It is comforting to know that in these tough economic times the Canadian army is buying 50 percent more specialized vehicles than planned from the US giving a boost to the South Carolina economy. I guess this means that the Canadian armed forces will continue in Afghanistan and elsewhere helping out in the war on terror. Or perhaps in 2011 we will donate the vehicles to the Obama surge people. Afghanistan may become one of the rescue packages for the military industrial complex.
Army buys more specialized vehicles for use in Afghanistan
Last Updated: Monday, November 17, 2008 10:56 PM ET CBC News
Canada's Defence Department has ordered more specialized vehicles that detect roadside bombs and mines for combat engineers in Afghanistan.
Force Protection Inc. of Ladson, South Carolina, said late Monday it has won a contract to deliver 14 of its Buffalo A2 route-clearance vehicles and 34 of its Cougar vehicles to the Canadian Army.
The contract is worth about $49.4 million US and includes vehicles, spare parts and field support.
The trucks, which troops use in tandem to detect mines in the gravel and soft-bed roadways of Kandahar, are scheduled for delivery in 2009.
In the spring of 2007, Force Protection sold 10 of the heavy-duty armoured vehicles — five Buffalo and five Cougars — to the Canadian Army.
In addition, five Husky vehicles — a menacing rig that resembles a souped-up road grader — were also purchased.
The Defence Department was silent Monday on the purchase of the new vehicles, despite demands earlier this year from the Manley commission for the Conservative government to be less secretive about the Afghan mission.
It was left to Force Protection's chairman to explain the importance of the vehicles known in the military by their acronym EROC, or the Expedient Route Opening Capability system.
"Our NATO allies continue to face threats from roadside bombs, land mines and many other types of improvised explosive devices," Michael Moody said in a statement.
"We are delighted that the Canadian military will be receiving this life-saving equipment for use in supporting their operations in the global war on terror. This order further solidifies our belief that the Cougar and Buffalo are proving to be the most survivable, sustainable vehicles on the battlefield."
It was not immediately clear how many of the vehicles would be shipped to Afghanistan and how many would remain in Canada for training.
The vast majority of the 97 Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan have died as a result of explosions caused by roadside bombs and improvised explosive devices, or IEDs.
Military planners went into an inventory frenzy last spring after Parliament extended the country's military mission until 2011.
Last spring, the Canadian Press quoted internal Defence Department sources who said the army's land staff was looking at buying only 30 vehicles. There was no explanation from the government of the change.
Some combat engineers were skeptical at first of the vehicles, which slowly roll along the bomb-laced roadways and use metal detectors and X-rays to find the often crudely assembled home-made weapons.
After an IED is detected and the location marked, the Buffalo moves into place with a digging arm to remove or detonate the threat while the Cougar acts as a command vehicle.
Defence sources have said the first group of vehicles in theatre have taken more than their share of abuse but have continued to prove their worth every day.