Watervliet Arsenal, N.Y. (July 31, 2017) -- The Arsenal announced this week the receipt of three foreign military sales contracts that total more than $3.5 million to provide mortar components to the Iraqi, Afghanistan, and Lebanese armies.

These contracts are in addition to the foreign military sales contracts the Arsenal received earlier this year to support the Indian and Australian armies that totaled more than $55 million, said Joseph Turcotte, the Arsenal's deputy commander. To put the size of these foreign contracts into perspective, the arsenal achieved only $1.7 million in foreign military sales contracts for fiscal 2016 that ended last September.

"Although we have been supporting allied armies for generations, the interest in Arsenal products this year has been nothing short of phenomenal," Turcotte said. "Our plans for an increase in military sales to offset a decline in U.S. orders in recent years due to sequestration have now become a reality."

According to Thomas Pond, the Arsenal's director of operations, the break out of the contracts are approximately: $464,000 to provide the Afghanistan army with 60mm mortar barrels and assemblies; $615,000 to provide the Lebanese army with 120mm mortar barrels and assemblies; $2,488,000 to provide the Iraq army with 120mm mortar barrels and assemblies.

The delivery of items will begin in July 2018 and should be complete by 2020, Pond said.

"Because mortar and cannon production are core mission requirements, these contracts will help maintain critical manufacturing skills that quickly become perishable if not used," Pond said. "And so, these sales will significantly contribute to the sustainment of critical skills that my team will use on future orders to support the U.S. military."

For the Arsenal to retain its worldwide status as a center of technical excellence for large caliber weapons manufacturing, it must maintain a highly trained workforce that can execute all critical manufacturing skills that range from forge operations to heat treatment. In recent years, however, the Arsenal leadership has found it very challenging to maintain a high level of expertise in core critical manufacturing skills due to the reduced workload that came from declining defense budgets.

As an effort to counter any erosion of skills, the Arsenal has aggressively worked with the Army's weapon program managers, the Army's Security Assistance Command, and private industry to help fill in the gaps to workload by looking at overseas markets.

The U.S. State Department manages the foreign military sales program and works closely with the Department of Defense to resource the requirements. These proposed sales will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of the nation's allies.

The mortar system is used primarily by the infantry as an indirect fire weapon when a high angle trajectory is required to hit enemy troops, materiel, and positions.

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.