Jan. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Force Protection Inc., the largest supplier of blast-resistant trucks to the U.S. Marine Corps, plans to limit production of its new Cheetah vehicle because the model has yet to win a contract.
Force Protection plans to start production this quarter at a new plant that will reach monthly capacity of 200 Cheetahs by year end, Michael Aldrich, vice president for government relations, said in an interview today. That's a ``much longer ramp-up'' than originally planned, he said.
Gutsy move by Force Protection. The story includes a number of interviews that compare the company's strategy to the "Field of Dreams" or the way Detroit builds cars. Make the car and worry about selling it later.Is the Cheetah good enough right now to forestall competition and get Force Protection's foot in the door on the coveted JLTV program?
Force Protection obviously hopes so, but judging from the last two big rounds of MRAP orders the military likes what its getting from BAE Systems (the RG-33 and the Caiman) as well as Navistar (the MaxxPro).
The military's interest in the (Ceradyne) Bull may represent the military's intention to use that vehicle for specialized purposes.
The Cheetah may represent Force Protection's last-ditch effort to make itself a major player in military vehicle production over the long haul.