Force Protection, Inc. (NASDAQ:FRPT) plans to expand its production rate anticipating the receipt of new orders as part of the Department of defense MRAP program. Force Protection is expected to reach per-month vehicle production levels of more than 400 vehicles per month by the end of 2007, compared to 50 vehicles per month at the end of 2006. This projected capacity is claimed to be the highest capability currently available among armored vehicle manufacturers. The company expanded its production capacity through the establishment of the joint venture Force Dynamics, with General Dynamics (NYSE: GD). This JV has been awarded 329 out of the 595 Cougar based MRAP vehicle contracts thus far awarded.
In 2006 the company produced over 300 vehicles and as of December 31, 2006 was contracted to manufacture more than 900 additional vehicles, of which 380 have already been delivered. Force Protection further noted an aggressive 2007 manufacturing and expansion plan that will increase production space by more than 60 percent. The plan includes the start-up of its recently purchased blast and ballistic test range in Edgefield, SC, a 60,000 square foot facility for research and development, the continued construction of a 90,500 square foot warehouse at its current site, and plans to lease an additional 120,000 square foot production facility at an alternate location in the state of South Carolina to accommodate production of its newest vehicle series,Cheetah. With these initiatives underway, Force Protection expects vehicle production levels to increase to 200 per month by the end of summer, and to more than 400 per month under the combined effort of the company and its partners by the end of the year.