August 24, 2021
More than 340 new machine-guns, including those already sent to Canadian Forces units, are defective and have been returned to manufacturer Colt Canada for repair.
The weapons are part of a $120 million deal with the firm in Kitchener, Ont., to build new C6A1 general purpose machine-guns.
Military sources alerted this newspaper to the problems with the guns.
The Canadian Forces have confirmed that 342 defective guns were received from Colt Canada and have now been returned to the company.
The problems affect the gun’s gas regulator system, which allows for the proper function of the weapon. In addition, there are problems with a nut associated with the barrel of the gun.
Department of National Defence spokesperson Andrew McKelvey said about 50 of the new machine-guns that had already been distributed to units were identified with the gas regulator issues and those were returned to Colt Canada for repair.
As for the problems with the barrel nut, the army issued a safety advisory to warn units. Units will replace any defective barrel nuts with new ones that have been provided by Colt Canada.
In addition, in July, DND and Colt Canada officials inspected another 1,046 of the new C6 guns that had already been delivered to the Canadian Forces supply depot, McKelvey said. “Of the weapons inspected, 292 have been confirmed to have the gas regulator defect and have been returned to Colt Canada for repair,” he said.
In July 2017, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan announced that the Canadian government would purchase 1,148 new C6A1 FLEX general purpose machine-guns from Colt Canada. The contract was worth $32 million.
In January 2020, the Liberal government announced it was going to spend $97 million buying another batch of the C6A1s, some of which will be installed on armoured vehicles.
In announcing the original C6A1 contract, Sajjan said the new guns would improve the Canadian Army’s operational capability and would “help provide an advantage over potential adversaries.”
McKelvey said Colt Canada is covering all costs “related to the repair of these defects. Colt Canada has committed to repairing and returning these weapons by September 30, 2021.”
Colt Canada did not respond to questions about why more than 340 defective guns were provided to the Canadian military. Colt Canada did not provide comment on what changes would be put in place to prevent a repeat of the problems with the new C6 machine-guns.
But in a statement to this newspaper, the Ceska Zbrojovka Group (CZG), the Czech small arms company that recently bought Colt, said, “Colt Canada is working closely with the Government of Canada to address any technical issues identified with some of the machine-guns it has delivered to the Canadian Armed Forces. CZG has full confidence in the quality of Colt Canada’s products as well as its quality control system.“
The contract for the new guns was awarded to Colt Canada without competition under a federal government program to support Canada’s ability to produce military small arms domestically. Colt Canada has been deemed the country’s Small Arms Strategic Source and Centre of Excellence by the federal government.
The first deliveries of the C6A1 Flex general purpose machine-guns began in late 2020, with final deliveries anticipated in 2023. DND did not say how many of the guns have been delivered so far.
The C6A1 FLEX machine-gun is to be carried by soldiers and mounted on to some Canadian Forces vehicles. Colt is to make another version of the C6 designed to be mounted in armoured turrets such as the Leopard Tank and the Light Armoured Vehicle fleet. Colt Canada has not started production of those guns, according to McKelvey.
He said the DND is working closely with Colt Canada “to correct the shortcomings in their QA/QC practices which have allowed these defective C6A1 Flex weapons to be delivered.” QA refers to quality assurance and QC refers to quality control.
“This has included revising manufacturing work instructions, conducting enhanced employee education and implementing additional weapon inspections prior to final packaging,” McKelvey explained. “DND is confident that these QA/QC improvements will result in the delivery of fully compliant C6A1 Flex weapons to Canada.”