dnd's need for munitions
By David Pugliese
Ammunition and weapon systems are the backbone of militaries everywhere. With that in mind, the Canadian Armed Forces has outlined a number of key projects that will see the acquisition of everything from new bombs for the RCAF to the replacement of existing anti-tank weapons for the Canadian Army.
Several billion-dollars worth of contacts will be awarded over the next decade. The various programs have already attracted interest from industry leaders ranging from General Dynamics and Raytheon to Nammo.
For the RCAF, precision weapons are seen as key for the future battlefield.
This requirement was initially highlighted in 2011 and 2012 by then Lt.-Gen. Charles Bouchard, who is now with Lockheed Martin Canada. Bouchard helped coordinate the NATO air campaign over Libya, an operation driven by the need to limit civilian casualties.
That same concern is now at the forefront of Operation Impact, the mission to Iraq. CF-18s have struck enemy targets ranging from vehicles to buildings to fighting positions 122 times so far. “Canada is quite confident that with all the strikes that we’ve executed, there is absolutely no evidence of civilian casualties associated with our strikes,” Royal Canadian Navy Capt. Paul Forget told journalists July 9 at an Operation Impact update.
To ensure that continues in the future, the RCAF has identified the need for what is being called a low-collateral damage weapon, or LCDW. Such a weapon could be used in cities and “politically sensitive operations” to cut down on the likelihood of civilian deaths, the service noted.
According to the RCAF, an LCDW must provide weapon effects “with a footprint less than a 500lb general-purpose bomb.”
The branch could spend up to $99 million on the purchase. Options analysis starts next year with a contract to be awarded in 2018. Deliveries are to start soon after and be completed by 2020.
In addition, the RCAF is looking at what it is calling the complex weapon (CW). That would provide the RCAF with an advanced air-to-ground/air-to-surface weapons capability for CF-18s in what the service is calling “operations in a network-enabled environment.”
Less bombs are being carried on today’s fighter jets so the RCAF is essentially looking for a weapon that can do more. “This weapon will deliver more precise, flexible, and efficient payloads from greater standoff distances and operate in anti-access scenarios in the face of advanced threats,” it has informed industry representatives. “It will be multi-mode, allowing guidance to the target through multiple methods, ensuring all-weather capability.”
While the weapon will be outfitted on the CF-18, it will also be capable of being used by the next fighter aircraft Canada chooses.
The project is valued at up to $99 million, with a request for proposals set for 2019, and a contract a year later.
The acquisition of advanced short-range missiles to replace the current AIM-9M is also along the same timeline. The RCAF says this acquisition, which could be worth up to $499 million, is for the CF-18.
But final delivery of the missiles would take place in 2025, the year the CF-18 is supposed to be removed from service to make way for the next generation Canadian fighter. In other words, the missile would need to be compatible with whatever future aircraft is selected.
The RCAF is also conducting an options analysis this year on what it is calling medium range air-to-air missile sustainment. This project will maintain sufficient stocks of advanced medium range air-to-air missiles (AMRAAM). The cost will be anywhere from $250 million to $499 million.
Over the longer term, the service also wants to acquire a new long range air-to-air missile, which could cost up to $499 million. But work won’t start until after 2026 so this will be a weapon to be outfitted on Canada’s next fighter aircraft.
If that next fighter aircraft is the F-35, Nammo is standing by to provide Canada with ammunition. The Nammo 25mm APEX ammunition is designed to counter a range of threats and is a next-generation armour-piercing, high explosive round.
The Canadian Army has its sights set on a new ground-based air munitions defence system that would be capable of destroying aircraft, mortar rounds, artillery shells and rockets, Col. Greg Ivey, director of land requirements, told industry representatives during a briefing in April. Identification is underway on potential systems that might fit the bill. The system would be designed to fill the air defence gap the Army now faces.
On a more immediate schedule is a makeover of sorts for the Canadian Army’s 84mm Carl Gustaf, a multi-role, man-portable shoulder-fired weapon. New ammunition will be purchased allowing the launcher to fire both smoke and illumination rounds. Up to $49 million is earmarked for the project. A contract would be awarded next year, noted Major Jonathan Herbert, who is with the Director of Land Requirements office. Deliveries would commence shortly after and the ammunition would be all delivered by 2019.
