Tuesday, 19 June 2012


Canada's ability to build trucks was proven in the Second World War. Currently it would appear we can't even buy them.

The DND's attempt to buy trucks is not going well. In 2004 the Defence Department warned in an in internal report that it's existing truck fleet could be hit by a "catastrophic" failure at any time because of poor brakes and steering systems. Catastrophic failure is used to signify accidents that could involve serious injuries or death. Given this situation you would think this program would have a higher priority. 

What they say they want:

 "The aim of the Medium Support Vehicle System (MSVS) project is to procure new medium-sized logistics trucks for the Canadian Forces. This new fleet will be used by the Regular Forces and the Reserves in a wide range of roles - from support during domestic emergencies, to deployed operations. They will replace the current Medium Logistics trucks, which have been in use since the 1980s and are reaching the end of their service life.
This project will also:
  • provide the platform for integral unit logistics;
  • provide mobile support facilities such as field kitchens, workshops and medical facilities;
  • effect resupply operations to deliver reinforcements and supplies;
  • operate in a simplified environment in a manner compatible with commercial containerized cargo to reduce or eliminate duplicate handling; and
  • provide for tactical movement to support operations across the spectrum of conflict.
The MSVS project will modernize and improve the sustainment capability and capacity of the Army, joint operations, Air Force and Reserves. It is managed as a capability replacement project, not a project replacing equipment on a one-for-one basis.
There are four components to the MSVS project:
  • Militarized Commercial Off-The-Shelf (MilCOTS)
  • Standard Military Pattern (SMP)
  • Baseline Shelter
  • Special Equipment Vehicle (SEV) Kitting
 DND will also buy key add-ons, including: 300 SMP armour protection systems. Every SMP truck must be able to accept the up-armouring kits, even if only a small percentage of them can be armoured at any one time. 895 Specially Equipped Vehicles kits (such as mobile kitchens, offices and medical or dental stations): 145 for the MilCOTS 7400s, and the rest for SMP. DEW Engineering will lead the base SEV contract. There’s also a separate contract for “kitting” (modifying) the SEV base shelters.”

What they have been able to acquire so far:

In January 2009 (following the November 2007 RFP for an estimated 800 trucks), it was disclosed that Navistar Defense LLC had been awarded the MilCOTS segment of the MSVS requirement. Under the terms of the C$274 million contract, Navistar will deliver a total of 1,300 trucks in six primary variants. The MSVS MilCOTS fleets, which will be serviced and maintained by Navistar’s 93 Canadian dealerships, are based on Navistar’s International WorkStar medium duty commercial platform (previously known as the 7000 series).  Supplementary to the MSVS vehicle components, DEW announced in August 2009 that it had been awarded the MSVS Baseline Shelter contract, valued at C$130 million and calling for 895 shelters (plus an optional 110) over four years. .
How they got here:

In 2004 the Defence Department warned in an internal report that its existing truck fleet could be hit by a “catastrophic” failure at any time.

 In 2006  the project was announced by then Defence Minister Gordon O’Connor. The DND background materials added that:
“The requirement for this equipment is urgent. Delivery is expected as soon as possible and will continue until the requirement is fully met.” (italics added)
In 2009 the Department of National Defence had not  issued a formal RFP (Request for Proposals) for the front-line SMP trucks. 

In  2011 a formal RFP for the front-line SMP trucks was issued

In 2012 there has been yet another extension on the deadline for the MSVS request for proposals. This one now sets the RFP response for July 11th (from late May).

In  2013, a decision is expected.

In  2014 deliveries are expected to begin and run to June 2016.

Or, to put it another way, the “urgent” buy would begin deliveries of front-line vehicles about 10 years after the need was identified.

So where are we?

 Trucks are the backbone of a modern army. They are more important then the fighting vehicles normally associated with land combat. No matter how impressive tracked and wheeled fighting vehicles look none of them would be able to go anywhere without trucks to bring them fuel and ammunition. The logistics footprint of a mechanized force is gigantic. Without trucks to service those needs you don’t have an army so much as a force of hungry marching men.

 Given this importance it may say something about the professionalism of the Canadian Armed Forces that they can not successfully prioritize the replacement of their aging trucks.

 In this new age of austere defence budgets the Department of National Defence’s inability to purchase new trucks in a timely manner can only get worse. Having been unable or unwilling (it has been reported that “ In 2008 and 2009 in-fighting between Canadian Army and DND officials over the requirements for the trucks led to further delays”) to acquire the vehicles they may now be in danger of not having the resources to fulfill there own requirements.