by Richard Tomkins
Watervliet Arsenal, N.Y. (UPI) Mar 01, 2016
The U.S. Army's Watervliet Arsenal is starting a new product line -- next-generation bipods for the 81mm mortar systems that are about five pounds lighter than current bipods.
The Army says the new bipod is part of its effort to reduce the weight of small indirect fire systems carried by soldiers.
The arsenal already manufactures a lightweight mortar baseplate and tube.
"This multimillion dollar order will add to the Arsenal's current workload more than 13,000 hours of direct labor," said Laura Pisculli, the arsenal's supervisor of production planning and control. "Because this new product line will require a significant amount of preparation in regards to training and new tooling, our first delivery will not be until 2018."
Pisculli said each bipod consists of about 25 close-tolerance, machined parts and will weigh about 22 pounds, as compared to the 27 pound bipods now carried by soldiers.
"Manufacturing such products as Abrams tank cannons and 155mm howitzer tubes is extremely challenging given the tight machining tolerances," said Scott Huber, an arsenal general foreman. "But this product line is no less challenging as we will be working with material that is new to us, such as Kevlar and Teflon, as well as new processes that will require welding extremely hard materials such as Titanium."
A significant amount of time will be spent writing computer programs, developing special tooling, and establishing new outside vendors to provide the raw material long before the first bipod is machined.
The Watervliet Arsenal is an Army owned and operated manufacturing facility and has been continuously active since the War of 1812.
The arsenal received a $4.2 million contract from the Army to start the new bipod line.
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