Not only will the winning company receive the usual benefits of landing a contract, but so will the chain of suppliers manufacturing components for TAPV.
With that business also comes visibility for Ottawa when pitching to potential buyers overseas, says David Luxton, chair of the Ottawa Security Cluster.
“The first question Canadian defence exporters encounter when they try to sell abroad is, ‘Are you selling to your own government?’ And if the answer is no, you start to push a big rock up a big hill,” says Mr. Luxton, who is also the chair of the board for local defence firm Allen-Vanguard, a TAPV bidder.
The company is hoping to work on blast mitigation seats if the government chooses to proceed with a custom build. Allen-Vanguard may work with another company, but has not released its name for competitive reasons.
TAPV requirements posted on procurement site Merx in July 2009 stipulated “a wheeled combat vehicle that will fulfill a wide variety of roles on the battlefield, including but not limited to reconnaissance and surveillance, security, command and control, cargo and armoured personnel carrier.”
Final designs and parameters have not been released publicly yet as the concepts are still undergoing testing. Besides Allen-Vanguard, other firms with local presences that have their eyes on the prize include:
• Textron Systems Inc., which plans to expand its Ottawa office if it receives the contract. Recently, it signed deals with seven Canadian suppliers to provide components for the Afghan National Army’s Mobile Strike Force Vehicle program. Textron plans to extend those relationships if awarded the TAPV contract. In addition, it has signed memorandums of understanding with companies such as Ottawa’s Calian Technologies Ltd.
• Thales Canada and DEW Engineering & Development ULC, which have teaming agreements with BAE Systems. (A teaming agreement is a pact between companies to pool resources for a government contract.) DEW will provide design services, add-on armour and vehicle assembly. Thales will be the combat systems integrator. BAE and DEW declined comment for this story.
Thales officials say they are looking to differentiate the company through its history of electronics integration in the armed forces. One major recent example is its work with Seaspan Shipyards in forming the non-combat centre of excellence under the national shipbuilding procurement strategy.
Like Textron, Thales says a successful bid could lead to an expansion of the company’s Ottawa office.
“When that (TAPV) work comes in there will be additional growth to meet that new requirement,” said Conrad Bellehumeur, Thales’s vice-president of government and external relations.
In 2010, Thales and DEW signed a teaming agreement to provide Bushmaster vehicles for the TAPV program, but this was cancelled when it was determined the vehicle did not meet government requirements, according to media reports.
The solicitation of interest and qualification for TAPV closed March 25, 2011 with seven prequalified bidders for the project, according to OBJ files. Four of those submitted bids, and testing commenced this fall.
The winning bid is expected to be announced in the coming weeks. Mr. Luxton says “word on the street” is it will be awarded in June.
Given the woes besetting other military vehicle procurements, those preparing their bids for TAPV could be forgiven for worrying about that contract.
In late April, government officials told companies who submitted bids for a two-years-delayed $2-billion Close Combat Vehicle program that none of the bids were compliant with its requirements, and restarted the process.
Bidders for an army truck program initially expected to deliver in 2008, but that has been pushed back several times to 2014 – should a contract be awarded as scheduled next year.
Despite these issues, several companies told OBJ that they expect the TAPV contract will be awarded on schedule.
The TAPV will replace the Armoured Patrol Vehicle (RG-31), the Coyote reconnaissance vehicle (LAV 2) and will complement the Light Utility Vehicle Wheeled (G-Wagon).
There will be two variants of vehicles procured under this project. The first is the reconnaissance (recce) variant, which will replace the Coyote reconnaissance vehicle.
The recce variant will accommodate a crew of three and one additional equipped passenger. The second variant, the general utility vehicle, will accommodate a crew of three and an additional three equipped passengers. Both vehicles will be equipped with a remote weapon station.
The TAPV project will procure 500 vehicles with an option for an additional 100.
Source: Department of National Defence