Renewing the tank capability is part of the Canada First Defence Strategy’s commitment to rebuild the Canadian Forces and ensure they are well-equipped to take on the challenges of the 21st century. The Tank Replacement Project provides the Canadian Forces with both an urgent short-term and a long-term, sustainable replacement for its Leopard 1 main battle tank fleet.
Afghanistan and other recent conflicts have demonstrated the importance of a main battle tank and its heavily protected direct fire capability. The Canadian Forces’ tanks in Afghanistan have deterred insurgent attacks and have allowed Canada’s soldiers to safely access insurgent positions over terrain impassable for wheeled vehicles. They have provided our troops with direct-fire capability to destroy obstacles protecting and hiding insurgent fighters. Tanks save lives by providing soldiers with a high level of protection.
Canada first deployed Leopard 1 tanks to Afghanistan in fall 2006. While the Leopard 1 tanks were performing well on operations, it became apparent that the 30-year-old tanks presented challenges in the extreme conditions of Afghanistan. The need for stronger armour, obsolescence issues and severe operating temperatures within the Leopard 1 tank made replacement a top operational priority.
The project, announced in April 2007, was undertaken in two phases: Phase 1 – loan and acquisition, and Phase 2 – repair and upgrades.
Phase 1 – Loan and Acquisition
During this phase, the Tank Replacement Project team focused on establishing support to current operations. To address the Canadian Forces’ urgent, short-term requirement for modern battle tanks, the Government of Canada negotiated a loan of 20 Leopard 2A6s and two armoured recovery vehicles from Germany. After receiving mission essential upgrades at the original equipment manufacturer, the tanks were successfully deployed to Afghanistan, starting in August 2007.
To address Canada’s long-term requirement for heavy, direct-fire capable tanks, the Government of Canada finalized an agreement with the Netherlands to purchase 100 surplus Leopard 2 tanks—20 Leopard 2A6s and 80 Leopard 2A4s main battle tanks in December 2007.
Upon borrowing the 20 Leopard 2 tanks from Germany, part of the agreement entailed returning the tanks in the same state they were when they were borrowed. To fulfill this requirement, Canada will be converting 20 Leopard 2A6 of the tanks purchased from the Netherlands to German standards and returning them as replacement-in-kind. As the tanks soon have to be returned to Germany by September 2012, Krauss Maffei-Wegmann, the original equipment manufacturer, was awarded a contract in late July 2009 to upgrade the tanks.
Phase 2 – Repair/Upgrades
The extension of the Afghan mission from 2009 until 2011, announced in March 2008, created a need to rotate the 20 Leopard 2A6s currently used in theatre. The 20 tanks have been serving in the harsh Afghan conditions for the last two years and as such, they are scheduled to be rotated out of theatre in 2010 for repair and overhaul.
The original equipment manufacturer, Krauss Maffei-Wegmann of Germany, was contracted to conduct the urgent repair and overhaul and upgrade work. This urgent contract, valued at $86.9 million (CAD), was awarded in June 2009 to Krauss Maffei-Wegmann.
Krauss Maffei-Wegmann will perform repair and overhaul and essential, specific Canadian mission upgrades to 20 of the Leopard 2 A4 tanks acquired from the Netherlands, still located in a climate-controlled facility in the Netherlands. The immediate repair and overhaul will be conducted at Krauss Maffei-Wegmann’s facilities in Germany. From Germany, the 20 tanks will be deployed to Afghanistan in 2010.
The Industrial and Regional Benefits Policy applies to all Phase 2 contracts, including the two contracts awarded to Krauss Maffei-Wegmann. This means that the company must generate one dollar of economic activity in Canada for every dollar of their contract.
Phase 2 of the Tank Replacement Project also presents excellent opportunities for Canadian industry. Contracts will be competed for the repair, overhaul and conversion of up to 50 tanks purchased from the Netherlands, and the repair and overhaul of the former German tanks being rotated out of Afghanistan. Furthermore, in-service support for the tanks will be required for the next 30 years, which Canadian industry will have the opportunity to provide.
Canada’s Renewed Tank Capability
The Tank Replacement Project will provide the Canadian Forces with a long-term, sustainable replacement for its 30-year old Leopard 1 main battle tank fleet and ensure that our troops have the equipment they need to get the job done. These tanks, once repaired, overhauled and upgraded, will provide the Canadian Forces with a sustainable heavy, direct-fire capability until 2035.
When completed, the Canadian Forces Leopard 2 fleet of 100 tanks will be made up of the following:
--40 tanks for use on operations (2 squadrons)
--42 tanks for use in training in Canada (2 squadrons)
--8 Armoured Recovery Vehicles (“tow-trucks” for tanks)
--10 additional tanks for use in force mobility