April 25/11: Raytheon in Tucson, AZ receives an $8.3 million firm-fixed-price contract from Canada for its GPS-guided M982 Excalibur Block LA-2 155mm artillery shells. Canada has been using earlier Excalibur versions in Afghanistan, firing them from its new ultra-lightweight M777 155mm howitzers. Their $100,000+ cost per shell has attracted some criticism, but the reality is that current Rules of Engagement leave almost no other options for artillery support of troops in contact. That becomes even more important for a country like Canada, with no armed airpower in theater other than its CH-146 twin-Huey helicopters, and no movement on its expression of interest in other options like MLRS rocket launchers.
Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ; McAlester, OK; Farmington, NM; Niceville, FL; Healdsburg, CA; Anniston, AL; Cincinnati, OH; Anaheim, CA; Williamsport, PA; Joplin, MO; Lowell, MA; Baltimore, MD; Kariskoga, Sweden; and the United Kingdom, with an estimated completion date of March 31/13. One bid was solicited with one bid received. by the U.S. Army’s Contracting Command in Picatinny Arsenal, NJ, on behalf of its foreign customer (W15QKN-07-C-0100).
April 4/11: Raytheon in Tucson, AZ receives a $172.6 million firm-fixed-price contract for “a block” of M982 Excalibur GPS-guided 155mm artillery shells. They are especially important given restrictive rules of engagement in Afghanistan, which require this level of accuracy. Excalibur has been a leading weapon in an emerging trend, where precision-guided artillery is coupled with long-endurance aerial surveillance and targeting, to create a much faster, more reliable, and cheaper alternative to close air support fighters with precision-guided bombs.
Numbers were not disclosed, but even at their estimated cost of $100,000+ each, that’s still a lot of shells. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ; McAlester, OK; Farmington, NM; Niceville, FL; Healdsburg, CA; Anniston, AL; Cincinnati, OH; Anaheim, CA; Williamsport, PA; Joplin, MO; Lowell, MA; Karlskoga, Sweden; and the United Kingdom; with an estimated completion date of Jan 31/13. One bid was solicited with one bid received by the U.S. Army Contracting Command in Picatinny, NJ (W15QKN-07-C-0100).
Raytheon’s subsequent release notes that this contract marks the beginning of full rate production for Excalibur Ia-2, adding that the U.S. Army and Marine Corps have fired over 300 Excalibur shells in the past year.
Latest updates: Improved 5.56mm; New production facility opening.
81mm mortar (click to view larger)
A weapon without ammunition is useless, which is why ammunition is almost always a strategic national capability whose production must remain in-country. On the other hand, government demand has a tendency to swing up and down within narrow limits, and the demands of efficiency usually lead to a single supplier situation – often using equipment that dates back to World War 2. The USA has run into problems because of its reliance on a single small arms ammunition plant, for instance, and has moved to modernize and diversify its base. Its ally Australia is modernizing key ammunition facilities, and trying to modernize its industrial approach as well.
Then there’s Britain, whose long-term defense contracting practices are establishing world-class benchmarks. The UK MoD had been working on an arrangement that secures national supply needs from British sources, and ensures that modernization investments continues to improve industrial efficiency. Hence the new 15-year, GBP 2+ billion “Munitions Acquisition Supply Solution” (MASS) program, inaugurated in August 2008.
Lockheed Martin Corp.’s Missile and Fires Control in Grand Prairie, TX received a $151.2 million firm-fixed-price contract to supply high mobility artillery rocket system (HIMARS) full rate production Lot 5 launchers for the US Army.
The contract includes 46 Army launchers; 1 Army launcher rebuild; launchers loader module trainer kit; product definition data package maintenance tack; new equipment training; and support equipment.
The HIMARS is the newest member of the multiple-launch rocket system (MLRS) family.
L-3 Fuzing & Ordnance Systems in Cincinnati, OH received a $98.5 million firm-fixed-price contract with 4 firm-fixed-priced options for the production and delivery of US Army mortar fuzes.
The fuze controls separation of the munition from the delivery platform and triggers its detonation. Safety features are built into all fuzes to protect personnel while handling ammunition during storage, transit and deployment.
Unlike Britain and the USA, France’s economic stimulus package includes military modernization funds. As part of that effort. France’s DGA procurement agency recently announced [in French] 3 ammunition purchases worth EUR 43.9 million (currently $62.3 million).
Alliant Techsystems in Minneapolis, MN received a firm-fixed-price contract with a maximum value of $7.6 million to supply M1028 120mm canister catridges to the U.S. Army. The contract has a base year and 4 one-year options.
The U.S. Army Joint Munitions & Lethality Life Cycle Management Command (JM&L LCMC) manages the contract (W15QKN-08-C-0473).
The M1028 is a tank fired, anti-personnel canister cartridge intended to be used against advancing dismounted infantry armed with hand held anti-tank and automatic weapons at close range.
The cartridge is to be fired from the M1A1/M1A2 Abrams main battle tank with the M256 smoothbore cannon.
DID has more on the M1028 as well as the Army facilities that Alliant will be supplying…
CACI International in Arlington, VA received a $125 million task order to provide the U.S. Army’s Communications-Electronics Command’s (CECOM) Fires Software Engineering Division (FSED) with software engineering support for fielded fire support systems. The award, for 1 base year and 2 option years, was competitively awarded under the Army’s Strategic Services Sourcing (S3) contract vehicle. The task order brings the total amount of S3 awards to CACI to nearly $2 billion.
USA Today recently reported that an urgent request from commanders in Iraq for more accurate artillery to reduce civilian deaths prompted the Army to speed production of Raytheon’s Excalibur GPS-guided 155mm artillery shells. On June 2/08 DefenseLINK announced an $85.3 million firm-fixed price contract for 155mm Excalibur block 1A-1 and 1A-2 projectiles, and a Sept 5/08 release from Raytheon revealed that it included shells for for the U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps and the Australian Defence Forces – which had requested Excalibur shells in April 2008.
Work will be performed in locations across the United States and Sweden, and is expected to be completed by Jan 31/10. One bid was solicited on March 16/07 by the Joint Munitions and Lethality life Cycle Management Command at Picatinny Arsenal, NJ (W15QKN-07-C-0100).