GORE

Modular Fighting Rig Update

Public Works and Government Services Canada on behalf of the Department of National Defence has finally published a Request for Proposal for around 3000 various rigs and pouch sets based on the initial testing conducted in Gatineau, Quebec. The solicitation for this possible Tactical Vest replacement is quite extensive at 103 pages long and goes into some serious detail.

According to the documentation provided by Public Works, “Recent operational experience has generated many observations concerning the inadequacy of the TV. The complaints have centered on the inability of the infantry soldier to configure pouches and pockets, and to personalize for ease of use for assigned tasks/roles (e.g. C7 M-203 gunner; C-9 gunner, etc) and on the capacity of the pouches.”

Specifically, the TV needs replacing due to the following deficiencies:
“- It does not provide soldiers the ability to carry the required amount of mission specific ammunition, in order to conduct mission specific tasks.
– It does not provide the modularity that soldiers require in order to prepare their equipment for mission specific tasks.
– It does not provide a platform that facilitates easy access to ammunition.”

It has been known for some time that the three rigs are from SORD (Australia) and Tactical Tailor (US) but thanks to the tender, we now know that pouches will also come from High Speed Gear (US) and CTOMS (Canada).

Oddly, the RFP specifies, PALS/MOLLE, yet calls for a couple of commercial attachment solutions. From the solicitation:
“Attachment Mechanism – The selected attachment mechanisms are the Malice Clips® (patented by Tactical Tailor), or interwoven nylon straps with Velcro closure (patented by SORD).”

Of course, the tender allows for others to offer similar systems so who knows where this will end up going. However, it is interesting to note that none of the products requested are Canadian manufactured (CTOMS product is Canadian designed but manufactured in the US). What is even more interesting is that neither of the US companies chosen have major contracts with the US government. What is significant about their selection, and in fact all of the companies chosen, is that their selection is based completely on design. If you look at the initial list of 12 systems, none of the major US players were involved. Rather the project officer looked for unique examples of load carriage systems in order to give a wide range of choices. He did his home work. For example, the pouch systems must be provided for the following functions:
1 Rifleman
2 Grenadier
3 C9 Gunner
4 Commander
5 7.62 Marksman
6 Pistol
7 Confined Space

As we stated earlier, the 103 page document is very thorough. In fact, so much so that the only thing missing for someone to manufacture any of the systems is actual patterns. Interestingly, none of the equipment has been spec’d in CADPAT TW or AR. This is especially significant as the Canadian military goes at great lengths to point out how superior CADPAT is to other patterns. It seems that they have made everything they can in the pattern including boots. Instead, the tender calls for equipment that is “khaki or coyote brown or best visual match”.

But back to the origin of the load carrying systems. This whole Canadian Content issue is a lot like the Berry Amendment in the US. It is a protectionist policy designed to ensure the Canadian government buys from Canadian companies except under special circumstances. We will not even pretend to understand the entire thing except to say that it is complicated in two languages. According to clause A3050T of the SACC Manual, this solicitation is covered and any bids must provide “CANADIAN CONTENT CERTIFICATION” and “This procurement is conditionally limited to Canadian goods.” Obstentially, this rule covers any procurement in excess of $25,000 Cdn and as this procurement will likely have a total contract value greater than $1M Cdn, we don’t understand how they are going to purchase these foreign products, especially considering how hard the Canadian textile industry has been hit.

No matter which, if any of the designs is chosen, it is most likely that the design will be put out to tender for manufacture as a government design to the Canadian textile industry. Then a company such as Fellfab who manufactures the current TV will make them for the Canadian military. So there is your Canadian Content.

The RFP closes on 25 November but the fine print requires those answering to provide samples and get their bid in seven days before the close out date. The solicitation also calls for delivery “to commence as soon as possible and be completed by 31 March 2010.” I guess this means that they won’t see testing, or wide spread fielding for that matter, anytime soon.

For those that are interested, you can find the solicitation by doing a search on Merx.

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