ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala.--The depot signed a contract worth $7.5 million on Aug. 7 with Research Triangle Institute International for work that will produce turret trainers for the Army.

Anniston Army Depot has partnered with private industry since the early 1990s, but this is the first time the depot has partnered with RTI, a research institute based in North Carolina.

This is a three-year contract in which the depot serves as subcontractor to RTI, the company hired by the Army's Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training, and Instrumentation in Orlando to provide training capabilities to Soldiers who are learning the tank turret system.

"This contract is significant for the Army and the depot. It provides additional opportunities for partnering and heightens our support to the warfighter," said Depot Commander Col. S. B. Keller.

Army units have been using turret trainers for many years to simulate the operation and maintenance of the main battle tank. To support training on upgraded models of the M1 tank, the depot will provide direct labor for the disassembly, modification, upgrade and reassembly of turret trainer structures and the repair and overhaul of components for two different configurations of the trainer: the M1A2 System Enhancement Package Version 2 Maintenance Turret Trainer and the M1A1 SA Maintenance Turret Trainer.

This direct sales contract calls for 16 of the M1A2 SEP V2 trainers and two M1A1 SA trainers. Soldiers use the simulators at training sites like Fort Knox, Ky., and Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Md.

Work begins this month, and no additional hiring will take place at the depot to support this contract. As the Army's Center of Industrial and Technical Excellence for combat vehicles, this contract helps the depot maintain its core skills in the area of M1 turret maintenance.