06/08/2012 05:09 EDT | Updated 08/08/2012 05:12 EDT

Canada Tactical Armoured Vehicle Purchase: 500 New Units Will cost $708 Million


CFB GAGETOWN, N.B. - The federal government is spending $708 million to buy 500 armoured vehicles for the Canadian Army.

They will be built by Textron Systems Canada Inc., based in Ottawa.

"The new vehicles, the first of which are expected to be delivered in 2014, will provide our soldiers with great multi-role combat capability," said Julian Fantino, associate minister of national defence, as he made the announcement Friday at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown in southern New Brunswick.

"They will be able to perform reconnaissance and surveillance, provide command and control, deliver cargo and serve as an armoured personnel carrier."

He said the vehicles, known formally as Tactical Armoured Patrol Vehicles, will provide a safer alternative to the military's existing Coyotes and RG-31s.

The new, four-wheeled vehicles will eventually replace the Coyote and the RG-31, as well as the smaller G-Wagon.

"We have learned many lessons through our combat operations in Afghanistan, one of which being the importance of armoured vehicles in protecting our soldiers from today's threats in operation," Fantino told soldiers gathered for the announcement.

The safety aspect was echoed by Brig.-Gen. Christopher Thurrott, commander of Land Force Atlantic Area.

"A vehicle like the TAPV will not only give us unmatched reconnaissance ability and manoeuvrability, whatever our mission and wherever we are sent, it will also provide the highest level of safety and protection to the men and women we assign to crew it," he said.

"What a great day to be in the army."

Neil Rutter, general manager of Textron Systems Canada, said the new vehicle has been in development for five years. He promised they would be delivered on-time.

"We will deliver a vehicle that will provide the Canadian Army with an unmatched blend of protection, power, mobility and growth potential," Rutter said.

The vehicles are one component of $5-billion in upgrades to the army's combat vehicles announced in 2009.