LIMA â?? The Pentagon is keeping the Abrams tank in its long-term plans, but says it has enough tanks for the near term and can save money by shuttering the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in Lima.
A bipartisan group of officials, including congressmen and Task Force L.I.M.A., has led a multi-state effort to continue the funding of upgrades needed on Abrams tanks. That work has resulted in Congress keeping funding for minimal tank refurbishing at the JSMC, the only place in the United States where the tank is made.
Meanwhile, the White House has objected to the money inserted in new bills. A memo from President Barack Obamaâ??s Office of Management and Budget said if the total appropriation is too much, senior advisors would recommend that President Obama veto the bill.
General Dynamics, the task force and a large, bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House and Senate say the cost to close the program and bring it back up is more than the Army has calculated, and in the meantime would permanently harm the program by dismantling the industrial base that builds the tank.
In recent national coverage, reporters are using the fight between the Pentagon and Congress to highlight the difficulty the Pentagon has in ending programs it no longer wants, because defense contractor jobs are spread in key states and fought for on both sides of the aisle. It also is a preview of whatâ??s to come with sequestration, the automatic across-the-board government cuts coming because of Congressâ?? failure to achieve a deficit reduction plan.
Production originally occurred at two sites: Lima and Detroit. More than 9,000 Abrams tanks produced for domestic and foreign sales. Lima is the only remaining production facility in the U.S.
â?¢ 1976 â?? The Lima Army Tank Plant selected to produce XM-1 tank with Chrysler.
â?¢ Feb. 28, 1980 â?? First M-1 tanked rolled out, designated the M-1 Abrams, Thunderbolt, in honor of Gen. Creighton W. Abrams.
â?¢ 1982 â?? General Dynamics purchases plant from Chrysler. Monthly output of tanks reaches 30.
â?¢ 1985 â?? Last M1 tank produced in January. First M1A1 produced in August.
â?¢ 1986 â?? Employment tops 4,000. Maximum monthly production of 120 M1A1 tanks is reached.
â?¢ 1990 â?? First Abrams tank sold to another country as part of operation Desert Storm. Technical experts sent to Saudi Arabia for M1A1 fielding.
â?¢ 1990 - Defense Department orders Detroit tank plant to close.
â?¢ 1992 â?? First M1A2 tanks roll out of Lima plant.
â?¢ 1994 â?? Upgraded versions of the M1A2 tank produced.
â?¢ 1995 â?? Production of new tanks halted. Instead, upgrades of current tanks take place under AIM (Abrams Integrated Management) program.
â?¢ 2001-2007 â?? Total possible upgrades of Abrams tanks are 450.
â?¢ 2005-2006 â?? Australia purchases 60 M1A1 AIM tanks.
â?¢ 2011 â?? A system enhancement package upgrades the M1A2 tankâ??s command and control capabilities (anolog to digital). New thermal management system. Production on first 129 tanks
In 2004, the Lima Army Tank Plant changes its name to Joint Systems Manufacturing Center to highlight the fact the plant produces various vehicles to several branches of the military.
â?¢ EFV (Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle): 37-ton armored personnel carrier to be used by U.S. Marine Corp.
â?¢ MK-46 Turrets â?? Used by Navy on smaller ships
â?¢ Stryker â?? 8-wheeled light armored vehicle. JSMC makes upper hull
â?¢ Cougar â?? Mine-protected utility vehicle for U.S. Marines Corps.
â?? Source: General Dynamics