By David Pugliese
From the May Issue (Volume 23, Issue 4)
With the federal government’s intense focus on shipbuilding and the eventual acquisition of new fighter aircraft for Canada, it isn’t much of a surprise that discussions about equipment for the military’s land element have been pushed into the background of the public debate about defence.
But such gear promises to be front and centre for exhibitors at CANSEC 2016, Canada’s largest military and security trade show. CANSEC will be held May 25 and 26 at the EY Centre in Ottawa.
The Canadian Army is promising to engage with industry early and often as it tries to acquire new equipment.
Its needs for the future are extensive and CANSEC 2016 visitors will see firms highlighting the systems they believe could play a role for the Army of tomorrow.
The Army has requirements for a land vehicle crew training system, a new logistics vehicle, modernization of its indirect fire support (to address the lack of precision of 81mm mortars, the unsustainability of the C3 howitzer and the need for extended range ammunition). Electronic warfare support systems and armoured recovery vehicles are also needed.
Many of the procurements proposed for the future are still in their early stages of options analysis.
The Liberals’ recently announced Defence Review is also expected to impact on timelines as the direction of the Canadian government for future military needs and missions won’t be known for at least 11 months to a year.
But that is not stopping firms from highlighting their achievements and products so far for the Army.
CANSEC exhibitor General Dynamics Land Systems – Canada of London, Ontario, is one of the show’s top firms highlighting products for Canada and other nations’ armies.
It is currently delivering upgraded LAV IIIs — or the LAV 6.0 — for the Canadian Army. (In LAV terminology, the program is LAV UP or Upgrade Program, which converts the vehicle from aLAV III to a LAV 6.0. So the program is referred to as LAV UP, and the output / vehicle is LAV 6.0, according to GDLS–Canada).
The first upgraded LAV III was unveiled by GDLS-Canada at its facility in London on January 24, 2013. The upgrades allow for significant improvements in survivability, mobility and lethality, according to the firm.
“General Dynamics Land Systems–Canada plans to show at CANSEC 2016 the LAV 6.0 engineer and command post variants produced under the LAV III Upgrade contract,” Doug Wilson-Hodge, the company’s manager of corporate affairs, told Esprit de Corps. “In addition, we are planning to unveil a new LAV-based product.”
He also added that “General Dynamics Land Systems – Canada is privileged to provide the Canadian Army leading edge technologies in the new LAV 6.0 which will enable the LAV to continue as backbone of Canada’s armoured fleet for decades to come.”
Work on the new Mack Defense trucks destined for the Canadian Army is proceeding smoothly, a highlight the company is expected to promote at CANSEC 2016.
Last year the Canadian government announced that Mack Defense, LLC, of Allentown, Pennsylvania, had been awarded two contracts to provide standard military pattern (SMP) trucks and related equipment for the Canadian Armed Forces. Assembly will take place in a Sainte-Claire, Quebec, plant operated by Prevost, one of the firms partnered with Mack.
The vehicles were put through successful cold temperature testing at the end of January at a National Research Council facility in Ottawa.
The overall contract for the project, known by its military acronym as MSVS SMP, is worth $834 million.
The first delivery of the trucks and related equipment is planned for summer 2017; deliveries are expected to be completed by fall 2018.
With the ability to carry 9.5 tonnes, the standard military pattern trucks are to be the backbone of the Canadian Forces truck fleet.
CANSEC exhibitor DEW Engineering and Development is highlighting a number of products including the kitting out of baseline shelters for the Canadian Army’s Medium Support Vehicle System (MSVS), said Jackie Pothier, director of business development for DEW.
In July 2009 the Canadian government awarded a contract to DEW Engineering for 895 baseline shelters. The first baseline shelter was delivered in May 2012. In June 2013, the contract was amended to add 99 additional shelters. The last baseline shelter was delivered in February 2015, according to the Department of National Defence.
In December 2012, another contract was awarded to DEW Engineering for the kitting of the baseline shelters. That procurement was for 663 kits. In 2013, the contract was amended to add the kitting of 183 additional shelters.
Once kitted, the shelters will provide environmental protection, power and functionality for workspaces such as meteorological offices, command posts, unit medical stations, field kitchens, and workshops. Pothier said that, in total, there are 28 different configurations for the shelters.
“We will also have our snowmobile,” she explained, referring to the recently developed D900 snowmobile. “The Army did purchase 20 of them, but we would like to see more of those out there.”
The D900 multi-fuel snowmobile is a robust military grade utility snowmobile that provides off-road, over-snow mobility in Arctic, northern and alpine environments, DEW says. The D900 was purposely designed for military operators and military missions. It is distinguished from recreational snowmobiles by its use of standard military fuels, long range, excellent fuel economy and high payload and towing capacity.
The snowmobile was successfully tested in April by the Canadian Rangers during Operation NUNALIVUT.
DEW will also be highlighting its recent work in manufacturing police door ballistic panels for firms such as Ford. “We will be showing a military version of an armoured door which has been shot so you can see the results of the impact on the panels,” Pothier explained.
Textron will highlight its new wheeled Tactical Armoured Patrol Vehicle (TAPV) which is to be delivered to the Canadian Army.
Department of National Defence spokeswoman Ashley Lemire told Esprit de Corps that the first delivery of the vehicles is set for August 2016.
