BAE Systems yesterday said the company plans to complete low-rate initial production (LRIP) of the Paladin Integrated Management (PIM) 155mm self-propelled howitzer system at the Elgin, Okla., facility located in the Fort Sill Industrial Park, home of the Army field artillery.

“After years of working on this issue, today’s BAE Systems announcement is exciting news for Elgin, Fort Sill, Oklahoma and the U.S. Army,” said Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.). “BAE Systems’ plan to expand the Elgin facility will mean more jobs for the area as the PIM program provides improved technology for our Army artillery personnel. This announcement means that jobs will be moved to Elgin two to three years sooner than they otherwise would have under the old plan.”

Mark Signorelli, vice president and general manager of vehicle systems at BAE, said: “This is a great opportunity for the company to work even closer with the Artillery Center of Excellence and local industry in the Elgin-Lawton area. Being this close to Fort Sill allows us to access a highly skilled and experienced artillery workforce, while enabling a time and cost-saving transition of the PIM vehicles from production to verification.”

The PIM LRIP award is slated for the third quarter in 2013 and follows the successful design and development work at BAE’s York facility and recent limited user tests conducted by the company and the Army in Yuma, Ariz.

As part of the PIM LRIP program, BAE will focus on the final integration, assembly and test of 72 PIM systems. Key components of the PIM production vehicles, including the chassis, will be sent to the Elgin facility from BAE’s manufacturing facilities and suppliers.

As part of final assembly and checkout, BAE will use Fort Sill where they will undergo mobility and firing verification.

The U.S. Army launched the PIM program in 2007 to improve the Paladin fleet and ensure it remains ready and sustainable through its projected life beyond 2050.

PIM will provide critical upgrades to already existing Paladins that will increase the reliability, commonality and performance of the M109 family of vehicles–a critical fire support asset to Armored Brigade Combat Teams (ABCT).