Vanguard Magazine

Aug/Sep 2013

Preserving capacity, General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, Keys to Canadian SAR

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by Vanguard Staff LAND VEHICLES L CCV: The need remains F the same ew procurement programs have endured the ups and downs of the Close Combat Vehicle (CCV). First announced in 2009 as part of the Family of Land Combat Vehicles (FLCV), the program has survived more than one death knell. The most recent appeared in May shortly before CANSEC, Canada's largest military trade show, when the Ottawa Citizen revealed that the Canadian Army, facing a 22% budget cut, had considered using the money from the $2 billion CCV program to offset training and other program cuts. The paper reported that while the idea had its proponents in the public service, the government had opted to proceed with the program. When the CCV was announced in 2009, it was with the intent of providing the army with "a medium-weight armoured vehicle that is both very well protected and tactically (off-road) mobile," National Defence said in a press release. The rationale was to deliver an infantry fighting vehicle capable of matching the mobility of the Leopard 2 tank in military operations. As LCol Ian Hope, head of the army's Directorate of Land Concepts and Designs, explained in an interview last year, "we quickly learned that certain vehicles were not robust enough for Afghanistan," unable to handle the rugged off-road terrain or withstand the ever more powerful IEDs (improvised explosive device) being used against them. In 2010, despite the apparent need, the program seemed stalled. Then in March of 2011, a request for proposals (RFP) was issued, attracting three bidders: General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada with the Piranha 5, Nexter Systems with the VBCI, and BAE-Hagglunds with the CV-9035. Unfortunately, all three were deemed non-compliant following technical trials at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland in April 2012, leading many to conclude the specifications for the program were unrealistically high. However, a new RFP was issued in May 2012, with bids closing that September. All three companies re-submitted bids with modestly modified vehicles. While the program seemed to be rolling forward smoothly once more, the second round of technical trials at Aberdeen were more drawn out than the first. Long after the vehicle testing was supposed to be finished in December 2012, a series of re-tests were carried out. That prompted some to conclude that DND and Public Works were trying to avoid another situation in which all bids were ruled technically non-compliant. Once the testing concluded in March of this year, though, the process of evaluation and contract approval was re-started. The CCV file is now expected to be one of the items Treasury Board will be considering this September. The program has had its critics both inside and outside the military. And some opposition politicians have questioned the need for the CCV now that combat operations in Afghanistan have concluded. The vehicle's proponents point to the somber statistics of that conflict to date: 158 Canadian personnel killed, 97 of them victims of explosives – mostly IEDs. Although the combat mission in Afghanistan may be over, it is probable that a future Canadian operation will look much like Afghanistan, involving irregular warfare in open country and urban areas and the persistent threat of small arms – RPGs, automatic weapons and IEDs. While the newly upgraded Light Armoured Vehicle offers considerably more protection than its predecessor, CCV manufacturers say "it still falls short of the CCV in many respects." Proponents of the CCV argue that while it may be tempting to cancel the program, that would be a mistake. "Of all the procurement programs currently in the pipeline, no other project would save more Canadian lives or prevent as many serious injuries as the CCV. And in fact, Canada probably could use more than the 108 vehicles currently programmed," one manufacturer said. The need for an infantry fighting vehicle remains. The army's future operating concept, Army 2021, emphasizes mobility and network-enabled platforms, all aspects the CCV would deliver. And as Col Hope noted last year, the vehicle remains a key piece of that future combat vehicle family. So all eyes in this program will be on Ottawa this autumn. AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2013 23

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