September 19, 2013. By David Pugliese - Defence Watch
The Close Combat Vehicle project got some publicity on Wednesday with the release of a report that argued the Conservative government should heed concerns from the Canadian Army and cancel plans to spend $2 billion on the new armoured vehicles.
The report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Ottawa-based Rideau Institute argues that the proposed Close Combat Vehicle (CCV) is based on outdated Cold War tank doctrine and that its purchase would duplicate a capability the army already possesses in other armoured vehicles.
The report’s authors, academic and former federal NDP candidate Michael Byers and researcher Stewart Webb, argue that the CCV procurement is redundant – because 550 of Canada’s LAV IIIs are currently undergoing comprehensive upgrades that will improve their survivability and manoeuvrability while extending their lifespan to 2035. The upgraded LAV IIIs are nearly as heavily armed and armoured as the proposed CCVs, they say.
“By spending $2 billion on vehicles the Canadian Army neither wants nor needs, the Harper government is abdicating its responsibility to equip and train our soldiers properly, and to provide fiscal accountability,” Byers said in a statement.
The army also seems no longer keen on the CCV.
In May the Citizen reported that the Canadian Army tried to cancel the CCV purchase, and use the $2 billion instead to offset budget cuts that are hurting its combat readiness.
The army is bearing the brunt of government cost-cutting in the Canadian Forces and will see its budget drop from $1.5 billion to just under $1.2 billion by 2015.
But the Conservative government decided against scuttling the CCV project, worried that the cancelation would give it yet another military procurement black-eye.
Byers and Webb argue that there is more than enough funding for the military but the government has been spending the money unwisely on equipment such as the CCV.
“The impact of this mistaken approach is compounded when the billions of dollars being spent on outmoded and therefore not particularly useful equipment result in deep cutbacks to training for today’s complex counterinsurgency missions,” they write in the report.
The CCV, announced with great fanfare by the Conservatives in the summer of 2009, has already fallen two years behind schedule, according to industry officials.
The government will buy 108 of the Close Combat Vehicles. There would be an option for the purchase of up to 30 additional vehicles. The army originally argued that the vehicles, which would accompany its Leopard tanks into battle, are a priority for future missions.
Industry representatives have been told that a winning bidder has been identified. That winning company will be announced when it suits the Conservative government’s public relations plan.