radome and didn't need a large aircraft as the E-3 did. One Israeli proposal was to install it in a Bombardier private jet.
Circumstances played into this one as well. The merger of Wardair with Canadian Airlines in March 1989 left Canadian Airlines with surplus aircraft, including ten almost brand new Airbus A310s. The Forces decided to purchase the A310s, and assigned six of them to be the planes to install the Israeli AWACS systems in. The deal was confirmed to the Media on November 17th, 1989, and yhe first was delivered to the Bombardier facility at Downsview, Ontario, for the work to begin on April 25th, 1990. The Phalcon systems, which cost $240 million a pop, were expensive but were considered to be worth it, especially since the upgrade and rebuild modifications, and the design of many control systems for the upgraded A310s, were providing employment to almost 6,000 Canadians.
1989 for HMCS Eagle was taken up for the first part by a refit that gave it a new electrical distribution system that allowed greater control of power movement, and upgraded electrical generators. Fitted as such and with one its new escorts in tow, Eagle left Halifax on August 9th, 1989, for a NATO exercise in the Caribbean. Eagle arrived at Kingston, Jamaica, on August 18 and was visited by the Jamaican Prime Minister along with other dignitaries, before sailing out to begin the exercise on the evening of August 19th. The next morning, HMCS Newfoundland picked up a pair of vessels moving very rapidly on the water, headed for the United States. Newfoundland requested the vessels identify themselves, and when they didn't respond, dispatched its Sea King to track it down. The helicopter noted that the vessels looked to be lengthened speedboats, so-called "go-fast" boats commonly used by drug smugglers. Realizing this, HMCS Halifax and two Sea Kings, one form the Halifax and the other from HMCS Terra Nova, chased the boats down. One of the men on the boats fired on the helicopter, and a crewman on the Sea King shot back, disabling the boat. A boarding crew from HMCS Newfoundland boarded the vessel, discovering over 1300 pounds of cocaine in the vessel's hull.
The "Takedown on the High Seas" got a lot of press, both in Canada and the United States. The crew of the helicopter from Terra Nova was awarded a Citation for their work, and the supporters of the much-grown forces got to claim a point, showing that the Canadian Forces could do job other than fight wars.
The NATO exercise had a surprise for Eagle - its sister, HMS Ark Royal, which recommissioned in Britain on March 29th, 1989 after an extensive five-year reconstruction, was in it. The Brits had also bought Hornets for air defense, but the real sledgehammer for the carrier was a number of navalized Panavia Tornado attack aircraft, which clearly had the edge on Eagle's much-smaller CF-187 Corsair attack fighters. Canuck ASW work still topped all, as one of Eagle's CP-121 Trackers caught and shot at brand-new British nuclear sub HMS Trenchant and also picked off American sub USS Houston, with the observers both noting that the subs had done nothing wrong - the Canucks knew their business.
A good year for the Forces began, sadly, with a tragedy. On January 23rd, 1990, A CF-184A Tomcat on maneuvers suffered a massive engine failure as it exercised over Edmonton, Alberta, causing it to plummet into a residential neighborhood. Both crewmen ejected safely, but the crashing plane landed in the yard of an elementary school, killing nine school children. The investigation crash was caused when one of the Pratt and Whitney engines flamed out, causing the pilot to lose control of his aircraft.
The Forces, which had been studying the upgrades made to US Navy F-14s, asked the government to get the funds to replace the Pratt and Whitney TF30 engines. After the disaster in Edmonton, the order was quickly approved. The first Canuck Tomcat to get the new General Electric F110-GE-400 engines was refitted in July 1990, and all of the aircraft would cycle through the process in 1990 and 1991.
Late in the year, the news for the Forces was dominated by the initial launch of HMCS Lake Superior (SSN-876), Canada's first nuclear powered fast attack submarine. The sub was launched on October 26th, 1990, though it was not ready for delivery until April 1991. At a cost of $1.1 Billion to be completed, the nuclear-powered sub was the most expensive vessel the Canadian Forces had ever purchased. The high cost of the vessels led to the plan for six such subs to be scrapped - they were simply too expensive. The plan was officially narrowed to three in November 1990, though the Forces amended the plan in 1991 to plan for six to eight SSKs to complement the nuclear boats.
The second of the Halifax-class frigates, HMCS Vancouver (FFH 331) was launched on December 10th, 1990, though it still needed fitting out. But as the class was quite effective at its job, the government in November 1990 made the decision to build two more of the Halifax class frigates, Regina and Calgary. The success of the Navy during the Gulf War would ensure that the full fleet of Halifax-class vessels was built.
After years of tension, Iraq invaded its small neighbor Kuwait in order to steal its (unknown to the Iraqi government) non-existent gold reserve so that the Iraqi government could pay off the debts it accumulated in the Iran-Iraq War on August 2nd, 1990, kicking off the first Gulf War. The Iraqi initial victory was very swift, and so was an American response. On August 7th, the Americans began moving forces into Saudi Arabia to protect against an Iraqi attack into Saudi territory. Canada quickly followed suit, and deployed HMCS Eagle in her first real conflict since the violence on Cyprus in 1977. Eagle and its battle group which included the escorts HMCS Ontario, HMCS Alberta, HMCS Manitoba, HMCS Huron, HMCS Halifax, and HMCS Terra Nova, as well as the supply ships HMCS Protecteur and HMCS Provider - arrived on station in the Red Sea on September 16th, 1990, having also escorted four of the United States' eight fast sealift ships from the Mid-Atlantic all the way to Saudi Arabia. The 1st Canadian Mechanized Group was also deployed to Saudi Arabia as part of the buildup.
The war began in earnest on January 15th, 1991, with Operation Instant Thunder. The Canadian Forces joined in the massive bombing of Iraq's infrastructure, and a Canadian Forces Hornet shot down two Iraqi fighters trying to engage coalition forces. This same battle saw Canada's first aircraft loss, a Hornet hit by an Iraqi SAM. The Canadian contingent also proved effective in land combat, the Iraqi's Soviet tank fleet being little match for the Canadian Leopard C1s and their 105mm guns, not to mention far better training. But the Leos were outgunned by the American M1 Abrams, leading many Canuck commanders to mutter about "if we had those Abrams....." The land forces, however, held their own.
A Canadian Forces' CF-187 was shot down over Khafji on January 29th while trying to attack Iraqi positions in Khafji, one of only three aircraft losses suffered by the Forces in the Gulf War. The raid was successful, but a Iraqi SAM struck the aircraft from behind on its way out. The Princess Patricia's Light Infantry joined the US Marine Corps and Saudi, British and Kuwaiti forces on the battle into Kuwait on February 23rd, the Patricia's armored group also getting a piece of the action, killing nineteen Iraqi tanks while taking two losses. Canadian Troops also assisted the French forces during the Attack into Iraq itself on February 24th, helping secure the force's left flank. Iraq was defeated on February 28th, when a cease-fire was declared.
The Canadian Forces suffered 23 dead and 55 wounded, smaller numbers than what was lost in Turkey against a much stronger foe. Canadian public opinion, already moderately pro-military to begin with, grew stronger as time went on. The troops began arriving home in March 1991, to considerable fanfare. The Infantry's arrive-home ceremonies included a parade through Halifax, which was met by almost 25,000 supporters. Saudi Arabia paid Canada a $2.1 Billion sum for its actions during the war, though this was not demanded by Canada. HMCS Eagle and her battle group arrived in Halifax on April 25th, 1991, to a crowd of nearly 40,000 people.
Even with the Gulf War raging, the Canadian Forces are still making progress. The first big deals of the year happen within five days of each other, the first deals in a year that would wind up being full of them.
The first was the commissioning of Canada's second Halifax-class frigate, HMCS Vancouver (FFH-331), which is commissioned in Montreal on February 15th, 1991. Vancouver is the second of the highly-impressive class of warships, which was at that point doing impressively well with its work in the Red Sea. Vancouver immediately heads out, along with Alberta (DDG-287), Newfoundland (DDG-289), Iroquois (DDH-280) and Terry Fox (DDH-264), to relieve the vessels on station in the Red Sea, but the ships are just past Italy when they receive news of the end of the War, and return home escorting the ships of other nations on the way.
Five days later, the first CE-150B "Polaris Farsight" rolls out of the workshop at Downsview. All six of the AEW aircraft ordered are completed in 1991, and the squadron stands-to on November 19th, 1991. The six aircraft, operated by 455 Squadron, are based at CFB Cold Lake in Alberta, through they frequently move around the country and around the world as circumstances require them to.
The Gulf War taught a number of lessons to the Forces, both good and bad. The good was that the Forces' training was both well-done and useful. The Forces did well with its Leopard C1 tanks, though it was clear they needed to get something better in that regard - they had been dramatically outgunned by American M1 Abrams and British Challenger 1 tanks. The effectiveness of the Iraqi SAMs was a surprise to the Canadians, and convinced them to get a system of their own. The September 1991 display of Oerlikon's ADATS project shows the Canucks exactly what they are looking for. Also learned was the usefulness of fast sealift ships such as the American Fast Sealift Ships, and that the Navy needed more dedicated supply ships if the force was to be sustained a long ways from home.
The final CF-184 to get its new engines is returned to the CF in June 1991, though many of its pilots are visibly sad that they did not get to take on the Iraqis in the Gulf War, and the Air Command makes a request to test the Tomcat on HMCS Eagle. This happens in late 1991, and while Eagle proves to be able to handle the big interceptor, it is deemed too large to be well-suited for the carrier.
On April 27th, 1991, the Mulroney Government shows off its plan for a major military rework for the 1990s. The plan, a heavily amended version of the plan showed off in 1983, includes a number of major changes, and also lays out a large set of procurements for the 1990s:
- Eight Halifax-class frigates, to make a total of fourteen;
- An Amphibious Assault Ship;
- A fast sealift ship;
- Six to Eight support ships;
- Several cheaper diesel-electric submarines, to complement the small number of nuclear submarines;
- A replacement for the CH-124 Sea King anti-submarine Helicopter fleet;
- A mobile surface to air missile system;
- A new main battle tank to replace the Leopard C1;
- A dedicated attack aircraft, to assist in close air support and destroying tanks;
- Additional transport aircraft, to allow fast movement of goods and troops;
- Additional commercial off the shelf helicopters, for transport purposes;
- A replacement for the aging CC-137s being used for aerial refueling and transport purposes;
- An aircraft for conducting sovereignty patrols over the Arctic;
- New utility transport vehicles, to replace the expensive Volkswagen Iltis in utility duties.
Also included in this is a growth of the Canadian Forces' highly mobile units, able to deploy all over the world for both civilian and military purposes. One of the plans is to return the Black Watch, the legendary Highlanders, back to being an active unit. By the end of the year, the RFIs for the programs were going out, and companies around the world were responding......
The Soviet Union officially packs it on Christmas Day in 1991, leaving no enemy in the Cold War and leaving NATO increasingly looking like it has no mission. The draw down of the Soviet Armed Forces, which began in 1985-86, became a flood in 1992 as the Soviet Republics, struggling under their own leadership and in many cases fighting bitterly amongst themselves, looked far less powerful than they had even a decade earlier.
With this came demands that Canada, as with most NATO countries, begin its own reduction in the size of the armed forces. Canada's government and all of its major parties realize that many of the excesses of the Cold War were now unnecessary, but Iraq had taught that there was still a need for the armed forces, and the bitter fighting in the ex-Soviet Republics that became open wars through 1992 showed that peacekeeping, a critical Canadian goal and a primary missions of the Canadian Forces, was gonna last long into the future.
On March 24th, 1992, Prime Minister Mulroney announced that the six nuclear sub program that had begun in 1988 would be cut to three, much to the disappointment of the Canadian Submarine Solutions, which had been planning on building all six. The three would be complemented by a small handful of much cheaper to buy (and operate) diesel-electric submarines, once again opening bidding. The Submarine guys quickly got into the bidding for this, but that would remain low-key through the 1990s.
