Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Watervliet Arsenal to enhance capability of main battle tanks

The arsenal closed out fiscal year 2016 by receiving a $2.7 million contract from the U.S. Army to upgrade several hundred Abrams main battle tanks with a modified breech block.

This order will add to the more than $60 million in new contracts the arsenal had received earlier in the fiscal year, which for the most part, will be work performed in fiscal years 2017 through 2019, said Tom Pond, the arsenal's director of operations. Each fiscal year begins on October 1.

Pond said that anytime the arsenal receives a multimillion-dollar contract is good news, but this order was exceptionally good news as it was not part of the production plan for future years and adds more than 9,200 hours of direct labor.

Adam Ford, the project manager for this order, said the contract requires the arsenal to modify nearly 450 tank breech blocks to accommodate an Ammunition Data Link. Delivery of the breech blocks to Soldiers will begin in April 2017 and the last shipment is scheduled for January 2019.

Scott Huber, the general foreman of the team that will work on this order, said the more than 9,000 hours of direct labor will help provide consistency to his workload in future fiscal years.

"Although the modification will not require any significant machining challenges, it will provide consistent long-term work for my production team," Huber said. "Fortunately for us and for the Army, we have been manufacturing the Abrams breech blocks for more than 30 years and so, this modification will not be difficult."

Huber said that the Arsenal is currently in production of new tank breech blocks, as well as modifying existing breech blocks for the Army under previous orders.

The upgrade to the Abrams tanks is the result of great research and design work done by the Army's Benét Laboratories, which is located on the Watervliet Arsenal. Benét helped design an Ammunition Data Link for the Abrams tank that will provide the tank crew the ability to fire the Advanced Multi-Purpose (AMP) and M829A4 Advanced Kinetic Energy (AKE) rounds.

This ADL is an electronic signal pathway from the fire control processor to a chambered programmable tank round. The portion of the pathway designed by Benét Laboratories carries the signal from turret signal network to the rear face of the chambered round.