On Canada’s drawing board: “stealth” snowmobiles

Canadian FOrces patrol near Yellowknife on (non-stealthy) snowmobile. Photo: Pierre Gazzola, Creative Commons, some rights reserved.

Canadian Forces patrol near Yellowknife on (non-stealthy) snowmobile. Photo: Pierre Gazzola, Creative Commons, some rights reserved.

It’s August, so why talk about snowmobiles?

Well, every summer Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has headed up north to champion issues relating to Canada’a Arctic region, both land and sea. The trips get mixed reviews, as with this explanation from Michael Den Tandt.

This is Harper’s eighth such visit. The current 6-day tour has generated a small flurry of news about actual Arctic topics, such as Russia beating the world when it comes to shipping that that region. It also supplies handy out-of-the-way locations in which to toss out things like reducing bi-lingual answers in press conferences and plans to prorogue (suspend) parliament until October.

There were also news reports about snowmobiles – specifically super quiet snowmobiles being developed under contract at a cost in the range of $620K (CAD).  As reported by Andy Blatchford:

The Canadian Press has learned that soldiers have taken the new hybrid-electric snowmobile prototype on trial runs to evaluate features such as speed, noise level, battery endurance and acceleration.

The Department of National Defence even has a nickname for its cutting-edge, covert tool: “Loki,” after the “mythological Norse shape-shifting god.”

The effort to produce a snowmobile worthy of James Bond takes place in a time of budget reductions that can’t keep up with providing sufficient regular snowmobiles, or even winter parkas, according to this account by the Canadian Press.

When it comes to military spending, Canada is something of a lightweight.  The U.S. leads the way. Here’s a detailed article from the Washington Post full of charts on the U.S. defense budget. (Fun fact: In 2011, the U.S. spent $711 billion, which out stripped the $695 billion spent by the next 13 highest-spending countries combined.)

Even though the U.S. spends the most overall, when military spending is measured as a percentage of GNP, other countries come out ahead.

Here’s a ranking from the World Bank for 2011: Saudi Arabia 8.4%, Israel 6.8%, Oman 6.0%, Iraq 5.1%, Azerbaijan 4.9%. Tied at 4.7%: U.S., Jordan and Afghanistan. Further down, Russia spent 3.9% and China 2.0%.Canada came in at 1.4%.

Of course, military spending is contentious in any country. What’s too little, what’s too much? And how useful might a silent snowmobile be?

 

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5 Comments on “On Canada’s drawing board: “stealth” snowmobiles”

  1. Hank says:

    Let’s not lose sight of the fact that a silent snowmobile is great step forward in winter recreation. How many times have you been out on a clear, crisp winter’s day enjoying the silence of the woods on your skies or snowshoes or just walking only to have that silence shattered by the drone of a bevy of these machines?

    Now, if they could only make then smell less (of gasoline) too! Battery-powered is the way to go.

  2. Pete Klein says:

    Far more important than quiet snowmobiles would be quiet tires.
    I’m guessing 90% of the road noise is due to tires.
    As to quiet snowmobiles, has anyone thought they would be used to sneak up on animals in order to shoot them?

  3. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Maybe the Canadian military can invent a muffler system for Harley Davidson.

  4. Paul says:

    Hank, there are already many electric snowmobiles. Not sure how quiet they are. Even this one doing almost 70 MPH seems pretty quiet unless you are very close to it:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAnNSQOwa0Y

    Here is an electric ATV:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFTUOQDioIY

    This one sounds kind of load but maybe it is the way the guy is riding. Like a crazy skier screaming as he goes down the hill.

  5. Paul says:

    sorry loud not load.

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