The rolling farmland of south-central Pennsylvania is shaping up to be the last resting place of America’s once mighty combat-vehicle industry. A BAE Systems plant outside the town of York is the sole remaining site where most of the Army’s tracked vehicles can be made, and now the service wants to close it. Not forever, mind you: it would reopen in 2018, after a three-year hiatus. However, you can’t mothball workers, and nobody knows how long it might take to reconstitute the specialized workforce needed to make systems like the Bradley infantry vehicle and the Paladin self-propelled howitzer. This sounds like a risky plan, both in the operational and budgetary sense. For a few hundred million dollars, the plant’s rate structure and skill sets could be maintained until the Army says they will be needed again. I have written a commentary for Forbes on the subject that you can read here.
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