In the slowdown of the 1990s, several of Mulroney's 1991 plan aspects began to be viciously debated. The attack aircraft program would ultimately end up being settled by building additional CF-187 Corsair II attack aircraft, and buying a substantial number of ex-US Navy units for parts and training units. The Fast Sealift and Amphibious Assault Ship programs were merged, and efficiencies began to be looked into.
The battles of the year, despite the problems in Eastern Europe, began in Africa, in two widely spaced and very different countries.
In East Africa, Somalia had become a major problem. The death of dictator Siad Barre in 1991 had thrown the country into chaos, and the battles of 1991 and early 1992 had caused vast chaos in the country, and famine gripped millions. Food began being shipped into the nation in early 1992, but the opposing warlord clans fought bitterly and stole everything possible, with both sides trying to use food as a weapon. Eventually, observers were deployed to try and stop the violence and more easily move the food to those who needed it.
But on April 26th, 1992, that situation changed dramatically. A bomb blast on South Africa's famed Blue Train caused the train to derail at over 80 mph, killing President Frederik de Klerk and most of his cabinet. Less than a week later on May 1st, 1992, a car bomb aimed at ANC leaders killed ANC leaders Joe Slovo, Chris Hani and Oliver Tambo. Nelson Mandela is wounded in the attack, but not seriously. Rioting in South Africa is put down, brutally, by the South African government in Pretoria, which after the attack on the Blue Train is in no mood to play nice. But after the attack on the ANC leaders, black protesters are not in any mood to play nice, either. Within weeks race war has gripped South Africa, and when combined with the problems in the former Soviet Union strategic minerals prices explode, causing a big slowdown in the world economy.
Realizing that this couldn't stand, UN Resolution 790 former the UNMISA, the United Nations Mission in South Africa, and began to prepare landings. A big hurry-up happens after reports of mutinies within the once rock-hard SADF appear, and the body count soars into the thousands. On May 28th, 1992, the UN authorizes the usage of force to end the violence in South Africa, supported by all five Security Council permanent members and dozens of other nations, Canada included. On June 2nd, Mulroney orders the Eagle battle group to South Africa, expecting trouble from all sides to the landing of troops.
HMCS Eagle is joined by HMS Ark Royal, HMAS Australia and American carriers Nimitz, George Washington, John F. Kennedy and Independence, along with battleship USS Missouri, whose planned retirement had been halted due to the need for gunfire support. The landing at Cape Town on June 28th, 1992, met stiff resistance mostly from SADF units, but shortly after the landings the SADF gave in and ordered a cease-fire, with it going into effect on July 1st at 12:01 am. The ANC, however, does not negotiate a cease-fire and continues fighting, forcing allied forces to separate the two.
UNMISA would turn out to be the largest UN operation ever set up, with over 85,000 troops committed to the operation. UNMISA also committed naval and air forces to the operation, a large undertaking even at the best of times. Separated by UNMISA, cooler heads prevail in South Africa. The new Federal Republic of South Africa began to be hammered out in late 1992, and the agreement to create it was signed on May 22nd, 1993 in Johannesburg.
Eagle is Replaced
UNMISA operations for the CF Maritime Command come to an abrupt end on August 11th, 1992, after a malfunctioning rocket causes a giant explosion on Eagle's flight deck, and subsequent explosions seriously damage her engines and rip open a 25-foot-wide hole in the hull, fortunately well above the waterline. The disaster is by a massive margin the greatest peacetime loss ever for the CF, as 121 sailors and airmen are KIA or MIA from the disaster, and 215 injuries are tallied. Dead in the water, American fleet tug Powhatan tows Eagle home, while her vessels join the other UNMISA forces before themselves being called home on August 24th.
The disaster aboard Eagle is a major confidence-shaker for the MARCOM, made worse by the Liberals insisting that the seriously-damaged carrier now has no usage in the post-Cold War era and that she should be decommissioned and scrapped. This, however, does not help the Liberals in the 1993 elections, as this decision comes to haunt the opposition. Mulroney, seeing the opportunity, cranks up a public debate by holding off on a decision to repair Eagle while she is brought home and damage is assessed. Polls, however, see an aircraft carrier as an indispensable tool to assisting the Canadian Forces in their operations around the world. But Eagle's damage is immense - a massive hole in the flight deck, engines seriously damaged, the hull's integrity being questioned by naval architects.
While the debate rages, ideas come in. The United States Navy offers to transfer USS Forrestal (CV-59) for free, a hard offer to pass up, but the Forrestal requires a crew far larger than Eagle did - Forrestal requires 5,500 crew, a massive increase from Eagle's 1,750. But Forrestal's condition is excellent, as the carrier was at the time planned to be the United States Navy's new training carrier, and computerized engineering controls and other upgrades would cut the crew size down by a huge amount.
Also offered is the half-finished Soviet carrier Varyag, offered by Ukraine to Canada for peanuts. But Varyag's condition is very rough. New carriers are moved off as being too pricey, and it looks for a while that Eagle might not have a replacement.
Realizing the problems with not having a carrier and Eagle's age, along with its wartime build and resulting only medium-quality steel and construction (despite her Canadian rebuild), the Canadian Forces begin seriously looking at designing and building their own carrier of roughly 42,000 tons and 45 aircraft, somewhat smaller than Eagle but still a real fixed-wing carrier.
But Mulroney, seeking to both shut up Chretien and show to the increasingly-influential right that he was no wuss, announced on November 26th, 1992, that Eagle would be replaced, no matter what, and that the government would go for the American supercarrier if the Maritime Command could figure out a way for Canada to operate it. The decision makes the Maritime Command cheer and stuns all. The Liberals and NDP are against the outrageous cost of operating the beast, but Mulroney's point holds - he will only go for it if the country can afford to operate it.
The US Navy, surprised at the decision but not displeased themselves, asks Congress to allow Forrestal's transfer on January 16th, 1993. Despite a new Congress and a new President in Bill Clinton, passage is all but assured, and passes on February 4th, 1993. Forrestal is still technically in commission at this point, but the Navy, realizing the fate of the vessel, does make sure to keep it in good shape.
With a budget to maintain, the plans for Forrestal's changes to allow it to operate with fewer crew become a Canadian mission. AECL's proposal to convert it to nuclear power is too costly, but General Motors of Canada and General Electric propose to remove its steam turbines and replace them with gas turbines, turbodiesel cruise engines and turbo-electric drive, and a little known company in Waterloo called Research in Motion proposes to have it all controlled from an engine control room, fully computerized. The University of Toronto proposes a compressed air catapult as opposed to a steal catapult. Many other ideas are thought up to reduce the needed manpower, and the overall result is the 5,540 crew is brought down to 3,310 fully loaded.
The issue becomes a defining one of the 1993 election. The Liberals say that the immense supercarrier will be too costly to operate, citing a cost of $165 million estimated yearly operating cost, along with the ship's age. The Conservatives, now led by Jean Charest and showing a far stronger electoral position than before, fires back that Canada has grown a maritime tradition that is worthy of renown, pointing out Eagle's work in Cyprus, Iraq and South Africa, and the public perception that the aircraft carrier will become a symbol of Canada.
Canada's industries line up behind the plan, pointing out that acquisition and rebuilding of Eagle gave a new life to the Canadian shipbuilding industry, and that the other options are going to a much smaller carrier, none at all or building one themselves, at far greater costs and only marginally smaller operating cost.
The election very narrowly goes to Charest, but its a minority government. The Bloc Quebecois agrees with the Liberals that its too expensive, but the Reform Party wants it done. The NDP, continuing its history of being pro-military despite its socialist policies, goes with the Conservatives.
On March 18th, 1994, Canada agrees to take possession of the Forrestal, which is renamed HMCS Warrior (CV-24). The ship goes again to the massive dry-dock in Saint John, New Brunswick, for its overhaul. Over the next three years, the vessel's hull is stripped to bare metal and coated in a polymer solution to prevent rust, followed by a newly-formulated paint which allows for less drag. The ship is extensively reconfigured, with the Port side forward aircraft elevator deleted and a new elevator built at the back of the vessel on the port side. A new superstructure included a funnel venting gases off to the side of the vessel. The flight deck is expanded by 15 percent, and much of the superstructure is built from aluminum to reduce weight. This allows a dedicated helicopter pad above the flight deck behind the tower. The superstructure is very tall, but it also offers excellent views of the vessel and the area around.
Highly-efficient General Electric LM6000 gas turbines and General Motors H-Model four-stroke diesel cruise engines are installed, which also allows room for greater accommodations. HMCS Warrior is a very roomy vessel after its rebuild, and the vessel's accommodation spaces also gain many amenities, and the vessel's power rises from 260,000 shp to a maximum of 325,000 shp, with the gas turbines able to be turned off entirely when cruising, immensely improving fuel efficiency. At full blast, Warrior is capable of an astounding 35.8 knots, and can handle any carrier aircraft on the planet.
Warrior's rebuild is expensive at $932 million, but that is still one-third the cost of building a new carrier and substantially under budget. Further refinements reduce the crew, air crew included, down to 3,165 officers and men.
Completed in the summer of 1996, Warrior leaves its dry-dock for the first time on August 20th, 1996, with its first captain, Captain Peter Hamilton, taking it out for testing. The vessel performs so flawlessly that the crew records absolutely no problems during power and systems testing. The aircraft spends the rest of 1996 and early 1997 testing its aircraft abilities - which are exceptional. In a highly publicized March 1997 incident, a US Navy F-14B got into a mock dogfight with a Canadian Forces' CF-18, and the Navy guy, having lost to the agile fighter, called out that he was "going for reinforcements". Warrior heard that call and ordered its whole air wing airborne to surprise the Americans, leading to a six-aircraft formation running into more than 20 CF-18s, leading the American commander to blurt out "where did all these f--king Canucks come from?"
Testing more successful than had even been hoped, HMCS Warrior (CV-24) was commissioned by Prime Minister Jean Charest in Quebec City on June 25th, 1997, marking the arrival of Canada's new carrier, which was promptly deployed to support Canadian forces in the Balkans.
With South Africa starting to slow down, Africa flared yet again, and it was Somalia, as most expected. This time too, the various sides said one thing and did another, just as both the SADF and ANC had done in South Africa. The most infamous of the leaders was Mohammed Farah Aidid, who had been the most guilty person of taking food from people for political purposes.
A deal was struck between fifteen Somali clans in Addis Adaba in March 1993, but from the get-go several parties, including the clan led by Aidid, showed absolutely no intention of abiding by the deal. The UN in response ordered the deployment of 40,000 troops to Somalia to attempt to restore order and rebuild the nation. UNOSOM II's attempts to disarm various factions went badly, and it ultimately culminated in the first battle of Mogadishu on June 5th, where 30 UN soldiers, including two Canadians, were killed in massive street fighting. A week later, the United States attacked a safe house where they believed many of Aidid's clan were, but instead many of the people there were Somali elders. More than 80 of them were killed. A Canadian force called to the scene saw three of its Bison APCs struck by rocket-propelled grenades, killing five soldiers and wounding eleven others.
On October 3rd, the biggest battle of Mogadishu began when two US helicopters were hit by Somali RPGs and downed as a result as they were deploying US Army Rangers on a mission to capture Aidid's foreign minister, among others. The battle, which lasted sixteen hours, went south in a hurry. The situation was finally fixed in the morning when a convoy, led by five Canadian Forces' Leopard tanks and including a long line of American, Canadian, Malaysian and Pakistani armor, rolled in to rescue the soldiers trapped in the battle. In the night, two Delta Force snipers were inserted by helicopter to protect one of the downed choppers. Hearing this, three Canadians Airborne Regiment members followed them in, against the advice of Commander Rick Hillier, the head Canadian officer in Somalia. The three men, along with the two American snipers, were killed when Somali militia overran the site. The three men - Lieutenant Ryan Petersen, Sergeant Andrew Scott and Master Corporal James Harrison - would be the first three men to be awarded Canada's Victoria Cross, albeit posthumously.
The mission in Somalia, which had become a failure and had sent far too many men home dead, was stopped in the US on October 6th and in Canada the next day. Troops began to be removed from the area, and by February 1994 the last Canadian Forces personnel had come home. They would not be gone long, however.
