Lima Army Tank Plant (LATP)

The Lima Army Tank Plant (LATP) manufactures the M-1 Abrams tank. The Tank Plant is a government-owned, contractor-operated (GOCO) facility, run presently by General Dynamics. The tank plant has produced more than seven-thousand tanks since opening in the early 1980s. The Tank Plant reduced its workforce from a peak of 3,800 to 450 by late 1996. With few new procurements on the horizon, the tracked armored vehicle segment of the industry is in decline. Upgrades to the M1A1 Abrams tank and the M1A2 System Enhancement Package should keep the Lima, Ohio, plant operating through 2005. The Lima facility is also projected to produce 465 Heavy Assault Bridges. These programs require but a fraction of the production capacity available at the facility. Production of a new light-armored military vehicle should increase the work force at the Lima Army Tank Plant by the end of 2001, and employment levels should exceed 600 workers.

The United States Army purchased the property on which the Lima Army Tank Plant sits in 1942 to manufacture weapons. The Army has contracted since then with private businesses to operate a plant to manufacture combat vehicles on the property. In 1982, General Dynamics Land Systems, Inc. agreed to manage the plant, commencing in 1983, and, in a separate contract, to manufacture tanks at the plant. General Dynamics does not pay rent for the plant; the Army has granted it a "revocable license to use" the plant and reimburses it for its expenses in managing the plant. General Dynamics receives its profits on the markup for producing the tanks.

As World War II approached, the U.S. Army developed a plan to utilize industrial firms to manufacture armored vehicles. The urgent need for these vehicles was not fully recognized until the Germans' Blitzkrieg across Europe in 1939 and 1940. This situation presented a staggering mission for the Army Ordnance Department's new (1941) Tank and Combat Vehicle Division. In one year, over one million vehicles, including 14,000 medium tanks, were to be produced and ready for shipment.

The Lima Army Tank Plant traces its 55-year history back to May 1941, when the Ohio Steel Foundry began building a government-owned plant to manufacture centrifugally-cast gun tubes. The site was chosen for its proximity to a steel mill, five railroads, and national highway routes. Before construction was completed, the Ordnance Department redesignated the site as an intermediate depot for modifying combat vehicles, to include tanks. In November 1942, United Motors Services took over operation of the plant to process vehicles under government contract. The plant prepared many vehicles for Europe, including the M-5 light tank, the T-26 Pershing tank, and a "super secret" amphibious tank intended for use on D-Day. During World War II, the Lima Tank Depot had over 5,000 employees, including many women, and processed over 100,000 combat vehicles for shipment.

Activity slowed during the post-WWII period, and the plant temporarily became a storage facility. In 1948, tanks were dismantled and deprocessed there. Numerous tanks were "canned" and stored in cylindrical gas containers with dehumidifiers. When the Korean War broke out, the depot expanded and industrial operations resumed. Over the next few years, the facility rebuilt combat vehicles and fabricated communication wiring harnesses. The Korean truce led to the depot's eventual deactivation in March 1959 with little other activity taking place over the next 16 years.

In August 1976, the government selected Lima Army Tank Plant (LATP) as the initial production site for the XM-1 tank, and Chrysler Corporation was awarded the production contract. The method of production differed from previous armor programs; the hull and turret sections were to be fabricated from armored plate, rather than castings, allowing Chrysler to produce a lighter, stronger tank.

Since this was a government-owned, contractor-oper-ated (GOCO) manufacturing facility controlled by the Army's TankAuto-motive and Armaments Command (TACOM), the installation was expanded and specialized industrial plant equipment purchased. A sister plant was established in Michigan, the Detroit Tank Plant, to assist with the assembly of M1 sections fabricated at Lima.

On February 28, 1980, the first M1 tank rolled out of LATP. It was designated the M1 Abrams, in honor of General Creighton W. Abrams. The name, Thunderbolt, recalled the name Abrams gave to each of his seven tanks in WWII. One of the original XM-1 prototype tanks is permanently on display in front of the Patton Museum of Armor and Cavalry at Ft. Knox.

In 1982, General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) bought Chrysler Defense Corporation and began producing the M1 at a rate of 30 tanks a month. By January 1985, the last M1 had rolled off the assembly line, and production began on the improved M1 (IPM1) the following October. The plant later transitioned to manufacture the M1A1, with the first pilot vehicle built in August 1985. By the end of 1986, the plant's equipment was increased to meet a maximum monthly production capability of 120 M1A1 tanks. At that time GDLS employed over 4,000 workers in Lima with over 100 TACOM personnel monitoring the production and facilities contracts.

In June 1990, all government contract administration services at Lima were placed under the Defense Logistics Agency, Defense Contract Management Command, with TACOM as the procuring activity. During this period, the Marines received over 200 M1A1 tanks, and the first Abrams foreign military sales occurred. The plant supported Desert Storm by sending technical experts to Saudi Arabia for M1A1 fielding to units previously equipped with M1s.

The 1990 DOD base closure plan ordered the Detroit tank plant to reduce its operations, and in August 1991, the Lima Army Tank Plant became the only facility in the U.S. that is a hull/chassis/turret fabricator and final systems integrator of the M1.

The first M1A2 tanks rolled out of LATP in 1992 with upgrade versions produced in 1994.

The installation includes 370 acres and 47 buildings, it's own railroad network, and two government-owned railroad locomotives. There is also is a 2-mile test track, steam plant, deep water fording pit, 60% and 40% test slopes, and an advanced armor technology facility. The main manufacturing building has over 950,000 square feet of enclosed space, equivalent to approximately 30 football fields. The government owns all of the real property and over 96% of the plant equipment, to include com-puterized machines, robotic welders, plate cutters, large fixtures, and special tooling. General Dynamics is under contract to operate the facility and produce the Abrams with government oversight.

