Our Heritage

While General Dynamics European Land Systems was established as the European arm of General Dynamics in 2003, its roots in global defense go back more than 470 years.

The first company the group acquired in Europe, Santa Bárbara Sistemas (Spain) in July 2001, is recognized as one of the oldest weapons manufacturers in the world. It began making cannons for Spanish Armada in 1540.

Motorenwagenfabrik Mowag (Switzerland) was established in 1950 it has made its name internationally as a leading manufacturer of troop carriers and other specialized vehicles.

Foremost among these is the PIRANHA family, the most successful Western wheeled armored vehicle ever, which is now operated by more than 20 armies worldwide. Mowag became part of GDELS in July 2004.

The other vehicle specialist in the group is Steyr-Daimler-Puch Spezialfahrzeug (Austria), a company whose engineering expertise dates back to the mid-19th century.

It switched from manufacturing civilian vehicles to military ones a century ago in 1916, a path that led the way to the introduction of another highly versatile family of modern armored vehicles, the PANDUR. Steyr-Daimler-Puch has been a wholly owned subsidiary of GDELS since October 2003.

Another part of the group that can trace its history back more than a century and a half is the former EWK Eisenwerke Kaiserslautern, which was renamed General Dynamics European Land Systems-Germany when it was acquired in October 2002.

The company’s experience in conventional bridge building led it into the specialist sector of military floating bridge systems. These are now used all around the world by armies and also by civilian traffic in times of emergency.

The last member of GDELS is a new venture into the Czech Republic, GDELS-Czech, which opened in 2014.

Major events that have shaped the company


Foundation of Seville factory in Spain


Opening of the Granada factory in Spain


Trubia factory in Spain starts operations


EWK Eisenwerke Kaiserslautern was founded


Steyr-Daimler Puch Spezialfahrzeug GmbH starts operations


Motorwagenfabrik AG (Mowag) is established


General Motors Canada acquires Motorwagenfabrik AG (Mowag)


GD acquires 25 % of Steyr-Daimler Puch Spezialfahrzeug AG


GD acquires Santa Bárbara Sistemas S.A.


SBS acquires EWK Eisenwerke Kaiserslautern, renamed Santa Bárbara Sistemas GmbH


GD acquires GM Defense, including Mowag AG


GD acquires 75 % of Steyr-Daimler Puch Spezialfahrzeug AG


General Dynamics European Land Systems was formed


GD transfers 100% of Mowag AG to GDELS


Santa Bárbara Sistemas GmbH renamed GDELS-Germany


Full integration of Mowag AG and Steyr into GDELS