In The Media

Canadian navy weakened: analyst

by Fram Dinshaw (feat. David Perry)

Herald News
March 29, 2017

A senior defence analyst has branded last week’s federal budget as “unhelpful” for Canada’s navy at a time when Vladimir Putin’s submarines increasingly lurk off Nova Scotia’s coast.

David Perry, a fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, said that this year’s budget essentially kicked $8.48 billion of funding down the road to 2035-36, meaning that Canada’s navy will not receive needed submarines to patrol its Atlantic shores.

“The Canadian government does not have funding at present to maintain a modern submarine capability,” Perry told the Chronicle Herald.

The Royal Canadian Navy is further hamstrung by its current lack of destroyers. All four of its Iroquois-class vessels are now decommissioned and construction of the new Canadian Surface Combatant vessels in Halifax’s Irving Shipyard will not begin until the mid-2020s.

Their construction must wait until Irving completes the construction of six Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships, vessels designed to secure Canada’s Arctic frontiers against Russian naval incursions.

Perry noted that Russian submarine activity in the North Atlantic is back up to levels not seen since the 1970s and 1980s, when the Cold War between NATO and the Soviet Union was at its height.

As in the Cold War, Russian submarines set sail from their bases on Russia’s Arctic coastline, track around the Norwegian coast and thread their way past Scotland, Iceland and Greenland into the North Atlantic. Once there, they can roam as far as Nova Scotia and America’s Eastern Seaboard.

The Russian submarine fleet is now less than one-fifth of its peak Cold War size,when it numbered 250 vessels, according to a 2016 report by The National Interest.

But Putin’s navy is significantly better-trained and more technologically advanced than immediately after the Cold War, when a lack of funding meant that aging submarines remained stuck in port through the 1990s.

The Russians have recently deployed new Borey-class nuclear-powered subs capable of launching ballistic missiles and have also upgraded their diesel-powered Kilo submarines, among other improvements.

Perry warned against western complacency, saying that Putin’s navy possessed “multiple and varied modern subs.”

A resurgent Russia challenges Canada on two fronts: submarine activity in the Atlantic and increased military activity on its Arctic borders where significant reserves of oil and gas may be located.

The Russian military can deploy submarines and icebreakers to probe Canada’s Arctic and also possesses long-range bombers and missiles, meaning that Canada and the U.S. must upgrade the North American Aerospace Command’s capabilities. This may mean installing missile defence systems on Canadian soil, but in 2005 Ottawa rejected an American invitation to join such a program.

Since then, Moscow has deployed long-range cruise missiles in Syria, launching them from the Caspian Sea over Iran and Iraq against rebels fighting against Bashar al-Assad’s government. Such missiles may also threaten Canadian Arctic security.

“(The Russians) can probe, they can sense, they can do a lot of things to improve their knowledge of our northern passages, so that is a potential threat that Canada should take some measures to counter,” said Brian Wentzell, director of Nova Scotia’s Royal United Services Institute.

A third land front is in Eastern Europe, where ethnic Russian militants are fighting in eastern Ukraine against that country’s pro-Western government and Putin’s troops continue to occupy the Crimean Peninsula along the Black Sea. Canada and its NATO allies have provided support and training to Ukraine’s military.

Wentzell warned that Putin’s intelligence operatives may use ethnic Russians in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to stir up a Ukraine-style conflict in the Baltic Republics.

“The concern that I have is that we’re not sending a strong enough message to Russia — or anyone else for that matter — that we’re prepared to stand up for what we believe in,” said Wentzell.

Adding to Canada’s military challenges is Ottawa’s ongoing Defence Policy Review, a nationwide public consultation that has not yet been completed.

Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
Donate to Canadian Global Affairs Institute Subscribe




Ottawa puts economic strings on fighter jets
by Lee Berthiaume (feat. Dave Perry), The Canadian Press, December 13, 2017

Liberal's new 'naughty and nice list' approach to defence contractors could face legal, trade challenges
by Murray Brewster (feat. Dave Perry), CBC News, December 13, 2017

Le Canada adresse un avertissement aux Etats-Unis via Boeing
by Michel Comte (feat. Dave Perry), France 24, December 13, 2017

Federal government to link ‘economic interests’ to bids for fighter jets
by Daniel Leblanc (feat. Dave Perry), The Globe and Mail, December 12, 2017

Liberal Plan For Interim Jets Tackles 'Capability Gap' That Doesn't Exist: Experts
by Althia Raj (feat. Dave Perry & Al Stephenson), The Huffington Post, December 12, 2017

Ottawa relaunches the process to buy 88 new fighter jets
by Bruce Campion-Smith (feat. Dave Perry), Toronto Star, December 12, 2017

AUDIO: So... are we getting new jets or what?
with Rob Breakenridge (feat. Al Stephenson), AM 770 CHQR, December 12, 2017

VIDEO: Achat de F-18 Usagés
with Pierre Donais (feat. Ferry de Kerckhove), CPAC, December 12, 2017



Donate | Submit | Media Inquiries
Making sense of our complex world. | Déchiffrer la complexité de notre monde.
Canadian Global Affairs Institute

Suite 1800, 421-7th Avenue SW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada  T2P 4K9
Canadian Global Affairs Institute

8 York Street, 2nd Floor
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada  K1N 5S6

Phone: (613) 288-2529 
2002-2015 Canadian Global Affairs Institute

Charitable Registration No.  87982 7913 RR0001