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Published: Tuesday, 3/1/2005

Amphibious military vehicle in prototype trials in Lima

BY JULIE M. McKINNON
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
The expeditionary fighting vehicle has logged about 100 test miles so far. The expeditionary fighting vehicle has logged about 100 test miles so far.
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LIMA, Ohio - The Lima tank plant is in the midst of its first prototype trials on the armored amphibious military vehicle that starting next year will be welded, assembled, and land-tested at the facility and eventually will create more than 200 jobs.

The 12th of 13 prototypes of the Marine expeditionary fighting vehicle landed at the plant last month and has logged about 100 miles on the facility's 1.2-mile banked oval test track, said test engineer Tim Williams of General Dynamics Land Systems.

The vehicle will be tested at least 90 more miles in the next couple of weeks before heading to California for water testing, Mr. Williams said.

General Dynamics, which operates the government-owned Lima facility called the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center, is to build 1,000 of the tank-like vehicles, which can be launched from ships to travel nearly 30 miles per hour in rough seas and 45 mph on land.

The Lima facility, which has about 725 General Dynamics and government employees, has welded the bodies for all the prototypes used for various testing purposes.

A second prototype will arrive in Lima this month and also will undergo land and systems tests through April, said Keith Deters, plant manager.

U.S. Rep Mike Oxley gives a thumbs-up from a hatch.
U.S. Rep Mike Oxley gives a thumbs-up from a hatch.
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"You do more than one vehicle to get different readings," he said.

The prototype was shown yesterday to the media and U.S. Rep. Mike Oxley (R., Findlay), who rode in the vehicle.

The Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, as it officially is called, has a crew of three and can carry 17 troops, weighs 63,000 pounds empty, and is 30 feet long, 11 feet high, and 12 feet wide.

Production of the vehicles was to begin this year at Lima, but defense budget cuts have delayed the schedule until October or November, 2006, Mr. Deters said.

The plant initially will hire 30 to 50 production workers and during the first year will make nine vehicles, a number that gradually will increase, he said.

The prototype at Lima also will be tested on a 60-degree slope near the facility's test track, Mr. Williams said.

Its next stop is southern California's Camp Pendleton, where the vehicles will undergo water testing, and then Arizona for firepower testing, he said.

Contact Julie M. McKinnon at:

jmckinnon@theblade.com

or 419-724-6087.



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