On the home front, Mulroney's decision to replace Eagle leads to her simply having the damaged fixed, but even that takes months. Eagle is out of action until January 1994, but the final overhaul also ensures that the vessel will be able to survive far into the future - important, as the hope is that Eagle once replaced will become a museum ship. The cost of the rebuild of the carrier is also so high that the plans for the submarines are put on hold - the Oberon-class submarines are still functioning, and its all that is needed for now for diesel subs, The first Canadian nuclear sub, delayed substantially by difficulties, is finally delivered in January 1993, after spending 18 months testing its systems and training crewmen. HMCS Lake Superior (SS-876), the first of the three, is commissioned a month later, putting Canada into the SSN world for the first time. It's sister ship, HMCS Lake Huron (SSN-877), is delivered in late 1993 and commissioned in January 1994. The final SSN is delayed by a yard fire, but HMCS Lake Athabasca (SSN-878) is commissioned in July 1995.
On the purchases front, demands to level off the budget threaten to slow down the rate of purchases to build the 21st Century Canadian Forces. Jean Chretien in the 1993 election proposes to can Mulroney's plan for financial reasons. This idea backfires in his face, causing a substantial drop in his popularity, causing him to quickly reverse his position - and allowing his rival, Prime Minister Jean Charest to throw it in his face. Charest makes what many figured was an impossible task by managing to keep the government after the massive mistakes of Brian Mulroney's government on domestic policy, though he is only able to get a minority. That minority is only unstable for months, before circumstances at home force unity by the parties.
The Air Command received a proposal in May 1993 by Bombardier and Airbus of France for the aerial refueling and transport aircraft idea. Airbus knew at that point that Europe was working on a transport aircraft project among several European nations, and figured that Canada, which possessed at that point one of the ten largest defense budgets on the planet, would likely be a big partner. The proposal would see Canada buy six of Airbus' giant A340 airliners, with four of them being converted into aerial tankers with one boom and two probe and drogue refueling systems, and would be granted major industrial contracts for the European air transport. One idea here was for the European aircraft to use Pratt and Whitney Canada engines, another was to have Bombardier assemble fuselage components and have Canadian manufacturers make some of the avionics.
This broke in the media in July 1993, and caused a stunned uproar from Boeing, which quickly responded by offering Canada tankers based on the Boeing 737 and 767, and also offering to develop a variant on the then brand-new 777. Boeing, remembering that the Forces' always wanted as much work as possible done in Canada, offered to have the aircraft converted in Canada, at a brand-new facility. Lockheed quickly jumps to support its usual rival, offering Canada the new-build version of the trusty C-130 Hercules, which has served the Canadian Forces quite ably since 1960. The two bids would be big rivals as the battles were fought in the military, the government and the media through 1993 and 1994.
On the other acquisitions front, MARCOM were focused on the Halifax-class frigates, which were important as the aging steam-powered warships were being retired over time, and the new carrier program. Four of the twenty St. Laurent, Restigouche, Mackenzie and Annapolis class destroyer escorts, notably the HMCS Fraser, HMCS Gatineau, HMCS Terra Nova and HMCS Terry Fox would end their lives as museum ships. By the end of 1993, five of the Halifax-class frigates - Halifax, Vancouver, Ville de Quebec, Toronto, and Regina - were in commission, while Calgary, and Montreal were either in testing or outfitting. The remaining seven - Fredericton, Winnipeg, Charlottetown, St. Johns, Ottawa, Edmonton, and Kelowna - all had names and plans, and all had their assigned shipyards.
The Land Force Command was taking delivery of some 66 of the Canadian-built Oerlikon ADATS, and it also had a stake, as did the Navy, in the new helicopter programs. On that front, the new helicopter programs were focused on three helicopters - one for anti-submarine duties for the MARCOM, one for search and rescue for both the MARCOM and Air Command, one for utility transport for the Air Command and Army.
Somalia had been a tough go for the Canadian Forces, but it had been that way for everybody else. It didn't take long for the Americans to realize the disaster they had caused killing many of the clan elders in Mogadishu, and made it clear that they would never have that happen again.
On January 1st, 1994, the Canadian Marine Corps and Canadian Special Operations Regiment were formed on paper, though the units were not yet ready to be deployed and training continued. The British SAS were instrumental in the training of the Special Operations Division, which led to the unit being known as the 'Canadian SAS' among its members, something which grew to the media, many outlets of which quite openly liked the idea of Canada's most elite military troopers being compared to the legendary Special Air Service. Britain's trainers pointed out that Canada's First Special Service Force had quite a record in World War II and that there had been a Canadian SAS in the late 1940s as Canada's Airborne Regiment got going. The 1st Canadian Marine Regiment was activated as an active combat unit on May 1st, 1994, based at CFB Kawartha Lakes, a new base built specifically for the Marines on Sturgeon Lake near Bobcaygeon, Ontario.
But even before that all happened, The tiny nation of Rwanda released one of the worst bouts of violence anyone had ever seen......
Operation Messiah - The Intervention in Rwanda
Rwanda, a tiny nation once controlled by Belgium, had been the scene of decades of violence and animosity. This had started under the Belgians, who had quite openly used a divide and conquer strategy in Rwanda. The Belgians had favored the smaller Tutsi minority, knowing that the larger Hutu tribes would overrun them if they didn't work with the Belgians. After independence, violence had flared repeatedly in Rwanda and neighboring Burundi, costing many lives on several occasions.
A long, bitter civil war had ended in Rwanda in late 1993, but the hatred towards Tutsi Rwandans had been fueled for years before. The hatred towards the Tutsis was not unknown to them, but the massive Rwandan militia and Army did concern the UN peacekeepers. First deployed in August 1993, Dallaire's forces consisted of 2,550 military personnel and 60 civilian police, enough to handle the situation as it was. With the situation tensing up, Dallaire made plans to seize weapons caches held by the Interahamwe militia, but the UN turned down that request, along with one to investigate the murder of the Minister of Public Works in Kigali in February.
But on April 6th, 1994, a surface to air missile shot down a jet carrying both the Presidents of Rwanda and Burundi. This was the spark that set off the firestorm. Dallaire's forces initially tried to control things, but the Rwandan Armed Forces refused to work with Dallaire. The UN force tried to escort the Prime Minister to assist in her duties, but the Rwandan Presidential Guard instead fired on the UN soldiers, killing ten Belgian troops, three Canadians and a number of Rwandans. Within hours, the genocide was real.
Dallaire, himself wounded in the attack, sent a distress call to the UN for help, but the UN states initially didn't respond. When word of this hit Ottawa on April 10, the Canadian Forces, knowing the extremism and needing to fix the situation now before hundreds of thousands died, openly asked Prime Minister Charest for a go on the mission. The brutality of the situation soon reached the media, which turned the public opinion.
US President Bill Clinton, still smarting from the failures in Somalia, made it clear that the US would not intervene and actually called for the removal of UN forces from Rwanda. This hit Ottawa on April 15th, and it caused one of the biggest gambles anybody had ever seen.
On the night of April 16th, Prime Minister Charest addressed the nation, asking for support to intervene in Rwanda. "One of the primary goals we have as humans is to help one another, and one of Canada's goals through its modern history has been the idea of peacekeeping, stopping conflict and saving innocents from the brutality of war. In the African nation of Rwanda, a Canadian general and his forces are trying to contain what could end up being the worst genocide since Hitler, and he's asked for our help. I think that we as Canadians, as humans, should go and help him as best we can. We all said to ourselves in 1945 'Never Again', and now we must make good that promise."
The next morning, Charest announced the deployment orders. Dallaire would get 3,500 troops, mostly from the Canadian Airborne Regiment and the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, to stop the violence as best they could. When asked by a Reuters reporter whether the Canadians would stop if the Americans didn't move, Charest bravely responded "We do not care what President Clinton decides to do. We're going. We have to."
The first Canadian Forces troops were flown in, and arrived at the Kigali airport on April 23rd, with only light weapons. Eighteen Air Canada airliners are used for this mission, and the Canadian peacekeepers already there assisted with the unloading of aircraft. The Forces leased five Ukrainian Antonov An-124 airlifters to get their vehicles, including sixteen M113 APCs and four Leopard C1 tanks. The first An-124 carried just paratroopers, worried that the UN force could not hold the airport in Kigali until the reinforcements arrived and that they would have to jump out, but this did not turn out to be necessary. The Canadians' arrival in Kigali had made an impact in the UN - Belgium's UN contingent never left as the government had thought about doing, and Clinton, now ashamed by the decision of Charest and the Canadians to go it alone, ordered the USAF to fly in the Canadians' heavy equipment, which included 90 M113 armored personnel carriers and twelve Leopard C1 tanks. The first Canadian actions included shooting down four Rwandan helicopters carrying armed militiamen into Butare province, where relative calm existed. The Canadians took fifteen casualties (including nine dead) in the first week, but their efforts dramatically began to reduce the violence. Dallaire was relieved by Lieutenant-General Rick Hillier, who had commanded the operation in Somalia and practically begged to take over the mission, on May 5th. By the end of May, the situation was getting under control.
UNAMIR re-established peace officially on June 25th, 1994. The genocide had taken some 175,000 lives, but the efforts of the Canadians, followed rapidly by the Belgians, Americans, British and others, saved hundreds of thousands of lives. Dallaire's brave efforts and personal command of missions - including one where he was hit twice by gunfire - earned him the Canadian Victoria Cross, which was also awarded to four other Canadian Forces members, three of them posthumously. 29 Canadians died in the intervention and 76 were wounded, nine of them being permanently disabled. But the intervention had saved many lives, and between that and Canada's honest, earnest efforts in South Africa at Somalia earned them the reputation as being one of the countries that people could rely on to be there and to do the right thing. Hillier would go on to command UNAMIR until late 1997, when he cycled home. Dallaire would become the Forces' Chief of Staff in 1998, a position he held until 2003.
The intervention drove support for the Forces in Canada into the sky and also powered forth Charest's approval rating, which reached as high as 82% in the summer of 1994. The PPCLI and Airborne Regiment were relieved in July by the Canadian Marine Corps and the Royal 22e Regiment allowed the Pats and the Airborne Troops to go home, for the former being their first operational deployment. The USAF, at Clinton's orders, supported the Canadians' efforts lavishly, including moving Canadian equipment and supplies at no cost to them. Clinton's would go on to say that Charest's decision to go regardless was astoundingly brave, but that it was the right thing to do. It was the first operation where the Canucks did exactly the right thing at the right thing, but it would not be the last.
Rwanda now stabilized, the Forces' image soared yet again. This on the home front shut up virtually all opposition to the plans for the Canadian Forces, because the public perception was that in the times after the Cold War, a strong military was needed to ensure both Canada's security and its place in the world.
On September 25th, 1994, the MARCOM formally placed requests for a vessel which could deploy 2500 troops anywhere they were needed. The United States offered Canada a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship and a Harpers Ferry-class dock landing ship, while the Europeans countered by offering to make Canada a full partner in their amphibious assault projects, allowing them to build as many as they wished in Canada, in return to assisting the development of them. France and the UK, both working on such projects, agreed to join forces for the Canadian offer. The British LPD(R) project was soon extended to Canada, and the Canadians rather liked the design of Britain's Albion-class landing platform docks.
On May 28th, 1995, the Canadian Forces announced they would build two Albion-class LPDs in Canada, with over 80% of the construction work being done in Canada and many Canadian components being integrated into the vessels. The amphibious assault duties were sorted out by this. The US made a last-ditch offer to donate two Iwo Jima-class helicopter assault ships, but the Canadians stayed with their fleet.
On the transport aircraft front, the battle between the Boeing/Lockheed and Airbus/Bombardier factions raged, with the Canadians Forces deciding between them. The final offers from Boeing included leasing seven USAF tankers as an interim solution, allowing the aging CC-137s to be retired, while an equal number of KC-767 tankers were built. In addition, Boeing would rebuild five ex-Air Canada Boeing 747-200M aircraft, with four of them serving as long-distance transports for troops and a fifth as a VIP aircraft for high-ranking Canadian Government officials. In addition, Canada would get 28 new-build Lockheed C-130 Hercules transport aircraft, but of the under development C-130J type, for delivery between 1998 and 2001. In addition, the KC-767s would be converted from white aircraft at a new facility to be built in Ontario, while the C-130CJ aircraft would use Pratt and Whitney Canada engines and Canadian electronics, and would be assembled in British Columbia.
