Army Tanking Tanks: General Dynamics Battles for $230 Million

Photograph by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

A U.S. M1A2 SEP Abrams battle tank fires live rounds in Pocheon, South Korea.

From Bloomberg Government’s Congress Tracker:

Emboldened by last year’s success — when Congress agreed to spend $90 million on upgraded battle tanks the Pentagon didn’t want — General Dynamics Corp. is asking for more.

The Falls Church, Virginia-based company, is lobbying for about $230 million, or enough to produce about 24 tanks. Compare that with what the Army wants to spend on new tanks:

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What’s the real cost?

There are competing numbers.

The Army wants to suspend work on the Abrams M1A2 following the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Army Secretary John McHugh and General Ray Odierno, the chief of staff, have said it would cost $600 million to close the Lima, Ohio, tank plant and later reopen it, versus as much as $3 billion to keep it open continuously.

General Dynamics produced its own analysis that concluded the cost would be $1.6 billion to restart the plant, versus $1.3 billion to keep a production line working on about 70 tanks a year.

The number that may matter most, though, is how many lawmakers want to keep the production line humming.  In addition to Ohio, the tank also is responsible for jobs in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Florida.

“We’ll find a way to do it as we have in the past,” said Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, who serves on the Appropriations Defense Subcommittee.

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