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June 13, 2018 | Local, Land

Rheinmetall lifts curtain on new next-gen combat vehicle with hopes to spark US Army interest

PARIS, France — Rheinmetall lifted a curtain, literally, complete with smoke and 80s rock, on its new Lynx KF41 infantry fighting vehicle at Eurosatory June 12, setting its sights on meeting requirements for both European and U.S. future combat vehicles.

“Do current fighting vehicles meet the needs of future forces? This was the question that started Rheinmetall on a journey to develop a Lynx family of vehicles,” Ben Hudson, the head of the company's vehicle systems division, said at Eurosatory just ahead of the unveiling.

Hudson said militaries around the world are rethinking requirements and it is clear that in order to meet all the demands of future operations and potential peer-on-peer conflict that a vehicle needs “to provide utility across the spectrum of conflict” and have “the ability to conduct peer-on-peer warfare against emerging battlefield threats.”

The U.S. Army has set developing a Next-Generation Combat Vehicle (NGCV) as one of its top six modernization priorities.

On the same subject

  • Matt Gurney: Supporting local industry shouldn't be the first consideration in military procurement

    December 17, 2020 | Local, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR, Security

    Matt Gurney: Supporting local industry shouldn't be the first consideration in military procurement

    Rather than worrying about where things are built, a better question is: will Canadian soldiers be properly equipped? That's all that matters Matt Gurney Dec 16, 2020 • Last Updated 22 hours ago • 5 minute read It is almost a truism in Canadian public policy: We are terrible at military procurement. You hear that often. I've said it often. But it really isn't true. We only think we're terrible at military procurement because we are confused about what we're trying to do. Our military procurements are not about actually procuring equipment for the military. They're about creating jobs and catapulting huge sums of money into key ridings across the country. Once you shift your perspective and look at it that way, you realize very quickly that our military procurement system is amazing. It bats a thousand. The problem isn't with the system. We've just labelled it badly. If it were called the Domestic Defence Industry Subsidy Program instead of our military procurement system, we'd all be hailing it as a shining example of a Canadian public policy triumph. This is terrible. It has cost us the lives of our soldiers, and probably will again. But it's undeniable. Canadian politicians, Liberals and Conservatives alike, have long had the luxury of seeing defence as a cash pool, not a solemn obligation. And they sure have enjoyed that pleasure. Two recent stories by my colleague David Pugliese for the Ottawa Citizen have explored this theme: Our efforts to replace our fleet of frigates with 15 newer, more powerful ships is turning predictably complicated. The 15 new combat ships are part of a major overhaul of the Canadian fleet, which was neglected for many years and now must be modernized all at once. In February of 2019, the government chose American defence giant Lockheed Martin to produce the ships in Canada, using a British design. (How Anglosphere of us.) Companies that weren't selected to be part of the construction or fitting out of the ships are unhappy, Pugliese noted, and aren't bothering to hide it, even though they've abandoned their legal challenges. The sniping has continued, though, with spurned industry figures talking to the media about problems with the program. Jody Thomas, deputy minister of the Department of National Defence, reportedly told industry leaders to knock it off. “There's too much noise,” she reportedly said, adding that it was making the job of getting the new fleet built “very difficult.” Some of Thomas's irritation is undoubtedly the automatic hostility to scrutiny, transparency and accountability that's far too common for Canadian officials — our bureaucrats are notoriously prone to trying to keep stuff tucked neatly out of public view. But some of what Thomas said is absolutely bang-on accurate: Defence industry companies know full well that the government mainly views military procurement as a jobs-creation program, so are understandably put out to not get what they think is their fair share. Some Canadian companies have designed and developed critical communication and sensor gear for modern warships, Pugliese noted. This gear was developed with taxpayer assistance and has proven successful in service with allied fleets, but was not chosen for the new Canadian ships. And this is, the companies believe, a problem. Why aren't Canadian ships using Canadian-made gear? It's a good question, until you think about it for a moment. Then you realize that the better question is this: will the Canadian ships be properly equipped? That's it. That's all that matters. Will the new ships be capable of doing the things we need them to do? If yes, then who cares where we got the gear? And if no, well, again — then who cares where we got the gear? The important thing isn't where the comm equipment and sensors were designed and built. It's that the systems work when our ships are heading into harm's way. Assuming we have many viable options to choose from, then there are plenty of good ways of making the choice — cost, proven reliability, familiarity to Canadian crews, and, sure, even whether it was made in Canada. But supporting the local industry needs to be the last thing on the list. This stuff is essential. The lives of our sailors may depend on it working when needed. Cost matters, too, of course, because if the gear is too pricey, we won't have enough of it, but effectiveness and reliability are first. Treating military procurement as just another federal jobs-creation program is engrained in our national thinking But we talk about them last. Because we value it least. There probably is some value in preserving our ability to produce some essential military equipment here in Canada. The scramble earlier this year to equip our frontline medical workers with personal protective equipment is instructive. In a war, whether against a virus or a human enemy, you can't count on just buying your N-95 masks, or your torpedoes and missiles, from your normal suppliers. Unless Canada somehow gets itself into a shooting war without any of our allies in our corner, any time we are suddenly scrambling to arm up, our much larger allies are probably also scrambling to arm up, and they'll simply outbid us. (See again our current efforts to procure vaccines for an example of this unfolding in real time.) But we aren't at war now, and we can buy the damn ships from anyone. To the government's credit, it seems to be doing this; the pushback against the program seems mostly rooted in the government's decision to let the U.S.-British consortium chosen to build the new ships equip them as they see fit. The program may well derail at some point — this is always a safe bet with Canadian shipbuilding — but insofar as at least this part of the process goes, we're doing it partially right. Yes, we're insisting on building the ships here, but we aren't getting picky about the equipment that goes into them. That's probably wise. But that's about as far as the wisdom goes. Treating military procurement as just another federal jobs-creation program is engrained in our national thinking. It would have been good if COVID had knocked a bit of sense into us and forced us to, at long last, grow up a bit. But no dice. Oh well. Maybe next time.

