Ladson-based armored vehicle maker Force Protection Inc. reported a small first-quarter loss that was attributed partly to $2.3 million in severance expenses.

The company, which sells many of its heavy-duty combat trucks to the military, announced in February it would cut about 100 jobs in response to an overall slowdown in U.S. defense spending.

The loss of $49,000 compared to a first quarter gain of $1.14 million a year ago. Sales increased about 5 percent to $141 million.

Michael Moody, chairman and chief executive officer of Force Protection, said recent orders bring the company’s backlog of work to more than $500 million.

“Combined with the significant contract awards we have received to date during the second quarter of 2011, we are in a strong position to grow both revenue and earnings for the full year,” he said.

Separately, the company Force Protection said it would work with a company from Canada, CAE, to compete for a 600-vehicle contract. The Canadian Department of National Defence is scheduled to pick the winning bidder by early 2012.