A blueprint for Canadian-Swiss cooperation

November 4 1985

A blueprint for Canadian-Swiss cooperation

November 4 1985

A blueprint for Canadian-Swiss cooperation


Following is the text of an interview with Dr. Marco M. Genoni, vicepresident, LLAD project director, Oerlikon Military Products Division, Zurich, Switzerland. The interview was conducted in German and translated by Felix Mueller, an aerospace and defence writer based in Zurich—editor.

The Canadian government has identified a requirement for a low-level air defence system to protect Canadian troops in Europe. Since industry in Canada does not make the required defence system, the government has turned to international companies. What can Switzerland offer to meet Canadian requirements? Genoni: I can only speak for the Oerlikon offer. In Canada we appear as the Litton-Oerlikon Low-Level Air Defence (LLAD) team. We act as main contractor, with CAE Electronics Limited, Contraves Italiana, Devtek Corporation, General Motors of Canada Limited, Lavalin Incorporated, Litton Systems Canada Limited, Martin Marietta Aerospace (U.S.A.), Oerlikon Aerospace (Canada), OerlikonBührle (Switzerland) and Spar Aerospace Limited as team members.

Basically, the Litton-Oerlikon LLAD team proposes the Oerlikon ADATS air defence/anti-tank system, which was developed in the United States on behalf of Oerlikon-Bührle, in combination with the Oerlikon 35mm gun system and the Skyguard fire control system. In addition, we can offer our long-standing air defence experince. Most of our experts, besides their civilian jobs, serve as air defence officers in the Swiss armed forces on active duty with normal annual refresher periods as required by the Swiss militia concept. In other words, we know from first-hand experience what we are talking about.

We have the capability of managing and implementing large overseas programs. The ADATS, for instance, is the outcome of a six-year development phase in the United States with our own team on the spot. We coordinated successfully the development work by Martin Marietta and a number of other companies. Finally, we have begun to implement the Pathfinder program, which was committed in August, 1984. Pathfinder is a program aimed at building the first production ADATS fire unit—the complete system except the missiles proper—in Canada. Today, approximately 14 months later, we are two months ahead of the original schedule. This illustrates our successful handling of an international program involving firms in Europe and North America.

The Canadian Forces’ Low-Level Air Defence (LLAD) program will replace World War II vintage guns now defending Canadian airfields in West Germany. What technological changes have occurred to Improve the effectiveness of this type of system?

Genoni: In general, ADATS embodies the full gamut of technological advances achieved since World War II. This comprises the most advanced infrared technology, sensor technology, laser technology, propulsion technology and aerodynamics. Changes in technology since World War II have occurred primarily in electronics, and these naturally affected sensor and laser technologies, as well as aerodynamics and propulsion. It is well known that our U.S. partner, Martin Marietta, was one of the principal contractors in the Mars landing probe program, and today the company is in charge of the Space Shuttle’s maneuvering motors and the astronauts’ backpack maneuvering system.

Advanced technology also went into materials. Take the missile propulsion casing as an example, which is made of carbon fiber composites. In particular, however, we are proud of the state of electronics in our system as evidenced in ceramic chip carriers.

What steps must be completed before a modern low-level air defence system can be fielded?

Genoni: ADATS is an entirely new system, and Canada should, as we firmly hope, become its first buyer. Being the first buyer of anything may involve a certain calculated risk of a very general nature. However, this is more than balanced by the potential benefits.

ADATS may be regarded as a system tested and evaluated to United States industrial standards. During the development phase, a total of 39 missiles were fired with a rate of success, according to U.S. industry definition, exceeding 83 percent. Army tests were conducted, in cooperation with the Swiss Defense Procurement Agency, in Switzerland. Also, the system underwent testing within the U.S. Army MICOM (Missile Command) DIVAD Alternative Test program in Huntsville, Alabama. (DIVAD is the U.S. Army's division air defence system Sgt. York, recently cancelled by Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger.)

Canadian authorities have had the opportunity to test ADATS in Switzerland within the short-list examination. We staged a number of tactical missions aimed at the protection of an airfield and of a brigade, providing an opportunity for Canadian representatives to gather firsthand experience on how the system operates.

In addition to defending the airfields the Canadian system must protect troops on the move. How does a low-level air defence system fulfill this role?

Genoni: Two basic requirements must be pointed out. First, the system has to be highly mobile, and second, it must be easily operated and controlled. In addition, its effective range must be adequate to engage all moving enemy units, such as attack helicopters, without incurring the risk of its own loss.

