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Military Capabilities

Saudi LAV procurement under threat

13 August 2017

Saudi Arabia’s multibillion-dollar order for General Dynamics Land Systems Canada (GDLS-C) Light Armoured Vehicles (LAVs) could be jeopardised by the emergence of video footage showing Canadian-made vehicles purportedly being used in a security operation in a Shia area in the east of the kingdom.

A Terradyne Gukha armoured vehicle of the Saudi Emergency Force is seen during a security exercise held in Bahrain in November 2016 (A Terradyne Gukha armoured vehicle of the Saudi Emergency Force is seen during a security exercise held in Bahrain in November 2016. Saudi Press Agency.)A Terradyne Gukha armoured vehicle of the Saudi Emergency Force is seen during a security exercise held in Bahrain in November 2016 (A Terradyne Gukha armoured vehicle of the Saudi Emergency Force is seen during a security exercise held in Bahrain in November 2016. Saudi Press Agency.)

The footage began to emerge on 26 July showing Terradyne Gurkha armoured vehicles, which are made in Ontario, operating alongside older Unimog-based UH-416 armoured vehicles purportedly moving into Al-Awamiyah. This combination of vehicles is used by the Special Security Forces, while the Saudi Emergency Forces (SEF) also use the Ghurka.

Located in the Shia-populated Al-Qatif area of the Eastern Province, Al-Awamiyah has become a flashpoint since May, when the Saudi authorities launched an effort to tear down a densely populated old neighbourhood that was difficult to police.

Activists claimed at least five unarmed men were shot dead during the 26-27 July operation in Al-Awamiyah. A security forces sergeant was then killed and six of his colleagues wounded when they were attacked with an “exploding projectile” on 30 July, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.

The Saudi authorities organised a tour on 9 August to show journalists that the old neighbourhood had been largely destroyed.

The reports that Gurkha vehicles may have been used in the operation prompted the Canadian government to promise to investigate.

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