VICTORIA, British Columbia — The Canadian military's newest armored vehicle faces significant technical problems, with US company Textron being given a final chance to show its system can meet the promised levels of protection and mobility.
But an internal Canadian Department of National Defence briefing paper pointed out that because of ongoing problems this will be Textron's last chance to produce a preproduction vehicle for the CAN $1.2 billion (US $1 billion) project.
Canada awarded the TAPV contract to Textron in June 2012. The company is to produce 500 armored vehicles, with an option to build another 100.
The rest of the project funding would go toward new military infrastructure for the TAPVs and other support costs.
"We won't speculate," she stated, when asked what would happen if Textron could not meet its contractual obligations.
"The doomsday scenario would be to scrap it and start over again," said Shadwick, who teaches strategic studies at York University in Toronto. "But that would be a last resort."
Tom Williams, a spokesman for Textron Systems Marine & Land Systems, noted in an email that during reliability, availability, maintainability and durability (RAMD) testing "opportunities to improve vehicle subsystems before entering full rate production" were identified for the TAPV. The improvements have been made and a TAPV was recently delivered to the Nevada Automotive Test Center where it will undergo rigorous testing, he added. A second vehicle will be sent to the test center in May.
"Additional RAMD testing will take place this summer," Williams said. "Full rate production will begin in 2015 with first vehicle deliveries planned for 2016."
Textron implemented a number of design changes and modifications to address "systemic failures," Nicholson was told.
"These accumulating incidents, which relate to the vehicle's ability to travel distances on medium cross country terrain, led the project office to conclude that the existing test could no longer continue," stated the briefing, titled "Tactical Armoured Patrol Vehicle Way Forward."
"The cascading systemic failures indicate that the platform design is not stabilizing as intended, rendering the contracted reliability as unattainable."
The Canadian Army was acquiring the TAPV because it needed a well-protected vehicle capable of negotiating tough terrain and providing troops with a cross-country capability.
The TAPV will replace the Army's wheeled Coyote light armored vehicle and the RG-31 patrol vehicle.
Joyce Murray, defense critic for the opposition Liberal Party, said the issue with the TAPVs points to a greater problem of an ineffective military procurement system.
"The problems with buying armored vehicles for the Canadian military can be blamed on poor government management on the procurement file," Murray said. "They can't seem to get it right."
A Department of National Defence spokesperson confirmed that it and the Canadian Army are working with Textron to test the new TAPV designs.