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Lockheed moving armored vehicle production

Keywords: Tags  Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, JLTV, Department of Defense, Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, Oshkosh Corp., AM General, Charles Szews sequestration

CHICAGO — Defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. will move production of a joint light tactical vehicle (JLTV) to its Camden, Ark., manufacturing complex after its program partner announced plans to close the plant where the prototype vehicles were made.

Prototypes of the JLTV, an armored fighting vehicle meant to replace the Humvee, were produced at BAE Systems Plc’s manufacturing facility in Sealy, Texas, for the defense program’s technology, engineering and manufacturing development phases, but the British company said Oct. 15 that it would close the plant by the end of June 2014.

"There is a declining defense market, with not enough work coming into that facility, plus a lot of competition in the (armored vehicle) market, so BAE is consolidating its manufacturing resources," a BAE Systems spokeswoman told AMM.

BAE Systems’ Sealy facility produced 22 JLTV prototypes with Lockheed Martin, the spokeswoman said. "Other than that," it has been "producing turrets and spare parts for vehicles made in the past."

In taking on JLTV manufacturing, Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed Martin is implementing "a low-risk production plan that will ... help make our JLTV more affordable," Scott Greene, vice president of ground vehicles, said Oct. 15, because the company "recognizes the budget pressures our customers face."

The team will continue to provide "the most cost-competitive offering" without sacrificing quality or technical capability, said Mark Signorelli, BAE Systems vice president and general manager of combat vehicles.

BAE Systems said it will remain a key partner on the Lockheed Martin JLTV team, providing integrated cabs, protection solutions and other vehicle manufacturing expertise.

The U.S. Department of Defense also awarded South Bend, Ind.-based AM General LLC a $64.5-million contract in August 2012 to produce 22 JLTV prototypes, which were delivered two months ago from its Mishawaka, Ind., factory.

Oshkosh Corp., another JLTV bid winner contracted to deliver 22 prototypes, laid off 900 people in its defense division this summer. "(Our) lower expected vehicle production is due mainly to the reduction in U.S. Defense budgets and a return to peacetime spending levels as the U.S. winds down war activities," the Oshkosh, Wis.-based company said.

During a July 30 earnings call, Oshkosh chief executive officer Charles Szews acknowledged that sequestration also was "having a devastating impact on the DOD budget," but hoped the JLTV program would remain funded as "it’s a high-priority program, relevant in all battles in all theaters. That’s why we think that in the budget battles, it will fare well."

Although specifications for military vehicles like the JLTV are classified, such vehicles are known to utilize armored steel plate for structural elements, the roof, underbody and side panels, closures and fuel tanks. The JLTV can weigh up to 15,639 pounds.

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