The Close Combat Vehicle project has been cancelled. At a briefing in Ottawa today, General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, and Lieutenant-General Marquise Haines, Commander of the Canadian Army, said they would be recommending to the government not to proceed with the purchase of 108 CCVs.
The decision was based on recent assessments of improved force protection capabilities across the Canadian Army, especially ongoing evaluations of the upgraded Light Armoured Vehicle (LAV).
“These capability improvements, combined with an assessment of the most likely employment scenarios for the Canadian Armed Forces in the future, were the most important factors in our analysis,” Lawson said. “Based on this assessment and the fundamental principle that the Canadian Armed Forces do not procure capabilities unless they are absolutely necessary to the attainment of our mandate, we have recommended to the government not to proceed with the procurement process for the CCV.”
The CCV was part of the army’s Family of Land Combat Vehicles, launched in 2009, that includes the modernized LAV, the Tactical Armoured Patrol Vehicle, armoured engineering vehicles, and newly acquired Leopard II tanks. It was intended to bridge a protection, mobility and firepower gap between the LAVs, which sustained significant battle damage in IED-infested terrain in Afghanistan, and the Leopards.
Hainse said recent improvements in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability, enhanced counter-IED capacity and smarter TTPs (tactics, techniques and procedures) had changed the nature of the requirement. In addition, the much stronger and heavier upgraded LAV, which is still undergoing evaluation, is “far superior to what was originally envisioned…[with the LAV] we will have in terms of protection the same level of protection that the CCV would have provided, hence the reason why the CCV is considered no longer essential.”
He said the new capability of the LAV only came to light in the “last six to eight months as [it] completed its testing.”
Lawson added that the change in direction was “not a budgetary discussion; the analysis for this particular piece of equipment is based on the analysis of the most likely future requirements and what we have as army capacities right now to meet those.”
Although there had been speculation for some time about the fate of the CCV, and the opportunity to shift the $2.1 billion earmarked for the project to army training requirements, Colonel Andrew Jayne, Director of Land Requirements, said the money would be frozen and reassessed as the Canada First Defence Strategy is refreshed, to “look at whether there are higher (CAF) priorities that this money needs to be applied to.”
He also confirmed that $38 million had been spent to date on the project to manage and evaluate the bids from General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada, Nexter and BAE Systems Hagglunds.
“That is roughly the amount of money that it would have cost us to own and sustain these vehicles for each of the 25 years that we expected to own them,” he added.
Patrick Lier, senior vice president of Nexter Systems, said he believed Nexter had the strongest vehicle in the competition and challenged the suggestion that the upgraded LAV offers protection en par with the CCV. “The army suggested today that its LAV III Upgrade vehicles provide the CCV capability. As a company with decades of experience in producing armoured vehicles, we at Nexter are astonished by this assertion. The LAV UP simply does not provide the same level of protection or mobility. This situation also begs the question as to why the Army proceeded with a second CCV Request for Proposals (RFP) six months after it awarded GDLS the LAV UP contract in 2011. It knew the capabilities of both vehicles at that time yet decided to proceed with another RFP and engaged industry in another costly competition.”
Nexter has been a highly visible sponsor of defence events over the past few years, and Lier noted the amount of time, energy and resources that had gone into bidding on the CCV program. “Millions of dollars have been spent because we believed the competition would be fair, open and provide a rigorous assessment of the candidate vehicles with a view to acquiring the best possible medium weight infantry fighting vehicle for Canada,” he said, adding that he hoped the government would provied bidders with information “on which vehicle won the competition. It is important that other allied militaries interested in providing the best vehicle for their soldiers have the benefit of information generated by the rigorous testing process conducted by the Canadian Armed Forces at Valcartier, Quebec and the Aberdeen Test Centre in Maryland.”
He also said Nexter would expect the government to “compensate bidders for the cost of their bids.”
Mike Sweeney, director of international communications for BAE Systems Land & Armaments, said that although the company was disappointed with the decision, “we remain committed to Canada and working with Canadian industry across a range of programs. We also remain focused on other CV90 opportunities.”