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Friday, February 5, 2016

CAF's Armoured Patrol Vehicle Delayed Again

By David Pugliese, Defence Watch 

Delivery of the Canadian military’s new armoured vehicles has been delayed once again after problems were found with the steering systems of the vehicles ordered under the $1.2-billion program.

The first of the Tactical Armoured Patrol Vehicles was supposed to be delivered in 2014. But in April, the Citizen revealed that significant technical problems dogged the armoured vehicles. Department of National Defence officials said the vehicles would start being delivered early this year.

That has been pushed back again because of additional technical problems, DND confirmed Thursday. It hopes to get the first vehicle out in August.

At one time, the $1.2-billion Tactical Armoured Patrol Vehicle (TAPV) program was seen as a Conservative government procurement project that was proceeding smoothly.

Textron's armoured vehicle
TAPV from Textron (Photo: Handout - Textron Canada) 

The government announced the project in 2009 as part of its re-equipping of the Canadian Army. Canada plans to buy at least 500 new vehicles from Textron, a U.S.-based defence firm that has set up offices in Ottawa.

The TAPV program has “experienced a number of significant technical issues, particularly affecting vehicle mobility,” then-defence minister Rob Nicholson was told in August 2014. There have been problems with the suspension, steering and other items on the vehicle, according to a briefing document released under the Access to Information law.

The technical issues significantly delayed the test program, the document added. “These accumulating incidents, which relate to the vehicle’s ability to travel distances on medium cross country terrain, led the project office to conclude the existing testing could no longer continue.”

The government is purchasing the TAPV to give troops what it calls a high degree of protection and mobility on the battlefield.

Textron officials told the Citizen in late May that a new round of testing had started and was proceeding smoothly. All the previously identified problems had been dealt with, they added.

But testing had to be halted in September 2015. That was done to investigate the reliability of the steering system, said Department of National Defence spokeswoman Ashley Lemire.

The problem was solved and testing resumed last month. Testing is to be finished in May, said Lemire.

“The technical issues have been addressed by Textron Systems Canada,” she added. “Though the government of Canada does not have present concerns, the qualification program will be completed in accordance with the contract in order to confirm that the vehicle fully meets requirements.”

Canada has an option to buy an additional 100 TAPVs. The $1.2 billion project budget also includes the building of infrastructure for the new vehicles, as well as the purchase of ammunition and service support for the equipment.

dpugliese@postmedia.com