JEFFERSON, Ark. (Oct. 16, 2012) -- Pine Bluff Arsenal's Directorate of Ammunition Operations is keeping busy lately with new munition work, as well as looking down the road at a robust workload for fiscal year 2013.
Don Scifres, Chris Richards, Bill Walther and Daniel Uptagrafft, Ammunition Operations is keeping busy lately with new munition work, as well as looking down the road at a robust , or AO, engineers, have been working on the XM1123 and XM1124. These 155mm illuminating and infrared projectiles are similar to the M485 and M1066, but have a farther range.
"The Army had approximately three million projectile munition bodies with the payloads removed that could no longer be used as they were originally built," said Walther. "The Army was then tasked with finding uses for all of them because they were too expensive to just go to waste. Picatinny (Arsenal) was asked to find other uses for the scrap."
The XM1123 and XM1124 have been built at Pine Bluff Arsenal, or PBA, on and off since 2011, with approximately 814 completed.
"This project is a definite win for us," said Scifres. "The interest is in the long-range variant and not as much interest in what we are currently making. It is a path forward for us to the future, even though there are a lot of obstacles along the way."
The production line the XM1123/XM1124 rounds were made on normally can handle 17 operators.
"Picatinny sent us a scope of work and drawings. We got an idea of what the parts look like and how it goes together," said Walther. "We went and saw how our production line would fit and made a few little modifications."
Scifres said that a few people from Picatinny came to PBA to show us what to do.
"Along the way, they learned a lot about the round they wanted us to make," he said. "It wasn't quite as easy as it seemed. We were able to work through some issues."
The production on these munitions won't happen again until they are type classified, which should be by March. Testing of these munitions happens in Yuma, Ariz.
The production of these rounds has been deemed a "real success" by Sal Ghazi, branch chief, Project Manager Combat Ammunition Systems at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J.
"Everything has been positive and most of the technical issues were overcome. We are on schedule and all the required projectiles have been completed," he said.
One of the biggest success stories during fiscal year 2012 for AO was the production of approximately 2.7 million M18/M83 grenades without a failure.
"This is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the men and women who make every component that goes into these grenades," said Roch Byrne, AO director. "There is still a lot of art, science and difficulty in producing these grenades but the modifications we have made have allowed us to be successful and reach these milestones."
One of the ammunition items on the radar for fiscal year 2013 includes the M14 Thermate grenades. "We were supposed to build some of these during fiscal year 2012 but there were fuse issues," said Byrne. "We built some but there were issues."
Lots of RP items, smoke pots, non-lethal grenades and other types of grenades are also in AO sights for fiscal year 2013.
"We have twice as many smoke pots to make as we did last year," said Byrne. "This is a good thing. They are used mostly for training purposes."
AO's focus is primarily getting ammunition built but other things go into the entire process.
"The folks who have been responsible for AO's Logistics Modernization Program transition should be recognized, Lu Shepherd, Wayne Smith, Amanda Heird, Becky Caldwell and Bobbie Starks. These five have shouldered a lot of the workload and it has taxed them a lot," said Byrne. "There have been positives and negatives. Having a one-size fit all system for everyone makes it challenging and tricky."
Overall, Byrne said that 2012 was a strong year for AO, and 2013 looks just as strong.
"We had an outstanding year all around," he said. "We make our mistakes but we recover from them. Across the board, we have done real well and a strong 2013 ahead."