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BG Archive – Future Combat Systems: Close Combat Vehicle Overview

Close Combat Vehicle Project  –  Leopard 2 Companions
When the Close Combat Vehicle project started, it seemed straight forward. The CF's wheeled  LAV IIIs  had mobility issues in winter conditions and when facing steep Afghan irrigation ditches. What was required  were  highly-mobile, well-protected, infantry fighting vehicles [1] to accompany the Leopard 2 tanks. That seemed to dictate a tracked IFV. Favored were the proven Swedish CV90 and a heavier but untried German type, PSM's Puma. The latter had the edge with armour options but was expensive. Other possibilities were mulled but DND options narrowed.

On the frugal side, one option was rebuilt surplus German Marders. What Rheinmetall came up with as its updated Marder, the IFV/CCV, represented an astonishing transformation. Whether  it would still qualify as frugal was another matter. Another possibility was a GDLS derivative of  the ASCOD (Pizarro/Ulan) family, which had been submitted for Britain's FRES contest.  Both Rheinmetall and GDLS-C were 'pre-qualified' as bidders to provide CCV hulls but shocked DND by declining to do so. Rheinmetall Canada offered neither Puma nor IFV/CCV. GDLS-C held back ASCOD.

CCV's Wheel Turns – Does IFV mean Tracks or Wheels?
CF LAV IIIs[2] are Infantry Fighting Vehicles in that they are armed with medium calibre guns and carry infantry.  But LAV III mobility issues also prompted the CCV project. So it was a surprise when French Nexter pushed  hard to get its wheeled VBCI  into the CCV contest. GDLS-Canada followed suit and submitted LAV III's larger cousin, Piranha 5.  Between drop- outs and  surprise entries, DND found itself considering two wheeled candidates [3] and one tracked candidate ( CV9035 ) as potential future CCV types.

Of course DND gets itself into these conceptual quagmires. All five CCV contenders were disqualified in the first go-around. DND/PWGSC had to relaunch their CCV Project. A revised NPP/SOIQ stipulated that CCV will have an armoured hull  in the 25t weight class and a medium calibre gun of otherwise unspecified size in a turret or RWS.  In other words, potential suppliers were asked to risk their own development capital matching their hulls to a random- calibre gun that may or may not be acceptable to DND. And all this for 108 vehicles. Small wonder that some potential suppliers wonder if this CCV Project was worth the candle. Then, in May 2012, CCV was 'reset'. This time, only three bids were received  [4] and the CCV limped along.

In the 2012 bids, all of the potential suppliers attempted to sweeten the pot by offering to assemble entire CCVs in Canada  –  rather than just the turret systems demanded by DND. What CCV lacked was urgency. DND insisted that the CCV procurement was to occur after the end of Canadian troops' combat in Afghanistan. That made little sense to Canadian citizens as did the inclusion of wheeled vehicles in CCV when an upgrade for LAV IIIs was also underway.  That CCV schedule was driven largely by budgetary considerations. CCV stuggled on with minimal support. What planners didn't anticipate was that the Army would take the big hit of  post-Afghanistan budget cuts. By mid-2013 it was the Army asking to cut CCV to redirect available funds to maintaining readiness. But the GoC pressed on with Treasury Board scheduled to review CCV on 19 Sept 2013. It wasn't until 20 Dec that any announcement occured. The CDS killed the CCV Project one business day before bids were due to lapse. Press releases made on a Friday afternoon before a major holidays raise eyebrows. Ottawa was not eager to emphasize yet another defence procurement failure for Stephen Harper's government. The real casualty in this is future military procurement. DND's credibility with its potential suppliers – already low – just got a lot worse.

[1] Although the CF terms its LAV III an Infantry Section Carrier, these vehicles are employed as IFVs. The distinction is between a 'battle taxi' (the ISC or Armoured Personnel Carrier) and more heavily armed IFV with its smaller complement of  'dismounts'.  The LAV III is both.

[2] Existing LAV IIIs are to be improved under 'LAV-UP', the Light Armoured Vehicle III Upgrade Project. The LAV III Upgrade program is intended to "capitalize on existing and evolving technology to improve the protection, mobility and lethality of the LAV III fleet." LAV-UP may benefit from the CCV Project in mobility (Piranha 5 components?) and lethality (perhaps helping to determine CCV armament choice).

[3] A third wheeled candidate – the ARTEC Boxer (with Rheinmetall Canada) – made it on to the pre-qualified bidder list before the 'reset' button was hit on the CCV Project. After the revised CCV NPP/SOIQ was issued, ARTEC declined to enter the Boxer as a CCV candidate.

[4] These bids were from BAE Systems (for a vehicle "based upon" their CV90 ), Nexter (VBCI 25), and GDLS-Canada's Piranha 5 (fitted with Rheinmetall Lance 30mm Modular Turret System). The Rheinmetall IFV/CCV, ARTEC Boxer, and Nexter VBCI 30 weren't re-entered.