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Canada's Leopard 2 Purchase

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While the subject matter may be substantially correct, this CTV article is filled with so many factual inaccuracies, distortions, arm chair generalship from a bureaucrat, etc. that I do not know where to begin. At one point I defended David Akin, but now I think that he has gone off the deep end.  (or his editor, or both together)

http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20061031/canada_tanks_061031/20061031?hub=TopStories

   
 
http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20061031/canada_tanks_061031/20061031?hub=TopStories


Just ran across this. Nothing sounds nearly official but that is a very promising sign :warstory:
 
A superficially decent report - with significant errors, including "facts" gained from interviewing that a** Drapeau - who, as a former logistics officer/NDHQ bureaucrat, knows next to nothing about armour.

"We haven't used tanks in the past 50 years. Unless you can clearly define a tank threat, why would you want to have tanks that are expensive to acquire, maintain and deploy?," said Col. (Ret'd) Michel Drapeau.

Ummm...and there are no tanks in Kandahar, Col Flag?  ::)
 
...and with the redirect, we can take the discussion to that thread.

(I just did that. As you posted, I merged. Sorry. - pc)
 
Army might buy surplus tanks from Germans, Swiss

Updated Tue. Oct. 31 2006 4:30 PM ET

David Akin, CTV News

OTTAWA -- Canadian army officers are negotiating the purchase of as many as 100 surplus tanks from the German and Swiss armies, CTV News has learned.

The deal may yet fall through but, even if it does, the fact that army officers are contemplating a purchase that could more than double the number of tanks in the Canadian Forces represents a significant strategic shift, military analysts say.

As recently as 2003, military planners were proceeding to sell, dismantle and mothball Canada's tanks. The Liberal government of the day approved a $3-billion plan to replace Canada's fleet of 66 Leopard 1 tanks with lighter, faster and more movile armoured vehicles.

At that time, Rick Hillier, then a Lt. Gen but now the Chief of Defence Staff, said tanks were "useless for soldiers in ... Kabul," and he characterized tanks as a "millstone that has hamstrung our thinking for years."

But despite available funding, those vehicles have never been purchased and Hillier has become the first Canadian general to send Canadian tanks into combat.

Hillier was travelling Tuesday and unavailable for comment. A Canadian Forces spokesperson said: "There are no plans to purchase any Leopard tanks at this time."

Five Leopards are already in Afghanistan with another dozen scheduled to arrive over the next month, much to the delight of the infantry who see the presence of the 42-tonne vehicles as a great morale booster.

But that morale boost comes with a hefty price tag. Government sources say it costs $1-million to transport each tank from their base at Wainwright, Alta. to Kandahar.

But despite the high cost, army planners are trying to build the business case to set up another battle group.

Industry and military observers trace the ascendancy of the tanks within the Canadian Forces to the appointment of Lt. General Andrew Leslie as chief of the Canada's Land Forces. Leslie is believed to an unabashed fan of the tank. He would find an ally in Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor's top policy advisor, Col. (Ret'd) Howie Marsh. Marsh, a former tank commander himself, was a critic of earlier plans to mothball Canada's tanks.

Both O'Connor, a former general, and Hillier also started their military careers as tank commanders.

None of those individuals were available for interviews on the subject.

But industry sources say the Canadians are considering the purchase of either or both the A4 and A5 variant of the Leopard 2 from the Germans and the Swiss. The Leopard 2 is an updated and improved version of the Leopard 1s already in operation in the Canadian Forces.

It's not clear if the tanks to be purchased would be put to use in Afghanistan.

The asking price for the tanks may be too good to pass up. While a brand new Leopard 2 can cost up to $6 million each, the Canadians may be able to purchase them for as little as $350,000 each. European armies, who once thought they would need thousands of tanks to counter a possible Russian threat now find themselves with too many tanks as that threat has largely evaporated. Consequently, there are many more vendors of tanks than buyers and surplus tanks can be purchased at fire-sale prices.

The money for the tank purchase could be diverted from the $3-billion project approved by the Liberals to buy lighter, faster armoured vehicles. CTV News has learned that one of those projects -- the Stryker Mobile Gun System -- has effectively been cancelled after problems were identified with the Stryker's gun turret system.

One industry source said the Leopard tanks Canada is looking at from the Germans and the Swiss are nearly new, "only driven by a little old lady on Sunday."

But some military analysts say Hillier's 2003 instinct was correct: That Canada ought to spend its money to make its army more mobile by increasing its inventory of lighter, faster vehicles.

"We haven't used tanks in the past 50 years. Unless you can clearly define a tank threat, why would you want to have tanks that are expensive to acquire, maintain and deploy?," said Col. (Ret'd) Michel Drapeau.