  • Ottawa firm develops cutting-edge radar technology to defend North America

    April 10, 2023 | Local, C4ISR

    Ottawa firm develops cutting-edge radar technology to defend North America

    D-TA Systems Inc. has already briefed U.S. military officials twice about its over-the-horizon radar technology.

  • Canada to keep paying for F-35 development as fighter-jet competition ramps up

    January 24, 2019 | Local, Aerospace

    Canada to keep paying for F-35 development as fighter-jet competition ramps up

    LEE BERTHIAUME, OTTAWA, THE CANADIAN PRESS Canada is poised to contribute tens of millions of dollars toward further development of the F-35 stealth fighter even as the federal government wrestles with whether to buy the plane or not. In an interview with The Canadian Press, the Department of National Defence's head of military procurement says there are no plans for Canada to quit as one of nine partner countries in the F-35 stealth fighter program until after the Trudeau government completes the competition to determine which fighter jet will replace Canada's aging fleet of CF-18s. “We're committed to staying there (in the program) until we understand where the competition will bring us,” said Patrick Finn, assistant deputy minister of material at National Defence. The competition is expected to be launched this spring. The F-35 is one of four planes currently slated to participate in the $19-billion competition, which will result in the purchase of 88 new fighter aircraft to serve as the air force's backbone for the coming decades. The Trudeau Liberals campaigned on a promise not to buy the F-35s in 2015, but have since backed away from that pledge. The Harper Conservatives first announced plans to buy 65 F-35s in 2010, but ran into controversy over cost. Staying on as a partner in the F-35 program comes with advantages, Finn says, including the ability for Canadian companies to compete for billions of dollars in contracts associated with building and maintaining the stealth fighter. Partners are also allowed to buy the F-35 at a lower price than non-partners, who must pay a variety of fees and other costs to purchase the plane. “We want to keep the F-35 as an option, as a contender in the competition,” Finn said. “We want to also make sure that while that's unfolding, that Canadian industry that have competitively won contracts get to continue to do that.” The Defence Department says Canadian companies have won more than $1.25-billion in F-35-related contracts over the years. Yet there are also costs to being a partner; Canada has so far invested more than $500-million into the program over the past 20 years, including $54-million last year. Its next annual payment is due this spring and there will likely be more as the competition isn't scheduled to select a winner until 2021 or 2022. The first new aircraft is expected in 2025 and the last in 2031. There are some technical issues that government officials are working through that could impact how it runs the competition to replace the CF-18s. One of those is how to ensure the various bids are all measured equally. In addition to Lockheed Martin's F-35, bids are expected from Boeing's Super Hornet, Eurofighter's Typhoon and Saab's Gripen. All four companies recently provided feedback on a draft process that the government has drawn up to run the competition, and another round of consultations is scheduled for mid-February. A big question facing Lockheed is how it can meet Ottawa's usual requirement that companies who are awarded large military contracts invest back into Canada on a dollar-for-dollar basis. The F-35 partnership agreement that Canada signed with the other countries bars such promised investments and instead stipulates that companies must compete for the work. Finn said all four jet companies have unique challenges and circumstances, and that officials in charge of the competition could inject some flexibility into how the requirement is handled. “There is absolutely flexibility and I would say my colleagues in (the federal industry department) demonstrate that on a weekly, monthly basis,” he said. “They would be the first to say, and they're very good at saying, is: ‘Well listen, the first intent is to get the right military capability. We want to have the offsets as well, and with a given market segment, what it is that we do and how do we do it.“'

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