By John B. SnyderJune 25, 2013
WATERVLIET ARSENAL, N.Y. (June 25, 2013) -- The Watervliet Arsenal announced today that it received a $6.2 million contract to manufacture more than 1,600 60 mm mortar baseplates for the Army's TACOM Life Cycle Management Command. This is the fourth multimillion-dollar contract awarded to the arsenal in the last six weeks.
"This multimillion dollar order will add to our current workload more than 12,400 hours of direct labor," said Bruce Pienkoski, the arsenal's program manager for mortars. "We will begin shipping in March 2014 and we will complete our production by April 2015."
With this order, more than $27 million in new work has been awarded to the arsenal since early May, which will result in more than 62,000 direct labor hours added to the production schedule, said Pienkoski.
Ray Gaston, the arsenal's chief of production planning and control, said that given this era of fiscal uncertainty with the defense budget, every new order is critical to sustaining the current employment level at the arsenal, which in turn, sustains the critical machining skills required for today's weapons systems.
At risk of overusing a sports metaphor, Gaston nonetheless said the arsenal is now entering the 'fourth quarter of the game' as it enters the final three months of a very challenging fiscal year.
"In some years, the fourth quarter of the fiscal year often brings in new orders as defense dollars must be obligated before the start of the next fiscal year, which is October," Gaston said. "But given this year, with the Department of Defense squeezing every dollar due to the fiscal uncertainty, we weren't as hopeful that we would receive new contracts and so, this is truly great news."
According to Pienkoski, the mortar baseplate order has two main parts. About $2.6 million will go toward the manufacturing of M7 baseplates and the remaining $3.6 million will be for the production of M8 baseplates.
The Army's M224 60 mm mortar system requires two baseplates: The M7 baseplate, which is used in a conventional firing mode, and the M8 baseplate that can be used in a hand-held firing mode.
The 60 mm mortar system is a lightweight, high angle of fire, smooth-bore, man-portable, muzzle-loaded weapon system that is used in the close support of ground troops. The system has a maximum range of nearly 4,000 meters and can fire up to 30 rounds per minute.
On May 9, the arsenal received a $9.3 million contract to provide 500 60 mm mortar bipods to the Army's TACOM Life Cycle Management Command. On June 4, the arsenal received another contract valued at $6.9 million to provide 600 60 mm mortar barrels also for TACOM. Then, on June 6, the arsenal received a $5.1 million contract to provide General Dynamics Land Systems Division (GDLS) with 50 Stryker Mobile Gun System 105 mm cannons.
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. It will celebrate its 200th anniversary on July 14, 2013.
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 Historic Registered Landmark has an annual economic benefit to the local community in excess of $100 million.