Another blow to Army project key to Minnesota plant

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We’ve been keeping tabs on the fate of an Army project crucial to hundreds of jobs at a Fridley plant. The latest news isn’t great.

Boeing Co., the main contractor in the development of a new generation of manned ground vehicles for the Army, said Monday it got an official cancellation order from the Pentagon.

That’s bad news for partners connected to the work, including a BAE Systems plant in Fridley, which has been designing and developing one of those vehicles, a new Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon once thought to be a weapon of the future.

A few weeks ago, 311 employees who work on the cannon at the Fridley plant were put on paid leave for an “undefined duration” after BAE issued a “stop work” order on the cannon as the Army signaled a termination order was coming.

A source in our Public Insight Network tells us a top BAE official will be in town this week to tour the plant and answer employee questions. The cannon’s fate will likely be tops on the list.

Pentagon officials want to cancel the vehicle program because they say the designs don’t work with realities of what the Army’s encountered fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Perhaps one bright spot is Boeing’s statement today that it’s “encouraged by the Army’s commitment to preserve key technologies and leverage the significant design and development work already accomplished.”

And, of course, no weapons system is completely dead until Congress kills the funding. Still, it seems like the end game is near.

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