LIMESTONE (AP) – A company that refurbishes military vehicles is adding 112 jobs to meet demand for Army Humvees because of the prolonged deployment of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Loring Rebuild Site at the former Loring Air Force Base has landed a contract to refurbish hundreds of Army Humvees to replace vehicles overseas for a year, Gov. John Baldacci said Thursday.

The agreement will allow the facility to increase its work force by 63 percent, and to increase its work load from roughly 660 vehicles a year to 1,215 over the next year.

“They’re going to have to add a second shift,” said Maj. Gen. Joseph Tinkham, Adjutant General for the Maine National Guard.

With continued U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and dimming prospects for international reinforcements to relieve American troops in Iraq, Tinkham said the need to replenish the military fleet is not likely to diminish anytime soon.

“This batch will be replacing vehicles that are being sucked into deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said of the new Humvee order. “The facility could grow larger.”

The $22.5 million project will create 112 skilled heavy equipment mechanic and support positions at the Loring site, Baldacci said.

The center now employs 176 workers.

The project will be phased in, with the site in full production in 45 days. The projects calls for refurbishing 555 vehicles, on top of the 660 or so the facility now handles annually.

Baldacci said Maine’s congressional delegation was instrumental in bringing the project to Maine.

“This creates new jobs in an area that has seen fewer economic development opportunities than the rest of the state,” said Baldacci, adding that it carries on the revitalization of the former Air Force bomber base now known as Loring Commerce Center.

“Through this project, Maine workers are directly supporting our men and women on active duty in Iraq and other dangerous parts of the world,” Baldacci said.

The Loring Rebuild Site is operated under a cooperative funding agreement between the National Guard Bureau and the State of Maine.

Until now, the site’s major customers have been the National Guard Bureau and Guard units across the country.

AP-ES-10-03-03 1124EDT

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