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The Canadian Department of National Defence Plans to Upgrade the Leopard 2 and LAV III tanks

Canada is planning a midlife upgrade of the Leopard 2 and LAV III tanks. Lt. Col. Alan Bolster, Armoured Fighting Vehicle Requirements Section Head at the Canadian Department of National Defence (DND) discusses the form which the upgrades will take and Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan with Defence IQ.

Upgrades in the LAV III will include increased armour coverage on the vehicle to better protect the vehicle personnel plus an extensive range of other technologies, other than just add-on armour, including spall liners and ballistic blankets to capture fragments produced through these attacks.  

The Canadian DND have introduced new seating arrangements in a bid to address the fact that many improvised explosive device attacks (IED attacks) occur under the belly of the vehicles. Including suspended seats for the drivers who are at a very high risk position, but also some of the other crew members. In the performance of their duties would traditionally be standing on the floor, will now be provided suspended seating’s to isolate them from the floor.  Some of the other seating arrangements for the vehicle personnel, who would normally dismount, have been isolated again from the floor and the walls of the vehicles because those areas are heavily affected by blast, and so the seats better absorb the force of the attack, both when the vehicle is going up and when it’s coming down.

With Survivability, protection of soldiers, at the forefront of the upgrades different techniques and technologies are required when addressing the unique terrain of Afghanistan. Equipment, tactics, techniques and procedures are all important elements but Lt. Col. Bolster specifically addresses the equipment element. Ballistic protection is also part of the upgrade and the upgrades comply with STANAG 4569 (NATO standardisation agreement) to achieve a better dialogue with industry to provide the best protection for our troops. 

The key element to remember with each of the upgrades is the DND are applying a systems approach to upgrades rather than just applying incremental upgrades such as an additional layer of appliqué armour. The Canadian DND will be looking at a number of systems, new power pack, hull, suspension and tires and go through an ongoing trial with risk reduction units.

Lt. Col. Alan Bolster states “In Canada we have been told by our senior leadership that although the troops still must be able to accomplish their tasks, they must be able to accomplish their tasks safely, so survivability and anything we can do to enhance that and then anything we can do, or anything that has to be done because of those enhancements, will be done.”

From a Canadian perspective they will continue to make available details concerning disposal of obsolete equipment and we have identified a number of fleets or other equipments that have done excellent service over the years.

The Canadian DND will acquire new fleets to provide capabilities to carry them into the future and the immediate ones include the close combat vehicle, tactical armoured patrol vehicle and the force mobility enhancement projects.

The future of Canadian vehicles encompasses soft and hard kill systems involving the initiation of an active defence system project that – should everything comes to fruition – will allow Canada to begin spending considerable capital in the year 2015. A key consideration is how the DND will physically employ these systems on the battlefield and through urban settings. A balance between present and urgent requirements at the expense of potential requirements is needed to avoid hindering future operations.

Listen to Lt. Col. Alan Bolster discuss in person on the newly launched Armoured Vehicles learning centre.

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