General Dynamics to build 360 LAVs for Armed Forces

National Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan speaks to workers at General Dynamics Land Systems Canada in London, August 16, 2019. (Photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn News.)

London-based defence giant General Dynamics Land Systems Canada (GDLS) has landed a deal to produce 360 light armoured vehicles (LAV) for the Canadian Armed Forces.

National Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan announced on Friday the purchase of the military vehicles, which are designed and built at the company’s Oxford Street plant.

“As the workers who build these vehicles know, the LAV is the backbone of our army’s combat fleet. It is a tested, proven solution that meets the needs of Canada’s military,” said Sajjan. “These LAVs also help the men and women in our armed forces conduct work in dangerous environments with better protection and enhanced mobility. LAVs served us well in Afghanistan and they continue to serve our members well in Latvia.”

The 360 new LAVs will replace aging command posts, ambulances, and engineering vehicles currently being used by Canada’s armed forces and provide services like troop transport and vehicle recovery, said Sajjan.

The estimated cost of the project is $3 billion, with a repayable loan worth up to $650 million. That price tag also includes new infrastructure to house and maintain the vehicles.

Sajjan stated this investment by the federal government will save money in the long term as the country’s military personnel are already familiar with the LAV, reducing costs associated with training time.

National Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan speaks to workers at General Dynamics in London.

Under the deal, General Dynamics will reinvest an amount equal to the value of this contract into the economy.

The deal also provides job security for the company’s 1,650 workers in London.

“I know that every single one of them put their heart and soul into the work into these armoured vehicles because they know who is using them and they know where they are going to be using them,” said Sajjan.

In addition to overseas missions, the LAVs are used by the Canadian Armed Forces for domestic disaster relief operations. The fleet of armoured vehicles was instrumental to efforts to stop and mitigate widespread flooding this spring in Ontario, New Brunswick, and Quebec, Sajjan noted.

Mayor Ed Holder and local MPs Peter Fragiskatos and Kate Young joined Sajjan at General Dynamics Friday.

GDLS Vice President and General Manager John Ellison also spoke during following the announcement declaring it a “great day.”

“For over 40 years our London, Ontario facility has protected Canadian soliders on missions abroad and we are committed to advancing Canadian innovation and to provide jobs for Canadians,” said Ellison. “We are thankful for this announcement as it represents good jobs for our employees and our network of suppliers in all regions across Canada.”

In 2017, the defence firm was tapped to upgrade 141 of the Canadian Armed Forces armoured vehicles in a contract worth $400-million.

General Dynamics also supplies armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia under a lucrative $15-billion deal that has repeatedly come under fire due to that country’s human rights record. Last year, the federal government announced a review of the arms deal with the Saudi government, which has yet to be completed.

When asked for a timeline on when the review will be finished, Sajjan simply said, “I can’t, unfortunately, answer that question.”