Trading Up – MSVS
May 15, 2012

Canada’s current logistics fleet is based on a 1950’s design, the M35 cargo truck. Today, Oshkosh Defense, which began producing vehicles in 1917, tees up an advanced and proven military design that can replace Canada’s aging medium logistics fleet.

When the Canadian Army first deployed to Afghanistan, their Medium Logistics Vehicle, Wheeled (MLVW) fleet of more than 2,500 vehicles remained parked en mass at bases across Canada. Why? The logistics fleet – the backbone of the Canadian Army – is aging and does not have the armour necessary to protect troops against modern battlefield threats.

The MLVW is based on the 2.5 ton M35 truck that was initially developed by the U.S. military in 1950. Largely produced and procured in Canada during the early 1980s, it has a limited capacity to accept protection upgrades. Although a kitted armour solution did allow a few of these vehicles to eventually make their way to Afghan battle zones, the Army was forced to rely largely on their heavy logistics fleet, the much larger HLWV.

Besides lacking troop protection, the MLVW fleet simply has reached the end of its service life. Some vehicle frames are so rusted out, they are only useful as scrap. The fleet is scheduled to be replaced as part of the Canada First Defence Strategy, which includes plans to invest $15 billion in the next several years on the improvement and replacement of Canadian Forces’ major fleets and equipment for land, sea and air.

A Medium Support Vehicle System (MSVS) programme was set up to acquire both ­military and commercial pattern vehicles for the Canadian Army. A Militarized Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) truck has already been selected, and the MSVS Standard Military Pattern (SMP) competition, under which the Army is looking to acquire vehicles, armour protection systems and trailers (based on mature and tested military platforms), is underway now.

The programme will provide the Army with an 8- to10-tonne logistics truck. The Department of National Defence (DND) plans to initially procure 1,500 vehicles and has stipulated an option for 850 more (with support), for an anticipated cost of approximately $800 million. Intended to meet a range of mission requirements, several MSVS SMP variants are expected to be acquired, including a cargo vehicle, cargo with crane, Load Handling System (LHS), a gun tractor, and a mobile repair truck.

The legacy MLVW was produced by Montréal-based Bombardier Transportation from licensed designs of the U.S.-based M35. At the time, it was the first heavy truck built by the company. Today, however, Bombardier’s streamlined military division concentrates on aircraft and aviation training.

DND is taking a different course for procurement of the MSVS SMP, looking for a producer with strong military experience and support longevity.

A Proven Solution
Oshkosh Defense is one company vying to provide the new vehicle. Teamed with ­several other leading Canadian companies, the global designer and producer of military vehicle platforms and technologies has developed a MSVS SMP based on the latest iteration of its battle-proven HEMTT (Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck) platform. This is Oshkosh’s second submission for a Canadian vehicle programme following their TAPV entry last August.

The HEMTT workhorse is in use with many militaries around the world – from the U.S. and European NATO nations, to the UAE, Egypt and Oman. There are currently more than 14,000 HEMTTs in operation, allowing the platform to log more than 100 million kilometers of NATO service, far surpassing MSVS SMP requirement for 2 million kilometers of service.

The Oshkosh HEMTT is available in multiple iterations, with each new version incorporating advancements in technology, process and materials based on feedback from the field. The HEMTT A4 is the latest version and is the vehicle the Oshkosh MSVS SMP was derived from. The Oshkosh MSVS employs a high-performance drive train, advanced suspension and an anti-lock braking system that allows it to manœuvre and traverse treacherous environments, all while carrying payloads of up to 10 tonnes.

The Oshkosh MSVS also provides much needed troop protection. The vehicle has an armoured protection system (APS) replacement cab. The fully-dressed cab helps provide optimal protection. The modular and scalable integrated design approach allows crews to install armour more quickly and easily with standard maintenance equipment.

The powerful engine and suspension on the Oshkosh MSVS also means the vehicle can retain its best-in-class payload and extreme mobility with the additional armour weight. This type of modular vehicle design expands the range of mission profiles a vehicle can fulfill.