Over the longer term the Army will upgrade the Carl Gustaf by acquiring a lighter weight recoilless rifle and a new sighting and fire control system that is compatible with the family of existing and future 84mm ammunition. It will also allow for increased accuracy in various conditions, according to the Army.
The existing optical sighting system will be replaced with an advanced sighting system to improve the weapon’s accuracy, the Army has noted in the Defence Acquisition Guide (DAG). That upgrade may include a target range finder, and a system to compensate for weather conditions and the gunner’s movement. The new weapon will be compatible with the existing ammunition and weigh significantly less than the existing system, the DAG added.
But troops shouldn’t necessarily think they are getting a lighter weapon. The reduction in weight of the gun is expected to be offset with the additional weight of the advanced sighting system.
Options analysis on this project, which could see up to $99 million spent, is not expected to get underway until 2021. A contract award would come sometime after 2026.
At CANSEC 2015 Saab was highlighting its new Carl Gustaf M4, which is lighter and has improved ergonomics. It comes with various sight options: open sight, a red dot sight and a clip-on telescopic sight. The M4 is compatible with intelligent sights, allowing the user to choose from a range of systems, Saab has noted.
To deal with spending restrictions imposed by the Conservative government, the Army decided several years ago to get rid of its Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire-guided (TOW2) missiles, which it spent $100 million on acquiring.
Now the Army wants to buy a new multi-purpose anti-armour and anti-structure portable and mounted weapon system to replace the legacy TOWs. The price range for this project is $500 million to $1.5 billion and it is not expected to start until after 2026, according to DAG. Deliveries will take place in the 2030s.
The Army also had decided in 2010 to dump its 60mm mortars. In their place, it awarded Rheinmetall Canada Inc. a $95 million contract for 304 Close Area Suppression Weapon (CASW) systems. Nammo has also delivered 40mm rounds for the Army’s CASW.
Now, the Army has a requirement for a Close Indirect Fire Modernization (CIFM) Project. This will see the purchase of new indirect fire systems “such as, but not limited to, a modern mortar system,” the Army has noted in the DAG.
The cost will be between $250 million to $499 million. But again it is farther off down the road. A request for proposals is expected in 2021 and a contract awarded two years later.
More immediate is the desire to sustaining the 155mm M777 howitzer. That is the aim of what is being called the Lightweight Towed Howitzer Project. This will initially involve an interim support contract for the 37 guns, followed by a long-term support contract running up to 20 years. The contract is expected to be awarded next year.
The Royal Canadian Navy also hasn’t been left out of the planning. (See separate article on the proposed Naval Remote Weapon Station.)
The RCN will also upgrade the MK 46 Mod 5A (shallow water) lightweight torpedo to improve fleet survivability against evolving near and medium-term underwater threats.
The upgraded lightweight torpedo would be capable of unrestricted employment in oceanic, shelf and littoral maritime environments, in water temperatures and salinity worldwide (across the range of polar, temperate and equatorial latitudes), as well in various sea states and water depths, according to the DAG.
It will also be expected to deliver effective performance in northern and Arctic waters, where the presence of sea ice, either in pack or broken form, is routinely expected. It is to be capable of attacking and destroying submarine contacts operating at the ice edge, the RCN also noted.
The cost estimates range between $250 million to $499 million, depending on numbers purchased. Request for proposals won’t come until after 2021 with deliveries to begin in 2026.
The RCN has already expressed interest in Raytheon’s MK 54, the next generation of the MK 46 torpedo. Raytheon points out that navies with MK 46 models in their inventory can easily convert them into MK 54 torpedoes using the low-cost upgrade kit. The kit, which is installed in-country, replaces older components with state-of-the-art digital technology, Raytheon officials have pointed out.
The RCN has also added a new project to the DAG: the torpedo countermeasure hard kill system. In other words, this weapon will destroy torpedoes before they can strike at RCN submarines and ships.
The system will be fielded until the end of life of the Halifax-class frigate, with a contract awarded in 2022. The weapon will be also used on Victoria-class submarines, the Joint Support Ships and the Canadian Surface Combatant. Cost estimates for that project range from $100 million to $249 million.