In fact, it’s hard to miss when driving north on I-44 to Oklahoma City. Out of the rolling fields of the Oklahoma countryside this facility provides a stark change in scenery. For the community, however, the Elgin facility represents more than just a change in landscape – it’s a symbol of strength, as it serves as the final assembly location for the M109A7 Self-Propelled Howitzer, the Army’s primary indirect fire support.
Over the summer, BAE Systems completed a construction project that nearly tripled the facility’s size. Roughly 52,000 sq. ft. was added to the existing facility, bringing the total to 72,000 sq. ft. The improvements, including a paint facility, high bay, and added office space, not only enhance future assembly capability, but also offers more employment opportunities, leaving a "significant economic impact" on the community, according to BAE Systems’ Platforms & Services president, Guy Montminy.
Senator James “Jim” Inhofe, who attended the ceremony, echoed Montminy’s remarks by noting the importance of the Elgin plant and the recent expansion.
“As the final assembly location for the M109A7 self-propelled howitzer, the highly skilled employees at BAE Systems’ Elgin facility play an important role in supporting one of the U.S. Army’s top modernization priorities, and ensuring soldiers have a critical edge on the battlefield,” said Sen. Inhofe.
The Elgin facility shares a border with Fort Sill, which gives BAE Systems access to a highly skilled and experienced artillery workforce, while enabling faster transition of the vehicles from production to verification.
Jeremy Tondreault, vice president and general manager of BAE Systems’ combat vehicles business commented on how support from the surrounding community helped make the expansion possible . According to Tondreault, “without the Fort Sill community, our congressional partners, and the men and women from the Elgin-Lawton area who come to work each day, we wouldn’t be able to produce the vehicles our soldiers need so they can complete their missions and come home safely.”
Representative Tom Cole also commented on the significance of the expansion for the community. The vehicles that will be produced at the Elgin facility will help the Army match other world powers in military firepower: “the M109A7 is a really important weapon system where honestly our competitors have outgunned us for about a generation. We should never put America in a situation where we might be outgunned by the enemy. This country has the capacity to make sure that doesn't happen for our men and women in uniform", Rep. Cole said. “We’re turning that around, and I think that's a very important decision by the American military." “BAE Systems’ investment and expansion of the Elgin facility in support of the warfighter, will not only create and sustain approximately 50 jobs for decades to come, it will further benefit the community by adding more local and regional suppliers from the great state of Oklahoma.”