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Anniston Army Depot upgrading tanks for Saudis

May 12, 2011

By Jennifer Bacchus (Anniston Army Depot (AMC))

ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. - Anniston Army Depot is upgrading 57 M1 Abrams tanks for Saudi Arabia's Royal Saudi Land Forces through a partnership with General Dynamics Land Systems' facility at Lima Army Tank Plant in Ohio.

The vehicles, 15 of which began as M1A1 tanks and 42 of which were M1A2 tanks, will be disassembled and sandblasted by the ANAD workforce, who will also perform needed repairs to the hulls and turrets.

Once structural repairs are complete, the hulls and turrets will be sent to Lima where the components ANAD rebuilds will be assembled with the vehicles.

"Our support shops are building all of the components for the vehicles except the power packs," said Tim Stewart, chief of the depot's Tracked Systems Division.

Upon reassembly, the tanks will be a new variant of the M1 Abrams - the M1A2S, which stands for Saudi version.

"The M1A2S is a unique vehicle. It's kind of a combination of the M1A1 and M1A2 vehicles," said Dennis Butler, branch chief for the laser/thermal branch, which performs much of the electronic work for the vehicles. "They took the best of both vehicles."

The commander's integrated thermal viewer, which enables the tank commander to see with infrared and night vision, the way a gunner does has been integrated into the new variant from the M1A2 System Enhancement Package, version 2.

From the M1A1, the gunner's auxiliary sight will remain in the vehicles.

"These foreign military sales are a big push for the optics shop," said Butler. "We're hoping to show all these foreign governments we do quality work."

According to Steve Gardner of the depot's Business Office, this foreign military sales opportunity came as a result of the long-standing partnership ANAD enjoys with GDLS.

Gardner said the Saudis initially wanted to overhaul and upgrade the vehicles themselves, but found they did not have the capability yet.

When TACOM Life Cycle Management Command's Foreign Military Sales Office approved the $37.1 million tank upgrade contract, it was given to GDLS to fulfill.

According to a press release from GDLS, this contract, along with the contract to outfit a production facility in Saudi Arabia, "extend work started in 2008 to design, develop, convert, implement and test a hybrid configuration of the M1A1, M1A2 and M1A2 System Enhancement Package tank variants for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia."

The 15 M1A1 vehicles began their journey through the depot's Nichols Industrial Complex in April. All 57 vehicles are slated to arrive in Lima by the end of this year.

Based on the scope of work TACOM LCMC requested for these vehicles, it is anticipated the depot will work nearly 96,000 hours to upgrade the tanks and will receive approximately $12.5 million for the project.

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