General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) Canada has won a major arms procurement contract from Saudi Arabia, for the procurement of armored vehicles worth over $10 billion. The vehicles will follow a new design to be built at GDLS Canada plant at London, Ontario.
Two vehicle families are currently built at the plant – the Piranha based Light Armored Vehicle (LAV) and Ocelot originally designed by Force Protection Inc. The first vehicles will roll off the production line in 2016. The number of vehicles included in the deal has not been disclosed. The package includes training in Canada and Saudi Arabia, as well as logistical support.
The Saudi government has been shopping for light, fast and off-road maneuverable armored vehicles from different manufacturers since 2009.
Responding to criticism about selling arms to a country that have systematically violated human rights, the Canadian Government defended the deal saying that the Saudi deal will create and sustain more than 3,000 jobs a year for 14 years and will benefit 500 Canadian companies. “Canada won these jobs over rival bids from our western allies Germany and France. We supported this agreement to bring these jobs to Canada.” Trade Minister Ed Fast said, adding that the value of the deal could climb to nearly $14 billion if all options are exercised.
The contract with the Saudis follows an agreement last year that saw General Dynamics win a $65.3-million US contract with the Colombian government for the acquisition of 24 light armored vehicles. General Dynamics continues to bid for other international orders, including one from Morocco.
In contrast, last December the Canadian Ministry of Defense cancelled the procurement of 108 ‘Close Combat Vehicles’ (CCV) in a deal that would have worth $2 billions. GDLS Canada, the French Nexter and KMW of Germany were all competing for this program.