Another way to expand mission ­profiles is by creating variants. Oshkosh already produces the HEMTT A4 in cargo, tanker, LHS, recovery and light equipment transporter variants. There are also variants designed to support specific weapon systems, like the HEMTT tractor that moves the Patriot missile system, the HEMTT Guided Missile Transporter, and the HEMTT that hauls ammunition for the Multiple-Launch Rocket System. The A4’s many variants allow the vehicle to fulfill a broad range of mission requirements. The fact that the MSVS SMP programme is seeking variants similar to existing HEMTT variants bodes well for the Oshkosh team. The Oshkosh MSVS SMP, based on the A4 and tailored to specific DND requirements, leverages a platform that is proven as well as tested in all variants.

But the MSVS SMP programme isn’t just about procuring the most qualified, proven platform. DND has taken a comprehensive and long-term approach with this new vehicle. To make sure the new MSVS maintains readiness levels for the troops, and helps support and grow Canadian industry, rigorous industrial regional benefits (IRB) requirements and a 20-year support contract is included in the plan.

For Canada by Canada
The team behind the Oshkosh MSVS put a lot of effort into their vehicle platform, but they didn’t skimp on other programme requirements in the process. The strategy this global supplier is using to address the IRB requirement proves it recognizes the importance of coordinating with local industry and adding work in-country. Its military-class vehicles are used in nearly 20 countries and the company is expanding global operations in Canada, leveraging Canadian businesses within Oshkosh ­Corporation, and teaming with leading Canadian companies.

To that end, Oshkosh has established a new office in Ottawa where it will provide programme management, engineering support, contract management, purchasing support, and industrial and regional benefits management for Oshkosh’s Canadian programmes.

Leveraging the Oshkosh Corporation family of businesses for the MSVS and TAPV entries, Oshkosh plans to tap sister-company, London Machinery Inc. (LMI) for manufacturing. Based in London, Ontario, LMI has been manufacturing in Canada for more than 100 years. The company recently opened a new 140,000 sq.ft. facility with advanced manufacturing methods and quality processes to produce concrete mixer trucks for customers throughout North and South America. The LMI operation was designed with capacity for future programmes, like the MSVS SMP, and its workforce is experienced in producing a range of commercial and specialty vehicles.

Oshkosh took a similar approach with the U.S. MRAP All-Terrain Vehicle (M-ATV) program in 2009-2010, when the U.S. Armed Forces had an urgent need for a more mobile and protected vehicle in Afghanistan. Oshkosh won the contract and worked with lift-equipment manufacturer JLG, another Oshkosh Corporation subsidiary, to help maximize vehicle ­production – delivering a combined 1,000 vehicles per month within six months of securing the contract.

Oshkosh is also teamed with General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada. Well known for designing and sustaining Canadian land and amphibious combat systems, subsystems and components worldwide, the company will deliver in-country support and system integration based on needs defined in the MSVS SMP and TAPV programmes. This work includes providing the testing support, extensive logistics, and training and technical manuals for both programmes.

General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada has a significant presence through­out Canada, allowing for localized sustainment and support of the MSVS SMP. The company has more than 2,300 employees at facilities in Alberta and Ontario.

Oshkosh has also developed relationships with other Canadian suppliers to ­support both TAPV and MSVS SMP programmes. For example, Oshkosh Defense plans to source armour manufacturing for both programmes in Canada. Utilizing Canadian component suppliers will keep work and add jobs in Canada. Local suppliers with mobile training, and maintenance and repair teams, ensure the Canadian Forces will benefit from a responsive and accurate supply chain. This means faster, more coordinated support for the entire life-cycle of the fleet.

Loaded, Localized Support
The life-cycle support requirements in the MSVS SMP request for proposal show that DND intends to get a world-class solution for their troops and keep it that way. Each company competing in the MSVS SMP program has submitted a plan and budget for 20 years of vehicle support. Proven solutions will again likely have an advantage and, once more, the Oshkosh team has impressive experience.

General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada has more than 35 years of experience in supporting the Canadian Forces. It holds the longest, current Canadian weapon system support contract, which is slated to extend for 26 years, through 2034, in the Optimized Weapon Systems Support (OWSS) for the current wheeled armoured vehicle fleet. Leveraging existing experience, models and best-practices helps the team provide more reliable service support while lowering the cost for DND.

