TRACKS VERSUS WHEELS; NOT AN ISSUE FOR THE CANADIAN FORCES CLOSE COMBAT VEHICLE
By David Pugliese
Canadian Army officers have told armored industry representatives it doesn’t matter whether the new Close Combat Vehicle is wheeled or tracked and that the lowest cost system which meets the requirements will be selected.
The wheels versus tracks debate is not an issue for CCV that will affect the procurement, industry representatives said in interviews with Defence Watch. They asked that their names not be published.
“I would have thought that the Army’s future doctrine or tactics – and whether it makes sense to go wheeled or tracked from a maintenance or transportation point of view — would come into play but we have been told that is not a factor,” said one industry official. “The best vehicle that meets the requirements at the lowest cost wins.”
Defence Watch had requested a briefing on the Close Combat Vehicle but the Defence Department declined. DND referred all questions to Public Works and Government Services Canada. A Public Works media spokesperson, via email, noted that the requirements for the CCV have not been finalized.
In 2003 Army officers announced that the service would move to an all-wheeled armored vehicle fleet in the coming years as part of the Army’s plan to build a futuristic force and improve its ability to deploy on overseas operations. As part of that decision the Army decided to get rid of its Leopard tanks and purchase the U.S.-built Mobile Gun System, equipped with a 105mm gun.
“Tanks are a perfect example of extremely expensive systems that sit in Canada because they are inappropriate to the operations we conduct daily around the world,” then Army commander Lt.-Gen. Rick Hillier wrote in the Ottawa Citizen. “The MGS, in conjunction with other combat systems, will give us a much greater capability on operations such as those being conducted in Kabul, and still give us options for high-intensity combat.”
But combat in Afghanistan and concerns about the MGS’s ability to meet future requirements changed that view.
In 2006, the Canadian Army’s senior leaders recommended the cancellation of plans to purchase the Mobile Gun System. Leopard 2 tanks were purchased for the Afghan mission.
Army officers have also noted that in some cases wheeled LAVs had difficulty with the terrain in Afghanistan. In addition, more armor protection was needed because of IEDs, further prompting the tank purchase.
The Canadian Forces sees the CCV as bridging the gap between light armoured vehicles (five to 20 tonnes) and heavy armoured vehicles (more than 45 tonnes), coming in between 25 and 45 tonnes.
The CCV will allow infantry to operate in support of the Leopard 2 tanks, providing the Army with a more balanced and integrated fleet, according to the Army.
Industry officials say they are unsure of what the Army means by “balanced and integrated fleet.” Does that mean more tracks, to keep up with tracked Leopards, or more wheels to augment the LAV-3s, they ask.
Nexter Systems, the French armored vehicle firm, is offering the Canadian Army its wheeled VBCI armored vehicles for the CCV project.
The Hagglund’s tracked CV90 from BAE Systems is also being offered for CCV.
Armored vehicle manufacturer Rheinmetall has not indicated whether it will take part in the project.
The Canadian Forces will acquire 108 CCVs with an option for up to 30 more.
COMING IN TOMMOROW’S DEFENCE WATCH: AN UPDATE ON CANADIAN FORCES UAV PROGAMS.
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