Sunday, February 15, 2004

Staff doubles for armored Humvees

The Associated Press

FAIRFIELD - A company that has put armor on Humvee military vehicles for 11 years has doubled staff and production as the military expands its fleet, company officials said.

About 300 workers produce up to a dozen armored Humvees daily at O'Gara-Hess & Eisenhardt Armoring Co. plant in this southwest Ohio city.

There were 150 workers finishing five vehicles a day just six months ago, when U.S. Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, toured the plant as part of a federal budget request for $25 million to expand the military's fleet of armored Humvees.

Sixty more employees will be in place by May, plant manager Jay Tepe said.

Expansion started even before contracts were in place at the subsidiary of Jacksonville, Fla.-based Armor Holdings Inc.

"We took a leap of faith. We moved out before we had a contract," spokesman Michael Fox said.

Army Lt. Col. Kevin Peterson said the military needs 4,000 armored High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles, or Humvees, by November.

President Bush, in his 2005 budget proposal last week, called for $150 million for the company to armor 818 new vehicles.

The standard Humvee, with its lightweight construction, was designed to transport troops and cargo over rough terrain. It wasn't built to withstand street battles, ambushes and bomb attacks.

Armored Humvees seat about three and are equipped with 7.62 mm armor piercing protection, which means they can withstand assault rifles and land mines, said Ronald Carson, plant production and fabrication manager.

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