BY JOETEY ATTARIWALA

Arcfield is ideally suited to provide sustainment support to the future F-35 fleet

Fighter Sustainment & Support

Arcfield Canada Corp. (Arcfield Canada), is headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, and has been a trusted partner to the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) for more than 35 years. It has been at the forefront of CF-18 fighter sustainment since the fleet was introduced to service, and today provides full fleet supply chain and logistics management, comprehensive avionics maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade (MRO&U), and innovative engineering solutions. In addition to supporting Canada’s fighter fleet, Arcfield Canada has been a long-standing supplier to all F/A-18 users and counts among its valued customers the armed forces of Australia, Finland, Kuwait, Malaysia, Spain, Switzerland, and the United States.

Through its former corporate identities (including Peraton Canada Corp. and Harris Canada Government Systems), no Canadian company has been closer, for longer, to Canada’s fighter fleet than Arcfield Canada.

Arcfield Canada is a subsidiary of Arcfield Corporation, a global defence and security solutions company with more than 60 years of systems engineering and services experience, employing over 1,300 engineers, analysts, IT specialists, and professionals dedicated to providing innovative solutions in systems engineering and integration, C5ISR and digital transformation for air, sea, land, space and cyber domains.

SUPPORTING CANADA’S FIGHTER FLEET

Arcfield Canada is the only prime contractor in Canada providing complete lifecycle avionics sustainment and support on a fighter platform through its execution of the CF-18 Avionics Optimized Weapon System Support (AVS OWSS) contract. To-date it has completed more than 70,000 repairs on the CF-18 fleet.

Arcfield Canada manages the fleet’s supply chain, nose to tail, through its taskings on the CF-18 Primary Air Vehicle (PAV) and Propulsion Group Sustainment (PGS) contracts. Collectively, it performs more than 100,000 supply transactions annually through its facilities in 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta and 3 Wing Bagotville, Quebec.

Arcfield Canada’s operational focus and flexible approach to managing customer needs has successfully supported four fleet life extensions and enabled the development of predictive logistics tools designed to optimize equipment availability. Arcfield Canada’s resulting Intellectual Property in this area ensures accurate sparing for both domestic and deployed operations.

Arcfield Canada’s core capabilities are supported by its four technical airworthiness accreditations, the most of any company in Canada on a single platform. Additionally, its ISO9001:2015 and AS9100D certifications, and compliance with Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) standards, ensure that Canada receives the most reliable sustainment solutions and support.

In April 2022, Arcfield Canada was awarded a two-year contract extension by the Department of National Defence (DND) on the CF-18 AVS OWSS contract. The award, which represents follow-on work for the company, has a total value of C$50 million. Under the terms of the contract extension, Arcfield Canada will continue to provide sustainment services for the complete CF-18 avionics suite and associated support equipment, including 2nd line maintenance of avionics equipment, increased lifecycle management responsibilities, and bundling of additional sub-contracts through the end of March 2024.

The CF-18 AVS OWSS contract extension follows the award of a two-year task order to upgrade the CF-18 fleet with a new two-way data link capability, which is valued at C$28 million.

“This extension is a testament to the expertise and value we have provided on the CF-18 program over the last several decades,” said Kevin Kelly, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Arcfield. “As a company that is built on a foundation of always putting our customers’ missions first, we are honored to continue this mission-critical work for Canada’s Department of National Defence.”

no Canadian company has been closer, for longer, to Canada’s fighter fleet than Arcfield Canada Credit: Joetey Attariwala

NEW CAPACITY 

As part of its unwavering commitment to support Canada’s fighter operations, Arcfield Canada has expanded its pan-Canadian footprint to increase warehouse capacity to ensure the highest level of equipment availability and meet the operational demands of the fighter fleet.

Two notable expansions were undertaken. In April 2023, Arcfield Canada’s warehouse facility in La Baie, Quebec which supports operations at 3 Wing Bagotville was increased to 25,000 square feet to enhance the company’s supply chain management service offering for the RCAF. On August 23rd, 2023, Arcfield Canada hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the opening of its new warehouse facility at 4 Wing Cold Lake. The new location will enable efficient supply operations in support of the CF-18 PAV contract tasking and will contribute to new jobs in the area.

“The investment in this new location was an important move for Arcfield Canada as we are committed to continue in-service support for the CF-18 fighter fleet, and ensure operations are sustained with a reliable source of supply chain services,” said Jacques Comtois, Vice President, Arcfield Canada.

“We are thrilled to be expanding our Canadian business capacity,” said Kelly. “This expansion will ensure we can continue to provide mission-critical support to Canada’s Department of National Defence and the RCAF’s fighter fleet.”

TEAM NORTHERN SENTRY

Earlier this year, Arcfield Canada formed Team Northern Sentry bringing together some of Canada’s leading companies and innovators in aerospace, defence and security to compete for the CF-18 Avionics In-Service Support (AVS ISS) contract. The team members include L3Harris, Palitronica, Raytheon Canada, and TerraNova. As Canada’s most reasonable choice, Team Northern Sentry’s combined experience and proven capabilities provide advanced sustainment solutions to support the CF-18 avionics suite.

The successful bidder will be an integral part of the remaining service life of the CF-18 fleet, providing avionics MRO&U, logistics support, and weapon system support aligned with RCAF operational capability requirements. The resulting performance-based contract will require demonstrations of continuous improvement activities to optimize cost and fleet readiness to meet all mission scenarios, including NATO and NORAD commitments. The contract will also include future upgrade activities and integration with the CF-18 PAV and PGS contract outcomes.

As the incumbent, Arcfield Canada-led Team Northern Sentry seeks to leverage and deliver on its long-standing expertise in sustaining Canada’s CF-18 fleet and providing support to Canada’s most important air assets. Each team member brings unique capabilities to the program.

