OTTAWA, Jan. 7 (UPI)
Canada's recent decision to scrap its close combat vehicle procurement program has been strongly criticized by contract bidder Nexter Systems Canada.
The company, a subsidiary of France's Nexter Group, said it was astonished by the move and that it expected the government to reimburse competing companies for monies expended in the bidding process.
"Nexter has invested a great amount of time, energy and resources in the CCV program over the past four years," said Patrick Lier, senior vice president of Nexter System. "Millions of dollars have been spent because we believed the competition would be fair, open and provide a rigorous assessment of the candidate vehicles with a view to acquiring the best possible medium weight infantry fighting vehicle for Canada.
"Under the circumstances, we would certainly expect that the Canadian government will open discussions with the bidders to provide information on which vehicle won the competition. It is important that other allied militaries interested in providing the best vehicle for their soldiers have the benefit of information generated by the rigorous testing process conducted by the Canadian Armed Forces ...
"In addition, it would be our expectation that the government would compensate industry bidders for the cost of their bids."
The vehicle program, worth more than $2 billion, was for the procurement of 108 new close combat vehicles. Two request for proposals were issued.
As well as Nexter, BAE Systems Inc. and General Dynamics Land Systems were involved in the competition.
The Canadian government, just before Christmas, announced it was dropping the project and said it was doing so as a result of a recommendation from its military, which now believes upgrades to its LAV [light armored vehicle] III fleet will be sufficient for the country's military needs.
"These capability improvements combined with an assessment of the most likely employment scenarios for the Canadian Armed Forces in the future were the most important factors in our analysis," Gen. Tom Lawson, the chief of defense staff, was quoted in news reports. "Based on this assessment and the fundamental principle that the Canadian Armed Forces do not procure capabilities unless they're absolutely necessary to the attainment of our mandate, we've recommended to the government of Canada not to proceed with the procurement process for the close combat vehicle."
Nexter said General Dynamics Land Systems was awarded the LAV upgrade contract in 2011, yet the government decided to go ahead with a second request for proposals for the CCV program.
"It knew the capabilities of both vehicles at that time yet decided to proceed with another RFP and engaged industry in another costly competition," it said.
The decision by Canada comes amid budget constraints, which have seen baseline funding cut by 22 percent, and concerns by the military over the costs for maintaining and operating the new vehicles.