The Watervliet Arsenal announced this week that it received a contract valued at nearly $1 million to manufacture 155 mm cannon carrier assemblies for the Army's TACOM Life Cycle Management Command.
"This million dollar order will add to our current workload more than 2,200 hours of direct labor," said Diane Nelson, the arsenal's program manager for the cannon order. "We will begin shipping in December 2014, and we will complete our production by January 2015."
Jake Peart, the arsenal's chief of Production Control & Program Management, said that given this era of fiscal uncertainty with the defense budget, even a small order is critical to sustaining the critical machining skills required for today's weapons systems.
"What makes this order even better for us is that it was not part of our planned production schedule for this fiscal year," Peart explained.
Just a few years ago, when arsenal manufacturing was supporting two wars, this small order may not have been news, Peart said.
But as the effects of sequestration trickle down throughout the Department of Defense, the arsenal's future workload has taken its fair share of the pain. Since sequestration took effect in March of this year, the arsenal has suffered through a hiring freeze, furloughed workforce, very limited overtime to meet production, and a drop in future weapons orders.
Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army's chief of staff, said earlier this month at a Senate Armed Services Committee testimony, "If Congress does not act to mitigate the magnitude, method and speed of the reductions under the Budget Control Act with sequestration, the Army will be forced to make significant reductions in force structure and end strength. From [fiscal year 20]14 to [fiscal year 20]17, as we draw down and restructure the Army into a smaller force, the Army will have degraded readiness and extensive modernization program shortfalls."
The arsenal has historically benefited from DOD's modernization of its weapon systems. But given Odierno's dire outlook, the arsenal may need to look harder than it ever has to find new work, even if it means fully embracing small orders such as this one.
As a sign of just how important new orders are to the arsenal, Nelson said that it usually takes more than a month from a request for a quote to a receipt of an order, but the timeline for this order took less than two weeks.
The carrier assemblies are for the M109 155 mm self-propelled howitzer, called the Paladin.
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 year of continuous service to the nation 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 has an annual economic benefit to the local community in excess of $90 million.
Source: US Army
Date: Nov 22, 2013