On eve of NATO summit, General Dynamics lands $5.8 billion U.K. order by Geoffrey Smith @FortuneMagazine September 3, 2014, 8:12 AM EST E-mail Tweet Facebook Google Plus Linkedin Share icons General Dynamics GD is to get a $5.76 billion order for nearly 600 Armored Fighting Vehicles from the British army, in a landmark deal ahead of a NATO summit in Wales later this week. The order, for 589 Scout Specialist Vehicles, is the biggest from the British army in 30 years and comes as the conflict in Ukraine has exposed the degree to which the U.S.’s allies in Europe have let their defense capability degrade in the 23 years since the end of the Cold War. The U.K. one of very few European members of NATO that actually meets the alliance’s policy of spending 2% of gross domestic product on defense, and U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, who is hosting the summit, is expected to urge other European members to raise their spending at the summit. His proposition is likely to be a tough sell to countries that are having to dismantle their generous welfare states and scrap vast swathes of labor protection rules in order to avoid bankruptcy after the euro crisis. But there have already been signs that European countries are reassessing the scale of the security threat posed by a resurgent Russia. Sweden and Finland, two countries which were both officially neutral during the Cold War, are due to sign agreements that would allow NATO to send troops there during “emergency situations”, according to official statements. Meanwhile, the alliance is also planning to set up new bases in eastern Europe for the first time, at the urging of countries like Poland and Lithuania, who only emerged from the Soviet orbit in the 1990s. The creation of a rapid reaction brigade is also on the agenda. The Scout vehicles are to be delivered from 2017 onwards, with first deployments expected in 2020. They will be made at GD’s plant in Caerphilly in Wales.