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Piranha

The Piranha family of light armoured vehicles, available in 4x4, 6x6, 8x8 and 10x10 configurations, has become the choice of military customers around the world. In 1977 the Canadian Forces selected the MOWAG Piranha 6x6 Armoured Vehicle General Purpose (AVGP). The Canadian government selected DDGM as the Canadian based contractor for this order. The armoured vehicle general purpose (AVGP) comes in three variants: the Cougar, the Grizzly and the Husky. The AVGP entered service in 1976. The Cougar's main function is to provide direct or semi-direct fire support in a combined operation. The Grizzly's primary use is to provide mobility and protection for an 11-person infantry section in combined arms operations.

By 1999, the Cougar was being gradually removed from service with the Regular Force and would remain operational at the Reserve unit level only. Plans were made to extend the life of some of the AVGP vehicles and to use them in a variety of new ways. The Canadian Forces order later led to a major contract with the US Marine Corps (USMC) for the 8x8 version of the Piranha and later to an even larger vehicle procurement by the U.S. Army TACOM for the National Guard of Saudi Arabia.

GKN teamed up with MOWAG of Switzerland in 1990 to produce the Piranha family of wheeled armoured vehicles to meet a number of requirements in the UK's FFLAV (Future Family of Light Armoured Vehicles). MOWAG and GKN Defence signed an agreement which licensed GKN to be system prime contractor for the design, integration, production and marketing of the GKN Piranha 8x8 for agreed customers. Vehicles have already been sold to Saudi Arabia and Oman. The GKN Piranha 8x8 can hold up to 15 persons. It has a combat weight of 12.3 tonnes, a maximum road speed of 100 km/h and a fording speed of 10.5 km/h. Its maximum range is 780 km and it can be armed for whatever role is assigned to it. Existing customers for the Piranha include Denmark, Canada (designated the LAV III Kodiak), and Sweden.

In August 1999 Diesel Division, General Motors of Canada Limited (DDGM), announced the acquisition of the privately owned Mowag Motorwagenfabrik AG (MOWAG), based in Kreuzlingen, Switzerland. The sale formalizes a 22-year working relationship between the two companies that has focussed on the design development, international licensing and manufacturing of the Piranha family of light armoured, wheeled military vehicles. DDGM had recently begun production of a new and significantly larger category of the Piranha 8x8, known as the LAV III, as part of a 651-unit replacement program for the Canadian Forces.

General Dynamics entered into a definitive agreement to acquire General Motors Defense for $1.1 billion in cash. General Motors Defense of London, Ontario, is a business unit of General Motors Corporation (NYSE: GM, GMH) of Detroit, Michigan. The transaction, which had been approved by the boards of directors of both companies, was subject to normal regulatory approval. It was expected to close by the end of the first quarter of 2003, and would be immediately accretive to earnings. GM Defense produces wheeled armored vehicles and turrets. In a joint venture with General Dynamics, GM Defense produces Stryker, the U.S. Armys transformational combat vehicle. Other GM Defense products include the LAV (Light Armored Vehicle) for Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Saudi Arabia; and the Piranha combat vehicle for a number of international customers. It anticipates 2002 revenues of approximately $950 million, and has a backlog of more than $1.5 billion.

The company had 2,400 employees in four operating units: GM Defense, Delco Systems in Goleta, California; GM Defence, Australia in Adelaide, South Australia; GM Defense, Canada in London, Ontario; and MOWAG Motorwagenfabrik AG in Kreuzlingen, Switzerland. General Dynamics anticipated no changes to production workforces in any of the GM Defense locations, and will honor all existing labor agreements.

On February 2, 2006 - Elbit Systems Ltd. reported that it was selected to supply various systems for the Belgian Armored Infantry Vehicle Program. The anticipated contract value for Elbit Systems' portion of the Program was expected to be in an amount material to Elbit Systems, with deliveries to take place between 2007 - 2012. This Program is related to a co-operation between Elbit Systems and the Swiss company Mowag, a part of the General Dynamics European Land Combat Systems Group. Mowag was selected by the Belgian Government to be the prime contractor for the supply of the Piranha III vehicles for the Program. The Program initially covered 138 vehicles out of a potential total of 242 vehicles.

Elbit Systems' portion of the Program includes the delivery of 30 mm unmanned turrets and various opto-electronic and electronic sub-systems. Finalization of the contract to Elbit Systems is expected within the coming weeks. Joseph Ackerman, President and CEO of Elbit Systems said: "We are proud to be selected to take part in this important project for the Belgian Army. The co-operation between Mowag and Elbit Systems reflects the level of recognition we have achieved with our customers, end users and business partners worldwide. The selection of our unmanned turrets constitutes a breakthrough in an emerging international market emanating from a shift in the modern battlefield. These systems implement the Elbit Systems Group's integrative and comprehensive abilities as well as our understanding of the modern combat arena." Mr. Ackerman added, "We hope that Mowag's selection of our solution for a major NATO member such as Belgium will serve as a case in point for other potential customers in Europe and across the globe."






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