Cold war prep: Canadian tests Army vehicles in the Arctic

By Richard Tomkins   |   March 4, 2016 at 1:27 PM
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OTTAWA, March 4 (UPI) -- Canada is conducting trials with two types of vehicles to determine the specific features and capabilities needed for Army operations in Arctic terrain.

The Canadian Army said it bought eight Argo XT tracked small unit support vehicles, and 20 D900 diesel-powered snowmobiles for the trials.

Half of the Argo XTs are in use in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, by members of the Canadian Armed Forces Joint Task Force North: The rest are at Canadian Forces Base Wainwright in Alberta. The XT vehicles adapted by Argo for the Army feature an enclosed cab, a kit that enables it to carry stretchers, and a military fuel can holder.

"We're going to trial them in those locations and assess what the capabilities are in marginal terrain to help us define our real, high-level mandatory requirements for future purchases," said Maj. Peter Chan, director of the Army's Arctic Mobility Project.

Maj. Chan said the Arctic's isolation and climate have always presented challenges to the Canadian Armed Forces. One reason is the terrain -- ice sheets, various types of snow and muskeg, grassy bogs.

The Canadian Army plans to replace the tracked BV206 all-terrain transport it now uses with a new vehicle starting in 2025.

The D900 snowmobiles, built specifically for military use, are from Ottawa-based DEW Engineering and Development. This winter they will be used by Canadian Ranger patrols and as part of the Army's Arctic Observer and Adviser Course, in which soldiers receive Arctic-specific survival training.

"Few manufacturers make a diesel snowmobile and fuel is a precious commodity up north so we're assessing how a diesel machine works in the Arctic environment," Maj. Chan said. "Anything we use up in the northern region we have to bring with us. It's not as simple as going to the gas station and filling up."

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