ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- In October 2013, Anniston Army Depot began gearing up to modify M4 carbines throughout the U.S. Army.
The M4 Product Improvement Program has two phases. Currently, the small arms repair fielding team members are assembling new M4 carbine uppers, adding heavier barrels and compiling kits of parts to be used in the second phase.
Kit assembly is a coordinated effort by a team of individuals from the directorates of Production and Material Management.
"Right now, we have over one million parts being inventory managed by DMM in the Logistics Management Program," said Kerry Anderson, site manager for the M4 PIP for the depot's Directorate of Production Management.
As each kit is built, parts are tracked, managed and counted to ensure the correct number of components are allotted for each weapon to be modified in the field.
"Every part is identified during the kitting process and, at the end, we count to ensure we have the appropriate number of parts in each bag," said Willa Mason of DMM.
Once the kits and other M4 components are assembled, they are shipped to units for assembly on-site by the small arms repairers.
There, modifications will turn the M4 carbine into an M4A1 and give it the capability of fully automatic fire, as opposed to its current three-round burst configuration.
The M4 PIP was tested in February with a pilot program, during which 290 kits were assembled in one week.
During the pilot, according to Ronny Parker, the fielding operations supervisor over the program, employees also learned to operate laser engraving tools, which will be used to eradicate the current nomenclature on the weapon's selector switch and replace it with the M4A1 nomenclature.
As each weapon is modified with the new components, fielding team members will ensure it conforms to specifications and cycle dummy rounds to test its functionality.
The exchanged parts from each unit will also have a chance at a second life.
"Once fielding for the modifications begins, the uppers from each unit's M4 carbines will come back to Anniston to be reworked for this program," said Parker.
The returned uppers will be disassembled and inspected. Then, new parts will replace worn or damaged ones as needed during the assembly process.
"This program is a big advantage for the depot," said Parker, adding the upgrades are expected to take approximately five years to complete. "This is a big program."