Upgrades to LAVs make new close-combat vehicles unnecessary: army

by Murray Brewster and Steve Rennie, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA – Recent upgrades to light-armoured vehicles have made new close-combat vehicles unnecessary, Canada’s top soldier said Friday as he announced the military would not go ahead with the $2-billion purchase.

“These capability improvements combined with an assessment of the most likely employment scenarios for the Canadian Armed Forces in the future were the most important factors in our analysis,” said Gen. Tom Lawson, the chief of defence staff.

“Based on this assessment and the fundamental principle that the Canadian Armed Forces do not procure capabilities unless they’re absolutely necessary to the attainment of our mandate, we’ve recommended to the government of Canada not to proceed with the procurement process for the close-combat vehicle.”

The cancellation of the order for 108 close-combat vehicles is the latest in a series of troubled procurements.

The program had been hanging in the balance for months after the army signalled it was worried about whether it could afford to train crews and operate and maintain the new vehicles in a time of tight money. Budget restraints have slashed baseline funding by 22 per cent.

Bids by three defence contractors — Nexter, BAE Systems Inc. and General Dynamics Land Systems Inc. — had been set to expire on Monday.

London, Ont.-based BAE Systems, which makes the military’s current light-armoured vehicles, had mixed feelings about the decision to cancel the order for close-combat vehicles.

“I’ve been using the term ‘bittersweet,’” spokesman Ken Yamashita said.

“On the one hand, it’s a great testimony to the upgrades that we’re doing on the LAV IIIs. That’s something we’re glad to hear, that we’ve exceeded their expectations on that, which we always try to do with customers.

“On the other side, it’s one of the reasons that they’re are not going ahead with the contract — I’m sure there are other reasons as well — but that’s one of the reasons they’ve stated, is that it meets the requirements for the close-combat vehicle.”

BAE Systems says it will now focus on selling its CV90 closed-combat vehicles to other countries.

“Our position is that we are obviously disappointed. We remain committed to Canada and working with Canadian industry across a range of programs,” spokesman Mike Sweeney said in an email.

“We also remain focused on other CV90 opportunities. These include a Danish competition for 2-400 vehicles and a joint development of a new family of vehicles for Poland with local company Polish Defence Holdings. The chassis for this will draw upon CV90 technology.”

Nexter lamented the time and money it spent on the cancelled bid.

“Nexter has invested a great amount of time, energy and resources in the CCV program over the past four years,” company executive Patrick Lier said in a news release.

“Millions of dollars have been spent because we believed the competition would be fair, open and provide a rigorous assessment of the candidate vehicles with a view to acquiring the best possible medium weight infantry fighting vehicle for Canada.”

Nexter also said it wants the Canadian government to compensate it for the cost of its bid.

“It would be our expectation that the government would compensate industry bidders for the cost of their bids,” he said.

“No company can afford to make such considerable investments only to have the process produce no result.”

Having yet another major military purchase go down the drain could be a political black eye for the Conservatives, who have struggled to deliver on an extensive list of military equipment.

In addition to the armoured vehicles, National Defence and Public Works in the summer of 2012 cancelled and subsequently restarted a program to buy 1,500 trucks for the military.

Following news of the cancellation, the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries called for a review of the government’s procurement process.

“It must be a difficult day for the companies directly affected,” association president Tim Page said in a statement. “They’ve spent a considerable amount of money to position their products to win the competition on the basis of a stated need that now is no longer required.

“The situation is evidence of a compelling need for urgent consideration and articulation of a renewed and affordable Canada First Defence Strategy, as committed to by the government in the throne speech.”

Retired lieutenant-general Andrew Leslie, who led the Canadian Army through almost the entire Afghan war, said the close combat-vehicle was an essential capability for a military that intends to fight not only an all-out war, but also future insurgencies where homemade bombs will be major weapons.

Leslie says the cancellation means the army will go into future conflicts less well-equipped than it should be.

The close-combat vehicles are 36-tonne machines that can carry troops and also fight like a light tank.

