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Letterkenny deal to create 90 jobs

December 06, 2008|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- Letterkenny Army Depot has signed a five-year contract to manufacture a new armored personnel carrier, the production of which will generate almost 90 new jobs and hundreds of thousands of dollars, Commander Col. Stephen Shapiro said Friday.

Depot officials said the exclusive public-private partnership with British defense contractor BAE Systems will develop the military's first program of record -- Mine Resistant Ambush-Protected (MRAP) armored personnel carriers known as Medium Mine Protection Vehicles (MMPV).

Unlike the MRAP vehicles assembled at Letterkenny since it began subcontracting production in December 2007, Letterkenny will build the MMPV from the "lug nuts up," Shapiro said.

Until November, production had been in response to Operation Needs Statements from soldiers serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, Shapiro said.

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He explained that the vehicles built to date at the depot were built on a "hurry up and get it now" basis to supply the troops on the ground.

The MMPV will be different, he said.

"The MMPV is being developed as a program of record because it is reaction to a sustained need," he said.

Mike Gossard, deputy director of maintenance at Letterkenny, said that as a "program of record" the MMPV will establish MRAPs as a sustained vehicle in the Army's fleet of wheeled vehicles. In addition to producing vehicles, Letterkenny will create manuals, training, parts and production records, as well as other documentation on how to operate, service and produce the MMPV.

The new MMPV is a three-axle variant of the MRAP with more interior room, fewer windows and a single escape hatch. Fully loaded, the new MMPV will weigh 85,000 pounds, which more than doubles the weight of its predecessor the 38,000 pounds RG33.

Shapiro said Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Franklin, worked to secure the five-year contract for Letterkenny because they were eager to keep production of MRAPs in Pennsylvania.

Gossard said the MMPV contract is funded incrementally, every 30 days. As subcontractor, the depot will receive monthly orders for the vehicles from BAE during the next five years.

"I'd like to think this will be a long-term relationship," Shapiro said, adding that he does not know how many vehicles the depot will produce during the life of the contract.

While the production of the MMPV is replacing the RG33, the depot will continue to produce the RG33, but only in small quantities or in parts.

Currently, it is working to produce 680 doors for the RG33, turning out 10 sets of three doors each day.

Shapiro said the depot hopes to have two MMPV prototypes finished and approved by the end of December to roll out and make room to build the first 20 MMPVs in January.

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