The mobility requirements of ADATS are fulfilled with the M113 vehicle. ADATA is easily deployed and controlled, owing to its integrated command, control and communications (C3) equipment that is built into each individual fire unit. ADATS can act either as a standalone unit or in combination with other units, whatever the requirements of the moment. The effective range of eight kilometers enables ADATS to out-range any attack helicopter currently known. In addition, ADATS, being equipped with passive sensor equipment, cannot be jammed by any electronic countermeasures system.

Canada's defence procurement policy requires maximum participation of domestic industry. To what extent would Canadian companies be involved in Switzerland’s supply of a low-level air defence system?

Genoni: It is important for us that Canada should become the first ADATS buyer—that will be our benefit. So for us it is natural that as the first buyer Canada should be fully entitled to benefits in return. These benefits lie in the fact that ADATS will be built in Canada. It is our declared corporate policy to develop the series production of our missile system in Canada. This is by no means unusual for our company. We have an Italian firm, Oerlikon Italiana, manfuacturing guns, and we also have British MARC in the UK, primarily an ammunition manufacturer. It is logical that we should have a missile system production capability, and for Oerlikon-Bührle this will be in Canada.

And that will apply to all the other possible ADATS sales to countries other than Canada?

Genoni: That is correct. Our investments for ADATS in Canada would not be justified merely for the LLAD program. We are investing fully into LLAD, but we also are investing over and above the Canadian program with a view to developing the world market. Our contracts with CAE, Litton and other Canadian firms are worded so as to give them international sales rights for ADATS subsystems. We also will establish an engineering team in Canada much in the same way as we did in Italy and in the U K. They will be in charge of modifications and improvement of the fire unit with particular emphasis on system engineering and software.

This will not be a back-up team. It will be the one and only team in this program, and it will be part of Oerlikon Aerospace in Canada for modification, improvement and further development of ADATS. Our commitment to Canada is total.

We also are making sure that life cycle support for the Canadian systems will be based on in-country sources. So as an additional benefit of paramount importance for the Canadian government is the total support independence both in times of peace and in crisis situations. Incountry sources will guarantee the safe implementation of any modification, improvement or futher development action that may be deemed necessary in hardware as well as software.

These benefits are offered to one buyer only—the first. This also includes a comprehensive technology transfer to Canada from both the United States and Switzerland. This technology investment must be added to the pure financial investment of approximately $200 million (Cdn), most of which has been made in Canada already.

Fielding a new defence system can be an expensive exercise. Will there be any opportunities for Canadian companies after the completion of the Canadian program?

Genoni: It is our corporate policy to make the best of our Canadian partners’ entire infrastructure for all possible sales over and above a Canadian commitment. In that context I might add that under the U.S.-Canadian Defence Production Sharing Agreement, Canada has the same status as the United States regarding sales. Martin Marietta has been in contact with the U.S. Marine Corps for possible ADATS sales. Whatever the U.S. interest in ADATS, this could focus on Canada. 1

Another possibility in the near future is Turkey. We have, in fact, made an offer to Turkey to supply ADATS from Canadian production.

For many years Canada has purchased equipment for her forces from the United States. Is there any possibility that this cross-border trade can be balanced out?

Genoni: It is our firm belief that a Canadian decision to procure ADATS must remain our primary preoccupation, but the U.S. will undoubtedly watch closely what the government in Ottawa will be doing. Let me just point out once again that we have a complete industrial base in Canada which is ready and waiting for the go-ahead. All this being considered, the LLAD proposal as submitted by Oerlikon-Bührle has a NATO content in excess of 80 percent.

While the name Oerlikon-Bührle is Swiss, many NATO nations have purchased and operate Oerlikon equipment. Our industrial organization rests on facilities in Canada, Italy, the United Kingdom, the United States and, of course, Switzerland. So it is no exaggeration to say that what we offer is more than 80 percent of NATO origin. ADATS, we contend, is a NATO system because it is a Canadian system. We supply the Skyguard 35mm system from our bases in Italy and the U K. and the ADATS fire units from Canada, the U.S., Italy and Switzerland. For understandable reasons we shall handle initial production of the ADATS missile in our own facilities, yet we will set up a second missile production line in Canada. This will depend on the level of sales success and on the general progress of the Canadian program. It will also depend on the willingness of Canadian firms to make certain investments.