In June 2012, Textron Systems Canada won the contract to provide the Canadian Armed Forces with 500 new tactical armoured patrol vehicles.
Textron Systems Canada Inc. manages its role as prime contractor for the project from its Ottawa offices, but the team is much larger than one firm. The Canadian Textron TAPV team includes Kongsberg Protech Systems Canada of London, Ont., Rheinmetall Canada of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, and EODC – Engineering Office Deisenroth Canada of Ottawa.
The TAPV is to replace the Army’s existing fleet of RG-31 mine protected vehicles and the Coyote wheeled light armoured vehicles. Besides the initial procurement of 500 vehicles, there is an option for an additional 100.
The TAPV will be delivered in two variants: a reconnaissance vehicle and a general utility variant.
The Textron TAPV is equipped with EODC’s Advanced Modular Armour Protection (AMAP), the newest ballistic protection technology to enhance survivability. Manufacturing of the vehicle armour and supporting components is taking place at EODC’s facility in Ottawa.
The fleet of 500 TAPVs will be distributed across seven bases and 24 units over a 17-month period.
The Canadian Army has said it expects to declare full operational capability by mid-2020 on the TAPVs, following training of all operators, and completion of user trials and exercises confirming operational readiness.
The vehicles are equipped with a dual remote weapons station (RWS), which allow gunners to aim and fire from the vehicle’s interior. The stations come equipped with both a 40mm automatic grenade launcher and a C6 machine gun, the Army pointed out.
Nammo is another CANSEC regular exhibitor, promoting its ammunition, grenades and shoulder-launched weapons for potential Army customers.
Nammo and General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems–Canada (GD–OTS) have also jointly developed a fully IM-compliant tank ammunition. The 120mm IM HE-T (Insensitive Munitions High Explosive with Tracer) is a full-bore tank ammunition round that combines low-cost insensitive energetic materials with an innovative venting design, the company points out.
It also provides a Leopard 2 tank crew with enhanced firepower against infantry. A dual-mode fuse allows a tank commander to select detonation on impact or detonation after the round penetrates the target.
Rheinmetall Canada Inc. of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu has a number of programs to highlight. Last year it was selected by the Canadian government to provide equipment for two programs: the Integrated Soldier System Project (ISSP) as well as the Medium Range Radar System.
ISSP will provide the high-tech gear which would not only allow troops to track each other as they move throughout the battlefield, but also feed communications and targeting information into their helmets or data devices they could carry.
Once the Canadian military declares the Rheinmetall system fully acceptable, it may exercise options under the deal to buy up to 4,144 of the systems.
The Medium Range Radar System will provide the Canadian military with 10 radar systems that can be transported into an operation by truck, the government points out. This equipment will give Canadian soldiers the ability to detect the point of origin of indirect weapons fire, such as mortars, artillery or rockets. The radars will also allow soldiers to track multiple airplanes, helicopters or other airborne threats in and around where troops are operating.
The first contract is to procure 10 Medium Range Radar Systems within three years; a second contract is for related in-service support.
DND says the ISSP will be delivered later this year, while the delivery of the radar systems is expected to begin in 2017.
The Liberal government’s stated aim of improving the military’s presence in the Arctic could provide work for the unique capabilities offered by British Columbia-based Arktos Developments.
In particular, the Canadian Army has pointed out that as part of its Domestic and Arctic Mobility Enhancement (DAME) program it is looking at an “over ice and water vehicle.”
Arktos highlighted just such a cutting-edge amphibious vehicle at the last several CANSECs. Equipped with a dual hull and spike-covered tank treads, the vehicle is designed to manoeuvre over land, ice and water, or through a mixture of ice and water.
Company officials have noted that in the Arctic, there are very few ways of moving people from land to sea and vice versa. The Arktos system uses spikes that allow the vehicle to claw itself out of the water and scale icy inclines as steep as 34 degrees. It can also climb up onto ice floes thanks to the dual hull. The front unit uses the buoyancy of the back hull for support as it climbs out of the water; when it gets out of the water, its tracks pull the back hull out, Arktos representatives point out. The craft can transport up to 52 people in comfort in both freezing -50 degrees Celsius or through the heat of an oil slick fire, making it the ideal vehicle for Arctic missions, the company noted.
The Army outlined to industry in 2015 that in the future it wants to introduce a new small arms training system that it has dubbed the Unit Weapon Training System. CANSEC exhibitors are expected to highlight their capabilities in this area.
In August 2015, the Canadian government awarded Meggitt Training Systems (Quebec) Inc. a $25-million, three-year contract to provide in-service support to the Canadian Armed Forces for its small arms trainer (SAT) and indirect fire trainer (IFT).
The contract included operator and maintenance support for related training activities, incorporating on-site support for health, usage and equipment monitoring at major bases across Canada, the company noted.
Meggitt has been supplying weapon simulation systems to Canada for the last 20 years; its systems are in use with the Royal Canadian Navy, Royal Canadian Air Force and Canadian Army. For instance, in 2014 the RCAF pointed out that its training system would pay for itself in four years and over a 20-year span would save Canadian taxpayers more than $30 million.
In December Meggitt debuted its FATS 100e small arms trainer at the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference in Florida. The system provides 3D graphics, detailed shot analysis, and automatic assessment via wireless tablet for immediate, effective coaching and correction, according to the company.