July 7, 2009
The Pentagon granted a $1.06 billion contract to build blast-resistant vehicles last week to Oshkosh Corp., not Navistar, which has a plant in West Point.
The Pentagon was looking for a defense company to build 2,244 mine-resistant, ambush protected vehicles, or MRAPs, lighter, more agile and more manueverable than previous models, to be used in Afghanistan. The contract could jump up to $3 billion, for 5,000 of the new MRAPs, the Associated Press reported.
Oshkosh, not Navistar, was the "clear winner," said Brig. Gen. Michael Brogan of the Marine Corps.
Scott Ross, mayor of West Point, said he was disappointed Navistar did not win the contract but expressed optimism about the future of the plant.
"Obviously, had this contract been awarded to Navistar, they would''ve added jobs that would''ve multiplied throughout the community," he said today. "That would''ve been great. But, as I''ve said, nobody in the defense industry wins every contract, and they continue to have what I''m confident is the best product line in their market, and they''ll be ready for the next contract."
West Point, Clay County and Navistar "have a great relationship," he added, "and we have every reason to believe that''s going to continue for years."
Luke Lummus, supervisor of District 2 in Clay County, expressed similarly mixed feelings this morning.
"We hate we missed it, you know," he said. "But they''ve still got contracts they''re working on, you know? There''ll be others upcoming."
In April, Navistar announced it had reached an agreement with British defense authorities to build 262 "Husky" tactical support vehicles at the West Point plant, with delivery in the second half of 2009.
Ross said Navistar''s West Point factory began its first operations in January 2006. The factory lies in District 1 in Clay County.
Mississippi''s representatives in Congress, including Rep. Travis Childers, Sen. Thad Cochran and Sen. Roger Wicker, "continue to support all of their efforts to build defense vehicles in Mississippi," Ross said.
A Navistar spokesman reached this morning would not comment on the news. The Associated Press reported Navistar spokeswoman Elissa Koc said the company, which is based in Warrenville, Ill., has not yet met with the government to discuss the results and is not currently planning to file a protest.