Airbus countered by offering seven A330 tankers, along with converting four ex-Canadian Airlines A310s into the A310 MRTT for short-distance aircraft and three A340-300 airliners for long-distance transport usage, and Canada buying 21 examples of the Airbus A400M, the design of which was now under development. Airbus would have the A340 assembled and converted into tankers in Canada, and also offered to bring Canada into Airbus as a stakeholder and manufacture parts for civilian Airbus models in Canada. The Canadian involvement would also ensure that Pratt and Whitney's PW180, which was the preferred engine Airbus Military preferred for the A400M, would end up powering all A400M models sold outside France, which insisted on the usage of its SNECMA M138A2 turboprop.
The NDP supported the Airbus offer, pointing out that Canada stood to gain many thousands of civilian jobs after the military orders were filled, and that the usage of the PW180 engines by the A400M would provide thousands of jobs and would continue to provide them well after the aircraft were built. But the detractors, including the Liberals of the Airbus offer pointed out that Airbus' bid was $525 million more expensive than the Boeing/Lockheed offer, and that the A340 transporters, as good as they were, wouldn't match the immense Boeing 747s offered as part of Boeing's offer. The C-130J and A400M were both experimental offers, but the A400M was more of a technical risk, as the C-130J was based on a design that already existed and that Canadian pilots knew well.
Canadian Forces Chief of Staff John Rogers Anderson and the ruling Conservatives were torn. The A400M was a larger aircraft than the C-130J and more useful, and the idea of Airbus setting up shop in Canada was a big deal to the Canadian Government. Anderson, who had headed the project to buy nuclear submarines for the MARCOM, was also torn - he and the Air Command loved the C-130, but the A400M was more advanced and had a considerably longer range. Anderson proposed that the government go for the Airbus offer in November 1994, but as a consolation ask to not buy the A340 transporters, but instead buy a strategic airlifter from Boeing, proposing to buy four C-17 Globemaster IIIs as a consolation prize. Kim Campbell, now defense minister, asked Airbus if this was acceptable in January 1995, and Airbus replied that it was.
On March 15th, 1995, the government announced its plan for the tanker and transport aircraft tenders. The plan would see six A330 tankers bought for the Canadian Forces, along with four A310s bought for shorter-range transport duties (Two aircraft, with a third bought later, would be set up as medical emergency aircraft), and 21 Airbus A400M tactical transport aircraft would be ordered. Canada also announced that they would order four C-17 Globemaster III strategic airlifters from Boeing, both for heavy transport duties and as a sort of consolation prize. At the time, the program was the largest single purchase in Canadian history, with a total order value estimated at $4.1 Billion Canadian dollars.
Airbus, true to form, announced the opening of a new facility in Mirabel, Quebec, in July 1995, at the Montreal-Mirabel airport, Canada's largest airport. The opening of the Airbus facility was a gift to the facility, which was suffering from falling traffic in comparison to Montreal's Dorval airport. A high-speed rail line, completed in 1997, would allow Mirabel to become an almost exclusively international airport, while domestic and some US flights used Dorval. In January 1996, the Pratt and Whitney Canada PW180 was selected as the engine for the A400M project.
Canada spent 1995 with a far risen sense of pride, set up with regard to both the forces and its role in the world. That started early, when Canada was put on the United Nations Security Council. This was a non-permanent seat, but as Japan, Germany and Brazil were agitating for a permanent seat for themselves, commentators in Canada and abroad were talking about the UN giving Canada a permanent seat on the UNSC, as the Canucks were the backbone of the UN's Peacekeeping programs - proven in Cyprus, Rwanda, South Africa and Somalia.
On March 26th, 1995 an era ended in one regard - HMCS Eagle, with its successor being rebuilt in Saint John, was decommissioned in Vancouver after returning from assisting relief efforts after Japan's Great Hanshin Earthquake. Eagle had been Canada's flagship for two decades, and the flag was transferred, temporarily, to HMCS Ontario, the lead ship of the Ontario-class air defense destroyers. But the Forces knew full well that the successor to Eagle was on her way, and that the now 52-year-old aircraft carrier had done its duty to Great Britain and Canada with strength and honour. Eagle would not again leave Vancouver, becoming a museum and in time a Vancouver landmark.
The closing of the transport and tanker aircraft deals happened in the first six months of 1995, leading to some commentators saying that Canada was spending far too much on the Forces' re-equipping. The supporters of the Forces pointed out that Canada's peacekeeping roles required the ability to keep a strong defense, and also pointing out that the peacekeeping role that Canada had set out for itself. Opinion polls show support for Charest's plans to rebuild the Canadian Forces run at between 60 and 70 percent, enough that even the opposition Liberals and NDP are supporters of it. They are also placated by the fact that Canada can, and does, maintain many thousands of jobs in the defense industries.
June 1995 saw the CF re-organize some portions of it, partly out of necessity and partly to recognize the changing face of the Forces. These included formally adding the Canadian Special Operations Regiment and the Canadian Marine Corps to the order of battle.
Two additional infantry regiments, the Royal Highland Regiment of Canada, commonly known as the Black Watch, and the Voltigeurs de Quebec were to be returned to the Regular Force, supplementing the Royal Canadian Regiment, PPCLI and Royal 22nd Regiment. They were to be reactivated by the end of 1996. In addition, the 8th Canadian Hussars and the Ontario Regiment of the Royal Canadian Armored Corps were to be returned to the Regular Force. This was to happen by the end of 1999, as in that time the country would refit the regiments with the new armored vehicles proposed in 1991. The Ontario Regiment would also get a new HQ, as its home base in Oshawa, Ontario, was insufficient for its new duties. But the demolition of a power plant in Oshawa in 1995 gave an opportunity to build a new armory, which opened in June 1998.
With this in mind, the next task for the procurement officers was to get that new armor, and on July 2nd, 1995, the requests for information went out to various countries for new tanks, armored personnel carriers and support vehicles.
The Americans responded first, offering to provide Canada with M1A2 Abrams main battle tanks, M2 Bradley IFVs and upgraded M113 APCs. Realizing that the Canucks were their best allies and that sharing the cost of defending North America was beneficial to the United States, the gear offered to Canada was of the latest specs and had all the toys and additional pieces US Army forces had.
The European proposals had a few issues. Co-ordination didn't happen on the tank front, which resulted in three separate offers of Challenger 2, Leopard 2 and Leclerc tanks all being offered. Britain, Germany and France all offered their best units.
On tank front, Canadian crews tested the Abrams, Challenger 2 and Leopard 2. The three tanks were very similar in terms of absolute performance, and all three carried the immense Rheinmetall 120mm L/55 gun, which meant that all three could use the best ammunition available. With the German Army Shrinking, it also meant that Leopard 2s could be bought at fairly cheap prices.
On the APC front, the durability of the Bradley, as well as its wicked TOW missiles, was enough to convince Canada to buy them as armored recon vehicles. General Motors of Canada offered to themselves soup up Canada's M113 APCs, and the Swiss offered to allow the MOWAG Piranha to be built in Canada, and it was also pointed out that variants of the Piranha series had served Canada since 1976 and had done so quite satisfactorily.
The final order, announced on March 23rd, 1996, would see Canada buy:
- 232 Leopard 2 main battle tanks (these are ex-Landwehr units, but retrofitted with extra environmental systems and electronics)
- 140 M2 Bradley IFVs
- 765 LAV III IFVs (these would be built in Canada, and 175 of them would have propellers and trim vanes for amphibious usage)
- 56 AAV-7A1 amphibious assault vehicles (these would be used by the Canadian Marine Corps)
- 560 upgraded M113 APCs
With the order, the older Grizzly AVGPs would be relegated to artillery gun tractors and mobile repair teams, while the 8-wheeled Bison vehicles would be used as Mortar vehicles, ambulances and electronic warfare vehicles. The automotive upgrades to the M113s would also be used on the 66 ADATS air defense vehicles bought in the 1990s. The Leopard C1s and older M113s would be given to the reserve units, in order to be used if needed. The purchase, costing $3.9 Billion, would see the vehicles delivered between late 1996 and 2000.
In politics, June 24th for Canada is a big day in terms of the peacekeeping effort in South Africa. President Mandela in South Africa had fought hard to keep the bitter sides in the war-torn nation from hating each other, and one way to do that had been to get something the nation could rally around. On June 24, Mandela's wish was answered, as South Africa's Springboks took down the dominant New Zealand All Blacks to win the Rugby World Cup, and causing spontaneous partying across the nation. UNMISA would go on to note that the Federal Republic of South Africa would be far more peaceful after that, to the point that the mission would eventually be suspended in 1998 and ended altogether in 2000. Deputy Prime Minister John Crosbie was at the game, and he called it "One of the great moments that define human history."
In terms of Canadian politics, the victory of the Bloc Quebecois in the 1994 Quebec provincial elections brought with it a promise of a new referendum on Quebec's independence. But by early 1995, polls had made it quite clear that such a referendum would almost certainly fail, with polls saying almost 2-1 against separation. The PQ persisted anyways, calling a referendum for October 30th, 1995. Charest, a Quebecer himself, angrily denounced the separatists. In an act of big political significance, Charest commented that the business of governing was a full load, and he asked his arch-rival, Liberal leader Jean Chretien, to lead the nationalist forces. This politically smart move drew angry fire from the Reform Party, who claimed that Chretien would offer more than Canada would give. This drew a rebuttal from NDP leader Ed Broadbent, who demanded of Reform leader Preston Manning "Why, sir, are you attempting to make political points out of separatism? You're fueling the separatists when you say such stupid things."
The federalist campaign had the edge from the start. One of the commentators, Chantal Hebert of the Toronto Star, commented that one of the reasons the Voltigeurs were revived as an active unit was to shut up the separatists, a charge denied by Charest. (Though years later he would admit that Hebert was right.) The decision to have the 22nd Regiment do a very public parade through Quebec City on arriving home from Rwanda in October 1995 and a naval exhibition in Montreal, led by HMCS Quebec, in September 1995 was widely considered to be a usage of the armed forces to fight separatism through showing off what Canada and Quebec could do.
The referendum was a big defeat for the separatists, with the vote being 64%-36% against separation. Quebec Premier Jacques Parizeau promptly resigned his position as Premier. The failure of the referendum would haunt the Bloc Quebecois in the years to come. The political success had an effect that Charest had clearly not fully considered - Chretien's prestige rose rather dramatically. At the end of 1995, all three of the major party leaders - Charest of the Conservatives, Chretien of the Liberals and Broadbent of the NDP - had job approval ratings in the 70% ballpark, while the star of Parti Quebecois leader Lucien Bouchard and Reform leader Preston Manning fell substantially.
The Forces again was called into action for real in 1995, though this time it was (for now) just the Air Command. In the Balkans, years of bitterness had broken out into a major war. On August 4th, the Croatian Forces launched a major offensive into Bosnia and Herzegovina. But by this point, the UN had seen about enough of it. The Canadian Forces entered the equation, with a substantial number of the CA-187s originally used on board HMCS Eagle being deployed, along with thirty CF-184 Tomcats and four CC-137s on one of their final deployments. Launching from Italy, the Canadian Forces aircraft join Operation Deliberate Force. The worrisome threat from Serb fighters leads to the Tomcat deployment, but the CF-187s do the heavy lifting. One CF-187 is hit by a Serbian MANPAD but manages to make it home to base, though it crash-lands and is written off. The campaign succeeds in getting the sides to the negotiating table, which results in the Dayton Peace Agreements, signed on December 14th, 1995. The Royal Canadian Regiment is soon ordered for deployment to the Balkans to keep the peace, returning to southern Europe for the first time since the battles on Cyprus in 1974 and 1975.
