Canada’s military personnel have a reputation for being well-trained, but the state of their equipment and capabilities had become much bleaker after decades of neglect. Significant emergency purchases were required to secure the equipment needed for operations in Afghanistan, and despite being the second largest country in the world, the state of its military airlift capability was poor and deteriorating at all levels. Recent years have seen something of a turnaround, especially the funding injection and the beginning of major airlift (C-17, C-130J) and helicopter (CH-47D, CH-47F) projects in 2005-2006, and the shift away from wheeled armored vehicles to tracked tanks and M113s. Budget 2006 provided $5.3 billion over 5 years to sustain operations, acquire new equipment, and expand both the Regular and Reserve Forces, and ratcheted planned spending by $1.8 billion annually starting in 2011-2012.
Decades of neglect cannot be fixed overnight, however. Over 50% of the country’s military infrastructure is over 50 years old. On the equipment side, Canada’s Tribal Class destroyers, City Class frigates, CP-140/P-3 maritime patrol aircraft, Buffalo fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft, CF-18 fighter aircraft, and land combat vehicles and systems (other than tanks) will all reach the end of their service lives and need to be replaced at varying times over the next 20 years.
To this end, the Conservative Party of Canada led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper is proposing a long-term funding framework that would increase defense spending by about $600 million per year over the next 20 years. Nevertheless, the nature of its timelines, and of Canada’s political system, must both be considered as one evaluates this plan… which is now available in more detail, online.
- The Strategy
- Core Programs
- Future Prospects
- Additional Readings