CANADIAN FORCES WANT MORE AUTOMATIC GRENADE LAUNCHERS; DAVID PUGLIESE OTTAWA CITIZEN DEFENCE NEWS

CLOSE AREA SUPPRESSION WEAPON FOR THE AIR FORCE AND REMOTE WEAPON STATIONS

By David Pugliese

Ottawa Citizen

Defence Watch

Government officials have still yet to make an announcement on the winning company to be selected to provide the Close Area Suppression Weapon (CASW) but there could be future purchases of the weapons for vehicles as well as for the Air Force for airfield security in deployed locations, according to documents obtained by Defence Watch.

At this point the program is to acquire an automatic grenade launcher for infantry. But the CASW is a dismounted system that can be mounted onto any vehicle using a pintle mount or a remote weapon station (RWS). Army sources say they expect whichever weapon wins the CASW project will be eventually mounted on a RWS, with additional weapon purchases if necessary.

Those views are backed up by an Oct. 24, 2007 briefing note obtained by Defence Watch which points out that in the future new vehicles being acquired by the Army could be outfitted with CASW, although new funding would have to be found for those weapons.

“Should the new vehicle programmes require CASW, the projects will fund any new CASW in accordance with standard practice,” the briefing note points out. “CASW for..Deployed Airfield security requirement could be acquired using various options in the eventual CASW Contract….once CAS (Chief of the Air Staff) provides the funding.”

The possiblity of CASW going on to a RWS is a distinct possibility. It seems more unlikely the air force would free up funds for a CASW, particularly at a time when budgets are getting tighter. In addition, if the air force does operate at deployed airfields, it could ask the army to provide protection.

Canada had received two bids to provide the Canadian Forces with a new automatic grenade launcher. One was from Rheinmetall Canada, the other for Singapore Technologies each put in a bid.

Singapore Technologies, which has kept a low profile during the competition, has its own 40mm grenade launcher and ammunition.

Last year defence sources told Defence Watch they expected the evaluation of the bids to be completed sometime in January 2010.

Testing of both weapons was done last year at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, NB.

The $100 million CASW project has been repeatedly delayed, with some industry officials pointing to it as an example of the major problems plague the Defence Department’s procurement system.

In 2004, Canadian Army officers said the weapons would be delivered in August 2006 for eventual use in Afghanistan. Then the delivery date was later set as the summer of 2008.

Later the delivery of the guns was revised to occur in late 2009.

The new date for delivery is now 2012.

Army officers have said that the grenade launcher will provide more and accurate firepower than the 60mm mortar, which will taken out of service since it is too old and considered unsupportable.

The Army examined the capabilities offered by mortars and automatic grenade launchers in urban fighting during a May 2003 study.

The study, called Iron Bombard, looked at the ability of several weapon systems to provide the Light Armoured Vehicle-3 Rifle Company with an internal suppression/neutralizing capability in an urban environment.

An undated briefing note for the CLS, prepared by Geoff Hutton of DLR, pointed out that the planned retirement of the 60mm light mortar makes CASW “NP neutral” meaning that the savings from getting rid of the motars would offset the acquistion of the grenade launcher.

The government expects to Rheinmetall Canada has been successful in its bid to provide the Canadian Army with a

, sources at National Defence headquarters tell Defence Watch.

There is no word, however, on when there will be an official announcement. But the firm, based in St. Jean sur Richelieu, will provide the army the Heckler and Koch 40mm grenade launcher which is being used by 16 militaries, including many NATO nations.

The project had to be restarted in the spring 2009 after government bureaucrats ruled that a defence company’s paperwork was not filled out properly.

At that time, only one firm – Rheinmetall Canada – bid on the project and although the HK gun technically fit all the army’s requirements, the government disqualified the firm’s bid. Public Works informed Rheinmetall Canada that the financial forms attached to its proposal didn’t provide enough information.

Rheinmetall Canada argued that it submitted a fully compliant bid. However, the government did not accept that position and the procurement process was begun again in the summer of 2009.

Army officers have said that the grenade launcher will provide more and accurate firepower than the 60mm mortar, which will taken out of service since it is too old and considered unsupportable.

The Army examined the capabilities offered by mortars and automatic grenade launchers in urban fighting during a May 2003 study.

The study, called Iron Bombard, looked at the ability of several weapon systems to provide the Light Armoured Vehicle-3 Rifle Company with an internal suppression/neutralizing capability in an urban environment.

The report, obtained under the Access to Information law by Defence Watch, was withheld for two years and only released after the Army was able to move ahead with its plans to purchase an automatic grenade launcher.

The weapon systems tested in Iron Bombard were used in the offence and defence during a series of house to house clearing scenarios, according to the report. The infantry section was also equipped with machine guns and rifles.

“The study concluded that no differences between the capabilities of the Advance Grenade Launcher and the mortars were observed, however the Advanced Grenade Launcher could make a contribution to the effectiveness of the Rifle Company and the 60mm and 81mm light mortars provided value because of their ability to provide smoke screens,” the report concluded. “The study recommends that the Advanced Grenade Launcher be considered as a possible support weapon for the LAV 111 Rifle Company and that there may be a requirement to retain mortars in the support mix.”

Iron Bombard was done because the present weapon system available is the 60mm M19 Mortar, generally considered by the Canadian Army to lack the range, lethality and accuracy to be effective. In order to alleviate that deficiency an 81mm light mortar and a 40 mm advanced grenade launcher were evaluated using the close action environment urban combat war game.

For more Canadian Forces and Defence Department news or articles by David Pugliese of the Ottawa Citizen go to David Pugliese’s Defence Watch at:

communities.canada.com/ottawacitizen/blogs/defencewatch/

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