Lima Army Tank Plant
|Joint Systems Manufacturing Center|
Main entrance to Joint Systems Manufacturing Center. An M1A1 Abrams sits on a display platform to the left of the entrance gates.
|Controlled by||General Dynamics|
|Lt. Col. Matthew S. Hodge|
The Joint Systems Manufacturing Center, also known as the Lima Army Tank Plant (LATP) is a tank plant located in Lima, Ohio. It is a government-owned, contractor-operated (GOCO) facility currently operated by General Dynamics Land Systems.
In May 1941 construction began for Lima Army Tank Plant to manufacture centrifugally cast gun tubes in the steel foundry. This manufacturing method was rendered obsolete, so the Army converted it to a tank depot for modifying and processing combat vehicles for export and domestic shipping.
In November 1942, a GM subsidiary, United Motors Services, took over operation of the plant to process vehicles under government contract. The plant prepared many vehicles for Europe, including the M5 light tank and the M26 Pershing tank.
After World War II, as the Lima Ordnance Depot, the plant served as a receiving and long-term storage facility for returning combat vehicles. During the Korean War, the plant modified and prepared tanks for shipment.
In 1976, the Army selected Chrysler's design for what would become the Abrams tank, and designated the Lima plant, operated by Chrysler, to initially build the tank. The Army pressured Chrysler, in financial difficulty, to form a subsidiary, Chrysler Defense, to hold and protect the tank contract from potential bankruptcy proceedings.
In February 1980, the first M1 Abrams rolled out of LATP. After a contract the plant began producing the Abrams at a rate of 30 a month.
Chrysler subsequently sold the Defense subsidiary to General Dynamics in 1982. In January 1985, the last M1 rolled off the assembly line, and in October, production began on the improved M1 (IPM1). The plant later manufactured the M1A1, with the first pilot vehicle built in August 1985. The M1A1 was produced at a rate of 120 a month.
In June 2004 the facility was renamed the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center (JSMC) to reflect the decision to manufacture the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle for the United States Marine Corps there. Despite the name change, the plant is still incorrectly referred to as the "Lima Army Tank Plant", although the plant now services all five branches of the US Armed Forces and is now controlled by the Department of Defense, rather than just the Army.
The Army is not and has no plans to permanently close the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center, JSMC. Army officials are planning to end U.S. Army tank production in the JSMC from 2015 to 2016 because the U.S. Army has built all of the tanks that the troops need, given the current Army force structure, which dictates how many vehicles it needs in Active and Reserve Units as well as Contingency storage in case the vehicles are needed for a war. The Army did not convince Congress that it did not need more tanks in 2011, so in 2013, Congress funded an additional tanks to be built at a cost of ~$270M. The Army plans on building those tanks and parking them in storage. At the end of the day there will be ~200 "brand new" tanks in storage because the Army reduced the quantity of tanks it needed in its Force Structure - how many of each vehicle and number of troops, etc. Additionally, there are ~4000 tanks in storage in the desert. The plant will continue to produce other products including the Israeli Merkava and Abrams Foreign Military tanks during that timeframe. The Army is considering layaway of the plant if there is a gap with no additional production between 2013 and 2017. The Army will layaway unused equipment. General Dynamics Land Systems, which currently operates in the government owned factory, opposed the closure, arguing that suspension of operations would increase long-term costs and reduce flexibility. Recapitalization efforts during the war have resulted in the youngest fleet age in the history of the Abrams program. The average age of the Abrams tank in U.S. Army service less than two years old. Plant closure would cost $380 million to shut down and mothball the plant, with an additional $1.3 billion needed to restart production. If passed, a bill currently in the U.S. Senate would allocate $272 million in funds toward the plant to allow it to continue regular operations through July 2014. This bill did pass and GDLS is lobbying for an additional $180M.
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