Maine Military Authority director positive about effort to win Israeli Humvee contract

Posted May 16, 2012, at 5:31 p.m.

LIMESTONE, Maine — While it’s too soon to speculate whether the Maine Military Authority will receive a 2,000-3,000 Humvee contract through the Israeli Defense Force, the famed refurbishment facility did receive a visit from IDF officials on Monday, including the Israeli agency’s chief of tactical wheeled vehicles. MMA was one of only three companies IDF representatives planned to visit before awarding the contract.

“There are three [companies] they’re going to be visiting, and we’re one of them — which is good,” said MMA’s Executive Director Tim Corbett on Monday afternoon, after spending the morning highlighting MMA’s capabilities to the IDF representatives.

“They were very much impressed by the facility,” he said. “Whether or not that means we get the contract … it’s going to come down to price.”

Corbett said that MMA officials and IDF representatives had a good, honest discussion during the production line tour.

“I feel we understand what they’re looking for and we’re more than able to provide it,” Corbett said, adding that he feels MMA has a good chance of winning the contract.

Attributes touted by MMA are “quality, timeliness and cost effectiveness” — locally, it’s more common to hear “better, faster, cheaper.” Any way they are described, those characteristics are key when it comes to winning a bid.

Corbett said the contract would mean approximately 100 refurbished Humvees a month (roughly 2,000-3,000 Humvees over three years) once it gets going, and MMA officials were resolute in conveying the message that they’re ready and more than able to handle the workload.

This past winter, MMA invested $10 million in upgrades to their paint and bodyshop facilities — due to the vast improvements the upgrade affords, they can refurbish Humvees and other vehicles even better, even faster and even more cheaply.

For example, while discussing another refurbishment program at MMA last month with the Aroostook Republican, Corbett mentioned that two employees could paint four Humvees a day before the upgrades; now they can paint eight.

MMA has more than cutting-edge technology, their famed work force and a flawless record to help them win the contract — they’ve also partnered up with Textron Land and Marine Systems out of Slidell, La. The larger company, which has teamed up with MMA in the past, manufactures specialty vehicles and equipment for military and commercial use, such as armored security vehicles, landing craft and turret systems, according to the company’s website.

“Between the two of us, we have all the bases easily covered,” Corbett said.

His own opinion aside, Corbett stressed it’s too early to speculate whether MMA will win the bid. The request for proposal is estimated to come out in a few months, “and we’ll keep everyone posted,” he said.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a member of both the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, extended an invitation to Ambassador Michael Oren, Israel’s envoy to the United States, after she learned that Israel is looking to procure additional Humvees.

“The talented work force at Maine Military Authority has a long history of producing high-quality vehicles for use by the Army and the Army National Guard. I am delighted that I was able to bring MMA to the Ambassador’s attention and to serve as an advocate for the great work performed at MMA,” Collins said in a press release on Friday. “I am certain that the opportunity to compete for a Humvee contract with the Israeli Ministry of Defense will help maintain our nation’s most important relationship in the Middle East. And, should MMA win the contract, it would be an important economic victory for Maine, and especially Aroostook County.”

Surprisingly, the Israeli guests weren’t the only ones from another country to tour the Limestone facility; MMA previously has received visitors from as far as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Morocco.

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