ELGIN, Okla. (TNN) - An expansion for a company in Elgin that makes combat vehicles for the Army is finished. Legislators, community members, military officials, and BAE officials came out to celebrate the completion of the project with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
It's hard to miss the big white building, that's recently almost tripled in size while driving down I-44 near the Elgin exit. It's where BAE Systems makes the Howitzer, the M109-A7 for the Army.
Jeremy Tondreault, Vice President and General Manager, BAE Systems Combat Vehicles, said the expansion happened because of three things, the community, congressional partners and the people.
"But really, the great people of Oklahoma who come to work every single day either at the fort or here and the BAE Systems to produce these kinds of vehicles for the United States Army to make sure that our soldiers have what they need so they can do their mission and come home safely," Tondreault said.
The expansion allows them to produce more Howitzers for the Army. Guy Montminy, BAE Systems' sector president, said they were able to shorten production time by adding a paint booth.
"We have also expanded the facility to provide additional heightened capacity," Montminy said. "So that we can deliver future capabilities such as extended range cannon assembly for the mobile protected firepower."
Representative Tom Cole said it's a great thing for the economy in Elgin.
"But, much more importantly, a really important weapon system where honestly our competitors have outgunned us for about a generation," Rep. Cole said. "We're turning that around, and I think that's a very important decision by the American military."
Senator Jim Inhofe is glad that out of their many locations across the country BAE officials chose the Elgin plant for expansion.
"My concern all along has been that they're going to have some type of program that's going to explode in Pennsylvania or someplace else and take away what we do best and that didn't happen," Sen. Inhofe said. "We're set up for the next 50 years."
Tondreault said they hope to be able to produce all of the self-propelled Howitzers that the Army needs in Elgin.