1996 opened for Canada with the deployment of Canadian Forces to the Balkans, along with over 30 other countries, to try and keep the peace between the bitter hatreds of the various sides, especially the Croatians and Serbs, though the Bosniaks aren't exactly happy at the arrangement. Arrest warrants are issued for a number of the high-ranking perpetrators of the violence, though both Serbia and Croatia are very slow to comply, or in many cases with the Serbs outright refuse to hand over those responsible. The focus is on the Balkans, though that doesn't mean that the situations in Rwanda or South Africa have 100% stabilized - though the Federal Republic of South Africa is looking like a happy ending. Deployed to the Balkans is the Royal Canadian Regiment, with 4,500 of its members joining the IFOR force, which were deployed to Bosnia and Herzeqovina. They are reported for duty on February 27th, 1996, and remain through the IFOR period (which lasts until December 20th, 1996). Canadian forces are part of the SFOR force, which lasts until the EUFOR Althea period begins in December 2004.
On January 31st, 1996, another front opens up again. Two senior Bank of Canada officials are killed when an explosives-loaded truck rams through the gates of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka. They are among 92 people killed and 1,500+ injured. On February 2nd, Canada declares the Tamil Tigers a terrorist organization and seizes their assets in Canada, and declares that no LTTE member will be allowed clemency in Canada. This generates a highly-public disturbance in Toronto as a large group of Tamil protesters block Toronto's Gardiner Expressway, to the anger of hundreds of thousands of Toronto commuters, but their protests aren't able to overturn the designation. Ideas are floated to put troops as peacekeepers in Sri Lanka, but with the forces deployed in South Africa, Rwanda and Bosnia, the forces are already stretched thin - making Charest's 1994 decision to activate two infantry and two armor regiments look like a shrewd decision.
The biggest event in Canada in 1996 is the Toronto Olympics. Having narrowly topped Atlanta for the 1996 games, Toronto hosts with distinction - and shockingly, manages to do so almost entirely on budget. Prime Minister Jean Charest and Ontario Premier Mike Harris open the games, which are surprisingly successful for Canada, and go off without incident. Members of the Canadian Marine Corps are assigned to be an emergency assist to the authorities if they are needed, but that problem never arises. The games' opening ceremonies include a Snowbirds demonstration and six members of the Airborne Regiment jumping into Toronto's Olympic Stadium from a CF Hercules. Canadian national price runs astoundingly high following the successful games, even in Quebec where such nationalism had been on the wane since the 1980s.
With his popularity running very high over the games, Charest called an election for August 15th, 1996. Charest went into the election with a lead on Liberal leader Chretien, and even more disastrously for Chretien his early bungling made for additional problems. An open revolt by several of his high-ranking members, including Brian Tobin, and the disastrous decision by Stephane Dion and Pierre Pettigrew to approve of Quebec's language police saw fire from all sides, with Reform MP Stephen Harper calling for Pettigrew to be censured by parliament for the decision. Charest's derision of Quebec nationalists costs him, however, and rising NDP support in Ontario - assisted, ironically, by hard-right Premier Harris and his quite open derision of Charest - costs him a majority. Charest returns to power with 140 of 301 seats, but the Liberal fighting, in a turn of events which stunned many, saw the NDP end up as official opposition, landing their best-ever result with 68 seats. The Liberals finished third with 55, with Reform and Bloc Quebecois getting the rest. Chretien was sacked as Liberal leader on September 19th, 1996, despite his serious attempt to hang on.
The Navy was without its aircraft carrier, though few cared that the Canadian Forces were a frigate navy for now - all knew what was being readied for service in Saint John. Those people got a surprise when HMCS Warrior backed out of her dry-dock on the night of August 19th, 1996, and drove off into the ocean for tests. The hope was that Warrior's departure would be fairly secret, but the Halifax Sun quickly jumped on it, along with sending it out over the Canadian Press. By mid-morning on August 20th, the news of HMCS Warrior's being out testing was known across the country. The Maritime Command confirmed that Warrior's refit had been completed and that the vessel would be extensively tested before it would be commissioned. On the morning of August 28th, the first aircraft to fly from Warrior - two squadrons each of CF-18 Hornets and two squadrons of CF-187 Corsair IIs, along with a pair of E-2C Hawkeye radar aircraft - depart from CFB Shearwater and fly to the carrier. All land safely, and the exercises in 1996 prove that Warrior's computerized engine controls and layout work well. The testing deployment of Warrior is also the last ride for a steam-powered combat warship of the Canadian Forces - the last two Annapolis-class destroyer escorts, HMCS Annapolis and HMCS Nipigon, are deactivated following Warrior's return home on October 10th, 1996, and both are decommissioned on October 21st, 1996.
Re-elected, and with an opposition that supports the military purchases if they create jobs, Charest announces that the Forces require a major helicopter upgrade, and that the contract is for:
- 30-35 heavy lift helicopters, with 10-12 being deployed to Warrior or the landing platform docks
- 50 anti-submarine helicopters
- 16 search and rescue helicopters
- 130 utility helicopters
- 35 reconnaissance helicopters
This contract would be decided quickly, because the Forces' needed the helicopters ASAP, and the Forces' wanted as many jobs in Canada as possible, though all things would be considered.
The United States had two bids - a Bell/Boeing IDS and a Sikorsky/Lockheed Martin offer. Bell offered to build a highly-modified Variant of the Bell 412 for the utility and recon offers, while Boeing offered the CH-47D Chinook as its heavy-lift offer. Sikorsky and Lockheed martin fired back with the UH-60 Blackhawk, SH-60 Seahawk and CH-53 Sea Stallion. The European offer included the AgustaWestland AW101, Aérospatiale Super Puma and Super Frelon, showing that the Europeans had learned their lessons from past sales attempts where they interfered with each other. All offers included big industrial benefits.
Political considerations reared again here. The NDP backed the European offer, as Aérospatiale offered to build the helicopters in Ontario, as opposed to Bell making them in Quebec. This drew fire from the Liberals and Conservatives, accusing NDP leader Broadbent of putting his own riding's interest ahead of the country. (Harris, ironically, defended Broadbent here.) The US Army got into the act by offering to sell Canada forty of its OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters for the observation role, with them being rebuilt in Canada.
In the end, again looking to not infuriate everybody, Parliament and the DOD split the order. The rescue order went to AgustaWestland, which happily supplied 16 modified AW101s for the role, which became the CH-149 Comorant. Sikorsky was tasked with building 50 ASW helicopters, based on its promising S-92 design. Bell would supply 130 Bell 412s, with more powerful GE engines and many other upgrades, and would rebuild the 40 ex-US Army OH-58Ds, with as many commonalities between them as possible. Boeing was tasked to build 32 CH-47D Chinooks, with the option of buying the F model if desired. The necessary papers were signed on October 10th, 1996, with all aircraft to be delivered by late 2000.
The biggest event of 1997 for the Forces was the commissioning of its new carrier, HMCS Warrior. After highly successful testing of the vessel and the proving of its ability to operate several types of aircraft, Warrior was declared ready for service in May 1997. The DOD and the Government, however, were keen to show off the carrier in Quebec as a way of combating the stronger separatist forces there, and as a result the commissioning of HMCS Warrior is held back until June 26th, 1997. Commissioned in Quebec City by Prime Minister Charest, the carrier is in Charest's words, "the symbol of the strength of our nation and its people, all of its people." Warrior is by a huge margin the largest vessel to serve Canada, and is also the largest vessel to ever serve a nation of the British Commonwealth.
Warrior's first duty after commissioning is also a landmark. Departing Quebec City on July 2nd, the massive carrier and her battle group sailed to the Mediterranean, in order to take over the duty of supporting the Canadian and IFOR forces in the Balkans. But on July 22nd, that mission takes a right turn. American carrier USS George Washington, which had been at station there, suffers a massive fire caused by a electrical short, causing substantial damage and eliminating most of the carrier's food supplies and seriously damaging many of the carrier's electronics. Needing repairs, George Washington had to return home, but the American forces do not want to lose EW support. In a landmark decision, the Americans deploy five EA-6B Prowler electronic warfare aircraft to the Canadian carrier, leaving Warrior in charge of ensuring the air support in the area. Six days later, the Canadian and American forces are joined by a Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm squadron, 733 Squadron, which flies the Tornado RN.4 ground-attack aircraft. The extra twenty-one aircraft from the Americans and the British are easily accommodated on the Canadian carrier, with its 55-aircraft strong air wing. The carrier also takes delivery of the first CH-149 Comorant helicopter from AgustaWestland, which flies directly to Warrior from a base in Italy. The carrier holds the duties well until September 28th, when HMS Ark Royal arrives to support Warrior, and the carrier is finally relieved by USS Nimitz on October 11th.
The MARCOM is rightly proud of its performance in the Mediterranean, but it also teaches a few lessons. The MARCOM learns that while its Hornet/Corsair II air wing is effective, but electronic warfare aircraft are incredibly useful and the RN's Tornado attack aircraft have somewhat longer legs and a considerably bigger payload than the Corsair IIs. The MARCOM also been debated about using some of the Air Command's F-14s on the carrier. The ideas and plans run through 1997 and 1998, as ideas and proposals are batted around.
For the Forces on land, the 1997 sees some of the new helicopters ordered in 1996 arrive in late 1997. The first Globemaster ordered by the CF also delivers the first two OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters used by the CF, which are delivered directly to the Forces in Bosnia in November 1997. The forces in Bosnia are working well, though it is clear that tensions remain. The hope for a happy end as was clearly happening in South Africa were non-existent in the Balkans. 1997 saw the deaths of ANC leaders Oliver Tambo, who died of a stroke at the age of 80, and Chris Hani, who died in a car accident in Johannesburg. Both deaths, however, proved to be sad for South Africans, but the expected civil unrest problems did not surface.
At home, the first of the reactivated units is the Voltigeurs de Quebec, which stands to in March 25th, 1997, complete with M2 Bradley, LAV III, M113 and Bison and Grizzly AVGP vehicles. The plan to reactivated the units to be ready for combat usage was delayed by the delivery of the new vehicles. A month later, the reactivated Ontario Regiment of the RCAC did its first parade through its hometown of Oshawa, Ontario, though it had yet to be assigned its vehicles. The Land Force said at this point that it expected to be at full strength by the end of 1998, as its vehicles were delivered. The first deployment of the Voltigeurs, however, is inside Canada - assisting the authorities in helping people during the devastating Red River Floods of 1997.
The Floods saw the first deployment for the DART team, which very much helps in cleaning up the mess in Manitoba. This is the first of a series of high-profile events which show off the Forces' abilities to help Canadians in times of need.
1997 also had a surprise for the Forces in the media, and it started in the United States. High-profile bomber pilot Kelly Flinn was discharged from the USAF in May, avoiding a court-martial for conduct violations and disobeying a written order to avoid a soccer coach who she had been having an affair with. Three months, Lieutenant Flinn walked into a recruiting station for the Canadian Forces in Vancouver, British Columbia, offering to join the Canadian Forces.
The CF had for many years allowed foreigners to enlist in the CF if they wished, though Americans were rare in this process. The decision of Lieutenant Flinn to try made headlines across Canada, and caused questions to be raised. Flinn had been discharged instead of facing a court-martial, but her high profile and previous training, combined with the fact her charges were for little more than common adultery, fought against this. The USAF did not object to the idea, somewhat to surprise of many in the CF. Some CF officials like the idea due to Flinn's profile and her pilot abilities. Flinn is allowed to enlist, but has to retrain to fly any of the CF's aircraft. Flinn became mission-qualified in the CC-150 in August 1998, having cleared the training programs for the Forces. Flinn, as with her service in the USAF, gladly works as a recruiting tool. On September 28th, 1997, after it is confirmed that she will be allowed to enlist despite her previous charges, she tearfully apologies on national television to her colleagues in the USAF, and thanks the Forces and the people of Canada for her "second chance".
