By David Pugliese
The Canadian Army is in the midst of a re-equipment phase with upcoming delivery of everything from new trucks to armoured personnel carriers.
The latest technology from companies specializing in land warfare, and who hope to supply the Army in the future, will be on display at CANSEC 2017. Other firms already have contracts in place and long-term relationships with Canada’s land forces.
CANSEC, the country’s largest defence trade show, will be held this year on May 31 and June 1 at its usual location at the EY Centre, near Ottawa’s international airport.
The timing is opportune.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan focused on a number of Army programs during a presentation on May 3 in the lead-up to the Liberal government’s new defence policy.
A number of those Army projects were highlighted by Sajjan as key equipment purchases for the government in the future. This includes a program that could provide companies up to $500-million in work as well as a needed system for land forces. “Investments in ground-based air and munitions defence systems are required to guarantee the safety of our deployed troops,” Sajjan told the crowd of retired military personnel and defence industry executives on May 3.
The purpose of the ground-based air and munitions defence system is to protect deployed forces from a variety of air threats. The Army says it will likely include an integrated radar feed, a networked command, control and communications system, as well as munitions and launcher systems.
Another project Sajjan talked about was the acquisition of a fleet of heavy support equipment, such as forklifts, dozers, loaders, and excavators. He also pointed out that the Army needs new logistics support vehicles.
Those attending CANSEC 2017 can also expect to see the military’s new Standard Military Pattern (SMP) truck.
Mack Defense, LLC, of Allentown, Pennsylvania, had been awarded two contracts to provide SMP trucks and related equipment for the Canadian Armed Forces. The vehicles will be mainly used by the Army.
The first delivery of the SMP truck is scheduled for the fall, Department of National Defence spokeswoman Ashley Lemire told Esprit de Corps. The deliveries will be completed by 2019, she added.
Assembly is taking place in a Sainte-Claire, Quebec, plant operated by Prevost, one of the firms partnered with Mack. With the ability to carry 9.5 tonnes, the Standard Military Pattern vehicles are the backbone of the Canadian military’s truck fleet.
More than 1,500 8x8 trucks will be delivered and the firm will also provide an initial five years of in-service support (ISS). Mack Defense will also provide 300 trailers and 150 armour protection systems as part of the purchase.
No CANSEC would be complete without the large exhibit from General Dynamics Land Systems – Canada of London, Ontario.
The firm is currently delivering upgraded LAV IIIs — or LAV 6.0 — for the Canadian Army. (For LAV terminology, the program is LAV UP or Upgrade Program, which converts the vehicle from LAV III to LAV 6.0. So the program is LAV UP, and output / vehicle is LAV 6.0, according to GDLS–Canada.)
A total of 550 LAV IIIs will be upgraded to the LAV 6.0, DND spokeswoman Lemire said. These vehicles come from two separate LAV III base variants. Of the first LAV III variant, General Dynamics Land Systems – Canada has delivered 409 LAV 6.0s to the Canadian Armed Forces, she added.
The second LAV III variant is called the LAV Operational Requirements Integration Task (LORIT). In February 2017 the Canadian government announced an amended contract award to complete the upgrades of those 141 LORIT vehicles in what it is calling the LAV Operational Requirements Integration Task Mobility Upgrade.
Those vehicles will be upgraded to the LAV 6.0 starting in June 2017 with a final delivery anticipated for fall 2019, Lemire said.
General Dynamics Land Systems – Canada was awarded a $404 million order to work on the 141 LAV Operational Requirements Integration Task (LORIT) vehicles.
During the Canadian Forces deployment to Afghanistan, the 141 LORIT vehicles received additional armour, blast-absorbing seats, and other minor upgrades to increase survivability against improvised explosive devices (IEDs). These changes added extra weight to the vehicle’s platform. The additional weight resulted in increased wear and tear, and affected the vehicle’s full mobility potential. The full upgrades announced in February will address these issues.
“This will result in all LAV III upgraded vehicles having the same configuration and performance as outlined in the LAV III Upgrade Project,” said Evan Koronewski, a DND spokesman.
At its CANSEC 2017 booth, GDLS-Canada will be displaying two variants of the LAV Combat Support Vehicle (CSV) — a maintenance and recovery vehicle (similar to a vehicle displayed last year, but on a LAV 6.0 baseline chassis) and an ambulance. “CANSEC will highlight how we are ready to deliver more LAV 6.0 capability with the development of more combat support variants,” Doug Wilson-Hodge, Manager – Corporate Affairs of GDLS-Canada, told Esprit de Corps.
