VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA — After unrealistic expectations forced Canada’s special operations command to give up its quest for a new vehicle, the command reconsidered its requirements and plans to buy two types of vehicles it hopes will meets its needs.
Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM) launched a program in 2008 to buy 100 vehicles to replace its fleet of Humvees. But the project was canceled two years later after only one company submitted a bid, which was rejected.
A number of companies that declined to submit a bid cited the command’s excessive list of requirements for such a small production run of vehicles. Lockheed Martin, the sole bidder, offered its HMT 400, which is in service with Australian special operations forces. The vehicle, however, was disqualified for not meeting Canadian requirements.
Specific vehicle requirements still have to be worked out, but this time, CANSOFCOM is taking a more flexible approach and hopes to acquire an off-the-shelf product that is in service with allied special ops forces, military sources said. The requirements will reflect that, they added.
Two types of vehicles are planned: the Next Generation Fighting Vehicle (NGFV) and the Marginal Terrain Vehicle (MTV).
There will be several variants of the NGFV configured for various CANSOFCOM missions, said Maj. Steve Hawken, a command spokesman. He did not provide specific requirements, but said the vehicles will have a multirole capability suitable for deployments in diverse climates.
The MTV will be a multirole armored vehicle capable of operating where there are significant ballistic and blast threats, he said.
CANSOFCOM procurement specialists have determined that existing vehicles on the market could potentially fill the MTV role and a request for information was issued to industry Aug. 15.
Existing platforms could also potentially meet the Next Generation Fighting Vehicle requirements.
“We believe there are off-the-shelf options that may satisfy the NGFV project requirements, and that analysis is ongoing, given that the project has only recently commenced,” Hawken said.
Command officials declined to provide examples of existing vehicles that could fill the NGFV or MTV roles, citing the need for a fair and open procurement competition.
Of the two acquisition efforts, the MTV project is further along, and the command hopes deliveries could begin as early as March 2016.
CANSOFCOM procurement staff members analyzed the new Tactical Armoured Patrol Vehicle that the Canadian Army will receive from Textron Canada starting next year, but decided it does not meet the command’s needs.
CANSOFCOM plans to initially buy 17 MTVs, with an option to procure an additional five later.
The command hopes to receive its first deliveries of the NGFV in 2019. But Hawken cautioned that the timelines for the NGFV and the MTV are preliminary and may shift after further consultation with industry.
CANSOFCOM declined to provide the overall budget for the vehicle projects, but it is believed to be about CAN $100 million (US $100 million).
Several companies have indicated interest in the vehicle projects and are awaiting details on the specific requirements. Wisconsin-based Oshkosh Defense has vehicles it said might interest Canada, including its M-ATV, a mine-resistant, ambush-protected all-terrain vehicle.
General Dynamics Land Systems Canada, London, Ontario, might offer a special ops version of its Ocelot light patrol vehicle.
“It’s an extraordinary design, and we’re hoping we have the solution for CANSOFCOM,” said Doug Wilson-Hodge, the company’s manager of international business development.
Lockheed did not respond to a request for comment on whether it planned to bid on the new CANSOFCOM projects.
After the cancellation of the first attempt to acquire vehicles, the command undertook a repair and overhaul of its Humvee fleet to extend its operational life until new vehicles could be acquired.
In 2010, when the original vehicle project was put on hold, Brig.-Gen. Mike Day, CANSOFCOM’s commander at the time, said he was surprised more companies did not bid. But he acknowledged there was a tendency in Canadian procurements for the military to overreach in its requirements.
“The Canadian model is, when we buy a fleet, we’re buying it for a while, so I better make sure it’s good enough for tomorrow,” he said.
At that time, the command was looking for what it was calling a special reconnaissance vehicle for off-road travel. That was to be an enclosure-free vehicle that allowed its crew high situational awareness, would be able to operate independently for extended periods in enemy territory, could carry its own maintenance and logistics gear, and would be able to operate on substandard fuel if necessary.
A second vehicle, called a quick-reaction vehicle, would be used mainly in urban areas and have a high degree of armor protection, but it would also be highly mobile.
CANSOFCOM, which stood up in February 2006, consists of Joint Task Force 2, a Tier 1 counterterrorism and special operations unit; the 427 Special Operations Aviation Squadron; the Canadian Joint Incident Response Unit, which deals with weapons of mass destruction; and the Canadian Special Operations Regiment.