In politics, the minority government led by Charest is still standing, though an agreement by the four opposition parties makes taking them down possible, though highly unlikely - the chances of PQ leader Gilles Duceppe and Reform leader Preston Manning agreeing on anything are slim, and all know it - and all four parties would be needed to take down the government. Charest knows this, and the Progressive Conservatives have not forgotten Joe Clark's inglorious end in 1979 - they do not wish to face that same fate.
Jean Chretien's replacement as Liberal leader at the federal level is one of his most promising MPs, Brian Tobin of Newfoundland. The contest proves to be as acrimonious as Chretien's end, as Tobin successfully fights off a determined attempt by supporters of Liberal Finance Critic Paul Martin to take over the leadership. Tobin, realizing Charest has substantial ownership of the center and knowing that the NDP is outflanking them, quickly begins talks for an alliance or even a merger with the NDP. NDP leader Broadbent is willing to consider a parliamentary alliance, but will not consider a party merger under any circumstances. His ideals are shared by much of his party's upper leadership.
On November 2nd, 1997, however, a curve-ball gets thrown into it, and it does involve the Forces. The Forces had asked for proposals for a sealift ship, in order to allow rapid movement of vehicles. With the money allocated and with the plans laid out, the Forces combine the Sealift Ship and refueling vessel programs into one and ask Parliament for approval. BQ leader Duceppe demanded that the vessel be built in Quebec, or he would not support it. But Charest retorts, pointing out that Quebec workers already are making hundreds of millions in equipment for the Forces. The BQ manages to get the support of the Liberals and NDP for its demands (the NDP, seeing its approval ratings in Quebec in electable territory for the first time ever, is hoping to make inroads and perhaps even start electing Quebecer MPs). The 17-seat Reform Party plays both sides, trying to get a deal across. This side-playing infuriates Charest, who openly accuses Manning of selling out his ideals, pointing out that in 1995 he has sworn to NEVER work with the separatists.
Manning, disgusted, jumps with the other parties. Liberal leader Tobin quickly brings a no-confidence motion before parliament, hoping to get all four parties to support it, hoping to get the motion passed - the Liberals seeing their support higher than it had been in a decade and hoping to make hay out of it. The measure passes, but it is entirely because of the Reform MPs - several of whom then say their decision to vote for the no-confidence motion was because the Progressive Conservatives were too liberal, and that "real conservatism needs to be brought to the pseudo-Conservatives.
Charest calls an election as demanded, but its clear from the word go that he was pissed off. His fire was largely aimed at the Reform Party, who Charest said "are willing to toss their principles to get power." The BQ also gets off to a bad start, its 22-seat caucus looking vulnerable, particularly as the Liberals were making substantial headway.
From the word go, a majority government looks impossible. Charest proves to be highly effective on the campaign trail, but Tobin isn't much worse. The Liberals look ready to make big gains, but at the expense of the NDP and Conservatives.
The election, held on December 11th, 1997, sees Charest returned to power again, but his 140 seats is cut down to 122, while the Liberals power from 55 to 87. The NDP falls from 68 to 61, losing the official opposition spot. Reform and the BQ fare badly, falling respectively from 17 and 22 to 12 and 19, respectively. But the election reveals that the NDP has truly gone national, with two MPs elected form Quebec, and that the Liberals were back on form. Charest also faces a big problem post-election - a Liberal-NDP coalition would need just three votes to be able to overturn him, three votes that some PC insiders fear could come from them.
The NDP shortly after the election hits an end of an era, as Broadbent announces he is considering retirement after 22 years of leading the NDP.
1998 would be for different people both the best and worst of years, but it started off badly.
A horrific ice storm struck eastern Ontario and much of southern Quebec, starting on January 4th and running for a full week, dumping as much as 150mm of ice over just about everything east of Kingston, Ontario, causing wholesale destruction of the area's power grids and infrastructure. Montreal, Ottawa, Brockville, Cornwall and Sherbrooke are hammered, with life coming to a virtual halt across the area.
Ontario and Quebec both request federal assistance, and get it, and the Forces are mobilized to help. Leading the charge here is the Marine Corps, which sets up its HQ in Cornwall, Ontario, to co-ordinate efforts. Other assistance is used, too. Power crews from as far away as Alberta and brought to the scene, in at least one case their equipment being hauled in by Air Command C-130s. CF maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft are used to catalogue the damage and plot reconstruction efforts, and in many remote cases the repair crews were lifted to the scene by helicopter. Dozens of CN Rail locomotives are used as emergency generators, providing power to residents in southern Quebec. Even more amazing was spontaneous responses, the most famous of which was the "Montreal Convoy". This convoy, made up of over 700 vehicles, was lined up at Pearson Airport in Toronto in the early morning of January 13th and drove, escorted, to Kingston, with over 6,000 tons of supplies and 3,200 volunteers, all of which had been donated by people. The over 500 trucks and 35 buses involved in the convoy were all driven by volunteers, as well.
The support went south of the border too. The Ontario RCAC volunteered to assist in the New York National Guard in cleanup efforts in upstate New York, and when the help was accepted US Army helicopters and aircraft moved the equipment needed from the regiment's HQ in Oshawa, Ontario. The Americans returned the favor in helping repair damage in Quebec and Ontario, with American crews coming from as far away as Indiana and North Carolina. The whole effort was a media circus, aided and abetting by the Governors of New York and Maine and the Canadian premiers. Both PM Charest and NDP leader Broadbent came to the scene, and both demanded to actually help the situation rather than just be there for PR, and Broadbent even got a battle scar - he broke his hip on a ice-slickened concrete step, falling while helping two others carry an elderly woman out of a nursing home in Gananoque, Ontario.
The vast effort is instrumental in changing public opinion in Quebec. support for separatism falls dramatically after the response to the ice storm, and the Parti Quebecois is booted out of power in Quebec in the elections held in August 1998 - despite Liberal leader Daniel Johnson's expected resignation, which doesn't happen much to the PQ's chagrin.
Politically, Canada entered 1998 with a changed government. Charest shuffled his cabinet to bring in new members Peter MacKay and Andre Bachand, and shuffled it again in May when Stephen Harper switches sides, to the shock and disgust of the Reform Party, which had been hoping to have Harper succeed Preston Manning. Charest's government is considered by many to be one of the most full of talent in Canadian history, and gets boosted again in late 1998 when Brian Mulroney announces he will try to return to politics, nearly six years after he resigned to save his party from electoral demolition. PC MP Alan Raymond offers to resign to allow Mulroney to return, but Mulroney doesn't go for it, to the surprise of many.
The NDP reaches an end of an era on February 25th, when Broadbent announces his retirement for real. A leadership campaign follows, and the winner is charismatic Toronto MP Jack Layton, a former Toronto city councilor, who takes over the role as party leader on July 20th, 1998. Layton and Liberal leader Brian Tobin are a natural fit, but both are astute enough to know when to not rock the boat. They are a vicious opposition to Charest's Conservatives, but they do not actually attempt to overturn his government through 1998.
September sees tragedy strike Canada again, as a Swissair McDonnell-Douglas MD-11 suffers major mechanical problems and crashes off of Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia on September 2nd, 1998. In a act which would prove to be almost legendary, ATC Moncton was contacted by American destroyer USS Arleigh Burke, which had seen the struggling airliner while on a training exercise. The destroyer also promptly contacted the Forces command in Halifax. The MD-11 struck the water less than three miles from HMCS Huron, which was notified step-by-step by the American destroyer and powered to the scene, hoping to help in the potential rescue. Flight 111 landed badly and disintegrated on impact, but Huron's Sea King helicopter was less than half a mile away from the crash and was able to pick up survivors. Both navies' vessels raced to the scene, and helicopters from both Huron and Arleigh Burke were able to pull eleven survivors from the water. Eight of those rescued would survive, one after spending nearly three months in a Halifax hospital.
The story makes headlines around the world, and the flight crew of Huron's helicopter receive medals for their courage. President Clinton awards both Arleigh Burke and Huron Presidential Unit Citations for their work - the first time a foreign vessel had been awarded such a citation by the United States. The Forces would use a situation similar to what happened to Flight 111 in its recruiting posters in years to come, as an example of the reason why having effective military forces is good for Canada.
Internationally, HMCS Ontario's crew offers to let the ship be used as the meeting and negotiation place for the talks between the various parties in Northern Ireland, pointing out that the Irish nationalists would not trust it being held on a British vessel or on land, and pointed out that Canada had traditionally been neutral in disputes. The offer is declined, but after the Good Friday Agreement is signed, Ontario does see service for negotiations between the other parties and the DUP, which doesn't sign the Good Friday Agreement.
On the procurement front, Europe saw the first flight of the Airbus A400M and the first run of the Pratt and Whitney PW180AM engine, which would power the A400M. The PW180AM, a powerful turboprop, produces 8,600 kW (11,530 hp) in its ready form, which is quite sufficient for the A400M. The program is running somewhat behind schedule, but the aircraft makes its first flight on its original SNECMA M138 turbofans in December 1998. But the program's slow process leads to concerns in Ottawa. A proposal circulated through 1998 proposes to rebuild the Forces' C-130 fleet, including fitting them with PW180 engines.
The debate over Warrior's Air Wing also is debated viciously through 1998, with the Forces and many commentators saying that the CF needed to invest in electronic warfare aircraft and longer-ranged attack aircraft, along with aerial refueling tankers. The Royal Navy, facing budget cuts of its own, offers to sell some of its RN.4 Tornado attack aircraft to the Canadian Forces in May 1998, which opened a stampede. The US Navy also offers up its A-6 Intruder attack aircraft (which is being retired at this point) and its electronic warfare derivative, the EA-6 Prowler. The Intruder and Tornado are comparable aircraft, though the Forces prefers the two-seat Tornados. On September 16th, 1998, the Forces announces the purchase of twenty-four RN.4 Tornado two-seat attack aircraft to equip the carrier. In a move that surprises some, twelve aviators of the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm request to move to the Canadian Forces to fly for the Canadians. Both sides agrees to the request. The Tornados would first be assigned on Warrior in March 1999.
The other big news is the laying down of the two landing platform docks for the Maritime Command, to be named after two famous Canadian tall ships, HMCS Bluenose (LPD-01) and HMCS Challenge (LPD-02). Laid down at MIL Davie Shipbuilding in Lauzon, Quebec and Cape Breton Shipyards in Sydney, Nova Scotia. Both are laid down within days of each other in May 1998, both set for delivery in mid to late 2000.
1999 was the last year of the 20th Century, and it would for the Canadian Forces be forever referred to as the "Year of Destiny". With a name like that, one would expect it to be a big, important year, and so it was.
The biggest events of the year began in January, when a group of Canadian aerospace engineers, many of them having experience with Boeing, Airbus, Bombardier and others, formed a small consulting company in Toronto, named the Canada Defense Aerospace Company. The company's name was of course a harbinger to what was to come.
In March, this small group submitted a proposal to Gordon O'Connor, a former Brigadier and now the deputy Minister of National Defense. The case the company made was that the Canadian Forces had built a substantial electronics industry partly as a result of the rebuilding of HMCS Warrior and the upgrades to many aircraft, along with a growing industry building other products that catered to the Forces, and that the country could easily build many of its own aircraft and military gear. And the proposal that the company specifically focused on was a new fighter for Canada, to be developed entirely in Canada.
The idea would go in three stages. Stage I would be the build of a fighter design, using a proprietary design but with off-the-shelf internals, to prove that the concept could fly. Stage II would add a new engine program, while Stage III would go for the brass ring and build the aircraft entirely from Canadian knowledge and know-how. The plan was ambitious, but even the most pessimistic would realize the chance to build a major high-tech industry in Canada, instead of simply buying gear from the Americans.
O'Connor quickly brought this to Defense Minister Kim Campbell, who loved the idea and quickly explained it to the Cabinet. All liked the idea, but most expressed concerns about the cost. Even the most mild variant would cost hundreds of millions to develop, to do the job that the Tomcat could already do. But the argument in favor was that this would create a real Canadian aerospace defense industry. The debate raged on through May 1999, but then got changed. The existence of the program was leaked to the Press, with the proposal calling it "a chance to rectify the mistakes made when Canada stopped its indigenous fighter the last time." The response was positive, to say the least.