Other CANSEC exhibitors are interested in providing equipment for the Land Vehicle Crew Training System or LVCTS. The Army appears once again to be ready to move ahead on that after a number of delays.
Now Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) has issued a request for price and availability for such a system. Responses are expected early next year and a contract hopefully in place in 2019.
The project is designed to improve individual and collective vehicle crew skills through the use of high, medium and low fidelity simulators. The Land Vehicle Crew Training System will provide simulation for the upgraded Light Armoured Vehicle fleet as well as for the Leopard 2 fleet of main battle tanks, according to the Canadian Army.
The LVCTS will consist of new simulators, connected by a network as well as simulation facilities to allow crews of armoured vehicles to train realistically without their actual vehicles. All of it will be done at their home garrison locations, according to Public Services and Procurement Canada.
“The project will deliver a virtual training system that will provide the CA (Canadian Army) with the capability to enhance various types of armoured vehicle crew training from individual training for drivers and gunners up to collective training for subsection and full combat team,” the department has told industry in its solicitation for price and equipment availability.
Five simulation centres would be built to train drivers, gunners and crew commanders at the following Canadian Forces Bases: Gagetown, Valcartier, Petawawa, Shilo, and Edmonton. Each centre will be designed so it could be expanded.
The simulators would include systems for the LAV 6.0 and Tactical Armoured Patrol Vehicles (TAPVs) and various crew stations for the Leopard 2 main battle tank. In addition, it would include capabilities from DND’s Land Command Support System (LCSS): Intercom, Command Net Radio, and Battle Management System, according to information provided to industry.
Through the synthetic environment, the Army’s trainees will be able to access variants of the LAV 6.0, Leopard 2, and TAPV.
The Canadian government wants deliveries of such systems finished by 2024. The Defence Acquisition Guide (DAG) lists the cost at between $250-million and $499-million. A variety of firms can offer solutions for the Army’s training and simulation needs.
For instance, Meggitt has noted it produces a full range of Armoured Fighting Vehicle (AFV) Trainers. Meggitt’s AFV Trainers support both individual collective levels of gunnery and tactical training, allowing soldiers the opportunity to practice scenarios they normally face in combat situations, the firm added. Meggitt also offers all levels of fidelity.
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 Meggitt’s 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, according to the company.
Other CANSEC 2017 exhibitors also received recent contracts for Army equipment. They can also be counted to promote their various systems at the show.
Textron has its new Tactical Armoured Patrol Vehicle, now being delivered to the Canadian Army. The TAPV replaces the Army’s existing fleet of RG-31 Nyala mine-protected vehicles and the Coyote wheeled light armoured vehicles.
Deliveries started in August 2016. 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.
Of the deal for 500 TAPVs, 307 units will be general utility variants and the remaining 193 vehicles will be reconnaissance variants, according to the Army.
Rheinmetall Canada Inc. of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec is another company exhibiting at CANSEC 2017 with Army programs on the go. In 2015 it was selected by the Canadian government to provide equipment for two programs: the Integrated Soldier System Project (ISSP) and the Medium Range Radar System.
ISSP will provide the high-tech gear which will not only allow troops to track each other as they move throughout the battlefield, but feed communications and targeting information into their helmets or the data devices they 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 has pointed 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; a second contract is for related in-service support.
An Army project to acquire bridging capabilities could also attract interest from CANSEC exhibitors, including Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and Rheinmetall.
Krauss-Maffei Wegmann has also been promoting the Leguan, its bridge laying system. The firm points out the armoured system can handle bridge laying in five minutes under combat conditions with a crew of two. It can lay one 26-metre or two 14-metre bridges, depending on the length of the obstacle to overcome.
The Army’s bridging capabilities project will deliver a suite of light, medium and heavy bridging capabilities to replace in-service systems. Potential deliverables are: infantry foot bridges, light support bridges, medium support bridges, heavy support bridges, heavy assault bridges, line of communication bridges, floating bridges and rafts.
The program could cost up to $249-million, according to the Department of National Defence. Options analysis is to begin next year, with a request for proposals and contract award set for 2023.