LIMA — The military vehicle of the future may be built in Lima.
The Joint Systems Manufacturing Center, the only operational tank plant in the country, will help develop a new prototype Mobile Protected Firepower vehicle. The U.S. government gave the operator of the government-owned plant, General Dynamic Land Systems, $335 million to deliver 12 prototype vehicles, according to a press release from GDLS.
A portion of those 12 vehicles will be assembled at the JSMC, and 12 turrets will be built here.
“Once fielded these new tanks will be a vital investment for our light infantry brigades, which have long lacked the armor and firepower necessary to meet the realities of today and tomorrow’s battlefields,” said U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, in a press release. “This is an important development for Lima and its irreplaceable workforce, and I look forward to continue supporting the JSMC’s efforts to provide high-quality weapons to the great men and women of our armed forces.”
The medium-weight, large-caliber combat vehicle will support infantry brigades, according to General Dynamic Land Systems. The vehicles must be “highly lethal, survivable and mobile.”
Portions of the new vehicles will also be built in Sterling Heights, Michigan; Scranton, Pennsylvania and Tallahassee, Florida.
The prototype will compete with one being built by BAE Systems, which received a $376 million contract. The Army will select a final prototype for the Mobile Protected Firepower vehicle in fiscal year 2022 after demonstrations and evaluations by the military.
The contract has options for low rate initial production for a total of up to $968 million. Ultimately, the Army plans to field 14 vehicles for each infantry brigade, Portman said, meaning a total of 504 vehicles for the winning design starting in fiscal year 2025.
“We are excited about this opportunity to provide the U.S. Army a large-caliber, highly mobile combat vehicle to support the infantry brigade combat teams,” said Don Kotchman, vice president and general manager of General Dynamics Land Systems U.S. Market, in a press release. “We are especially proud of this new opportunity to serve in the Infantry Brigade Combat Team formation, which we have not done until now.”
This is the latest good news for Lima’s tank plant, which was on the brink of mothballing just a few years ago. The National Defense Authorization Act for 2019 included $265.2 million in appropriations to continue Stryker vehicle upgrades and more than $1.5 billion for upgrades to 135 Abrams tanks, according to a press release by U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.
The plant already planned to hire nearly 400 new employees. Ohio Means Jobs Allen County has an informational session planned Wednesday and from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday for pre-registered possible new employees at the JSMC. More sessions will be planned in January. Potential employees can sign up at OMJAllen.com/gdls or by calling 419-999-0360. All meetings will be held at the Ohio Means Jobs Allen County office, 1501 S. Dixie Road, Lima.
“Today’s announcement is good news for workers at the JSMC plant and the Lima community,” Brown said in a press release. “JSMC workers have proven they are more than up to the task of producing the best quality products that keep our troops and our country safe.”