The government also plans to purchase close combat vehicles, tactical armoured patrol vehicles and force mobility enhancement vehicles.
“Our government is committed to providing the army with the modern robust equipment it needs to fulfil its missions in today's dangerous operating environment,” MacKay said.
“Wherever in the world Canadian soldiers find themselves, we owe it to them to give them the protective equipment that they need to do the job we've asked them to do.”
Many of the LAV-3s, that have been
the army's principle fighting vehicle in Afghanistan, are in need of a major overhaul by the time the combat mission ends in 2011.
General Dynamics Land Systems Canada will be the prime contractor on the LAV upgrade.
Tom de Faye, the company's director of marketing and business development, said, “With this upgrade program, we'll now be able to take the lessons learned from the deployment of LAV-3s in Afghanistan and the Strykers in Iraq, with over 40 million kilometres of combat experience,” he said.
“This is a significant day for the army,” said Lieutenant-General Andrew Leslie, chief of land staff.
“Actually, it's a great day for the army.”
“These vehicles will provide the army with the modern and robust equipment needed to fulfill its role in today's increasingly dangerous operating environment,” he said.
“They will also ensure that we are ready to take on the challenges of the future.”
pay for the upgrading of 550 LAV-3s, with an option to upgrade another 80.
The military is also buying 108 close combat vehicles – or mini-tank for battle escort – with an option to buy 30 more, and 500 tactical armoured patrol vehicles, with an option for 100 more.
In addition, they will get 13 armoured engineer vehicles with an option for another five.
“We're going to make things better, harder, faster, better able to survive, to give you the fighting chance you need to get the job done, and come home,” Gen. Leslie said.
The announcement is part of the government's Canada First Defence Strategy and the purchases will create jobs in both the manufacturing and maintenance of the vehicles.
“Industrial and regional benefits will be a requirement for all four projects,” MacKay said.
“Under our industrial and regional benefits policy, winning contractors from outside the country must spend an equivalent amount – dollar for dollar – on the contract value here in Canada.”
The project to upgrade the LAVs will mean work for General Dynamics Land Systems Canada's plants in London, Ont., and Edmonton and 400 suppliers across the country.
Contracts are expected to be awarded for 2011 and the military will start using the new vehicles by 2012.
The government expects the entire fleet to be fully operational by 2015.