The commander of the Lima plant, a government-owned, contractor-operated facility, is an Army lieutenant colonel. The government and contractor managerial staffs work together monitoring monthly production requirements while maintaining quality control. A partnership environment ensures the highest quality equipment is produced at a fair cost to the government. LATP is operated under the direction of an installation commander who is responsible for the efficient and economical operation, administration, service and supply of all individuals, units, and activities assigned to or under the jurisdiction of LATP. General Dynamics manages the tank plant in which it manufactures tanks. It pays no rent for the plant, and receives reimbursement of its costs in managing the plant. General Dynamics also may manufacture, subject to written approval of the Army, products for others at the plant; in fact, General Dynamics manufactured tanks for the government of Saudi Arabia at the plant. Furthermore, General Dynamics is responsible for security at the plant, securing it according to Army regulations. This security includes counterterrorism, crime prevention, and security of the property.

The Abrams Tank System Program has been using Depleted Uranium (DU) armor on the Abrams Tank since 1988. The DU is fabricated into armor packages by a contractor to the Department of Energy. The contractor ships the assembled armor packages to LATP for installation in the tanks. At LATP, the armor packages remain in the transportation containers until they are ready to be inserted into the tank. Following installation of the armor package and other tank components, the completed tanks are transported to military units as required for field use.

Abrams production originally occurred with over 9,000 Abrams having rolled off the assembly lines of the production facilities, including those produced for domestic and foreign sales.

The M1's technological and tactical successes in Desert Storm made the tank the envy of the world armor community and generated foreign interest. Both Saudi Arabia and Kuwait now own M1A2 tanks produced at LATP. In a co-production program, M1A1 tank kits (hulls, turrets, components, etc.) are manufactured at LATP and shipped to Egypt for final assembly. Commercially, GDLS also produces "special armor" packages for the South Korean K1 tank.

GDLS is under a multi-year Army contract to upgrade approximately 600 M1/IPM1 tanks to M1A2. The plan is to upgrade 10 tanks a month over a five-year period. The cost of a new M1A2 tank is approximately $4.3 million.

The Army, in conjunction with General Dynamics Land Systems, hosted an acceptance ceremony for the Abrams M1A2 System Enhancement Package (SEP) Tank and the Wolverine Assault Bridge Launcher, 01 September 1999 in Lima, Ohio, at the Lima Army Tank Plant.

The General Dynamics Land Systems Division is the system prime contractor for manufacturing and assembly of the XM104 "Wolverine" - Heavy Assault Bridge. Manufacturing and assembly during the EMD phase of Wolverine elements and components (except the engine/transmission) occurs primarily at GDLS, which uses two facilities: Lima Army Tank Plant (LATP), a government-owned, contractor-operated manufacturing facility located in Lima (Allen County), Ohio; and the GDLS Sterling Heights Complex (SHC), located in Sterling Heights (Macomb County), MI. The mission of LATP is to produce the M1 series Main Battle Tank (MBT). SHC serves as the division headquarters and is their engineering and prototype fabrication facility. The scope of the analysis of potential impacts from manufacturing will be limited to GDLS (LATP), and Anniston Army Depot. The analysis will not include investigation of subcontractors to GDLS and Anniston Army Depot.

Lima, Ohio, is a metropolitan community of 83,000 people situated along I-75, midway between Toledo and Dayton. Sundstrand Corporation, formerly Westinghouse, produced electrical systems for military and commercial aircraft, NASA's space shuttle program, and Abrams battle tanks. Sundstrand/ Westinghouse once employed 3,000, but steady lay-offs resulted in the displacement to only about 400 when it completely closed in June 1996. The Airfoil/Textron Company, a fan-blade maker for jet engines, shut its doors in the fall of 1995, laying off the last 300 workers from a workforce that once numbered 1,800. Since the Lima area's peak defense-related employment, Lima has lost in excess of 8,000 high-wage industrial jobs. The financial loss to the local economy between 1992 and 1996 is estimated at $300 million annually.

BRAC 2005

In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD would realign Lima Tank Plant, OH. It would retain the portion required to support the manufacturing of armored combat vehicles to include Army Future Combat System (FCS) program, Marine Corps Expeditionary Force Vehicle (EFV) chassis, and M1 Tank recapitalization program. Capacity and capability for armored combat vehicles existed at three sites with little redundancy among the sites. The acquisition strategy for the Army Future Combat System (FCS) and Marine Corps Expeditionary Force Vehicle would include the manufacturing of manned vehicle chassis at Lima Army Tank Plant. The impact of establishing this capability elsewhere would hinder the Department's ability to meet the USA and USMC future production schedule. This recommendation to retain only the portion of Lima Army Tank Plant required to support the FCS, EFV, and M1 tank recap, would reduce the footprint. This would allow the Department of Defense to remove excess from the Industrial Base, create centers of excellence, avoid single point failure, and generate efficiencies within the manufacture and maintenance of combat vehicles.

The total estimated one-time cost to the Department of Defense to implement this recommendation would be $0.2M. The net of all savings to the Department during the implementation period would be a savings of $5.9M. Annual recurring savings to the Department after implementation would be $1.7M with payback expected immediately. The net present value of the costs and savings to the Department over 20 years would be a savings of $22.3M. This recommendation would not result in any job reductions over the period 2006-2011.

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