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BAE expands Elgin facility to speed up Paladin production

ELGIN — As the U.S. Army works to match other world powers in military firepower, Elgin is on the front lines.

On Tuesday, local and state elected and military officials, representatives of the local business community and BAE Systems executives, celebrated the completion of BAE’s Elgin facility expansion.

The facility is the final assembly location for the Paladin M109A7 self-propelled howitzer, the U.S. Army’s primary vehicle for indirect fire support.

The expansion has added 52,350 square feet of factory space to increase the rate of final assembly on the howitzers, according to Guy Montminy, president of BAE Systems Platforms and Services.

Sen. Jim Inhofe said countries like China and Russia caught up to and passed the U.S. in military capabilities and production during the eight years Pres. Barack Obama was in office. He didn’t fault Obama for not prioritizing defense, but said it’s imperative the U.S. move forward.

“We’re dug out of that hole now,” Inhofe said, “and we’re going to make sure we pass up Russia and China in every area.”

Fourth District Congressman Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma, said the safety of men and women in uniform depends on machinery like what BAE produces in its Elgin facility.

“We spent a lot of the last generation, frankly, outgunned,” he said. “That should never happen. We should never put an American in a situation where he might be outgunned. ... This is a giant step toward making sure that doesn’t happen.”

Naming the Elgin facility a “key element” of BAE’s manufacturing network, Montminy said it was crucial they triple the size of the facility to keep up with the Army’s increased demand for howitzers.

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