Existing vehicle support services from Oshkosh Defense extend from parts ­support to vehicle remanufacturing, and includes product training, spare parts, kits, repairables and secondary repairables, field service operations and technical support. Even in hostile environments, Oshkosh personnel are available in the form of field service representatives (FSRs). The company also provides a 1-800 number for questions, technical publications produced electronically using EMS-NG, parts provisioning, and remanufacturing service and support.

Oshkosh has been executing a very similar and successful 20-year service plan, built into the Wheeled Tanker programme for the British Armed Forces, since 2003. It includes development of training manuals, maintenance support and integrated logistics support for the approximately 350 wheeled tankers.

The Oshkosh Electronic Information Environment (EIE) can provide a high level of program and life-cycle data management interaction with the DND Defense Resource Management Information System (DRMIS). The Oshkosh team can continually draw maintenance data over the life of the MSVS SMP 20-year support contract, generating an array of support-related data available to maintainers and managers.

The Oshkosh MSVS team also benefits from the combined Oshkosh and GDLS-Canada spare-parts reserves and logistics channels. An extensive national and global sustainment presence for DND to draw from further lowers project support costs and reduces performance risks. Oshkosh’s parts-supply support is available 24/7 through the Oshkosh Fleet Aftermarket Support Team – Parts Request Online (FAST PRO) service. The Oshkosh Web-based Interactive Electronic Technical Manuals (IETMs) give maintenance crews high-tech tools to keep Oshkosh vehicles and other manufacturers’ vehicles ready. The IETMs use digital photos, movies and audio clips to help explain tasks, ultimately saving mechanics’ time. And when it’s “boots on the ground” that are required, Oshkosh’s worldwide regional service centers and field service representatives (FSR) help maintain peak operational readiness. Full-time technicians – both resident certified and OEM trained – provide emergency support, logistics expertise and technical assistance anywhere in the world.

If vehicles are damaged in operations that go beyond the Canadian Forces’ ability to repair the vehicle in-house or call in an FSR, there are remanufacturing services available. Oshkosh has remanufactured more than 11,000 military-class vehicles since 1995, saving an average of 25 percent over the cost of a new vehicle. The damaged or worn vehicles are torn down to frame rails and built back up to like-new, zero-mile / zero-hour vehicles. Oshkosh also can recapitalize – updating older ­vehicles with the latest technologies and protection. Many Oshkosh HEMTTs of the original configuration are on their second or third round of recapitalization. The base design and materials have proven reliable and flexible enough to complete several rounds of updates.

To prepare troops for these new vehicle ­platforms, expertise-level training on vehicles and technologies is offered to operators and mechanics at either the Oshkosh Product Training Center in Wisconsin; at GDLS-Canada facilities throughout Canada; or in-theater. Oshkosh recently developed a cutting-edge virtual training solution for the HEMTT Tanker that improves trainee confidence, cuts training time and cost, and reduces wear and tear on customer equipment. A virtual trainer for Oshkosh wrecker vehicles, including the HEMTT, is also under consideration as crane maintenance and operations training include similar safety issues and training restrictions.

The specific MSVS SMP service and support offering from the Oshkosh team is based on a proven, comprehensive life cycle-cost model, with accurate reliability and maintainability calculations and related outputs to drive long-term efficiencies. ­Significant pre-contract investment by the team has produced a comprehensive evaluation of the MSVS SMP programme.

The MSVS SMP request for proposals closed last month, and the contract award is expected to be announced in early 2013. A great wealth of experience and proven solutions were drawn upon to develop the Oshkosh MSVS SMP proposal.

Canadian Forces are in need of a reliable fleet to provide protection for a wide range of logistics operations. The troops could benefit from a vehicle platform and its related service support that has been built on knowledge gained in the field of battle, during real-world missions.
For more information, contact the Oshkosh Defense office in Canada
Steve Tighe, Senior Mgr, Business Dev,
1607 - 50 O’Connor Street
Ottawa, ON KIP 6B9
© FrontLine Defence 2012