Albany armor program continues to grow - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Albany armor program continues to grow

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Dougherty County -- The armor program continues to grow at Albany's Marine Base.

A new generation of armored Humvees is being built at Albany's base. Marine Systems Command Captain Andy Rogers said "We can get the new, better armor and the vehicle to the user quicker. That way we are saving more lives."

Engineers at the Maintenance Center at Albany's base designed and started making the first armor kits to protect Marine vehicles in Iraq. A new, larger Humvee is coming to Albany, having the armor installed, and is being shipped directly to Iraq.

The base is having to add a new building and more workers to meet the need. Construction of the new MAK armored Humvee is a priority at the Albany Marine Base, because they are so valuable in Iraq.

This week engineers and designers from Nevada, Michigan, and Virginia, leading the Marines armoring program, tour Albany's Maintenance Center looking for improvements. Colonel Pete Underwood, Maintenance Center Commander, said "They are the ones who come up with the different requirements. They have people in Iraq who are looking at the performance of vehicles there and other places."

For the last two years, Albany's base has manufactured armor kits to protect Humvees in Iraq, and shipped them to the Middle East to be installed. Now the armor will be installed in Albany, then shipped to Iraq. Systems Command Captain Andy Rogers said "By doing it here, you cut down on your maintenance time by probably one third."

Right now 50 armor installers are working 12 hour days, 6 days a week to try to keep up with demand. A new 25,000 square foot building will be completed in four months to house the armor installation section, which will mean more jobs.

Now they are completing five MAK Humvees a day, and soon it will be six. Fighting vehicles specifically designed to protects troops in Iraq. Captain Rogers said "Our original panels, we could stop an AK-47 round. Now you are looking at mine protection, you're looking at I.E.D. [Improvised Exposive Device] protection, you've got high end, high caliber assault rifle protection. And you've got air conditioning, so we do have the ability to keep people locked up inside, in the very hot conditions, and let them continue to fight the fight."

The MAK Humvees produced in Albany go by rail to Charleston, are then put on ships to the Middle East, and have troops behind the wheel in 60 days.

posted byjimw@walb.com