By John B. SnyderJune 25, 2009
WATERVLIET ARSENAL (25 June) Aca,!aEURc In an era of Army transformation, the Watervliet Arsenal has become more than just a cannon manufacturer, it is also an educational resource for future military leaders. This notion was evident again today as nearly 30 members of the Canadian Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario, visited the Arsenal to learn about military weapons research, design, and manufacturing.
According to the military college's website, the aim of the land forces technical staff program that visited the Arsenal is to produce competent, technical staff officers with a broad based knowledge of science and technology and the ability to apply that knowledge to the needs of the Canadian land forces.
So, why visit the Arsenal'
These majors, captains, and warrant officers came to the Arsenal due to the unique relationship the Arsenal has with the U.S. Army's BenAfAt Laboratories.
In essence, the Arsenal is not only home to the nation's premier manufacturer of cannon and mortar tubes, it is also home to BenAfAt Labs, which is a military research, design, and prototype facility for the Army.
Through the day-long visit, the students were provided a series of briefings and demonstrations that discussed and showed firsthand not only the history of the Arsenal, but also its role in future and legacy weapon development.
Ed McCarthy, deputy commander, highlighted that despite some manufacturing bays that date back to the late 1800s, the Arsenal has kept up with advances in technology.
"Nearly 30 years ago, the Arsenal had more than 1,500 machines that were required to support our production. Today, the Arsenal requires only 660 machines," said McCarthy. "Despite a reduction in the number of machines, we did not lose any manufacturing capability due to our ability to leverage technology."
Dave Smith, senior mechanical engineer at BenAfAt, focused on the value added to research and design of future weapons systems by being collocated with the Army's cannon and mortar manufacturer.
Smith explained that within a few minutes' walk of his research and weapons designers are production facilities that can quickly transform data into products. Due to this relationship, "BenAfAt can provide true "cradle-to-grave" support to the nation's war fighters," said Smith.
Nevertheless, most students seemed most excited about one of the more basic operations at the Arsenal Aca,!aEURc the Rotary Forge.
At the Rotary Forge, preformed steel is heated to approximately 2,000 degrees and then shaped by a mandrel into a forged tube. In a matter of about 15 minutes, steel is forged into something that looks very much like a cannon tube.
The visit by the Canadian Royal Military College is the second visit in three months by a higher military education institution to the Arsenal. Last March, more than 70 West Point cadets came through the Arsenal as part of their mechanical engineering studies.