Anniston Munitions Center is repairing four variations of reactive armor tiles for combat vehicles in support of Army requirements for the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle. By repairing these tiles, rather than purchasing new, the Army will save approximately $35 million, while outfitting new AMPVs and supporting stock shortages.
While the ANMC team is accustomed to handling munitions, the repair of reactive armor tiles is a new mission. As employees work through each step, they learn and implement more effective and efficient methods.
“Reactive armor tiles are a critical component mounted on multiple Army wheeled and tracked vehicles to help combat our enemies' credible threats and ensure the safety of our soldiers,” said Seth Dismore from the Sustainment Planning Division at Joint Munitions Command. “RATs are in high demand to meet Class V munitions requirements, and organic renovation capabilities are necessary to help supplement anticipated new production in order to meet those demands.”
During the inspection process, a record sheet is completed for each tile, which is tagged with an identification number. The number and inspection follow the component through each step of the repair, cleaning and painting processes. ANMC personnel inspect each M19, M33, M3A1 and M4A1 armor tile for damage.
“Each tile comes in as condition code F, which means economically repairable,” said Josh Marshall, an explosives operator leader with ANMC. “We are performing very minor maintenance.”
If the identified damage is minimal and correctable, they perform necessary repairs. Employees clean the tiles using a blast booth, inspect them again to ensure there are no additional defects and send the mission capable tiles to the paint line. Because the tiles still hold a charge, the munitions specialists ensure that structural integrity is not compromised and all safety measures are in place.
“ANMC has worked closely with HQ JMC to revive and evolve a complete renovation capability for RATs, a capability that has been non-existent for decades within JMC’s organic industrial base,” said Dismore.
The cleaning process is where the learning process is most evident. “It took us about a week, using test pieces, to figure out the amount of time required to clean each tile,” said Marshall.
Using a forklift to bring the tiles up to the level of the blast booth table, the team loads several tiles facing the same way. After each cleaning cycle – six in total – the tiles are turned.
The painting process was also a learning experience, starting with reviews of the inspections. Many of the incoming tiles were pitted or damaged where they were mounted to a vehicle. The team is adding buffer plates to prevent this sort of damage in the future. In the paint facility, each tile is pretreated and primed before the buffer plate is added. Where needed, a non-skid coating is applied prior to final painting, stenciling and the paint adhesion test. The adhesion test ensures that the paint has properly bonded with the metal of the tile. This test is performed at the beginning and end of each paint run.
At maximum capacity, approximately 15 members of ANMC’s Maintenance and Demilitarization Division play a role in the reactive armor tile repairs. To-date, more than 2,300 RATs have been returned to mission-capable standards, supporting European Command requirements and the Army’s Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle.
“Everyone knows the mission, they are proud of the mission and they are putting out a good product for the Warfighter,” said Marshall.