Col. Marsh, though, is already on record defending the tanks. In April, 2005, Marsh, who was working as a consultant at the time, told a House of Commons defence committee that the tank could be assigned a variety of tasks.

"The tank is the only vehicle in Canada that can forge through 1.5 metres of water without preparation. So if you had a major flood in a city and you wanted to ferry people through water over 6 feet, the tank is probably one of the best things going," Marsh said. "It also has a 20-tonne drawbar pull, so it can push and pull 20 tonnes of debris. It is an incredibly flexible vehicle that could be used when you get into extreme national emergencies and disasters, and the fact that it only costs $28 million a year to maintain means it's one of those cheap tools that you really don't want to get rid of."

Opposition politicians say any purchasing decisions ought to wait until the government presents its overdue Defence Capabilities Plan, a policy document that would serve as a blueprint for military planning, mapping out the kinds of missions the Canadian Forces would be likely be assigned over the next several years.

"We know there's need," said Ujjal Dosanjh, the Liberal defence critic. "But how can we judge whether what we're buying is appropriate unless we have the total overall defence capabilities plan."

http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20061031/canada_tanks_061031/20061031?hub=TopStories
 
An awful lot of false statements and mistakes in that article.  First off, if we haven't had tanks in the CF for over 50 years as Col Drapeau, a non-Combat Arms officer, says; I must be well over seventy years old.  (Hope I am in as good a shape when I really am seventy as I am now.)

Numbers crunched make it sound as if we are going to replace 66 vehicles with these new tanks.  What we are replacing is the 128 Leopard 1 tanks that we replaced over 350 Centurion Tanks in the 1970's with.  Those 350 Centurions were what we had after replacing thousands of Shermans.  The Armour Corps was being 'Halved to Death'.  100 Leopard 2 Tanks would be a God Send, but they would still not get us back to where we were.

We won't even bother to comment on the MGS and it's lack of maneuverability and ammo capacity, as that has been hashed out in over twenty-eight pages in the Armour Forums.

I have no clue what this is all about, but it really doesn't make any sense, nor seem to have any relevance:
Lost_Warrior said:
"The tank is the only vehicle in Canada that can forge through 1.5 metres of water without preparation. So if you had a major flood in a city and you wanted to ferry people through water over 6 feet, the tank is probably one of the best things going," Marsh said. "It also has a 20-tonne drawbar pull, so it can push and pull 20 tonnes of debris. It is an incredibly flexible vehicle that could be used when you get into extreme national emergencies and disasters, and the fact that it only costs $28 million a year to maintain means it's one of those cheap tools that you really don't want to get rid of."
Obviously not written by anyone who has any knowledge or experience with tanks.  Actually Tanks need preparation to ford deep water, LAV's do not.  I doubt you would want to use a tank to ferry people in a flood.  It really isn't that effective a bulldozer.  The Engineer variants are a different story. 

I am at a loss as to whether or not this article should hold any real significance.

 
Lost_Warrior said:
"We haven't used tanks in the past 50 years. Unless you can clearly define a tank threat, why would you want to have tanks that are expensive to acquire, maintain and deploy?," said Col. (Ret'd) Michel Drapeau.
Kandahar & Kosovo.

Lost_Warrior said:
The Leopard 2 is an updated and improved version of the Leopard 1
The 2 is a whole new tank.

Lost_Warrior said:
Hillier has become the first Canadian general to send Canadian tanks into combat.
WW II, Korea, Kandahar & Kosovo?
 
As well, I don't recall Generals sending tanks into battle - that's the job of our political representatives.
 
Yeah there are some real wonky facts in that article but I giggle like a school girl whenever I read or see anything about the Leos in Afghanistan.. and I am giggling right now at the thought of possibly getting a new MBT.  I know there are some solid reasons for not requiring tanks these days but it just doesn't seem right to not have that capability.
 
It all boils down to money.  How much money does the Government want to spend on maintaining an effective Armed Forces, and how much the Government (sic Liberal's, NDP,.....) want to spend on Health Care?........ What will the Sheeple's choice be?
 
MCG said:
Kandahar & Kosovo.
The 2 is a whole new tank.
WW II, Korea, Kandahar & Kosovo?

Whoops! My boo-boo. Writing in haste last night, I meant to finish that line with the phrase "...in more than five decades." I've asked for an update at our Web site ...

