Seeking the ultimate wrecker
The acquisition of new tactical patrol and close combat vehicles as well as upgraded LAVs has created a little-discussed problem: how to recover them when they break down or are damaged in combat.

As the army takes on several fleets of new combat and logistics vehicles, both lightweight and armoured, it also has to plan for their recovery, and the increased weight of all the proposed vehicles as well as the upgraded LAVs is beyond the capability of current systems.

“The status quo is not an option,” LCol Tim Hall, project director for Tactical Support Vehicle Systems, told a recent military vehicles summit hosted by IDGA.

Unfortunately, nor is there a one-size-fits-all solution, a point underscored by a study conducted for the army in March 2011 at the Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute in Saskatchewan.

Complicating matters even more, the team assigned to the Enhanced Recovery Capability project can’t really begin to define wrecker solutions until it knows exactly what vehicles the army will be acquiring. That’s especially the case with the Close Combat Vehicle. If the winning bid is BAE Systems Hägglunds’ tracked CV90, recovery will be handled by the same system as for the Leopard II tanks. However, if it is Nexter’s VBCI or GDLS-C Piranha 5, both wheeled, then the team may have to find a specific CCV solution or one that can recover the TAPV, LAV and CCV. “If it’s wheeled, it will be a challenge,” Hall admitted.

He said the project team has yet to be declared an official project office, but will likely seek to engage with industry in the next six to nine months.

Bidding to be prime
The federal government may have determined which shipyards will build its large vessels for the Navy and the Coast Guard under the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy, but there still remains the open question of who will be the prime contractors on both the combat and non-combat packages.

Negotiations are underway with Irving and Seaspan to address the issue and determine the system integrators. With an estimated 65 percent of the value of the ships in the combat suite, some fear things could still get messy.

It’s worth remembering that when the NSPS was introduced, there was not a great deal of optimism, even within PWGSC or among the shipyards, due to past history with regional politics. But as Scott Leslie, director general of the Marine Sector Acquisition Branch at PWGSC, recently related to the Ottawa chapter of the Canadian Association of Management Consultants, while some “thought it would go down in flames,” extensive consultation with the yards and the use of outside assessors such as FMI, KPMG and a fairness monitor, as well as oversight from a seven-member deputy minister committee, ensured a well-managed and highly-praised process. Though it was not unique, it was certainly unprecedented, Leslie said.

Determining the yards, of course, was just the first step. Proof will be if the Navy and Coast Guard get ships at cost and in timely manner, and we continue to see a thriving shipbuilding industry.

Dumping batteries for wearable power
Power generation and storage: it was a common theme throughout the Soldier System Technology Roadmap process in 2010. From a workshop dedicated to the topic to presentations on future sensors, weapons and communications, eventually the discussion always reverted to power.

Dismounted soldiers often carry over 50 batteries to power portable devices, disposing of most after using less than half of their life. The added weight and mounting waste and cost must be addressed in future soldier systems.

In February, DND took a key step, issuing a call for a wearable integrated power system. The RFP said the department’s vision is “a low-weight, energy-efficient backbone for data and power exchange upon which soldiers can easily plug in mission specific devices.”

DND has sponsored R&D efforts in the past, including PowerWalk, an athletic knee brace-like system by Bionic Power, an R&D venture based at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, that generates an average of 12 watts of electricity walking at a average pace.

More recently, scientists with BAE Systems demonstrated what they call “structural batteries,” a merger of battery chemistries with composite materials that can be moulded to form the structure of a device. The device can be recharged from conventional or renewable power sources and might eventually be incorporated into fabrics.

Allen-Vanguard and Track24 Defence have developed a new system for automatically sending near real-time, beyond-line-of-sight, machine-to-machine updates to electronic counter measure signal jamming solutions.

General Dynamics Canada has unveiled a new ultra-rugged SD8000 family of smart display products with a quad-core Intel Core processor for military vehicles.

Rheinmetall Canada, a teammate of Textron for the TAPV program, signed a MOU with Unsicast Industries of Quebec for possible machine and parts fabrication on the Textron TAPV.

Montreal-based Ultra Electronics, TCS, received a $3.4 million order for Electronic Warfare equipment from the Defence Avionics Research Establishment in India. The company will supply a shelter-based mobile simulator system to evaluate aircraft EW radar capability.

The 16th of 17 CC-130Js landed at CFB Trenton in April week. Lockheed Martin says the final J-model Hercules will be delivered in May.

MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates sent the federal government a strong signal following the March 2012 Budge, saying it believes the “budget does not include the funds required to continue the RADARSAT Constellation Mission as currently envisioned.” MDA said that because of the level of uncertainty, it would accelerate steps to restructure its work force.

L-3 MAS received a contract from Boeing to provide technical publication services for the new fleet of CH-147F Chinooks. The contract includes language translation for aircrew technical publications products, as well as data conversion, language translation and development of interactive electronic technical publications.

Since the Canadian Forces School of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering implemented Vancouver-based NGRAIN’s 5KW Power Generator Virtual Task Trainer last February, nearly every student in the Electro-Optics course has passed the generator troubleshooting and maintenance course, which previously had a failure rate of 20-25 percent.

Burlington-based L-3 WESCAM will supply the Irish Coast Guard with its MX-15 electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) imaging systems for installation on S-92 search and rescue (SAR) aircraft.