BAE adds Paladin to Elgin's construction list

Elgin_Fort Sill and the City of Elgin have waited nine years for the new Non-Line Of Site Cannon (NLOS).  Finally, Friday, BAE Systems announced it will bringing a new weapon to town.  It's called the Paladin, an electronic cannon that will upgraded at the new plant in Elgin.  Officials announced to distinguished guests from Comanche County and Fort Sill that BAE Systems will help construct it.

Elgin Mayor Larry Thoma says adding more projects to the new facility is ensuring the BAE is committed to succeed in the area for a long time.  BAE's prime focus will be on the NLOS cannon, which is a state-of-the-art, self-propelled howitzer, and the addition of Paladin construction is just one of the many weapons they hope to construct in Elgin.

While the Paladin isn't a new weapon, it is getting some upgrades.  It's actually more than 50 years old, and much like the NLOS cannon, when loaded it shoots out a 100 pound bullet which is designed to travel up to 18 miles.  But, it still has to be manually loaded - the NLOS cannon does not, it's totally automated.   "We'll be manually loading the [Paladin's] powder charges, but we will automatically load in the projectiles," says Adam Zarfoss of BAE Systems.  "But the soldiers will still have to lift them up, set the fuses, and put them in the vehicle."

Fort Sill has a contract with BAE Systems to produce 600 cannons over the span of eight years.  The Paladin doesn't need to be rebuilt, though, so it will undergo different upgrades at different facilities throughout the country, and receive its final technical upgrades in Elgin.  "They'll get overhauled at the Anniston Army Depot in Anniston, Alabama," says Zarfoss.  "We're gonna fabricate new structures at our facility at York, Pennsylvania, and bring a drivable chassis here with the cabin armament from Anniston, and do the final assembly integration and test here in Elgin."

Zarfoss says these upgrades replace obsolete parts and keep the Paladin fleet ready and sustainable through its projected life beyond 2050.  "It's our desire to bring the best equipment we possibly can into the hands of war fighters, and those artillery soldiers that are stationed here at Fort Sill, and that fight around the world to defend freedom," says BAE Systems James Unterseher.

Currently, the BAE Systems facility is under construction and in its infrastructure stage.  Officials expect the actual facility to be complete in 2009 and pushing out its first project in the year to follow.  The new NLOS Paladin Plant in Elgin is expected to draw more than 100 jobs, and they are currently hiring.  If you have any questions, or if you would like to apply for employment, call BAE Systems in Elgin at 580-492-5990.