Experience in Afghanistan showed the army’s existing light-armoured vehicles, while capable, were vulnerable to ever more powerful bombs — a lesson insurgent groups around the world have learned and will likely put into practice in any new conflict.

“This decision and others has put the lives of Canadian Forces personnel at unnecessary risk,” said Leslie, who will run for the Liberals in an Ottawa-area riding in the next federal election.

Leslie said he doesn’t buy the argument that National Defence can no longer afford the program when it continues to underspend its budget by roughly a $1 billion a year.

He also said it was appalling that neither Defence Minister Rob Nicholson, nor Public Works Minister Diane Finley, stepped forward to take responsibility for what was clearly a political decision.

“This is nonsense,” Leslie said. “This program was approved by the government and personally endorsed by (former defence minister) Peter MacKay and the prime minister.

“It is their job to explain it, not members of the Canadian Forces. Where are they? I don’t see them.”




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Upgrades to LAVs make new close-combat vehicles unnecessary: army

  1. The Harper Conservatives continue to morph into the Chretien Liberals.

  2. “This program was approved by the government and personally endorsed by
    (former defence minister) Peter MacKay…”

    This alone should give one pause to consider if the vehicle was needed.

  3. Why we don’t need CCV:

    1) We should have learned the folly of fighting optional ground wars. There should be no need to prepare for the next Afghanistan,

    2) The LAV IIIs have been upgraded since the CCV was proposed,

    3) We should be cutting defence not buying another type of vehicle to maintain and train on.

    4) Vehicles as heavy as CCV, especially if tracked, are of limited use in anything short of a battle. They are very expensive and tear up road infrastructure.

    5) We had three MBTs destroyed in Afghanistan and others knocked out and repaired. CCV wouldn’t be invulnerable either. An enemy would just target lighter vehicles, use more explosives, use more sophisticated explosives or use ATGW.

    6) Our failure in Afghanistan had nothing to do with the presence or lack of armour and everything to do with the failure to understand Afghanistan and the nature of the conflict. If we had known more about Kandahar and the reasons the people supported the Taliban we wouldn’t have needed heavy armour.

    • number3 you agree on cuts wow sorry but no, youn are wrong wrong wrong

      these arent days for millitary cutback if you dont want to be caught with youre pants down… not now with 46 countrys conflict. come on ft ward snap out of it

  4. Are you serious John K269? There is nothing about Harper that is similar to Harper.

  5. Wrong mandate. Get our boys/girls to hell away from combat; period. Canadians are peacemakers, helpers, fixers in places worldwide that need us. Our Canadian image is getting destroyed by this warmonger government. Much worse our people are laying down their lives by the hundreds for political BS. Now our vets are still suffering from PTSD and getting very little help from the very government that sent them to die in a foreign country for a lost cause. For many years my family served in all branches of the military. My father is buried in a foreign country. We still serve and many times I look at our sacrifices and see a big zero of real appreciation.

    • I’m pretty sure you meant peacekeepers. Since making peace requires fighting a war.

      • Only in rare cases requiring defense should we be involved in front line fighting. Diplomacy has resulted in ending many wars but more important diplomacy has stopped hundreds of wars from even starting. Canadians used to be admired worldwide for peacemaking and peacekeeping.

  6. FT Ward, what are you talking about? Failure in Afghanistan?? I was there, were you? Canada did much more than most other NATO countries. I am proud of how we kept the Taliban at bay and allowed kids to go back to schools. Especially young girls. We provided fresh water and improved infrastructure. All while being shot at by cowards who wear no uniform. By the way Kenny, I am getting all kinds of help with Veteran Affairs thank you. All the media states is horror stories of a few that fall through cracks.. Sad that that happens but it is not the majority! Merry Christmas to you both.

    • There seem to be a LOT of cracks.

  7. FT Ward, one other point, at first in Kandahar, we didn’t have armour. Many of us died because we did not. i.e. Iltis cars. An effective modern Army requires armour. Our new Leopard II tanks saved lives not too mention the Nayalas and other specialized equipment. To state we would not need Armor if we knew why the Afghanis supported the Taliban is wrong. They supported the Taliban because they had no choice. The Taliban would come into a village – to a farmers house and kill half his kids outright then state you are working for us or we will kill you all. That is how they roll. You can’t hand out flowers to these people!

