DND replacement program for Second World War-era pistols delayed once again – Northern Daily News

dnd-replacement-program-for-second-world-war-era-pistols-delayed-once-again-–-northern-daily-news

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Public Services and Procurement Canada will follow a recommendation of the Canadian International Trade Tribunal and restart the bid process in 2022.

Author of the article:

David Pugliese  •  Ottawa Citizen

Publishing date:

Jan 03, 2022  •  15 hours ago  •  3 minute read

The Canadian military wants to replace its 1940s-era Browning handguns, shown in this 2015 photo being used by Canadian troops in the Middle East.
The Canadian military wants to replace its 1940s-era Browning handguns, shown in this 2015 photo being used by Canadian troops in the Middle East. Photo by Department of National Defense /Supplied photo

Canadian soldiers won’t be getting replacements for their Second World War-era pistols until well into 2022.

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The federal government hopes to have its program to buy new pistols to replace the Browning Hi-Power handgun back on track by the spring, but there are no guarantees that will happen.

The procurement process was derailed in November, when the Canadian International Trade Tribunal ruled in favour of an Ottawa firm that complained the competition was rigged.

Canada has been trying to buy a new handgun for the army since at least 2011, but has continually run into problems.

Federal government officials originally went to companies in the summer of 2021 to request bids for new pistols to replace the army’s Browning Hi-Power handguns. The plan was to award a contract for a new gun by the end of December and to start delivering the first weapons to troops in the summer of 2022.

But Rampart International of Ottawa, the firm that represents handgun manufacturer Glock in the Canadian market, filed a complaint with the trade tribunal. It alleged the government-run competition favoured Glock’s rivals, Beretta and Sig Sauer.

On Nov. 10, the CITT determined that Rampart’s complaint was valid in part. In addition, the trade tribunal recommended Public Services and Procurement Canada cancel the competition and begin a new one, changing some of the wording in its requirements.

PSPC spokesman Gabriel Leboeuf said the government would follow the tribunal’s recommendation. “Canada has decided to cancel this solicitation,” he confirmed. “Public Services and Procurement Canada will work with the Department of National Defence to issue a follow-up solicitation for the same requirement that addresses the Tribunal’s concerns. Precise timelines have not yet been determined.”

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Defence sources say they hope to have a new solicitation package ready for industry by the spring. It is still unclear, however, how long it will take after that to run the competition and to get deliveries of new pistols. It is hoped that could take place by late 2022, but that is not for certain, sources say.

The Canadian military had outlined what it needs in a new gun. But Rampart has argued that some of those requirements weren’t necessary. The complaint alleged the Canadian Forces solicitation required “certain design types which serve no legitimate operational requirement and favour certain bidders.”

The pistol program is considered a priority by the Canadian Army as the number of working Browning Hi-Power handguns has significantly dwindled because of a lack of spare parts.

The new firearms will be modular, meaning they can be reconfigured for various roles. Other requirements include various safety features.

The acquisition project had been stalled for years after small arms firms rejected in 2011 a federal government requirement that the new guns be built at Colt Canada in Kitchener, Ont. In addition, the companies balked at a stipulation they had to turn over proprietary firearms information to Colt, a firm that some saw as a competitor.

But those requirements were eventually set aside and the military focused on developing new criteria with the operational needs of soldiers as its top priority.

The plan was to buy a minimum of 8,000 pistols with options for up to 16,500 for the Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Air Force and Royal Canadian Navy. The potential value of a contract could be up to $18 million, if all options are exercised, according to the Department of National Defence.

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In one of its documents to the trade tribunal, Rampart noted that Glock pistols had been purchased by defence forces in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, France, the Netherlands, Australia and other nations. Glock pistols are also widely used by police forces in North America.

But Glock lost out to Sig Sauer in January 2017 for a top U.S. military pistol contract. Sig Sauer is now providing the U.S. with 420,000 handguns based on its Sig P320 pistol.

In its complaint, Rampart cited a CBC report in February about a Canadian special forces member, using a Sig P320, who received a flesh wound during an accident at a shooting range near Ottawa. But the Canadian military has since confirmed there was nothing wrong with the Sig pistol. The accident appeared to have been the result of an accidental discharge caused by the special forces member, defence sources said.

The handgun replacement project has been seen by some as an example of a highly dysfunctional Canadian military procurement system. At one point the DND tried to prevent small arms companies from talking to journalists about the bungled procurement, but the department’s decree was largely ignored.

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