Commando unit to get new vehicles (CSOR)

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By David Pugliese, Ottawa CitizenMarch 4, 2009 2:31 PM

The country's Ottawa-based commando unit will get a fleet of new war wagons next year in a deal expected to be worth more than $100 million.

Evaluation of new vehicles for the military's Joint Task Force 2 commando unit, based at Dwyer Hill, near Richmond, Ont., and the special operations regiment in Petawawa, Ont., has narrowed the search to two candidates, both to be built in the U.S.

JTF2 and the Canadian Special Operations Regiment now use Humvees built by AM General in Indiana. Those were purchased during the early days of the Afghan war for JTF2.

Craig McNab of AM General said the company is pursuing the Canadian special forces vehicle project, and is waiting for the second phase of the program to begin. That would involve the government issuing a request for proposals to the two companies whose vehicles have been selected.

McNab said he didn't want to get into details about the specific type of vehicle offered to Canada. But he did say AM General has established a good relationship with Canadian special forces through a maintenance and battlefield repair program the company offers on JTF2's existing fleet of Humvees.

"We have a particularly good training program with U.S. special operations, and the Canadians liked it, as well," he added.

Lockheed Martin is the second firm selected with its Supacat family of vehicles, according to industry officials. Those high-mobility trucks were originally designed in Britain, and some variants, such as the Jackal, are now in service with special forces and regular force units.

Lockheed Martin has a deal to sell the British vehicles to militaries in Canada and the U.S.

In January, the Australian government announced it had taken delivery of the first of 30 Supacat Jackal patrol vehicles for its special forces. Those vehicles are worth more than $1 million each.

Public Works and Government Services has declined to name the two firms selected for the Canadian program. In an e-mail, the department claims it has to protect the "commercial confidentiality" of the firms. It did not explain why it needed to protect commercial confidentiality when the companies in question have acknowledged their interest in the project.

Public Works will issue a request for proposals to the two qualified bidders, and a contract is to be awarded in the summer. The requirement is for 100 new vehicles.

In an interview last year, Col. Mike Day, head of the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command, said the existing fleet of Humvees will continue to be used as his personnel become proficient on the new vehicles. He said the new vehicles will be available to various units in the command.

For logistics purposes, the command is also looking for a vehicle fielded by a number of countries, so parts would be readily available. Col. Day said the new vehicles are required to be transportable by helicopter.

"I think that type of tactical force projection is a critical component," he said. "Use Afghanistan as an example; use any other part of the world. Do you want to fly for an hour or do you want to drive for a day?"

Stephen Priestley, a researcher for the Canadian-American Strategic Review website at Simon Fraser University, said the Supacat Jackal appears to meet the various criteria Canada's special operations command needs. He said the Supacat variant selected by Australia comes with the option of a bolt-on chassis that can convert the basic four-by-four vehicle into a six-by-six specialty vehicle. Such a conversion can be done in several hours.

Col. Day said the next major purchase for his Ottawa-based command will be to replace its fleet of rigid-hull inflatables that are used for domestic counterterrorism missions. He did not provide a timeline on when the replacement of those boats might be made.

Richmond is about 190 kilometres southwest of Toronto, while Petawawa is about 160 kilometres northwest of Ottawa.

© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen
Shiny new toy

I could definitely do some damage in one of those. :D Makes me wonder how long it would take to need recovery because it's been written off. And I'm talking from just screwing around.
That vehicle doesn't look very safe to drive in What protects you from being shot? no cover at all.

Then again what do I know. :doh:
The AO's that these guys are operating in they don't really need to worry about the IED threat. With the more open top the bigger field of view you have to spot targets and you also have better SA. As well you can see that you have a good amount of fire power that you have on a not to big not so small vehicle. We shall see shortly how well they perform with the tempo and with the needs of the unit.
... sorry about the double post, Mods. I went into the black..again ..

Yea the Supacat makes you motion sick to ride around in it actually, by the way the dvr sits forward of the wheel well. They roll easy(er) and it's harder to talk to the dude on the gun. Theres actually a sweet vid on you tube of some british Pathfinders rolling around the desert, you could check out and they're all rolling in 'Cats. .....and they rolled it.

The extenda model look cool though, i'd like to go offroadin in THAT bad boy.