By Audra CallowayNovember 18, 2011
PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. (Nov. 18, 2011) -- A Program Executive Office for Ammunition team at Picatinny Arsenal recently garnered a prestigious award for its acquisition efforts while providing Soldiers with a more reliable and better performing round.
The Department of Defense honored the team behind the 5.56mm M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round, or EPR, with a highly coveted 2011 David Packard Acquisition Excellence Award during a ceremony Nov. 1 at Fort Belvoir, Va.
The David Packard Award is the Department of Defense's highest acquisition award and recognizes DOD civilian and/or military organizations, groups, or teams, who have made highly significant contributions that demonstrate exemplary innovation and best practices in acquisition.
The award is named in honor of the late David Packard, a former deputy secretary of defense during the Nixon administration. He was also the founder and chairman of the Hewlett-Packard Company and chairman of the Presidential Commission on Defense Management chartered in 1985.
Frank Kendall, acting under decretary of defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics presented the award. Brig. Gen. Jonathan Maddux, PEO Ammunition and Picatinny senior commander, and Col. Paul Hill, Project Manager Maneuver Ammunition Systems, or PM MAS, accepted the award on behalf of the M855A1 EPR Integrated Product Team.
PM MAS led the M855A1 team for the Program Executive Office Ammunition, which is located at Picatinny Arsenal.
"I'm honored to accept the David Packard on behalf of the EPR team. This team revealed opportunities that we thought were impossible -- namely improving hard target effects while simultaneously improving soft target performance," said Hill.
"The result is the most effective and technically advanced small caliber cartridge ever developed, designed to equip our troops with improved ammunition quickly, while also supporting the Army's requirement for an environmentally friendly projectile," Hill said of the EPR.
The M855A1 team re-engineered the former 5.56mm M855 bullet, creating a better performing cartridge.
The M855 round, similar to the Army's M80 (7.62mm ball round), is a "yaw-dependent" bullet. As any bullet travels along its trajectory, it "wobbles" in both pitch and yaw, causing the projectile to strike its target at different attitudes with virtually every shot.
For a yaw-dependent bullet such as the M855 or M80, this results in varying performance, depending upon where in the yaw/pitch cycle the bullet strikes its target. For example, at a high angle of yaw, the M855 performs very well, transferring its energy to the target in short order. At a low angle of yaw, however, the bullet reacts more slowly, causing the inconsistent effects observed in the field.
The cartridge features a larger steel "penetrator" on its tip, that is both sharper than what is on the M855, and is also exposed. This is a combination that produces better performance.
The M855A1 is not an armor-piercing round, but it is able to penetrate 3/8" steel at approximately 400 meters, which exceeds the current M855.
Both the M855 and M855A1 feature a copper jacket, but the EPR's jacket is "reverse drawn" -- part of its manufacturing. The reverse drawn jacket allowed the team to gain significant cost savings on the jacket cups since they used the same material as the M855.
The team also removed the lead from the cartridge, which makes the bullet more environmentally friendly. This will have a significant effect on training ranges by eliminating nearly 2,000 tons of lead a year from Army ranges.
"This award reflects achievements that exemplify goals and objectives established for furthering life cycle reduction and acquisition excellence in DoD," said Maddux.
"The team used first-class engineering and acquisition practices to ensure that the best possible product was delivered to our Soldiers in the shortest amount of time," Maddux said. "Congratulations to the entire M855A1 EPR IPT for the acquisition excellence they demonstrated while supporting our military members."
The PM MAS-led Integrated Product Team was comprised of highly qualified, multi-disciplined members from PM MAS, the Maneuver Center of Excellence, Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, Army Research Laboratory, Developmental Test Command, Center for Health Promotion and Preventative Medicine, and the Joint Munitions Command.
To overcome both performance and industrial base sustainment challenges, Hill said the team applied numerous Lean Six Sigma principles to:
• Systematically determine the best method of high-volume production
• Ensure that new tooling and commercial off-the-shelf control systems could be efficiently integrated into their planning
• Efficiently test various prototype rounds in the most extensive testing program in the Army's small caliber history.
PM MAS also used a non-traditional path for small caliber ammunition improvement by adapting aeroballistic modeling and simulation techniques from large caliber, direct-fire systems.
The team maintained a robust engineering approach in its program by following many of the same milestone or gate reviews and checkpoints of a Full Material Release program.
With this hybrid approach, the team was able to field the EPR as an Engineering Change Proposal, saving months of schedule without jeopardizing engineering or quality best practices.
Lower costs also came from cheaper bullet materials and improvements in manufacturing that dramatically reduced the cost of the round.