ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala.--The depot signed a contract in November 2008 with General Dynamics Land Systems for the production of a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle variant new to Anniston.

Work on the four-wheeled RG-31 MRAP began in December 2008 and is scheduled to be completed in April, said contracting specialist Kaye Nunnelley.

The order calls for 333 vehicles, with an option to add 320 more.

Through a $1.75 million direct sales and facility use partnership, the depot is selling services and facilities to defense contractor GDLS, a company that is already building other variants of the MRAP for the Department of Defense through contracts with original equipment manufacturers of the MRAP program.

Production on the six-wheeled Cougar MRAP model began here in June 2007. The latest work order on the RG-31 model parallels that of the Cougar. The depot offers manufacturing and production support services to GDLS and provides the contractor with work space. GDLS also has its own facilities outside the depot in Calhoun County.

"The two MRAP programs are almost the same with minor differences in the final paint process," said Nunnelley.

Depot employees are currently performing final paint work on the RG-31, as well as providing items like oil and operating supplies. The depot is also responsible for the disposal of the operations' hazardous waste material.

And, the two variants-RG-31 and Cougar-don't leave much to compare with regard to vehicle capability and appearance. Though the RG-31 has four wheels and the Cougar six, both have armor and a V-shaped hull that give all MRAPs their ability to deflect blasts from improvised explosive devices. The RG-31 model is easier to maneuver because of its shorter suspension, said Hank Kennedy, GDLS program manager.