I'm not to proud to admit most here may know a lot more about this than me and I'm, erm, looking forward to some re-education on this matter where it's required ...  ;)
 
DavidAkin said:
I'm not to proud to admit most here may know a lot more about this than me and I'm, erm, looking forward to some re-education on this matter where it's required ...  ;)
As you can see by the above comments, there is much the MSM needs to learn.  Unfortunately, the MSM seems to go looking for some retired person from the military and run with them as their "expert".  Just because someone was in the CF does not make them knowledgeable in all subjects.  I have watched the various reports that CTV has done over the years in which Col. Drapeau has voiced opinions and it quickly became obvious that he knew very little about tactics but much about money.  That is because his career was as a bean counter.  The quote you used in your story is a case in point, it shows a very narrow knowledge of tank tactics and usage.  Your average trooper (private in the armoured corps) probably knows more than Col. Drapeau demonstrates.

Tanks are extremely versatile in there usage and are less restricted by conditions than wheeled vehicles.  Further, Drapeau ignores the historical Canadian trait of being very creative in using equipment in new and unthought of ways to overcome obstacles.  From a purely financial point of view, they are less susceptible to RPG and IED attacks and thus, would save money by not needing to be replaced due to heavy damage as we have seen with the Lav's.  And, ultimately, it is about saving Canadian lives.

There are other threads on here that have discussed the use of tanks in theatre by people much more knowledgeable than myself and you might want to avail yourself of them.  Using so-called experts who have limited knowledge is nothing more than opinion and ultimately brings into question the validity of the entire article.  Just because someone was in the CF does not mean they know what they are talking about.  Ask people who have the experience, a soldier loves nothing more than to bend someones ear with their knowledge.

As I often say to people, just because I was posted to a helicopter squadron for awhile does not mean I am a pilot and just because someone wore the uniform it does not make them an "expert" on the military.
 
Hear, hear......I spent most of my career working in an Artillery CP......and I probably wouldn't even know what it looks like anymore, and CERTAINLY wouldn't offer up any opinions on what the Artillery CP should be.
Yet CTV thinks that Mr. Drapeau knows all on everything??

See to me that shows severe laziness on behalf of the press......
 
As an Airforce guy I really hope to see the army get new tanks.  Frankly, they've earned better equip, not to say the current Leps are bad.  Would be nice to see the re-forming of at least 1 heavy brigade, a la 4 CMBG.  Canada is the second largest country on earth after Russia.  Russia is tank country, so is Canada!!
 
I have been fortunate enough to have been able to speak with a number of Marines who have served in Iraq. In each case, they have stated that the tanks that were used there were a godsend. While we may not be facing Operation Citadel again any time in the near future, there is a lot to be said for being able to bring substantial firepower close to the enemy, and shoot them up with a (relative) degree of safety.

There is a reason why we have been preaching "combined arms" ever since we learned that you can kill a person with something other than a pointy stick. While a tank is not necessarily the be-all and end-all of combat operations, the main limiting factor in the employment of ANY weapons system is the tactical ingenuity with which it is used. As long as they can actually get to the fight in Kandahar (roads being the short pole in the tent), the tanks will do nothing but help the grunts by giving them additional options in how to engage the Taliban. 
 
Akin blog :

http://politicsblog.ctv.ca/blog/Contributors/DavidAkin/_archives/2006/11/1/2464849.html

But, as I noted in a report last night, a used one --- "only driven by a little old lady
on Sunday" -- can be had for as little as $350,000. Why? The armies of Europe are
desperate to get rid of some of the thousands of tanks over the years they bought expecting
to fight the Russians one day on the steppes of Ukraine or the plains of Poland. Since the
Russian threat evaporated, European armies are saddled with the high cost of operating
and maintaining their tanks.

So the Germans and Swiss, at least, have been shopping theirs around and Canada just might
pick up an entire battle group of tanks -- 66 tanks plus spares -- at fire-sale prices
 
Just to add to AppoloVet's post,

I've seen a role for tanks on both my tours there, especially the most recent one.  The way I see, LAVs have been employed as "tanks" in a variety of tasks such as intimate support and firebase, so actually employing tanks makes sense.  There will be limitations, but that is why we have soldiers and leaders to assess and overcome difficulties.  I'm a big believer in the combined arms team, and the other arms (including the critical combat service support piece) will be instrumental to the successful employment of the tanks.  By the same token, tanks up front with the infantry should provide a huge boost in the firefight as tanks can bring precise and devastating firepower on point targets. 

Cheers

 
The U.S. is developing a 105mm canister round for their MGS- perhaps this is something we might find useful to procure and ship out to the LdSH to help clear out the pot fields next time the tanks are present during a dismounted ambush or the like. Those of you who've been there, would this be a useful capability to have for the Leopards?
 
whiskey601 said:
At one point I defended David Akin, but now I think that he has gone off the deep end.  (or his editor, or both together)

+1 to you David for coming here and looking for clarification. My apologies for sounding so offensive last night.

W601
 
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