    • The Taliban are the villagers. They were turned against the GOA and NATO by tribal grievances fueled by the Karzai government, criminal police forces run by warlords, air strikes, opium eradication, night raids and aggressive NATO convoy tactics. All while this was going on NATO inadvertently funded the Taliban with development money and fees paid for allowing supply convoys to get in. That’s why your schools could be built- the village or contractor gave a kick back to the local Taliban commander.

      Your “cowards” by the way are fighting the most powerful military alliance in the world with homemade bombs and 1950′s era small arms and rocket launchers. Sorry they don’t wear uniforms but I’d check out all the SOF, intelligence agents and private contractors who don’t wear uniforms before making too big a deal of it. The Taliban are still in the field and the area they govern is expanding. In Helmand the ANA are already turning over check points to the Taliban in return for not being attacked. The CF with all it’s expensive armour and aircraft is gone. That’s failure.

      • FT Ward if you love them so much. Leave my country and go join them.
        You are picking some facts to suit your misguided view.
        They are cowards killing innocent children and women!!!!! btw what is left of them is getting their but kicked.
        Seriously, get out of my country, you do not deserve to live in this the best country in the world while you promote blood thirsty murderers!
        Why did I even engage in opposing your comment…

        • I’m not promoting them just picking apart ahistorical nonsense. It’s not really important if you convince yourself you were part of a victory. I understand how a soldier feels better if he thinks what he did meant something. The problem comes when the victory narrative infects people in power and they think that we won and down the road they embark on another hair brained mission that costs us tens of billions. A good example is the Americans convincing themselves that the “surge” in Iraq worked and that they could replicate it in Afghanistan.

          • You are right but we do have to come together and fight evil when it we all have to. We had to in Afghanistan.

          • Unfortunately the reasons for going to Afghanistan had far more to do with trade disputes, border security, DND budgets and general’s egos than a fight against evil. The PR folks knew enough to try to sell the “girls to school” narrative along with “women’s rights”, “fight them there so we don’t fight them here” and “fighting drug smugglers” rather than the truth which quite rightly the public wouldn’t and eventually didn’t put up with.

    • The CF had LAV IIIs, RG31s and Coyotes from day one in Kandahar on the second mission. If you’re complaining about Iltis on the first Kandahar mission- no Canadian was harmed by an IED or enemy ground fire. Which mission do you say you were on?

      • Roto 8. Aug 09 – No Canadian was harmed by an IED or enemy ground fire? What planet are you from?

        • I’m from the planet where you can read. In 2009 the CF battle group had more armour than any other similar sized unit in country. Iltis & G-Wagons weren’t allowed off base.

          • The Iltis’ were gone by then. Just G-Wagons. They had more armour because they were required! My point. Good day.

          • You used G Wagons off base in late 2009? Unlikely. So we’re back to your claim the battle group in Kandahar lacked armour.

          • No they were deemed crap and had to stay on base. Nayalas, LAVIIIs and the like as well as Leopards II off base. I never said they lacked armour.. I said they’ve always required it!

  8. Contract for 108 CCV (keeping in mind that the army generate forces on a 1:3 ratio). So all that money (without counting training, maintenance, skill retention on a unique platform, lack of strategic and operational mobility, etc…) for about 30 veh available to be deployed at any one time… this fighting across the spectrum of operations with only 30 vehicles would do what for our soldiers? (heavy armor can be defeated by IED/Mines – just add one more mine to the stack – as they used to do in Bosnia or 10 more pounds of HME as they do in Afghanistan – the shock wave will probably kill you regardless of what armor you are sitting under). Retired Generals should stay retired and leave the current fight to the guys who are actually in the service (and have to live and fight with the plans that they came up with 10 years ago before they retired)

  9. cuts? how can they be so blinded you dont cut back when the rest of the planet is beefing up their millitarys. we are being played like fools by our own pm and defence minister.

    they both lost my vote in future. IDIOTS

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