Vanguard Magazine

Feb/Mar 2015

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

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MediuM logistic trucks: Are we shi ing into the fi nal gear? M MSVS 26 FEBRUARY/MARCH 2015 "Eight years to buy a truck, it's ridicu- lous!" Call it a distress call, of sorts. In- dustry frustration with the defence pro- curement process is no secret, but such an emotional and impulsive answer from a tender when asked about the merits of their bid speaks volumes about the level of irritation with a program that has seen several starts and stops. On its surface, there was no particular reason why the Medium Support Vehicle System project (MSVS) should have suf- fered the same obstacles as other more sensitive programs. In 2006, the need to replace the worn-out Medium Logistics Vehicle-Wheeled trucks (MLVW), which have been in service since the 1980s, was already obvious. The requirement for the equipment was even deemed "urgent" by National Defence (DND). Two years before, in 2004, the department had warned in an internal report that the MLVW truck could be hit by a "catastrophic" failure at any time be- cause of poor brakes and steering systems. More than 2,500 of the Bombardier-built MLVW trucks – based on the U.S. M- 35/M-36 1950s design – were in service at the time. Yet, eight years after the initial launch of the program and several changes of direc- tion later – including a last-minute cancel- lation in 2011 – the Canadian Army is still waiting for its 1,500 Standard Military Pattern (SMP) trucks. In an email, DND stressed the crucial role the SMP vehicles will play "to sup- port and sustain future domestic and ex- peditionary operations," saying the new fl eet "will rebuild the army's ability to provide lift and logistical support on the ground." While a key project milestone was reached in 2011 with fi nal delivery of the 1,300 Military Commercial off-the-shelf trucks (MilCOTS), the acquisition of the SMP portion consti- tutes the central component of the MSVS project, notably because, unlike the Mil- COTS, the vehicles must be ready to deploy overseas. To that end, when the RFP was issued in 2013, it also requested the pro- curement of up to 150 armour protection systems and 300 trailers. DND is seeking fi ve variants of the SMP truck: cargo, cargo crane, load handling sys- tem (LHS), gun tractor and mobile repair truck. Companies were asked to provide one cargo variant, one LHS variant with APS, and one LHS trailer for evaluation. The department emphasized that the MSVS is "a capability replacement project" and not a one-for-one equipment replace- ment initiative. Nonetheless, it said "it is of critical importance for the CAF to enable the acquisition of the new replacement fl eet prior to starting in-service fl eet divestment." Patience has certainly proven to be a virtue for the companies now waiting for the announcement of a contract winner, expected by mid June of this year. Public Benoit Maraval served as a defence analyst at the French delegation to NAtO and at the Ministry of Defence in Paris. He is the Ottawa correspondent for

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