LIMA — Employment at the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center now tops 800 as the tank plant today is producing about 35 Abrams tanks and 13 Stryker vehicles per month, a dramatic turnaround from the days when the tank plant produced just one tank per month.
Hiring will slow in the coming months but should resume in the fall, with employment expected to eventually surpass 900.
The latest employment and production totals were shared on Monday with Task Force L.I.M.A., a bi-monthly meeting of civic, business and JSMC representatives whose goal is to keep the tank plant operational and successful.
The plant’s latest challenge is training new employees — some of whom were recruited right out of high school — to assemble and weld its signature Abrams tanks and Stryker vehicles, tasks that Plant Manager Hank Kennedy said is more complicated and time consuming than comparable roles at other automotive plants.
But on-site training is available to recruits who have the appropriate credentials and basic welding or assembly experience, even if recruits have never worked on a combat vehicle before.
“We’re not going to teach you to weld,” Kennedy said, “we’re going to teach you how to weld on combat vehicles.”
In addition to the Abrams and Stryker vehicle upgrades, the JSMC has been helping General Dynamics Land Systems build prototypes for new versions of the Stryker and a new Mobile Protected Firepower vehicle. But another prototype the JSMC was assisting with — that of the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle — has been put on hold as the U.S. Army has pulled back from its prototype competition.
According to Defense News, General Dynamics Land Systems was the only contractor to submit a bid sample to the U.S. Army for the OMFV, which would replace the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle.
But the sample from GDLS “did not meet all the requirements,” Defense News reported in February. Other defense contractors that had reportedly been working on a prototype did not meet the deadline.
Reach Mackenzi Klemann at 567-242-0456.