John Deere Construction and Forestry Co. has announced that the U.S. Department of Defense awarded the company an estimated $47 million contract to build 300 Tractor/Rubber Tired/Articulated Steering/Multipurpose (TRAM) units. The units will be manufactured at John Deere's Davenport Works facility in Davenport, IA, with an initial delivery of eight TRAM units targeted for completion before the end of 2007.

The TRAM units are being built under contract with the Marine Corps Systems Command in Quantico, VA, and will be delivered to military bases throughout the United States and overseas. Based on the popular John Deere 624J Wheel Loaders, these machines will be extensively modified to meet the Marine Corps' unique specifications for extreme-duty applications.

The TRAMs will be sized to operate as four-in-one, multipurpose bucket loaders with a minimum capacity of 2.5 cu. yds., and as forklifts with 72-in. forks and a minimum lift of 10,000 lbs. at 48-in. load center. The units will be used in combat and combat support over rough and unprepared terrain, including sand, snow, and mud.

The contract includes warranties, dedicated field service representatives, logistics support, technical manuals, training aids, operator/technician training, and a specially designed armor package. Also included are additional options that if exercised bring the contract's total estimated value to nearly $243 million.

In the late 1980s, John Deere was awarded a contract to build an original TRAM unit for the Marine Corps--the first of its kind. These units later were updated by John Deere and have been used extensively in increased U.S. military activity in Iraq and Afghanistan. The new contract awards the company the opportunity to create and build the replacement units for the original machines.

John Deere (Deere & Company-NYSE: DE) is the world's leading manufacturer of agricultural and forestry equipment, a major manufacturer of construction equipment, and a leading supplier of equipment used in lawn, grounds, and turf care. John Deere also manufactures and markets engines used in heavy equipment and provides landscape and worldwide financial services.