4 down, 46 to go as first batch of London, Ont.-built armoured vehicles will soon be sent to Ukraine

The first four of 50 military vehicles being built at a London, Ont., factory have rolled off the assembly line and will soon be en route to the Ukrainian army.

The announcement was made Wednesday during an event at General Dynamics Land Systems's (GDLS) manufacturing plant. It was attended by Canadian government and company officials as well as a handful of employees at the plant.

"We know that these vehicles will save lives," said Jason Alejandro Monahan, GDLS Canada's vice-president. "Decisions like this are incredibly important, both for helping Ukraine secure its future, but also for securing and creating jobs here in London and across our 600 suppliers in Canada."

Col. Andrii Shmilyk, Ukraine's military attaché for Canada, was also at the event but didn't speak at the event.

London North Centre MP MP Peter Fragiskatos and Ukrainian Colonel Andrii Shmilyk stand side by side, flanked by General Dynamics employees at Wednesday's event.
London North Centre MP MP Peter Fragiskatos, right, and Ukrainian Col. Andrii Shmilyk are seen in front of employees at GDLS. (Alessio Donnini/CBC News)

The four ambulance-variant armoured combat support vehicles (ACSVs) are part of a broader commitment made last September during Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's visit to Ottawa. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $650 million would be provided for 50 new military vehicles, as well as other contributions, to aid Ukraine in the war against Russia that began in February 2022.

The 50, costing a total of $500 million, are in addition to 39 GDLS military vehicles that were delivered to Ukraine in 2022.

Defence Minister Bill Blair previously said 10 vehicles would be shipped to Ukraine by summer.

At the plant on Wednesday, London North Centre MP Peter Fragiskatos told reporters the four ACSVs on display would be en route to Ukraine in the coming days and six more will be shipped in July.

After that, 40 more vehicles, the types of which aren't yet known, will make their way to Ukraine. The timeline for the rest of the shipments is unclear.

The 10 ambulance-variant ACSVs are expected to first arrive in Germany, where Ukrainian soldiers will be trained in how to use them, and it's expected they'll be deployed in Ukraine by autumn to help evacuate wounded soldiers from combat zones, Fragiskatos said.

"Imagine what would happen without these kinds of vehicles," he said. "You would have makeshift, improvised recovery operations to get soldiers off the battlefield. Here you have state-of-the-art equipment that can see, and has seen, Ukrainian soldiers taken off the battlefield, operated on as necessary, given whatever help they might require and allowed to to recover."

A total of 10 ambulance variants of the General Dynamics ASCV will be sent to  Ukraine, expected to be in use by early Autumn, said London MP Peter Fragiskatos.
It's expected the 10 ambulance-variants military vehicles being shipped this summer from Canada will be in use by early autumn, said Fragiskatos. (Alessio Donnini/CBC News)

How much each individual vehicle costs is unclear. A GDLS spokesperson said it would depend on the operational requirements of each vehicle, as they're tailor-made to the requests of the Ukrainian military.

Roughly 1,800 people work at GDLS's London facility. The employees who were at Wednesday's announcement were encouraged to sign a Ukrainian flag that will be shipped with the vehicles.

"When [the flag] is seen by Ukrainians, I think it'll be that much more important," said Fragiskatos.