General Dynamics Land Systems, a defense contractor with a production facility in Archbald, Pa., has been awarded a $92.2 million contract to upgrade Army tanks, with some of the work to be completed locally.
The contract means some employees who had been laid off pending the agreement may return to work, according to a union representative.
About 77 employees currently work at the plant in the borough's Eynon section. That's down from about 325 workers in 2010, said United Auto Workers Local 1193 President Ken Klinkel, who represents the plant employees. Some workers had been laid off when it was uncertain that the contract would be signed.
"It'll definitely bring some people back. Not a lot, but some," Mr. Klinkel said, adding it may be some time before they actually can return to work. "We had some folks who were waiting for the signing of the (upgrade contract); they were laid off. Now that it's signed, we'll be able to get some of those folks back."
The Army is seeking a System Enhancement Package for M1A2 Abrams tanks to bring increased survivability, better fuel efficiency, improved network capability and power generation to the armored ground assault vehicles, according to an Army spokeswoman.
"The (upgrade) maximizes the fighting ability of the tank on today's battlefield while preparing the platform for tomorrow's challenges," Ashley Givens, public affairs director at the Army's Program Executive Office for Ground Combat Systems, said in an email.
"The pilot program's objective is to establish efficient processes to produce a new variant of the (System Enhancement Package) tank."
The pilot program involves upgrades to six tanks. When that is successfully completed, General Dynamics is to move into full production. The contract comes with a fixed-price incentive, which means General Dynamics can keep any savings found during production.
General Dynamics Land Systems, based in Sterling Heights, Mich., is to complete the work by 2017 at production facilities in Eynon; Anniston, Ala.; Tallahassee, Fla.; and Lima, Ohio.
The last brand-new U.S. military tanks were built in 1995, Klinkel said. Since then, upgrades to existing equipment involved stripping it down to the hull and rebuilding it from scratch to meet current standards. He could not speak to the exact plans in store for this most recent round of upgrades.
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