News release: Arsenal makes first shipment of $22.6M contract - March 2013

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The Watervliet Arsenal's upgrade to the 105mm howitzer will reduce risk to Artillerymen, logistics chain.

The Watervliet Arsenal's upgrade to the 105mm howitzer will reduce risk to Artillerymen, logistics chain.

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  • 1. U.S. ARMY WATERVLIET ARSENAL NEWS RELEASE John B. Snyder Public Affairs Officer U.S. Army Watervliet Arsenal FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Building 10, Room 102 Watervliet, NY 12189 March 18, 2013 (518) 266-5055 Arsenal makes first shipment of $22.6M contractWATERVLIET ARSENAL, N.Y. -- The Arsenal announced today that it has completed its firstshipment of 19 M20A1 Breech Block Kits as part of a $22.6 million contract for the U.S. Army toupgrade the M119A2 105mm howitzer.“This order is one of the largest contracts the Arsenal has and it involves more than 61,000 hours ofdirect labor,” said George Roach, the Arsenal program manager for this order. “This first shipmentwill end up in the hands of artillerymen at Fort Bragg, N.C.”The scope of this order is to manufacture more than 650 upgrade kits with monthly shipments of thekits to continue through August 2015, said Roach.“Although the order was received in 2011, it took a significant amount of lead time to purchase rawmaterial, design fixtures and gauges, and for the customer to conduct testing prior to going into fullproduction,” said Roach. “This was no easy project and it took the entire Arsenal, from contractingto our friends at the Army’s Benét Laboratories, to make this shipment on time.”Why a redesign?In 1987, an agreement was reached with the British Royal Ordnance Factories to produce the M119howitzer to replace the M102 howitzer. The M119 entered service with the U.S. Army’s 7th InfantryDivision in December 1989.Several years ago, Benét Labs discovered a wear-driven, safety-related flaw in the British design,albeit one that did not put Soldiers at immediate risk. This finding was significant enough, however,to effect a change to the technical manual that required artillery crewmen to verify and measure thefiring pin protrusion before every live firing, said Jeanne Brooks, a Benét Labs mechanical engineer.The breech block improvements under this new modification will reduce the number of breechblock assembly parts by 30 percent, which reduces the logistical footprint and maintenance time.Additionally, the new breech block was optimized for wear resistance, which directly improves thehistorical firing pin protrusion issues we set out to correct, Brooks said. -more-
  • 2. Although the Arsenal’s business model has changed in recent years from a focus on cannonproduction to the production of mortars, non-tube manufacturing, such as with the M20A1 breechblocks, greatly helps the Arsenal to maintain a steady workload, said Roach.The M20A1 breech blocks carry the firing mechanism and close the breech end of a 105mm cannonwhen firing. They are, as are the cannon tubes, high-pressure vessels that are machined to extremelytight tolerances that are measured in thousandths of an inch.The Watervliet Arsenal is an Army-owned-and-operated manufacturing facility and is the oldest,continuously active arsenal in the United States having begun operations during the War of 1812.Today’s Arsenal is relied upon by U.S. and foreign militaries to produce the most advanced, high-tech, high-powered weaponry for cannon, howitzer, and mortar systems. This National HistoricRegistered Landmark has an annual economic benefit to the local community in excess of $100million. ###Photos and cutlines are located at:First year machinist apprentice Cale Kneer preparing a 105mm breech block for drilling.http://www.flickr.com/photos/69610950@N03/8568243845/in/photostreamArsenal machinist Francis “Frank” Taylor is grinding rails on a 105mm breech block.http://www.flickr.com/photos/69610950@N03/8569344612/in/photostream/Arsenal machinist Benjamin Noxon, left, assists apprentice Brian Martino on 105mm breech blocks.http://www.flickr.com/photos/69610950@N03/8568248991/in/photostreamFirst year machinist apprentice Brian Martino measuring tolerances on a 105mm breech block.http://www.flickr.com/photos/69610950@N03/8569348844/in/photostream/