With the release of the long-awaited National Defence policy review this past summer, most eyes were on multibillion-dollar marquee programs – advanced fighter jets, warships, Arctic defence and the mental health care of soldiers suffering from PTSD.
But Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s new Strong, Secure, Engaged defence policy is committed to a much broader range of equipment upgrades for the men and women in Canada’s armed forces. With guaranteed funding for dozens of major programs over the next 20 years, the government is determined to provide an orderly investment in equipment upgrades to allow the military to function properly.
Included in this spending commitment are several major heavy equipment renewal programs for the army and the air force. Specifically, the new policy identified logistical vehicle modernization, enhanced recovery capability, and snow and ice control capability recapitalization projects as key areas of focus.
For the army, National Defence will roll out a plan to replace existing logistics vehicles with newer or different models, including Light Support and Heavy Logistics fleets with new trucks, tractors, trailers, kitted truck bodies, integrated bulk material handling systems, and bulk fuel and water containers. They will offer a multitude of capabilities including the following:
▶ All-terrain rapid firefighting, rescue, and extrication
▶ Heavy and lightweight cargo handling
▶ Domestic and expeditionary training and operations
It is anticipated that these vehicles will be approved between 2018 and 2019. The projected preliminary cost will be between $500 million and $1.5 billion. These vehicles will also have considerably enhanced recovery capabilities, including wrecker and recovery configurations, and will include new technologies to ease recovery efforts of new heavier armoured fighting and logistics vehicles that cannot currently be recovered safely.
National Defence further earmarked better snow and ice control by replacing fleet vehicles with more advanced machinery for the air force. The Snow and Ice Control Capability Recapitalization Project will replace 96 pieces of essential heavy-duty equipment including snow plows, sweepers, aircraft de-icing, and snow-blowing vehicles, all of which are critical to Royal Canadian Air Force winter operations. The preliminary costs associated with the project are in the range of $50 million to $99 million.
The current milestones projection includes implementation by May 2018, contract awarding as soon as August 2019, and full operational capacity by May of 2022. Currently, the Snow and Ice Control Capability Recapitalization Project is in an option analysis to determine the best course of action for essential snow removal services.
In addition to vehicle updates and social support service increases, National Defence has also included a commitment to reducing greenhouse gas output, meaning they will be looking to procure newer, more efficient equipment.
The Defence Energy and Environment Strategy (DEES) acts as an environmental extension to Canada’s new defence policy, reaffirming the commitment to energy conservation and environmental sustainability. This energy-efficient extension includes targets and considerations for commercial fleet vehicles when appropriate for operational needs.
Major procurements such as these often require suppliers to provide industrial technology benefits (ITBs) equal to the value of the final contract. These ITBs are a combination of direct and indirect sourcing of goods and services in Canada – this can mean equipment components, parts or modifications sourced in Canada on the required equipment (direct), or provision of work for Canadian companies on another program or product line in the supplier’s chain or an investment in research and development, training, or other opportunity of value (indirect). There can also be a Value Proposition requirement requiring a percentage of the value of the contract to be invested in a priority area of focus for the Canadian Armed Forces. Value Proposition requirements are determined on a case-by-case basis.
Engagement with suppliers typically begins with a request for information (RFI) issued on the government’s procurement web site www.buyandsell.gc.ca. This is also the site for tender opportunities for all government departments. It is worth registering on the site, creating a profile and keeping an eye on the many smaller procurement opportunities, which range from one or two pieces of equipment to contracts for maintenance and service.
For more on Canada’s defence policy, visit dgpaapp.forces.gc.ca/en/canada-defence-policy/index.asp.