For instance, Palitronica is pioneering physics-based cybersecurity solutions and provides cyber materiel and mission assurance for critical physical infrastructure. Their supply chain solutions provide integrity assurance for electronics and software in the supply chain by identifying counterfeit, tampered, and altered electronics through their non-intrusive, non-destructive, unpowered, fully-blackbox echo response signal technology as well as unprecedented, closed-source, full-system backdoor identification. Palitronica has been working closely with Arcfield on the CF-18 program since 2022 as part of an Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS) contract.

As well, TerraNova is a full-service Canadian Certified Aboriginal Business headquartered in the National Capital Region providing a full spectrum of services including interconnect cable and harnesses, strategic sourcing of legacy aftermarket components and products, retrofit, and overhaul remanufacture services. They engineer repair solutions for legacy technology deployed by the military and defence sector. Their multidisciplinary team repairs, engineers, redesigns, assembles, tests, and integrates systems used across land, sea, and air. TerraNova has been a partner on the CF-18 AVS OWSS contract since 2016 and has been effective in extending the lifecycle of obsolete circuit boards for CF-18 avionics Automatic Test Equipment (ATE). They have developed valuable engineering solutions and built diagnostic test platforms to greatly improve test capability and reduce CF-18 avionics repair time.

“Team Northern Sentry’s industry leading partners are ready to meet the challenges of ensuring mission success for Canada’s CF-18’s through to the aircraft’s retirement and end of anticipated service in 2032,” said Comtois.

The Arcfield Canada team is headquartered in Calgary, Alberta

READY FOR F-35 

The breadth of Arcfield’s fighter experience in Canada is unmatched, positioning it as the best company to provide sustainment support to the future F-35 fleet, and the vision to “be the company that the RCAF trusts to ensure mission-ready F-35 assets are available at all times, anywhere in the world.”

“Arcfield has proven that it can consistently adapt to ensure optimization of all aspects of fighter sustainment,” said Comtois. “Arcfield is already fully integrated in the RCAF system of supporting the vital CAF/NORAD/NATO missions, and we have decades of experience dealing with cross-border issues like ITAR. We view this extensive sustainment experience as a critical prerequisite in supporting the incoming F-35 fleet.”

Arcfield’s expertise will be critical to enable the RCAF’s smooth transition from the CF-18 to the F-35 as Canada will undoubtedly face challenges in maintaining and sustaining both aircraft fleets for a time until the CF-18 is fully retired.

Furthermore, when the first F-35 aircraft enters service in Canada, alignment with the F-35 Global Support Solution (GSS) will require Canada to adopt significant changes to its in-service support philosophy and construct as compared to what exists today for the CF-18. The F-35 GSS is a single, integrated framework that maximizes affordability through globalized asset pooling. The GSS is comprised of common, unique, and tailorable elements to support platform level, performance-based agreements with each partner and provides a shared, integrated global system that minimizes user costs. However, tailoring to Canada’s unique sovereign requirements and national interests will require Arcfield Canada’s deep knowledge base of Canadian fighter operations.

That is why Arcfield Canada has partnered with OneLogistics, the operator of the European Regional F-35 Warehouse and the largest Supply Chain Manager for the F-35 outside the United States.

OneLogistics was established in the Netherlands in 2009 with a single vision: To create a company that is able to deliver optimization solutions by integrating warehousing, transport, customs, and compliance management into a Control Tower solution, adding best value to F-35 program readiness, affordability, scalability, and agility. The company operates under the concept of a tailored network organization involving different service and solution providers linked by information technology in order to share skills, knowledge, and expertise in a seamless manner.

Since 2019, OneLogistics has been providing sustainment supply chain management services for all F-35s, both based and deployed, in the European region. Accordingly, OneLogistics has gained in-depth knowledge of the F-35 GSS, developed and achieved broad support from the Government of the Netherlands, European logistics industry partners, and knowledge institutes allowing it to develop best-in-class sustainment supply chain solutions and to become one of the most effective product support providers on the F-35 program.

Speaking about the collaboration with Arcfield Canada was Rene de Koning, Founder and CEO of OneLogistics. “The interesting thing is what we have stood up in the Netherlands is exactly what you need to stand up in Canada. We have two operating bases where the jets are flying, we have an engine depot where the engines are repaired, we will have an airframe depot early next year, and we have a regional warehouse where we support all of the eleven European countries. Arcfield and OneLogistics’ skillsets are very complimentary and will provide the best solution to support the F-35 in Canada.”

As part of its collaboration with OneLogistics, Arcfield Canada will implement a tailored version of the successful OneLogistics model to deliver an immediate, reliable, and low-risk logistics solution for the RCAF’s F-35 fleet. Not only will this solution benefit the RCAF by ensuring sovereign control over critical domestic elements of sustainment, but it could potentially support F-35s operated by the United States, thereby adding flexibility and increased capacity to support F-35 operators in North America. The potential of this is even more important when considering NORAD operations into the future.

“We are proud to have OneLogistics as a valued partner to ensure we are best prepared to support Canada’s incoming F-35 fleet,” said Comtois. “The exclusive partnership between Arcfield Canada and OneLogistics will deliver a proven sustainment solution for Canadian F-35s, based on the established support model which has been in operation in Europe since 2019. Arcfield Canada and our F-35 sustainment partners will ensure that the RCAF is able to meet the challenges of fleet transition and steady state sustainment for the life of the F-35 fleet, and partnering with OneLogistics positions us to achieve those goals with the highest degree of confidence for the RCAF.”

Joetey Attariwala is CDR’s Senior Staff Writer