Defense contractor BAE Systems will immediately begin producing Paladin mobile artillery units for the Army, including at its factory in York County, in the first round of what is likely to be a $688 million contract, according to the company.
The initial contract is valued at $195 million for BAE to produce 19 tanklike Paladin mobile artillery vehicles and 18 ammunition-carrying vehicles, according to the company.
The Army can exercise future options in the contract for BAE to produce 66 vehicle sets, plus spares, kits and technical documents for a total value of $688 million.
BAE plans to deliver the Paladins in mid-2015. Production will be done at its facility in West Manchester Township, as well as in Elgin, Okla.
BAE has been working on the Paladins with the Army since 2009, when it produced prototypes of the remanufactured mobile Howitzer cannons. The Paladin is getting a complete overhaul for new technology, mechanical systems and other upgrades. The new versions will use many systems common to the Bradley Fighting Vehicles.
The Army said on Oct. 21 that its testing was complete and it was moving the Paladins into the low-rate production and deployment phases. The Army is planning to buy the rest, about 133 vehicles, in 2014.
London-based BAE has its U.S. subsidiary headquarters in Virginia.