THE CANA­DIAN ARMY’S NEW FLEET OF AR­MOURED VE­HI­CLES HAS BEEN PLAGUED BY ROLLOVERS AND EN­GINE FIRES, THE LAT­EST IN A SE­RIES OF PROB­LEMS TO AF­FECT THE $1.2 BIL­LION PRO­GRAM.

Fires, rollovers lat­est glitches in $600M ar­moured fleet

The London Free Press - - NP - DAVID PUGLIESE Post­media News [email protected]­media.com Twit­ter.com/david­pugliese

The Cana­dian Army’s new ar­moured ve­hi­cles have been plagued by rollovers and fires, the lat­est in a se­ries of prob­lems to af­fect the $600-mil­lion fleet.

Since April 2014, there have been 10 in­ci­dents when Tac­ti­cal Ar­moured Pa­trol Ve­hi­cles have tipped on to their sides, six where they have rolled over com­pletely, and four where they have caught fire.

Pat Finn, the as­sis­tant deputy min­is­ter in charge of pro­cure­ment at the De­part­ment of Na­tional De­fence, told Post­media there have been no se­ri­ous in­juries as a re­sult of the in­ci­dents. But the prob­lems are not the first to hit the Tac­ti­cal Ar­moured Pa­trol Ve­hi­cles or TAPVs.

The TAPV pro­gram has “ex­pe­ri­enced a num­ber of sig­nif­i­cant tech­ni­cal is­sues, par­tic­u­larly af­fect­ing ve­hi­cle mo­bil­ity,” then-de­fence min­is­ter Rob Ni­chol­son was told in Au­gust 2014. There have been prob­lems with the sus­pen­sion, steer­ing and other items on the ve­hi­cle, ac­cord­ing to a brief­ing doc­u­ment re­leased un­der the Ac­cess to In­for­ma­tion law.

The tech­ni­cal is­sues sig­nif­i­cantly de­layed the test pro­gram for the ve­hi­cles, the doc­u­ment added. “These ac­cu­mu­lat­ing in­ci­dents, which re­late to the ve­hi­cle’s abil­ity to travel dis­tances on medium cross coun­try ter­rain, led the project of­fice to con­clude the ex­ist­ing test­ing could no longer con­tinue.”

The Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment an­nounced the TAPV con­tract in 2012 as part of its re-equip­ping of the Cana­dian Army. Canada bought 500 TAPVs from Tex­tron, a U.S.-based de­fence firm, at a cost of $603 mil­lion. The TAPV is a wheeled com­bat ve­hi­cle that will con­duct re­con­nais­sance and sur­veil­lance, se­cu­rity, com­mand and con­trol, and ar­moured trans­port of per­son­nel and equip­ment.

Finn said as a re­sult of the var­i­ous in­ci­dents fur­ther qual­ity as­sur­ance tests are be­ing done. “It’s kind of high off the ground so it can be more ag­ile,” he ex­plained about the ve­hi­cle. "(But) it brings with it a high cen­tre of grav­ity.”

“It may be it’s about train­ing and un­der­stand­ing the ve­hi­cle,” Finn added.

None of the ve­hi­cles have been writ­ten off be­cause of the in­ci­dents, ac­cord­ing to the Cana­dian Army. “Upon re­view of the ma­jor TAPV in­ci­dents, it has been iden­ti­fied that the most com­mon con­tribut­ing fac­tors of these in­ci­dents tends to be hu­man er­ror due to lim­ited fa­mil­iar­ity time op­er­at­ing the ve­hi­cles,” the army noted in an emailed state­ment to Post­media.

The army pointed out that in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the in­ci­dents did not re­veal any de­sign or me­chan­i­cal faults. “Pri­mary re­ports on the ma­jor­ity of these in­ci­dents (rollover and tip-overs) were at­trib­uted to a com­bi­na­tion of fac­tors, such as op­er­a­tor ex­pe­ri­ence, the ve­hi­cle’s high cen­tre of grav­ity, weather con­di­tions, and/or ve­hi­cle speed,” the email noted.

The army did not pro­vide any ex­pla­na­tion for the four fires on the TAPVs.

The army noted that it is con­sid­er­ing lim­its on the speeds the ve­hi­cles can op­er­ate at as well as “rollover hazard mit­i­ga­tions” and “rec­om­men­da­tions such as the use of new tech­nol­ogy to en­hance ex­pe­ri­ence for new driv­ers and crew.” It did not pro­vide fur­ther de­tails on those new tech­nolo­gies or ini­tia­tives.

The TAPV project will cost tax­pay­ers a to­tal of $1.2 bil­lion, which not only in­cludes the ve­hi­cles but also in­cludes the build­ing of in­fra­struc­ture to house them, as well as the pur­chase of am­mu­ni­tion and ser­vice sup­port for the equip­ment.

The ini­tial prob­lems with steer­ing and other is­sues de­layed the de­liv­ery of the ve­hi­cles. Af­ter those were dealt with, the army had to con­tend last year with con­cerns about brakes and the dis­tance the ve­hi­cles needed to stop. The TAPV is a heavy ve­hi­cle and re­quires longer stop­ping dis­tances at higher speeds than most new driv­ers are fa­mil­iar with, noted DND spokesman Dan Le Bouthillier in July 2018.

The fleet of TAPVs have been dis­trib­uted across seven bases and 24 units through­out Canada. The Cana­dian Army has said it ex­pects to de­clare full op­er­a­tional ca­pa­bil­ity by mid-2020, fol­low­ing train­ing of all op­er­a­tors. TAPVs were first de­ployed in spring 2017 to as­sist com­mu­ni­ties af­fected by the flood­ing in Que­bec.

JIM WELLS / POST­MEDIA NEWS FILES

A newly de­liv­ered Tac­ti­cal Ar­moured Pa­trol Ve­hi­cle is dis­played out­side the Me­wata Ar­moury in Cal­gary last April. The $600-mil­lion fleet has ex­pe­ri­enced tech­ni­cal is­sues with sus­pen­sion and steer­ing, as well as tip­ping and rollover prob­lems and even fires.

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