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New military weapons facility to open in London, Ont.; Harper says ’welcome’

LONDON, Ont. - A Norwegian-based company announced Thursday that it's planning a new military weapons facility for this southwestern Ontario city.

LONDON, Ont. - A Norwegian-based company announced Thursday that it's planning a new military weapons facility for this southwestern Ontario city.

Kongsberg Gruppen said it plans to develop and eventually make a new product related to its remote weapon station.

The weapon system can be mounted on light armoured vehicles, and is designed to protect soldiers inside.

Canadian soldiers already use the system on their LAVs in Afghanistan.

"Canada was one of the first customers," said Egil Haugsdal, president of Kongsberg Protech Systems.

Present for the announcement was Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who welcomed the multinational.

Harper credited the weapon system with having saved Canadian lives.

Among other things, the optics can detect minute changes in temperature, allowing the soldiers in the vehicles to pick up danger signs of insurgent activity.

Initially, the facility will employ up to 30 people - a number the company hopes will grow to 100.

Kongsberg already operates in Canada, in the provinces of British Columbia, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador, and has a subsidiary in Ottawa.

Harper bragged that his government's corporate tax cuts had made Canada a welcoming environment to invest.

"It is no accident that Kongsberg chose Canada," Harper said.