By John B. Snyder, Watervliet ArsenalOctober 19, 2017
WATERVLIET ARSENAL, N.Y. -- The Arsenal announces the receipt of a U.S. Army contract valued at approximately $3.7 million to manufacture vehicle armor plate kits that will enhance Soldiers' survivability on the battlefield.
The contract requires the Arsenal to manufacture armor plate kits for the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle system, a vehicle that was fielded to U.S. forces about 10 years ago to counter improvised explosive devices during the Iraq war. Production will begin in 2018 and will end in 2020.
John Zwack, the Arsenal's project manager for this order, said that the Arsenal received the order due to the Arsenal's recent experience in manufacturing armor plate kits.
"Although this type of manufacturing is not a traditional product line for us, we have done this type of work before," Zwack said. "During the Iraq war, we produced armor kits for 5-ton trucks and Humvee vehicles."
Although all new work is important to the Arsenal's ability to sustain its manufacturing readiness, this order represents much more than money, said Scott Huber, an Arsenal general foreman.
"This order will provide the Arsenal more than 16,000 hours of direct labor, as well as several thousand hours of indirect labor," Huber said. "But more importantly, this order provides us a strong sense of pride knowing that the Army's leadership has recognized that our manufacturing readiness transcends traditional cannon making."
Once again, the Arsenal's ability to quickly adapt to Soldier readiness needs is one of the main reasons why the Arsenal remains in operation after more than 200 years, Huber said. The tight machining tolerances that are required to produce the finest tank and artillery cannons in the world have developed a workforce here who can machine any product from a valid design.
As an added value of this order, Huber said that he plans to use the armor kit line as a training opportunity for machine tool operators and apprentices.
"Because the tolerances are not as tight as they are for cannon and mortar production, this will be good work for machine tool operators and apprentices to refine their skills in drilling and milling," Huber said. "Additionally, we will introduce water jet cutting into a production line for the first time."
Although the Arsenal's main production lines deal mainly in large caliber cannon and mortar systems, the Arsenal's manufacturing skills have often been leveraged by the Army to meet the emerging and sometimes, the urgent readiness needs of Soldiers. Because the Army can set or change the Arsenal's manufacturing priorities at any time, speaks volumes as to why the Army still retains control over the Watervliet Arsenal after more than 200 years of operation.
Between 2004 and 2010, the Arsenal received $100 million from the Department of Defense to produce armor kits to safeguard troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. This little known production line welded, fabricated, and assembled tens of thousands of armor kits for U.S. troops -- kits that saved countless lives, limbs, and immeasurable heartbreak. When the Arsenal armor kit line closed in 2010, the Arsenal returned nearly $20 million back to DOD because production costs came in under budget.
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. The Arsenal is a subordinate command to TACOM Life Cycle Management Command and the Army Materiel Command.