Posts Tagged ‘Modular fighting rig’

DAVID PUGLIESE DEFENCE WATCH COMMENTARY: THE SUDDEN PUSH TO GET A CANADIAN ARMY FIGHTING RIG

November 18, 2009

DEFENCE WATCH COMMENTARY

David Pugliese

Ottawa Citizen

The Defence Department and Public Works recently put out the call for the acquisition of Modular Fighting Rigs for the Canadian Army.

 

The request for proposals closes on Nov. 25 but those firms who wish to take part in the project have to have provide samples seven days before that (i.e. today, Nov. 18).

 

The new system is to be designed to provide soldiers deployed in operations the ability to carry critical fighting equipment included in their Fighting Order (The Fighting Order consists of, but is not limited to, the minimum essential ammunition, weapons, communications, Identification of Friend or Foe (IFF), navigation, trauma, water, rations, ballistic protection and environmental equipment that must be immediately available for combat. The system will also cater to different position/role within a section or platoon.)

 

Delivery of the rigs is to take place by March 2010.

 

But some inside the Canadian Forces and within industry are questioning the rationale for this urgent operational requirement purchase at this point in time. They note that for quite some time, the criticisms of the current equipment have been ignored. Yet all of a sudden, the rush is on to acquire this new piece of kit.

 

Does that make sense? There are of course different viewpoints on this.

 

Defence Watch presents below one such viewpoint on the issue. This analysis of the situation comes from a defence industry source who is not associated with any textile company or soldier equipment manufacturer but who has closely watched this project unfold.

 

Here is the analysis.

 

“On the positive side, the Canadian Forces is looking to adopt a modular based system for load carriage. The current in-service tactical vest has been widely criticized by CF members as being inadequate for operational use. DLR and DSSPM have dragged their feet for years in coming up with a solution to the criticisms of the tac-vest, until now, at the 11th hour of our current Afghanistan mission.

 

The manufacturers specifications in are SORD Australia, Tactical Tailor (US based), High Speed Gear (US Based), and CTOMS (Canadian).  It is interesting to note that none of the products requested are Canadian manufactured (CTOMS product is Canadian designed, but manufactured in the US).

 

Given the fact that Canadian textile firms are excluded from doing business with the US Dept. of Defense through the Berry Amendment and ‘Buy America’ clauses , one would wonder why and how the Canadian government would expect to get this procurement contract (which will likely have a total contract value greater than $1M Cdn) through, without drawing attention and criticism from the Canadian textiles industry, as well as opposition political parties.

 

In particular, Canada’s textile sector has been hurt during the recession.

 

Building load bearing equipment isn’t out of the realm of capability for Canadian companies such as Pacific Safety Products, or Fellfab who provide the Canadian Forces with much of the in-service items such as the Army’s rucksack, small pack and ballistic protective vest. What they need is some direction from DND in terms of a statement of requirement.

 

Canadian industry has not been given a fair opportunity to participate as companies were given less than 10 working days to submit a bid proposal along with material samples to meet a spec which DND has developed in relative secrecy. In fact, the project specifies that products utilize features based on intellectual property which are foreign owned.

 

Also interesting to note that neither CADPAT TW or AR are specified in his tender, which is odd, considering the significant amount of time, resources, and money which Canadian DND has put into developing the CADPAT pattern, which they claim significantly reduces the chance of a soldier’s detection in the visual and near infra-red spectrum, therefore increasing his survivability.

 

Canadian textile mills such as Lincoln Fabrics, and Consoltex have invested significant money and time to meet DND’s demanding specs for CADPAT fabrics, and have had a difficult time competing on the consumer market given the collapse of the North American textile industry. Is this how the government rewards their cooperation by spec’ing in foreign produced fabrics to be used by the Canadian Forces?

 

If DND were more forward thinking they could have engaged Canadian industry in terms of what their statement of requirement was, so that a made-in-Canada product which satisfies the requirements of the Canadian Forces could be fielded, rather than a rushed ‘UOR’ type requirement (this one is being labelled as an ‘Operational Evaluation’ by the CLS) at the 11th hour.”

 

 

 

Not everyone will agree with the above take on the situation. For instance, Soldier Systems, an website that covers the equipment industry, notes that Canadian textile manufacturers will likely get involved later manufacturing the fighting rigs under contract to the winning firm.

 

But it raises its own interesting aspects on this project: “What is even more interesting is that neither of the US companies chosen have major contracts with the US government,” Soldier Systems noted. “What is significant about their selection, and in fact all of the companies chosen, is that their selection is based completely on design. If you look at the initial list of 12 systems, none of the major US players were involved.”

 

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:

 

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

 

 

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