It didn’t take long for the members of the British Columbia Dragoons to blow a tire on their armoured patrol vehicle as they tested their driving skills around a muddy course in Lake Country.
The Canadian Armed Forces and the Interior Heavy Equipment Operator School partnered together to offer the army with a place to learn to drive their Textron TAPV Friday. It’s currently the only place personnel are able to do so on this type of course in the province.
Sgt. Graeme Barber managed to get the vehicle stuck when it was his turn to drive.
“It’s a new armoured vehicle, we’re still learning the ins and outs of it and yea, we had a sinkhole and it swallowed part of the tire and that was the end of that run,” he said.
Site supervisor Darrell Letendre, with IHE, said this is the second time the exercise has been conducted at the Lake Country location.
“This is a continuation for them. (We want to) support them in their training initiative and then from here they could potentially be back here next year,” he said. “Not only are we able to design a course in cooperation with them, in the event they do get stuck we are able to help them with our heavy equipment.”
And stuck they did get, as the TAPV got a flat tire. The crew was able to coordinate and replace the tire within an hour, from the cover of IHE’s mechanic’s shop.
IHE staff and students also got the opportunity to take a ride around in the vehicle.
“It feels like you’re in a capsule and you’re shaken up like a milkshake at the same time. There are different elevations, it’s almost like a rocket ship, not that I’ve ever been in one. It’s a great feeling, it’s exhilarating,” Letendre said.
Cpt. Joshua Trowsse-Freeman, with the Dragoons, said the course is all about running the drivers through the paces and ensuring they are up to their proper qualifications.
The armoured vehicle, which can withstand bullets, can be used both in domestic operations, like with wildfires and flooding seasons because of the offered capabilities as well as foreign situations and conflict zones.
“We’ve had the vehicle for about a year, students are a senior rank, but for most of the students it’s the first time they’re driving the vehicle around,” Trowsse-Freeman said. “It’s part of the game, it’s part of figuring out how different vehicles respond.”
He said crews love driving it around the course.
The TAPA, with the suitable name Ol’ Grubby, was back on the road after crews quickly replaced the tire.
“The Government of Canada is procuring 500 (TAPV), with the option for 100 additional vehicles. In June 2012, Textron Systems Canada Inc. (Ottawa, Ontario) was awarded two contracts, one for the acquisition of 500 vehicles, valued at $603.4 million, and a second contract for their support at $105.4 million to conduct in-service support for the fleet for five years following the last vehicle delivery,” according to the federal government’s website.