$18M in new contracts help ensure Army retains a critical skill base at Watervliet

By September 3, 2015Contracting
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By Mr. Ben Sherman

The Arsenal announced this week that it received five contracts worth more than $18 million that will help ensure that the Army’s arsenal at Watervliet, N.Y., retains a warm base of critical skills to support the future needs of our war fighters.

These new orders add to the more than $60 million in contracts the Arsenal had received earlier this year for work that for the most part will be performed in fiscal years 2016 through 2018, said Bill Dingmon, the Arsenal’s chief of manufacturing. The contracts will provide various weapon system components for the U.S. Army’s TACOM Life Cycle Management Command.

The five contracts require the Arsenal to manufacture: 105mm howitzer cannons and breechblocks with a contract value of approximately $4.5 million; 120mm Abrams Tank barrels and tank forgings with a contract value of approximately $13 million; and to manufacture 81mm mortar baseplates with a contract value exceeding $560,000.

“What makes these new contracts significant is that in an era of fiscal uncertainty in the U.S. defense budget these contracts will add more than 36,000 direct labor hours to the Arsenal’s future workload,” Dingmon said. “Additionally, the majority of the direct labor hours will help to retain the Arsenal’s entire range of critical skill capability that has supported every U.S. Soldier since the War of 1812.”

down to a science

Arsenal Machinist Wayne Pelletier working on a 120mm tube for an Abrams tank. Photo Credit: John B. Snyder

The Arsenal has identified 11 critical skill capabilities that it needs to retain to continue as the Defense Department’s large caliber weapons manufacturer of choice. Not all production requirements exercise all 11 of the Arsenal’s core capabilities. And so, that is the added value of these contracts as they will help ensure the Army’s manufacturing center at Watervliet retains a full complement of manufacturing capability to respond to any crisis.

The Arsenal is currently manufacturing several of these product lines from previous U.S. Army contracts with the exception of the 105mm cannons, which have not been manufactured here since 2013.

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. It celebrated its 200th anniversary on July 14, 2013.

Today’s Arsenal is relied upon by U.S. and foreign militaries to produce the most advanced, high-tech, high-powered weaponry for cannon, howitzer, and mortar systems. This National Historic Registered Landmark had revenue in fiscal year 2014 that exceeded $117 million and provides an annual economic benefit to the local community in excess of $100 million.

down to a science

Cannon crewmembers from 2-2nd FA fire a 105mm howitzer March 26, 2014, on Fort Sill’s East Range. The live fire exercise was part of a research project to measure blast overpressure and acceleration from the howitzer. Blast sensors were placed on the Soldiers, equipment and at a 25-foot radius to measure blast pressure. Photo Credit: Ben Sherman, Fort Sill Cannoneer.