The Canadian military should see the arrival this fall of a new system of vehicles for detecting and clearing improvised explosive devices.
The military quietly announced in May that it would purchase 16 specialized anti-IED vehicles from the U.S. military for $29.6 million. The vehicles were originally expected to arrive in August.
The challenge of dealing with IEDs, normally planted at the side of roads or bridges, has become one of the biggest thorns in the side of the Canadian military.
Of the 25 Canadian soldiers killed so far this year in Afghanistan, all but three have been killed by IEDs.
The threat has exposed the vulnerability of the convoys that regularly ply the roads west of Kandahar City to supply Canada’s various forward operating bases.
The new system is called the Expedient Route Opening Capability (EROC). It includes three vehicles that specialize in unearthing and neutralizing buried IEDs: The Husky, the Buffalo, and the Cougar.
The Husky is a tractor-like vehicle equipped with a metal detector that scans the side of the road and the road bed for explosives.
The Buffalo has an extendable arm and remote-control camera that can physically expose the bomb so it can be identified at a safe distance.
The Cougar is essentially an armoured personnel carrier that would transport Canada’s explosive ordinance teams and their array of tools, including anti-IED robots.
The Husky will be acquired through the U.S. Army, while the Buffalo and Cougar will be bought from the U.S. Marine Corps.
Canada has a fleet of RG-31 Nyalas, a jeep-like armoured vehicle with a V-shaped hull designed to protect against roadside bombs and mines. U.S. and British forces in Kandahar province, by contrast, often use armoured Humvees and Land Rovers, which offer considerably less protection.
The Canadian military also has mine-clearance vehicles and quasi-tanks equipped with ploughs that can clear IEDs.
But unlike other countries stationed here, Canada does not have helicopters that can transport troops to forward operating bases, forcing the military to rely heavily on the province’s perilous roads.
The military also does not have any vehicles designed to handle roadside bombs, which can be built using anything from a stack of mines to artillery shells