Canada Purchases $200M in Equipment for Operation ARCHER in Afghanistan
Canada will be deploying more forces to Afghanistan soon, as part of its ongoing commitments to the NATO ISAF force. In February 2006, the Canadian Forces will increase its presence by deploying approximately 2,000 personnel to the volatile and dangerous region of Kandahar, which was once the seat of the Taliban/ al-Qaeda government. Before deploying, its Department of National Defence (DND) is purchasing C$ 234 million (USD $200 million) worth of equipment, including IED-resistant patrol vehicles, ATVs, modern artillery & GPS-guided munitions, UAVs, support equipment, and technologically advanced surveillance, security and communications systems.
Yet the most significant item may be the one that isn’t on this list, and the ordering/ delivery times raise questions as well. The DND orders for Operation ARCHER include:
50 BAE Land Systems OMC RG-31 Mine-resistant Armoured Patrol Vehicles (C$ 120 million incl. spares, support, etc. Unfunded option for 25 more). Defense Update indicates that the vehicles themselves were about C$ 60 million, which would make support half of the contract. The vehicles will be manufactured in South Africa and delivered by February 2006, arriving in theater in March 2006. CASR has fuller details re: the APV, and the 3 competitors.
The US 101st Airborne uses RG-31s in Iraq, where their V-hulls offer much better protection from IED land mines than HMMWVs. This buy would appear to settle the issue on mine resistant vehicles for the Canadian Forces, though Canadian defense think tank CASR has some additional proposals that are interesting.
6 BAE Systems M777 Lightweight towed howitzers with precision-guided Excalibur 155mm shells and digitized fire control systems (C$ 70 million). Howitzers to arrive by February 2006, Excalibur shells by May 2006. See also CASR’s background.
48 John Deere M-GATOR 6×4 diesel all-terrain vehicles (C$ 2.1 million). ATVs were recommended in US MSgt Romero’s Afghanistan equipment review, but note the limitations he mentions. Delivery by January 2006.
On the aerial front:
- 5 Oerlikon-Contraves Sperwer Tactical UAVs (C$ 15 million). Expected early in 2006. The Canadian Army already operates the Sperwer.
- 10 Miniature UAV systems (C$ 10 million). A competition is currently underway, and a unit must be trained. See this DID article for some tips re: what that entails. The unit won’t be ready until the summer of 2006.
On the C4ISR front:
- 100 Harris Falcon II AN/PRC-117F(C ) multi-mission radios with satellite on-the-move capability, currently in use by other ISAF forces (C$ 6 million). Delivery by February 2006.
- 80 Iridium hand-held satellite telephone systems from the US DoD, with integrated encryption provided via the NSA (C$ 750,000). Delivery by February 2006.
20 Colour camera system for the LAV-based Coyote reconnaissance vehicle (C$ 4 million). They will replace the black-and-white cameras, giving crew members the ability to discriminate between different colored targets in a complex environment. The cameras will be integrated into the LAV Coyote’s extendable sensor array. The Coyote is a very highly regarded vehicle; it can collect highly detailed intelligence within a 10-km radius, and collect data on objects up to 25 km away. Integration to be completed by June 2006.
Finally, some expeditionary logistics:
288 Multi-purpose container systems (C$ 3 million). The standard sea containers that are used by the Canadian Forces for transporting and storing equipment, tools and supplies are too large for dispersed operations such as Operation ARCHER. Multi-purpose containers that can break down into smaller component containers will be procured for easier use in dispersed locations. In order to maintain Canadian Forces equipment standardization and gain interoperability advantages with NATO allies, the contract will be sole-sourced to the original equipment manufacturer, Charleston Marine Containers Inc. (CMCI). Delivery by “Spring 2006”.
See this Nov 25/05 DND page for more details. Note that all figures re: detailed equipment orders are in Canadian Dollars.
And Now, The Rest of the Story…
One thing one notices about many of these contracts is that they’re either cutting things close, or in some cases even late for the February 2006 deployment date. The timing of Operation ARCHER was not suddenly changed. DID readers are also reminded that Canada is currently in the middle of an election.
Australia seems to have matters better in hand. Which brings us to the next issue…
This procurement may also be significant for what it didn’t contain: Canadian troops will be heading to Afghanistan without integrated helicopter support. Canadian defense think-tank CASR notes:
“In a CP article published on 14 September 2005, Minister of National Defence, Bill Graham, admitted that, in this crucial deployment, the CF won’t have all the support equipment it needs.
“Heavy helicopters, for example – we don’t have any at the moment. They will be furnished either by the Dutch, the British, or the Americans, or by other allies.”
According to the CP article, the last time the CF particpated in OEF, our troops “relied exclusively on US Chinook helicopters to get them in and out of battle zones, as well as to resupply them. The arrangement proved unsatisfactory, with the [CF] inevitably shuffled to the bottom of the Americans’ overloaded priority lists. On one mission, [CF personnel] began running out of food and water…”
p. CASR has some thoughts on the near-term options for the Canadian Forces, as well as the longer-term options that may stem from Canada’s upcoming medium helicopter competition.