NEW VEHICLES COMING FOR JTF2 NEXT YEAR
By David Pugliese
The country’s Ottawa-based commando unit will get a fleet of new war wagons next year in a deal expected to be worth more than $100 million.
Evaluation of new vehicles for the military’s Joint Task Force 2 command unit, based at Dwyer Hill, and the special operations regiment in Petawawa has narrowed the search down to two candidates, both to be built in the U.S.
JTF2 and the Canadian Special Operations Regiment currently use Humvees built by AM General in Indiana. Those were purchased during the early days of the Afghan war for JTF2.
Craig McNab of AM General said the company is actively pursuing the Canadian special forces vehicle project and is waiting for the second phase of the program to begin. That would involve the government issuing a request for proposals to the two companies whose vehicles have been selected.
McNab said he didn’t want to get into details about the specific type of vehicle offered to Canada. But he added that AM General has established a good relationship with Canadian special forces through a maintenance and battlefield repair program the company offers on JTF2’s existing fleet of Humvees. “We have a particularly good training program with U.S. special operations and the Canadians liked it as well,” he added.
Lockheed Martin is the second firm selected with its Supacat family of vehicles, according to industry officials. Those high mobility trucks were originally designed in Britain and some variants, such as the Jackal, are now in service with special forces and regular force units.
Lockheed Martin has a deal to sell the British vehicles to militaries in Canada and the U.S.
In January the Australian government announced that it had taken delivery of the first of 30 Supacat Jackal patrol vehicles for its special forces. Those vehicles are worth more than $1 million each.
Public Works and Government Services has declined to name the two firms selected for Canadian program. In an email the department claims it has to protect the “commercial confidentiality” of the firms.
It did not explain why it needed to protect commercial confidentiality when the companies in question have acknowledged their interest in the project.
Public Works will issue a request for proposals to the two qualified bidders and a contract is to be awarded in the summer. The requirement for 100 new vehicles.
In an interview last year, Col. Mike Day, head of the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command, said the existing fleet of Humvees will continue to be used as his personnel become proficient on the new vehicles. He noted the new vehicles will be available for use for various units in the command.
For logistics purposes, the command is also looking for a vehicle fielded by a number of countries so that parts would be readily available.
Col. Day noted that the requirements for the new vehicles mention that they have to be capable of being transported by helicopter. “I think that type of tactical force projection is a critical component,” he said. “Use Afghanistan as an example; use any other part of the world. Do you want to fly for an hour or do you want to drive for a day?”
Stephen Priestley, a researcher for the Canadian-American Strategic Review website at Simon Fraser University, said that the Supacat Jackal appears to meet the various criteria that Canada’s special operations command needs. He noted that the Supacat variant selected by Australia comes with the option of a bolt-on chassis that can convert the basic four-by-four vehicle into a six-by-six speciality vehicle. Such a conversion can be done in several hours.
Col. Day said the next major purchase for his Ottawa-based command will be to replace its fleet of rigid hull inflatables that are used for domestic counter-terrorism missions. He did not provide a timeline on when the replacement of those boats might happen.