Rheinmetall DefenceBy Anna Guy

The preferred and most trusted source of systems and services for the security and defence domains.

Rheinmetall Canada is a proud member of Germany’s Rheinmetall Group, one of Europe’s largest suppliers of systems and equipment for the armed forces. With over 300 employees at locations in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Ottawa, Rheinmetall Canada has demonstrated expertise in the development, integration, and production of platform-independent systems for more than 30 years.

Rheinmetall first came to Canada in 1986. At the time, the company was operating under the name Oerlikon Aerospace, which was acquired by Rheinmetall Group in 1999. In its 30 years in Canada, Rheinmetall Canada has gone from being focused on one product, to a diversified company with four product lines—weapons systems, vehicle integration, air defence, and electronic systems.

Mr. Stéphane Oehrli was appointed President and CEO of Rheinmetall Canada on October 1st, 2017. Prior to his current role, Mr. Oehrli served as Vice President Sales and Programs Management for Rheinmetall Canada for three years, and in a variety of senior management roles within the company since 2003.

Business Elite Canada spoke with Mr. Oehrli about the special role Rheinmetall Canada plays within the Canadian economy industry, the company’s 30 years of success, and vision for the future.

Has a lot changed since Mr. Oehrli became CEO? “It has not been a huge adjustment because I know the company so well, having been here since 2003. I grew through the ranks of Rheinmetall Canada taking different responsibilities in the organization, so I was well prepared,” says Oehrli.

“Our objective is to sustain business space at the levels we are at and lay the foundations for the next round of growth,” he continues. “We have good inroads and opened new market possibilities, and now need to consolidate those and look for next steps. I’m looking at expansion not revolution. The company has developed itself over the years, and we will now continue the journey.”

30 Years of Service in Canada

Oehril is proud of Rheinmetall Canada’s 30 years of services to the Canadian Armed Forces and the Canadian Coast Guard. The legacy of the Air Defence Anti Tank System (ADATS) Program, essentially solidified the company’s North American position as a leader in innovative solutions for land forces and public security. The company’s first mandate was to manufacture and provide support for the ADATS missile system for the Canadian Forces Low-Level Air Defence (LLAD) program.

Rheinmetall Canada has since proudly provided high quality equipment to the Canadian Armed Forces through a wide variety of products, ranging from Close Area Suppression Weapon system, Leopard Training Tanks and Shield Replacement with MASS for the Royal Canadian Navy. More recently, Rheinmetall Canada was awarded contracts to provide the CAF with an Integrated Soldier System, as well as the Medium Range Radar, as part of its teaming with ELTA, and the company is currently performing the final integration and acceptance testing of the Tactical Armoured Patrol Vehicles (TAPV) as part of its partnership with Textron.

“ADATS had state-of-the-art laser guided missiles and advanced electro-optics for the time,” says Oehrli. “The facilities [in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu] were built here for those machines to be made. We won a successful contract to build 300 more for the U.S., but ultimately that contract was cancelled with the end of the Cold War.”
“However, with the ADATS system, we built a lot of expertise that we still apply today,” says Oehrli, “and many people from that time are still with us. This early ADATS had a very complex system integration and design. We have gained invaluable expertise in a lot of different fields out of that system.”

From individual components to integrated systems based on operational requirements and doctrines, Rheinmetall Canada uses this expertise for flexible, scalable technology, a wide variety of command and control and display solutions, different levels of integration as well as variable vehicle integration, including Rheinmetall or third-party hardware and software. Rheinmetall Canada is able to offer turnkey solutions for monitoring critical military and civilian infrastructure as well as port and border security – including support in planning, installation and operation, backed up by round-the-clock after sales service support.

Keeping Canada Safe

“We closely work with our customer by providing state-of-the-art equipment and cutting edge technology. Therefore, we strive to offer the Canadian Armed Forces with the tools they need to fulfill their mission, which is to keep Canada and her allies safe,” says Oehrli.

Rheinmetall keeps soldiers as a priority in all aspects. “First and foremost, Rheinmetall Canada takes great pride in hiring veterans because these men and women easily comprehend the needs of their former colleagues in uniform,” says Oehrli. “Therefore, they provide invaluable insight on how to adapt the equipment so that it is user-friendly and convenient for the soldier. They are not only dedicated employees and they deeply care about providing equipment that will allow the troops to remain safe and to fulfill their mission, but also they have received a very good training in the Canadian Armed Forces.”

Rheinmetall Canada is also applying defence technology to security solutions for commercial needs, including asset and critical infrastructure protection.

Over $1B in Completed Industrial and Technological Benefit Obligations

Rheinmetall Canada’s economic footprint has consistently expanded since the ADATS. “As of today, we have achieved a major milestone of almost $1.3B in Industrial and Technological Benefits transactions pertaining to our operations in Canada over the span of the last 30 years – an impressive footprint in Canada,” says Oehrli. “We subcontracted with over a 1,000 different suppliers in Canada in the last eight to nine years, and they were located in nine of the 10 provinces.”

Of the achievement, the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development has said, “Rheinmetall Canada has made a significant long-term commitment to Canada, investing in research and development, providing Canadian firms opportunities to participate in global supply chains, and supporting the growth of small and medium-sized businesses in Canada.”


Oehrli goes on to say Rheinmetall Canada continues to expand its fields of expertise, gaining knowledge in the radar world, and integrated soldier systems. “The competencies and skills we have continue to open new market segments to us. That is how we have evolved into the company that we are today,” says Oehrli.

Today, Rheinmetall Canada is essentially active in three segments. One is vehicle integration, the other is weapons systems, the third is electronic solutions. “From there, we still have our residing and historic competencies from air defence times, for example we use our position and team with partners to deliver the Medium Range Radar program to Canada,” says Oehrli.

Rheinmetall Canada is a success story that started in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, but its influence is felt throughout the country. A technological and engineering pioneer, Rheinmetall Canada not only delivers high quality equipment, but high-quality jobs, Research and Development, and technology for Canada.