The Canadian Department of National Defence (DND) has outlined details of the Force Mobility Enhancement (FME) project, whichincludes the purchase of a fleet of armoured engineer vehicles (AEVs).
The FME project is designed to offer critical support for the Canadian Army's fleet of Leopard 2 main battle tanks (MBT), light armoured vehicle III (LAV III), as well as future fleets, including the close combat vehicle (CCV) and the tactical armoured patrol vehicle (TAPV).
The project's first phase involves the acquisition of AEVs along with armoured recovery vehicles (ARV) for support, plus the installation of tactical mobility implements in the Leopard 2 fleet.
The second phase of the project involves the purchase of tactical mobility implements for the Leopard 2 tank fleet, including 18 dozer blades, 16 mine-ploughs and 16 mine-rollers.
Designed to replace the Canadian Forces' aging fleet of Leopard 1-based AEV Badgers, the new ARV helps in clearing mines, debris and other obstacles for safe troop navigation.
Readily deployable in a wide variety of environmental conditions, the vehicle will use a Leopard 2 tank chassis to provide a high degree of crew protection and is capable of supporting the Leopard 2 MBT fleet until 2035.
The Army will acquire a total of 13 AEVs, with options for an additional five vehicles, and has awarded a contract for the conversion of Leopard 2 chassis into AEVs to Flensburger Fahrzeugbau (FFG) in April 2012.
Manufactured using Leopard 2 chassis, the ARV is either a tow-truck or large armoured vehicle designed to recover vehicles from the battlefield while under fire.
As part of the tank replacement project, Rheinmetall Land Systems (RLS) was awarded a contract by the army for the conversion of four Leopard 2 chassis into ARVs in March 2012.
Initial operational capability of the AEVs and the implements are expected to be reached by February 2015, with full operational capability to be reached in December 2016.
Image: A light armoured vehicle III during 2011 Lake Champlain and Richelieu River Floods in Quebec, Canada. Photo: courtesy of Helene Samson.