Lockheed Martin says it will move production of a tactical vehicle it makes for the U.S. Army and Marine Corps to Camden, but the deal still has to jump through several hoops.
State economic officials tell Talk Business that the U.S. Department of Defense will likely have to be comfortable with the move, and the state is expected to contribute towards infrastructure and workforce training investments.
Lockheed Martin announced Monday (Oct. 13) that it will move production of its Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) to an assembly line at the company’s Camden, Ark., manufacturing complex. Lockheed Martin said it expects to gain “significant production efficiencies and cost reductions.” A dollar figure for the investment and the number of jobs it would produce were not disclosed, but it is expected to result in millions of dollars of investment and hundreds of new jobs in south Arkansas.
“Lockheed Martin is implementing a low-risk production plan that will take advantage of the proven, outstanding Camden manufacturing operation and help make our JLTV more affordable for the U.S. Army and Marine Corps,” said Scott Greene, vice president of Ground Vehicles for Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, in a press release earlier in the week.
When asked about the need to receive approval from the Department of Defense, Lockheed Martin spokesman Craig Vanbebber said, “Lockheed Martin and its JLTV partners are in regular contact with our DoD customers, and they are fully aware of our plans for the JLTV production in Camden. This is a low-risk, key affordability initiative that will result in significant cost reductions and production efficiencies. We believe our U.S. Army and Marine customers will recognize that the efficiency gains and cost reduction represented by the JLTV assembly in Camden are not trivial.”
JLTV prototypes were produced at BAE Systems’ Sealy, Texas, manufacturing facility for the program’s Technology Development and Engineering and Manufacturing Development phases. Plans to close the Sealy plant were announced Monday.
“BAE Systems remains committed to Lockheed Martin and our JLTV program,” said Mark Signorelli, vice president and general manager of Combat Vehicles for BAE Systems. “Recognizing the budget pressures our customers face, the team is reshaping our efforts to provide the most cost competitive offering with exceptional technical capability and product quality to our end users.”
Lockheed Martin’s Camden complex produces a number of artillery and weapons products for the military, including High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers, Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) rockets, Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) Missiles and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) ground vehicles.
The JLTV is described as “a more capable and survivable replacement for many of the current Army and Marine Corps HMMWV ‘Humvee vehicles” in use. Lockheed Martin said its advantages include greatly improved crew protection and mobility, lower logistical support costs, superior fuel efficiency, exportable power-generation with substantial margin for future growth, and state-of-the-art connectivity with other platforms and systems.
Sen. Mark Pryor (D) and Cong. Tom Cotton (R ) both weighed in with comments on Lockheed Martin’s decision.
“Camden has a proven track record of excellence when it comes to supporting our nation’s military. I’ll continue to support Lockheed Martin’s move so we can help spur economic development here in Arkansas,” said Pryor.
Cotton, whose Fourth District represents Camden, said, “I am pleased with Lockheed Martin’s decision to move production of its Joint Light Tactical Vehicle to Camden, Arkansas. This facility has long been a model of hard work and efficiency and I know they welcome this new challenge. [The] announcement not only brings a new project and new capabilities to the Highland Industrial Park, but also makes these vehicles more affordable for the U.S. Army and Marine Corps. As a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, I have seen the importance of Camden-manufactured products firsthand. I look forward to seeing the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle production line on a future visit to Camden.”