- Feb 8, 2007
- Land of Swine and Maple Syrup
Should have bought new. I hope the Germans will let us extend the deal on the tanks we borrowed from them.
Canada will need borrowed tanks until 2011
Last Updated: Friday, March 28, 2008 | 7:17 AM ET Comments21Recommend13
The Canadian Press
Canada will be forced to rely on borrowed tanks for combat in Afghanistan until 2011, a federal tendering document has revealed.
Public Works Canada recently asked the defence industry if it was interested in upgrading some of the 100 Leopard tanks it purchased second-hand from the Netherlands last fall.
The first of those refurbished, 60-tonne A-6s will not be ready for service for another 3½ years — just as Canadian troops begin their withdrawal from Kandahar.
The "initial delivery of 20 tanks and two recovery vehicles" is not expected until some time in 2011, said the letter of interest issued to the industry on March 19.
When the $1.3-billion tank-replacement program was announced almost a year ago by former defence minister Gordon O'Connor, the plan called for Canada to borrow 20 mine-resistant Leopards from Germany for immediate use in Afghanistan.
Those tanks arrived in theatre last summer and were to be returned once the Dutch Leopards had been purchased and upgraded to Canadian battle standards.
The loan arrangement with the Germans, which isn't costing Canadian taxpayers anything, was expected to run until September 2009.
'A number of options'
The fact the Dutch tanks won't be ready by that time means the loan will likely have to be extended.
National Defence was asked to explain the reasons for the delay, but declined. All information and interview requests are now being run through the Prime Minister's Office.
The only comment officials made was that "a number of options were being considered, including replacement in kind and extending the loan."
Defence expert Chris Corrigan, a retired colonel, said Canada doesn't have the industrial base to upgrade the tanks so it's not surprising the Defence Department will be struggling.
Liberal defence critic Denis Coderre said he doesn't understand why it will take until 2011 and accused the Conservative government of mismanaging the program by spending the federal treasury dry in wartime.
"If the troops need equipment, they need equipment," said Coderre, who pointed to the fact the Tories recently rushed out to buy 15 retired German tanks for spare parts.