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U.K. Buys 600 Armored Vehicles for British Army at $3.5 Billion

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron will today sign a 3.5 billion-pound ($5.8 billion) order from General Dynamics Corp. for nearly 600 armored Scout vehicles for the British Army.

Cameron pointed to the order, the biggest one for armor placed by the military in more than 30 years, as a sign of Britain’s continued commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which begins its biennial summit in Newport, Wales, tomorrow. The vehicles will be built at a factory nearby.

“Not only will they be crucial in helping to keep Britain safe, they will also underpin nearly 1,300 jobs,” Cameron said in an e-mailed statement. “We are ensuring Britain’s national security, staying at the forefront of the national race and providing leadership within NATO.”

Delivery of the Scout Specialist Vehicles is planned to start in 2017, with the first brigade ready for deployment by 2020. The British Army’s first “fully digitalized” armored vehicles, it will take on reconnaissance and combat roles.

Defense Secretary Michael Fallon will today use a speech in London to argue that military spending has spurred innovation of civilian technology, as well as provided security.

“Since NATO was formed, U.K. defense has delivered the first computers, thermal imaging and liquid crystal displays,” he will say, according to speech extracts released by his office. “Investment in defense drives a strong economy, and a strong economy provides confidence to invest in strong defense.”

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