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Canada Buys Anti-Mine Vehicles for Afghanistan

OTTAWA– The importance of keeping Canada’s troops safe when engaged in deployed operations was underlined today with the announcement of a new detection and route clearing system for the Canadian Forces (CF).

The Honourable Gordon O’Connor, Minister of National Defence and General Rick Hillier, Chief of the Defence Staff, today announced the acquisition of new vehicle-based systems for detecting, investigating and disposing of explosive threats such as improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and mines.

“Providing Canadian soldiers with the protection they need is of the utmost importance. That is why this government is making sure that they have a capability to detect, investigate and dispose of IEDs, thus improving safety for our vehicle crews,” said Minister O’Connor. “Acquiring these proven systems will ensure that this urgent operational requirement is met.”

“Buried IEDs have become the weapon of choice against CF forces in Afghanistan. These new vehicle systems will give commanders highly effective tools that they can use to find and neutralize those IEDs that pose threats to our soldiers,” said General Hillier. “They will not only improve protection for the soldiers and vehicles using the cleared routes, they will also provide high levels of protection to the clearing crews themselves. These systems will perfectly compliment the outstanding service of the RG-31 Nyala armoured infantry patrol vehicle.”

The Expedient Route Opening Capability (EROC) systems will conduct mounted searches for buried improvised explosive devices using three types of highly specialized vehicles: the Husky, the Buffalo and the Cougar. The systems will be acquired through the United States military; use in operations have proven how highly successful these EROC systems are.

Canada intends to obtain a total of 16 vehicles, including six Husky, five Buffalo, and five Cougar 6x6 vehicles.

The Husky provides the detection capability, with a landmine overpass capability and a mounted full-width metal detector enabling the detection of targets located in the roadbed or along the verges. Once a target has been detected, the Buffalo will use its extendable arm and remote controlled camera to physically expose the potential target for verification and identification. The Cougar will transport the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Operators and their vast array of tools, including Explosive Ordnance Disposal robots, to dispose of the IED.

Task Force Afghanistan, until recently, was supported by the US military’s Route Clearance Package; however, with the transition to the International Security Assistance Force, the US assets have been redeployed elsewhere. Their proven track record and unique performance is not currently available anywhere else in the world, and Canada has chosen to move quickly to meet the needs of the Canadian Forces by working with our American ally to procure the vehicles.

Initial deliveries directly to Afghanistan will begin in August 2007, with final delivery anticipated late in the year. The acquisition of the vehicles, along with two years of integrated logistics support, training and field service support will cost approximately $29.6 million.

The Buffalo and Cougar vehicles will be provided by the US Marine Corps and are built by Force Protection Industries of Ladson, South Carolina. The Husky will be acquired through the US Army and is manufactured in South Africa by Rolling Stock Division of DCD-Dorbyl.

Canadian Forces Get New Vehicles to Enhance Protection Against Improvised Explosive Devices