Those votes of confidence are enough to put a smile on the face of Peter Simon, president of Sterling, Va.-based Heckler & Koch Defense Inc.H&K
is the German gun manufacturer developing the XM8 for the military, with hopes of landing a contract bonanza to produce several million copies of the weapon.A $1 billion prize isn't out of the question, the company has said.
But first, a second round of testing in the desert, jungles and arctic must be completed.That will take until December.It will be followed by more evaluations with the possibility of a decision coming in February, Simon
said.That could lead to an initial contract for 8,000 to 10,000 of the assault rifles -- enough to fill two brigade combat teams -- by December 2005.
is constructing a 102,000-square-foot plant in Muscogee Technology Park, Simon
said the XM8 won't necessarily be manufactured in Columbus from the start.Instead, it appears, the weapon's parts would be made in Germany, shipped to Columbus for assembly, then distributed to the military from a center being relocated here from Virginia.
The number of jobs locally -- originally pegged at about 200 -- also won't be created quite as fast as originally anticipated.
"I think the initial start will probably result in about 50 positions, and then we grow that as we grow the business," said Simon
, downplaying expectations until the Department of Defense
awards a major contract.
"All I'm trying to do is not count my chickens before they're hatched," he