OVER THE YEARS
1941: Ohio Steel Foundry begins building a government-owned plant to manufacture gun tubes. The site is chosen due to its proximity to a steel mill, five railroads and national highway routes.
1942: U.S. Army purchases the property on which the Lima Army Tank Plant is located. United Motors Services operates plants. Produces M-5 light tank, the T-26 Pershing tank and a “super secret” amphibious tank intended for use on D-Day.
1942-46: During World War II, the Lima Tank Depot has more than 5,000 employees and processes more than 100,000 combat vehicles.
1948: Plant becomes a storage facility in post-World War II where tanks are dismantled. Numerous tanks were “canned” and stored in cylindrical gas containers with dehumidifiers.
1952: Korean War sees Depot expanded and manufacturing combat vehicles resume.
1959 to 1976: Tank Depot is deactivated following Korean truce. Building leased for commercial use.
1976: Lima Army Tank Plant is selected as production site for the M1 tank with Chrysler awarded the production contract. The hull and turret sections are fabricated with armored plate, rather than castings, allowing a lighter and stronger tank.
Feb. 28, 1980: First M1 tanked rolled out, designated the M1 Abrams, Thunderbolt, in honor of Gen. Creighton W. Abrams.
1982: General Dynamics purchases plant from Chrysler. Monthly output of tanks reaches 30.
1985: Last M1 tank produced in January. First M1A1 produced in August.
1986: Employment tops 4,000. Maximum monthly production of 120 M1A1 tanks is reached.
1990: First Abrams tank sold to another country as part of operation Desert Storm. Technical experts sent to Saudi Arabia for M1A1 fielding.
1990: Defense Department orders Detroit tank plant to close.
1990: Contract with Egypt sees first Abrams foreign military sales. Both Saudi Arabia and Kuwait now own tanks produced at the Lima plant.
1990: Support of Operation Desert Shield/Storm begins.
1991: Lima Army Tank Plant becomes the only facility in the U.S. that is a hull/chassis/turret fabricator and final systems integrator of the M1.
1992: First M1A2 tank is produced.
1994: Upgraded versions of the M1A2 tank produced.
1995: Production of new tanks halted. Instead, upgrades of current tanks take place under AIM (Abrams Integrated Management) program.
1996: Last full tank is produced.
1998: Contract is finalized for Wolverine Heavy Assault Bridge vehicles to be built in Lima.
2000: M1A2 SEP (system enhancement package) is slated to begin. The Abrams M1A2 SEP enhances the tank’s digital command and control abilities.
2001: $36 million worth of work awarded to plant includes a $12 million contract from the U.S. Marines to help with systems development and the demonstration phase of the Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicle, and a $24.6 million contract to produce eight more Wolverine Heavy Assault Bridges.
2001-2007: Total possible upgrades of Abrams tanks are 450.
2003: 1,200 Abrams tanks are used in Iraqi theater.
2003: On April 24, President George W. Bush visits the Lima Army Tank Plant.
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.
2005-2006: Australia purchases 60 M1A1 AIM tanks.
2011: Military officials have dealt a double blow to Lima’s tank plant. Not only is the Pentagon cancelling the production of the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, but a top Pentagon official seeks to close JSMC for four years.
2011: General Dynamics is awarded a $439.7 million contract for the Technology Development phase of the U.S. Army’s Ground Combat Vehicle Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) program.
2011: A system enhancement package upgrades the M1A2 tank’s command and control capabilities (analog to digital). New thermal management system. Production on first 129 tanks
2013: The JSMC is safe until 2015 as the Pentagon won’t request a BRAC process until then.
2014-15: The JSMC produces just one to three tanks a month as employment falls below 500.
2016: The final version of the Fiscal Year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act contains $371 million in funding for research, development and procurement of 81 Stryker vehicles with an upgraded weapon system.
2017: The JSMC gets over a billion dollars worth of funding for upgrades to Abrams tanks and Stryker vehicles after President Donald Trump signs the National Defense Authorization Act.
2019: The U.S. Army announced a $714 million order for General Dynamics Land Systems upgrades for 174 M1 Abrams tanks. It will result in a 58 percent increase in its workforce in a year’s time. General Dynamics estimates that JSMC will employ 935 individuals to produce 34 tanks each month.
March 20, 2019: President Trump visits the JSMC.
Graphic by: Gary Presley, Jim Krumel
Source: General Dynamics and The Lima News Archives