The debate through June was focused on how much it would cost to build the fighter, and all expected the costs of development to be in the billions. But even the most pessimistic commentators pointed out that the program would create tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of jobs, and spending such money to develop the fighter was better spent in Canada than buying upgrades or new equipment from abroad. All five parties in Ottawa expressed support for the idea, though Reform and BQ support was somewhat tempered by cost concerns and the BQ's trademark "what's in it for Quebec?" attitude.
Sensing the support, Ontario Premier Mike Harris his Quebec counterpart, Daniel Johnson, made the first moves - an agreement between Canada Defense Aerospace and Bombardier Aerospace to build the fighters, with the first development moneys coming from Queens Park and Quebec City. That deal was signed on June 25th, 1999, and the development began again.
On July 1st, in a Canada Day speech broadcast across the country, Charest emphatically made it official - "We will not make the same mistake twice. This fighter will be developed, it will be built, and it will see service with the Forces" - was in his speech, and was a key portion of the speech sent out to the Forces members. The legislation to provide the funding from the DND was introduced on July 5th, 1999, and passed easily on July 21st. The project was real, and it was underway, and Canada was back in the fighter jet business......
Canada's year for the Forces would be noted by the end of one peacekeeping mission, the opening of another, and the escalation of what was the biggest peacekeeping mission in the world at that point.
1999 opened with the end of what had been at one time the biggest peacekeeping mission in history. After the 1998 elections went off without a hitch, the United Nations decided to close out the UN mission in South Africa - the job was done, and the Federal Republic of South Africa, the economy of which was growing like a weed and the old racial problems were dying away. The UN formally announced the end of UNMISA on January 18, 1999. The next day, South Africa's new President, Steven Biko, addressed the United Nations, thanking all of those who had done so much to ensure South Africa's revival in the 1990s. "The nations of the world came to our aid when we needed it, and for that, on behalf of the people of South Africa, I thank you for your sacrifices. If the debt can be repaid one day, I give you my word now that it will be."
The last Canadian units in South Africa were 1,500 men from the Calgary Highlanders, who departed Johannesburg for home on February 14, 1999. Their heavy equipment - mostly Grizzly and Bison APCs - was offered to the SANDF, but the South Africans sent the equipment home behind the troops. Two months later, however, Canuck troops were back in South Africa - a few of them, anyways.
Noting that Canada's goals with its new equipment procurement meshed well with those the SANDF, the South Africans offered to donate 75 of their Rooikat 105 armored support vehicles to the Canadian Forces. This offer was considered, and in April twelve heavy weapons experts flew to South Africa to test the Rooikats. What they found was impressive. The Rooikat, which was capable of 120 km/h onroad and 60/km/h off of it, packed a massive 105mm gun, which used standard NATO ammo, and had highly sophisticated fire control, which allowed the gun to be accurately fired even at high speed. The troops called it "the troop tank", as it had been designed to keep up with faster-moving infantry units. Impressed, the twelve urged the acceptance of the vehicles. Despite some opposition from the Reform Party - the objections of which were loudly shouted down by the Conservatives - the vehicles were accepted. They entered service for the CF's infantry regiments in 2000. They were so effective that 75 more were ordered in 2003.
With South Africa dying away, the attention to shifted to the Balkans. That mess had been simmering for years after the Dayton Accords of 1995, but it opened up again in 1999 when the Yugoslav territory of Kosovo earnestly attempted to break away from the rump Yugoslavia. Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milsoevic ordered the Serbian Army to end the revolt, and the army and many militias moved into Kosovo. The violence spread rapidly, and by March 1999 dozens were dying every day.
Not wanting to see a repeat of the Balkan Wars which claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, and realizing Kosovo's demographics were far divided from those of the rest of Yugoslavia, NATO ordered Milosevic to back down. Milsoevic angrily refused, and on March 24, Operation Allied Force began.
Warrior wasn't in on this one - it was off Peru making a transit to the Pacific at the time - but the Canadian Forces were there, in strength. CF-14s were among the aircraft assigned to air defense, and CF-18s and CF-187s were among the aircraft dropping bombs, though the CF-14s did drop basic iron bombs themselves on a number of occasions. Their work was exemplary, dropping 14% of the bombs dropped in the entire war and shooting down three Yugoslav MiG-29s, but the biggest event of the year went down on May 26, and had only a little to do with the Air Command.
Reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering leading up to the campaign had repeatedly tracked down the locations of several high-ranking genocide leaders, most notably Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, both wanted by international courts. Now the chief of the Canadian Forces and having a distinct memory of the pain he saw and suffered in Rwanda, General Romeo Dallaire was not about to let these men get away, and he proposed a mission to go in and get them. Telling the authorities, though, was fraught with peril - somebody would undoubtedly tip off Karadzic and Mladic. They needed to go in themselves.
Charest made the call himself - go for it. Defense Minister Campbell agreed, and Dallaire began planning for it.
On May 10th, the two turned up in the town of Foca. Dallaire got this intel within hours, and drew up his plans with the American Supreme Allied Commander, General Wesley Clark. As these two were wanted, Dallaire's plan was easily approved - and Clark would say later, "he wanted to go after them like an angry pitbull. He wanted them badly."
On the night of May 25th, 525 men of the Canadian Special Air Service took off in nine C-130H Hercules aircraft and flew from Aviano, Italy, to Foca, Bosnia, where they parachuted in. As they arrived, so did CF-187 fighters form the AF, which had left from Aviano shortly after the Hercules had. They provided cover while the Canadian troops cleared out any Serb militiamen and captured Karadzic and Mladic. Two MiG-23s of the Srpska's air forces were shot down by the CF-187s, and the Hercules landed on a nearby road cleared out by the forces. The aircraft picked up the teams and took off, heading back to Aviano. They were refueled over the Adriatic before landing back in Italy.
The mission was a success, though ten men died and twenty-eight were wounded. One of the CF-187s was struck by a Serb SAM and crashed in a house, killing both crew members instantly. The daring raid seriously angered the Bosnian and Yugoslav governments, but the response from both NATO and Canada was little more than a shrug. Karadzic and Mladic were both turned over to the International Courts, and both were charged with genocide. Karadzic ultimately hung himself in his cell, but Mladic was convicted of crimes against humanity on May 15th, 2005, and sentenced to life imprisonment.
The operation also awed the media. "Our Boys Get the Murderers of Bosnia" was the headline of the National Post, while the Toronto Sun was even more simplistic: "Gotcha, Punks." While a few pointed out that the Forces had violated international law in the raid, almost nobody cared - the crimes of Karadzic and Mladic were well-known, and many who had been victims of the two Serbian murderers openly cheered Canada's raid. In Washington, the response was both being impressed with the ambitious raid, and questions as to why the United States didn't do it themselves. "We got upstaged on our mission by the Canucks!" Growled Congressman Pete Hoekstra, Republican of Pennsylvania. "How did we let that happen?!"
The success in the Balkans in capturing Karadzic and Mladic made Canada a major enemy of the Serbs. On June 3rd, 1999, an angry mob in Belgrade ransacked the Canadian Embassy there, though it had been closed and evacuated of Canadian citizens before the NATO war. The massive bombing forces Yugoslav President Milosevic to back down and withdraw troops from Kosovo, a process which begins on June 10th. Two days later, KFOR and NATO troops, including the Canadian PPCLI, begin moving into Kosovo.
That hadn't even finished when BJ Habibie made the surprise decision on June 2nd, 1999, to allow East Timor to have a referendum on its independence after 25 years of Indonesian rule. This came on the eve of a meeting of the Commonwealth heads of state, which was to occur in Pretoria, South Africa on June 14th. Australian PM John Howard, expecting the Indonesians to make trouble during the referendum, proposed a Commonwealth operation to ensure the peace, noting that Australia had a lot of trouble on its doorstep if Australia tried to keep East Timor by force. Public opinion in Australia supported Howard's proposal. After an informal meeting between Howard, Charest, British PM Tony Blair and Indian PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the four nations agreed to lead such an operation, and the four would put forth a joint declaration for UN permission, which they did on June 26th.
Some were concerned that Canada, already having undertaken two successful missions that year, would be unprepared for a third. That idea got ended on June 29th, when over a dozen reserve units, all from Western Canada and in many cases veterans of Bosnia, South Africa and/or Rwanda (and in a number of the commanders' cases, Cyprus) offered to join the effort if their entire units could go. Knowing that would take heat off the Regular Force, both Dallaire and Campbell backed the idea.
After successes all year and the plan to help the Commonwealth in East Timor now public, Charest announced on July 24th, 1999, an update on the plan released in 1991 by Mulroney. The plan went further than the 1991 plan had, re-iterating the need for the Forces to be able to move fast. Many military leaders and analysts called the plan "a plan for the fastest moving military on the planet." The plan was extensive.
The plan called for the Army to be able to move fast with its inventory, doing that by the purchase of a fast sealift ship for the Forces, and the creation of a program to build or buy a number of container ships and freighters for the Canadian Merchant Marine, with the agreement with the owners that if the Forces asked, the ships would be available. The Forces would train portions of all the infantry units to be 'airmobile' forces, with them being both recon units and advance units. The Forces' wish to own as many helicopters as possible, even if they were mildly modified civilian units, was reiterated. An additional C-17 would be bought, along with other transport aircraft, and the troops on the ground would be outfitted with small UAVs like some units of other western militaries, with the goal of providing them with better intel. The Navy would get a new destroyer program with the goal of launching 8-10 units of a Canadian class between 2007 and 2010 to replace the Iroquois, Ontario and Manitoba-class destroyers, and would get a program to create a class of multi-role vessels designed for shallow-water operations, and a variant of the class would also outfit the Canadian Coast Guard. Also up would be at least five resupply vessels, a small number of diesel-electric submarines (and a tender for them) and a dedicated hospital ship for the Navy.
With the new territory of Nunavut now a reality, Nunavut would get its own active regiment, the Nunavut Defense Regiment, which would be made up primarily of Native Canadians and would be based in Iqaluit. The Northwest Passage would be settled by the building of air and naval bases in the Iqaluit area, and the Canadian Rangers would be expanded to be a first-response force in the Canadian North, including the delivery of helicopters for them and the development of some new gear for them, including replacing their aged Lee-Enfield rifles with modern weapons and providing them with GPS devices to allow them to be more effective as responders.
Other proposals included dedicated attack helicopters and the development of the Canadian fighter, but these were already underway and were largely on the back burner as compared to the new plans released in July 1999. All of the plans would be primarily bought from the Canadian Forces. The plan also laid out plans of upgrades for the existing fleets of Tomcat, Hornet and Corsair II aircraft, to be done in Canada. Somewhat controversially, part of the plan was two executive transport aircraft based on Air Canada aircraft.
The operation to help East Timor now officially underway, Australia's newly refitted and upgraded carrier HMAS Australia set out with its support group from the RAN from Sydney, moving to Darwin, beginning the operation by ensuring the security of the area around East Timor. It was expected that East Timor would vote overwhelmingly for independence, and Howard made it clear to Habibie that any attempt to destroy any infrastructure in East Timor would be responded to harshly by Australia. Habibie angrily denounced the Commonwealth Forces, calling them "the warriors of Colonialism."
With the Indian Navy having virtually nothing to do with India's successful operations in Kashmir, they were keen on a success. INS Viraat, India's flagship, was deployed to the area, though Viraat was drawfed by Australia. Canada's contingent departed Vancouver on July 10th, led by Warrior with the destroyers Ontario, British Columbia and Algonquin, frigates Halifax, Vancouver, Ottawa and Calgary, supply ships Protecteur and Preserver and nuclear sub Lake Superior rode with Warrior. They arrived in the area on August 19, with Protecteur and Preserver docking Darwin to reload its fuel tanks before rejoining its fleet. The British fleet was based around HMS Invincible, and the Royal Navy also brought three of its nuclear attack submarines. South Africa sent its supply ship SAS Drakensberg, which would be busy racing between the fleet and Darwin.
