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Hard-fought success: after signing a multi-billion dollar procurement deal, General Dynamics Land Systems--Canada shows no sign of slowing down.

THERE'S A BLOG online that recounts the story of when the first Canadian LAV III hit an improvised explosive device (IED) somewhere near Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2006.

The entire front end of the vehicle, all 16.95 tons of it, was lifted into the air and then slammed back down into the broken ground, swallowed up by a billowing cloud of smoke, dust and debris. Hidden somewhere in the chaos, a small number of Canadian soldiers struggled to comprehend what happened before snapping back to reality. Adrenaline took over. The smell of cordite filled the cabin of the LAV; someone was tangled up in two machine gun belts, another screamed, "ED! IED!" into the radio. Fortunately, everyone involved in this IED attack survived.

A lot of lessons were learned in Afghanistan, and for the LAV III, this was one of many. Few Canadian military vehicles, post-WWII, have been tested so thoroughly in battle. The LAV III went into service in 1999, and took some pretty serious punishment during its long tenure fighting the Taliban, where it felt the sting of small-arms fire, the impact of rocket-propelled grenades, and the crippling blast of roadside IEDs. While the LAV III performed admirably during the Afghanistan mission, further attention needed to be paid to countering the effects of the weapons used in asymmetric warfare.

General Dynamics Land Systems--Canada (GDLS-C) made their mark in London, Ontario in 1977. Back then they were called Diesel Division, General Motors of Canada. Since that time, the company has steadily bolstered its reputation in this country and around the world as a leader in light armoured vehicle platforms, capable of achieving mission success in a variety of combat or humanitarian roles.

General Dynamics Land Systems--Canada's LAV III design came at the right time for the Canadian Armed Forces in Afghanistan. The company's foresight in creating an agile workhorse equipped for the unique characteristics of asymmetric warfare was a strategy that paid off--both for the company and for the soldiers who operate them.

As Canada's combat mission in Afghanistan drew to a close in July 2011, the Army's fleet of LAV Ills needed some serious attention in order to get them back into fighting shape. In 2011, Canadian Minister of Public Works Rona Ambrose, together with Associate Defence Minister Julian Fantino, announced that General Dynamics Land Systems--Canada had been awarded the Implementation Phase of the LAV III Upgrade Project (LAV-UP). Designed to capitalize on lessons learned in Afghanistan while increasing the LAV III's lifespan up to 2035, GDLS-C's work on the armoured vehicles was extensive. The comprehensive upgrade--aimed at providing increased survivability, lethality and mobility--dramatically heightens the capability of the vehicle.

The changes made to the LAV III were based on extensive consultations with operators and technicians, culminating in exhaustive changes to the original vehicle while retaining proven successes. General Dynamics Land Systems--Canada began by swapping out the traditional hull of the LAV III for a Double-V hull, proven to provide increased defence from blasts originating underneath the vehicle by deflecting them outward, and then added energy-attenuating seats to boost the protection of crew inside the vehicle. While the turret drive and proven weapon were re-used at significant cost savings, nearly everything else--from larger Michelin tires, a larger 450hp engine, drivetrain and suspension to turret sights and gun control electronics--were new additions. These significant enhancements led the Canadian Army to re-name the vehicle. It would now be known as the LAV 6.0.

According to Andrew Service, the General Dynamics Land Systems--Canada program manager for the LAV UP program, the company has done more than deliver a highly capable vehicle. "We have met all of our project milestones on schedule", said Service. "To date we have delivered 133 vehicles and in August 2014, the Canadian Army declared that the LAV 6.0 had achieved Initial Operational Capability". Service went on further to state, "We are proud of the fact that the vehicle was designed, manufactured and supported right here in Canada and that a supplier base of more than 500 Canadian companies supported this program. We are especially proud of the fact that the life-saving Double-V hull is a patented design that was developed by one of our London engineers."

The success of the LAV 6.0 vehicle has catapulted the company to a new level on the international stage, prompting General Dynamics Land Systems--Canada Vice President Danny Deep to confidently claim that "the best armoured vehicles in the world are made in Canada" He may just be right.

On February 14 2014, Minister of International Trade Ed Fast, along with Deep, announced the largest advanced manufacturing export win in Canada's history. The historic multi-billion-dollar contract wasn't only a boon for General Dynamics Land Systems--Canada, but also for the hundreds of suppliers that will undoubtedly benefit from its economic benefits, including up to 3,000 jobs. Said Fast at the announcement of the contract: "We know we can compete with the very best in the world and win. This is the largest, the biggest contract (of its kind), Canada has ever witnessed."

There's no question that General Dynamics Land Systems--Canada has the world's attention, and the armoured vehicle manufacturer shows no signs of slowing down. On the heels of its recent $10 billion deal came another $67 million contract in July to supply Peru with personnel carrier variants of their LAV II family, a vehicle with amphibious capabilities.

Afghanistan was full of hard-fought lessons; it's beginning to look as if General Dynamics Land Systems--Canada paid pretty close attention.

Caption: The LAV 6.0 further enhances the combat-proven LAV III. With an inherent Double-V hull and energy attenuating seats, the LAV 6.0 provides world-class protection. The vehicle also features an upgraded driveline, suspension, larger tires, and a more powerful engine to deliver significantly increased payload and superior mobility performance, (PHOTO COURTESY GENERAL DYNAMICS LAND SYSTEMS--CANADA)

Caption: The new LAV 6.0 (foreground) arrived at CFB Edmonton in the spring of 2014. Behind it is the previous generation LAV III. The LAV 6.0 was part of the 2nd Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry's (2 PPCLI) Memorial Baton Relay that was conducted from Edmonton to Ottawa in August 2014, to coincide with the regiment's 100th anniversary. (2 PPCLI)


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Title Annotation:EYE ON INDUSTRY
Author:McNaught, Jason
Publication:Esprit de Corps
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Oct 1, 2014
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