LIMA — A Maryland congressman has once again come to the defense of the Lima-built Abrams tank.U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., who is the chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces, has inserted language into the committee's additions to the National Defense Authorization Act that calls for upgrading M-1A2 Abrams tanks over the next year at the Lima facility. That committee is the first of many to meet on the details of the proposed defense budget and, as it was last year, the first to push for the Abrams program.The Army has said it wants to mothball the Abrams program, basically stopping all purchases from 2014 through 2017. That would mean the loss of nearly 1,000 jobs in Lima and thousands more from the companies nationwide that supply material and elements for the tank.U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, a Dayton Republican and chairman of the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee, announced the news Thursday. Turner joined Bartlett on a tour of the Buckeye Road plant last year and the two have been advocates for keeping the plant open ever since.“Keeping the plant open will not only allow the facility to focus on modernizing tanks for our troops, but also on the production of tanks for our allies around the world. These workers produce the most lethal and survivable combat vehicle we have to offer our service members. Their work is key to the defense of this nation and I look forward to continuing to advocate on behalf of the plant as this bill heads to the full committee,” Turner said Thursday.If the news sounds familiar, it is because it is a repeat of a similar move last year. In January 2011, the Pentagon announced plans to shutter the Abrams program. Plant operator General Dynamics pushed back and a slew of legislators came to their aid. By year's end, the 2012 defense appropriations bill included an additional $255 million to buy 42 tanks. This year, General Dynamics is looking for at least $181 million needed to build 33 more tanks. And once again, legislators have joined the fight. Earlier this week, Turner joined U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, and 171 other House members in signing a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta asking that tank funding be maintained. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, drafted a similar letter to the leadership of the Senate Armed Services Committee stressing the importance of the plant, both in terms of jobs and national defense.