The armored vehicles bound for Saudi Arabia will be produced by General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada (GDLS). (General Dynamics)
WASHINGTON — Saudi Arabia has entered into a 14-year, $10 billion agreement with General Dynamics’ Canadian subsidiary for an undisclosed number of military and civilian armored vehicles, Canada’s Trade Minister Ed Fast announced Friday.
The vehicles will be produced by General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada (GDLS) in London, Ontario, and the deal could be worth up to $13 billion if all options are exercised by the Saudi government.
Ken Yamashita, a spokesman for GDLS said that while the company is contractually unable to divulge the number or make of the vehicles that are part of the deal, “these will be new vehicles” and the company is “starting to do design and development work immediately,” with the first vehicles rolling off the production line in 2016.
He wouldn’t say whether the vehicles were wholly new or a variant on an existing platform.
The international competition to win the Saudi work began about five years ago.
The facility in London employs about 2,400 people, and is the producer of the Canadian Army’s Light Armoured Vehicle (LAV), an eight-wheeled infantry carrier that serves as the basis for the US Army’s Stryker infantry carrier. Some Stryker chassis are also made at the facility.
In addition, the facility makes the Ocelot, a four-wheeled tactical vehicle used by British forces.
The deal includes a full maintenance and training package. Yamashita said the training of Saudi crews would likely take place in Canada and in Saudi Arabia, though because of clauses in the contract, he couldn’t confirm that the customer was Saudi Arabia.
Other parts of General Dynamics will also feel the effects of the deal, as work will be done by the US-based GD Land Systems facility in Sterling Heights, Mich., European Land Systems in Madrid, GD’s Ordnance and Tactical office in Saint Petersburg, Fla., and GD C4 Systems in Scottsdale, Ari.
One of the big concerns for the Saudis is its long, desolate land borders with neighbors like Iraq and Yemen, both of which have sizeable al-Qaida-inspired violent Islamist groups operating within their borders.
As a result, it’s long been known that the Kingdom was looking for fast, light, maneuverable ground vehicles that can traverse distances and operate in austere, unpaved environments. Other US and international military vehicle manufacturers were bidding for the work, including Oshkosh, which was at one point late last year in talks with the Saudis about their M-ATV, but whatever it is that General Dynamics showed them apparently won the day. ■