Sure enough, the referendum for independence was almost 4-1 in favor of independence. Indonesian military forces quickly withdrew, though Habibie would not allow the deployment of the peacekeeping forces to the area, saying it would result in war between them and Indonesia. Within days, however, pro-Indonesia militias were causing substantial damage.
The Canadian Airborne Regiment got the call again to jump into Dili to shut down the militias, joined by members of the Australian Defence Forces and the Royal Marines. They landed and jumped in on September 20th, 1999, and quickly routed the pro-Indonesia militias. By the end of 1999, the United Nations was working on the situation, and formed a national council between the Timorese and the peacekeeping forces to figure out the way to independence.
In November 1999, facing groups within the government who wanted his overthrow for giving up East Timor, Haibibie announced that the Indonesians were lining up to take back East Timor and that they would force out the international forces. That idea was taken seriously by the Commonwealth forces, and a massive show of force was put up on December 7th, 1999. Involving both Warrior and Australia, the two battle groups would run very high profile air exercises between them, supported by land-based aircraft for both sides. Part of the operation was six Canadian Tomcats roaring over the city of Jakarta without so much as a response from the Indonesian Air Force. The show of force ended the invasion plan - and unbeknownst to the Canadians at the time, the coup attempts against Habibie were led by the Air Force, which looked pretty stupid when enemy aircraft could freely roam over the Indonesian capital.
With the government having made its announcement of the plan for the 21st Century, the requests for information went out for the various ships.
The Maritime Command went first, making separate requests for information for new supply ships, a fast sealift ship, submarine tender and a hospital ship. Both foreign and domestic shipbuilders responded with various proposals.
Saint John Shipbuilding, Halifax Shipbuilders, Cape Breton Ocean Engineering, MIL Davie and Pacific Vessel Engineering all proposed vessels, all to be built in Canada. Several companies from the United States also made proposals. Among what was offered was two incomplete Henry J. Kaiser-class fleet oilers which had been mothballed by the USN, and several older vessels the US had decommissioned. The older vessels were denied because of their age, and the Canadians preferred to build vessels in Canada.
The Reform Party repeatedly advocated for ex-USN vessels, pointing out that they could be used quickly and could be acquired for a low price. The other parties, however, wanted the contract to go to a Canadian shipyard for a new vessel - and all the older USN vessels before the Henry J. Kaiser-class were steam-powered, and the last steam-powered warships had been decommissioned three years earlier.
The most promising design came from SNC-Lavalin, which had been contracted by MIL Davie to design a vessel. The vessel design was a double-hulled vessel with a length of 840 feet (256.03 meters), which had three bunkers - two for marine diesel and one for aviation fuel, though all three could be used for marine diesel if needed - which had four refueling rigs and a large helipad on the end of the vessel. Four loading cranes also were installed, and the vessel could also carry 155 20-foot containers of the same design as used by the Canadian Forces. The vessel, which also could serve as a command center and mad many advanced features, was powered by eight geared General Motors Model 265 turbodiesel engines, giving the 52,000-ton vessel a maximum speed of some 24 knots (44.45 km/h), faster than the Protecteur and Provider-class vessels.
This design, which would called the Rocky Mountain-class, was approved by parliament on November 14th, 2000. The first was laid down on January 10th, 2001, at the MIL Davie Shipyards in Lauzon, Quebec.
For the Hospital ship, the Canadian Forces went with the same plan the US Navy used when it built its latest hospital ships. The Maritime Command selected Allied Shipbuilders of Vancouver to convert oil Panamax-size oil tanker SS Western Pacific into HMCS Merciful, the first dedicated hospital ship of the Canadian Forces. Authorized at the same as the Rocky Mountain-class supply vessels, Merciful would be built along with one of the supply ships in Vancouver.
The Air Command and Army began coordinating their efforts on utility helicopters, but the lessons of South Africa and Bosnia had shown that the Forces' CH-146 Griffons, effective as they were, were still at a loss compared to dedicated military helicopters such as the American UH-60 Blackhawk and European EC725 Super Cougar. The decision was made to switch gears then, and move to buying a smaller number of dedicated military helicopters, which would then move the CH-146s to the secondary helicopter lines. This would be debated viciously through 2000.
With situations around the world requiring attention, the year 2000 opened with Canadian personnel serving on UN missions in Yugoslavia, Rwanda, East Timor and Sri Lanka, as well as the Navy showing the flag in many parts of the world.
2000 for the Maritime Command was rung with its flagship, HMCS Warrior, at Darwin, Australia on a port visit. The residents of the Australian city, famed for its friendliness, made the international armada which had been docked at Darwin - Australian, Canadian, British, Indian, Singaporean and South African vessels were in attendance - made sure that the port visit was a nice break. With HMAS Australia now handling the security duties at East Timor, on January 11th, 2000, Warrior sailed for home, making a port stop at Pearl Harbor along the way before arriving at Esquimalt on February 8th. Warrior then pulled into the Allied Shipbuilders' dock in Vancouver, getting its first major refit, adding an improved defensive armament, new electronic warfare systems, landing radars and the first Canadian-manufactured VLR radar, the ATI Technologies SMR-1200. Warrior backed out of the dock on May 28, headed back out for another cruise before she heads back for the East Coast.
For the Air Command, 2000 sees the first delivery of the service-ready Airbus A400M. By the end of the year, 32 of them have been delivered, five of them to Canada. The A400M, named the CC-176 Airmaster, makes its first public appearance at the Canada Day Air Show in Montreal. The A400M proves to be an effective tool, better stability than the C-130 and more hauling performance and speed. The fact that its engines and parts of the fuselage have been made in Canada is better. The Air Command also had to deal with the issue of the military helicopters. The CH-146 was a reliable chopper, but it had been criticized for a relative lack of performance, and as a result the Forces had started in late 1999 investigating the idea of moving the CH-146s to second-string status and instead buying dedicated military choppers.
The helicopter debate was focused on whether to buy smaller military helicopters such as the Sikorsky UH-60 "Blackhawk" and NHI NH90, or bigger units such as the AgustaWestland Merlin and Sikorsky S-92. The Merlin and S-92 were both in active Canadian service, but both were large helicopters, and the smaller (and cheaper) UH-60 and NH90 were better suited to replacing the CH-146.
Realizing how deep the debate was, all three manufacturers - Sikorsky, NHI and AgustaWestland - attempted to influence the debate in their favor, and sweetened the terms of a proposed deal. The dirt-cheap UH-60 was outperformed by the NH90, but the UH-60 had many variants and could be tailored for Canada's specific needs. The S-92 was much better for the troop transport role, but the S-92 was considered too big for the role, with the rivals eventually being narrowed to the UH-60L Blackhawk and NH90.
The decision was made when Bombardier announced on May 18th, 2000, that it was buying the remains of collapsing Dutch aircraft manufacturer Fokker, as Fokker owned a small chunk of NH Industries. NH Industries' final offer included all the Canadian helicopters being built in Canada, which Sikorsky couldn't do it. On May 30th, 2000, The Canadian Government announced the decision to procure the NH Industries NH90 TTH helicopter, and Canada would buy 75 units for $1.07 Billion, and the CH-146 Griffons would be moved to second-line units and lighter duties. All 74 would be built at Bombardier's plant in Toronto, Ontario, but the company manufactured many pieces for it in Western Canada, including the gearboxes, which were to be made in Calgary, Alberta. The CF NH90s, which was named CH-151 Vulcan, included strengthened underside hooks, improved heating and air conditioning systems, more powerful General Electric T700 engines, tougher interiors and low-light and infrared systems, improving the lifting ability from 4,200 kg to 4,850 kg.
Bombardier's decision to buy Fokker would have major effects on the Canadian military-industrial complex, which was already growing to be substantial. Fokker had been developing a smaller airliner, which Bombardier promptly stopped - as it was a rival to Bombardier's efforts. But Bombardier announced that its Fokker and Short Brothers units and their engineers would be used to develop a wide-body airliner, expected to be a rival to the Airbus A330/A340 and Boeing 777. It was an ambitious goal, but as Bombardier with Fokker was the time the world's fourth-largest aircraft builder (behind Boeing, Airbus and Embraer) it was considered to be ambitious but within reach.
Bombardier's purchase of Fokker also gave it access to the Eurofighter project, and through 2000 rumors began circling that Canada's Tomcat, Hornet and Corsair fighters would be replaced by the Eurofighter, especially as the Canadian fighter project was expected to be a large strike fighter comparable to the F-14D Super Tomcat, F-15E Strike Eagle and Sukhoi Su-30 were said to be the performance targets for the aircraft. The Canadian fighter was first named in September 2000, when North American Aerospace and Bombardier showed off its first conceptual designs, naming it the CF-190 Crossbow. The name was clearly an evolution of the Arrow, but the aircraft designs showed off shared absolutely nothing with the Arrow. A two-seat, twin-engine aircraft, the original Crossbow design included a large semi-delta design with canted twin tails, many commentators compared the original Crossbow to a Su-30 with a F-14 front and leading edge extensions.
On September 15th, 2000, Canada also showed off what many figured was its most glamorous addition to the Air Command, the first of two rebuilt ex-Air Canada Boeing 747-200s made into VIP transport aircraft. Some openly called the decision to buy the aircraft, which gained the name CC-180 Commander, as irresponsible - but as the CC-180 was also able to function was a mobile commander center and serve in several roles, it could be justified. The first operational mission for the CC-180 was undertaken two week later, flying former PM Pierre Trudeau's body from Montreal to Ottawa, and back again three days later.
DART was deployed internationally for the first time in March 2000, headed to Mozambique, where massive flooding had caused horrible damage across the nation. Heavy rain across four countries had resulted in major flood problems across most of Mozambique's Limpopo River valleys, killing nearly 800 people and causing vast damage. DART set up in a high valley in Mozambique during the floods. Two CF personnel were killed when their CH-146 helicopter crashed south of Beira, Mozambique.
Politically, 2000 was heavily taken up by the battle for the US Presidency. The Republican primaries turned into a massive, ugly battle between Governor George W. Bush of Texas and Senator John McCain of Arizona. The acrimony rose to new heights when Bush won South Carolina, in many cases credited by the very ugly tactics undertaken by Bush's campaign. But the day after Bush's victory, his campaign boss, Karl Rove, was killed in a car accident in Atlanta, Georgia. Rove's death and McCain's angry counterstrikes led to Bush's lead evaporating, and McCain would ultimately go on to be the Republican nominee. The Democratic nomination wasn't perfect - a stroke injured Democratic VP nominee Joe Lieberman, and a massive grassroots campaign elevated Wisconsin Senator Paul Wellstone into the VP slot.
The 2000 elections were ultimately won by Gore and Wellstone, but McCain and VP choice Colin Powell made them fight for it. The election ultimately came down to the final counts in Florida. Late in 2000, however, news broke of voter fraud in Florida, where eligible voters had been tossed off the voter lists. A McCain campaign decision to take the vote result to the Supreme Court was vetoed by McCain and Powell, who both didn't wanted to win legitimately. McCain's decision would ultimately cost him the Presidency, but both of them would defend their decisions later.
Canadian politics was calm through 2000, though most were sad when Pierre Trudeau died on September 28th. Trudeau's funeral in Montreal turned out to be another nail driven into the Reform Party, as one of the Reform MPs, Jason Kenney, denounced Trudeau as "the socialist who tried to destroy Canada." and was furious that "his communist lackey is our country", referring to the fact that Cuban President Fidel Castro was at the funeral. Kenney's comments infuriated many, including his former mentor Stephen Harper, who denounced the decision and called for Kenney's resignation as MP. Kenney was expelled from Reform Party caucus for the stunt, with party leader Preston Manning commenting "I will not put my faith into those who are unwilling to respect others, even if they disagree with their views." Also among those at the Funeral was Paul Wellstone, who considered Trudeau a good man who deserved respect.
On November 26th, Preston Manning announced his resignation as the leader of the Reform Party, retiring from his position. Manning's Party was suffering badly, Kenney's stunt costing them support even in the once-solid Alberta. The leadership race would be one of the main events of early 2001 in Canadian politics.