[Fri Sep 26 2003]

MARION -- A Williamson County munitions plant is on the verge of being awarded yet another substantial order from the U.S. Army.

U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Belleville, announced this week the House of Representatives has approved $10 million for M-919 ammunition for the Bradley Fighting Vehicle's 25 mm Bushmaster cannon. (NOTE: This ordinance is Depleted Uranium, see article below)

The ammunition is loaded, assembled, and packed by workers at the General Dynamics plant in Marion.

The contract, which must also be approved by the Senate and signed by President George W. Bush, is part of the conference report for the Defense Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2004.

"This is another example of a local company making a significant contribution to our national security," Costello said. "I am pleased that this funding has remained in the bill, and I will continue to support these efforts."

General Dynamics spokesman Jim Price said plant officials were hoping the $10 million munitions contract would be added to the appropriations bill.

"We're glad to get the news," Price said. "We've been relatively busy (filling government contracts) and this announcement will keep us busy for an extended period of time."

Price said over the last year or so, plant officials have been able to recall some 50-75 employees who had previously been laid off.

"In fact, we've even added some jobs," he said. "And that's always good news."

Price said if all goes according to plan, he expects to hear from the Army early in the new year concerning the number of munitions needed to fulfill the contract.

General Dynamics has been awarded similar contracts from the U.S. military in the past. In May, the company's Marion plant was awarded a similar $10 million contract for 20 mm shells.

The company, based in Falls Church, Va., was organized in 1952. However, its organizational history dates back to the late 1800s. General Dynamics specializes in building and developing defense weapons.


M919 Cartridge 25mm, Armor Piercing, Fin Stabilized, Discarding Sabot, with Tracer (APFSDS-T)

The new 25mm Armor-Piercing, Fin Stabilized, Discarding Sabot with Tracer (APFSDS-T), M919 Cartridge is intended to supplement the currently fielded Armor Piercing M791 as the primary service round. This action modernizes the war research of the Army 25mm armor piercing ammunition for use in the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. The M919 was designed and developed to increase the lethality of the BFV by extending its defeat range capability against projected target threats of the 1990s and beyond. Not only does this munition enhance the soldier’s lethality and survivability, but, also significantly contributes to the overall Army’s mission.

In the mid-1980s, the Army determined that the then current armor piercing round in U.S. inventory could not defeat the postulated future light armored vehicle threat of the 1990s. In 1986, the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics approved the requirement for an extended range, more lethal armor piercing round. Early design efforts had focused on a tungsten long rod but testing determined that it was incapable of delivering the required level of performance. The decision was made to pursue a depleted uranium long rod for use in the Bradley Fighting Vehicle.

The M919 simultaneously completed its FY90 limited production while initiating its first full rate production contract (FY91S). There were two additional full rate production contracts pending, a $22.5M FY94 and $29.5M FY95 procurement, both of which were awarded in Calendar Year 1995. All contracts have been (up through the FY95 award) awarded to Olin Ordnance under a sole source firm fixed price basis. All procurements are made based form, fit, and function (i.e., ctg top level drawing, weapon interface drawing, and a performance SPEC). On 12 September 1996 TACOM Commander Maj. Gen. Edward Andrews approved the initial Material Release of the M919.

Referred to by the user as the Super Sabot Kinetic Energy Dart, the M919 was designed to defeat all current enemy light armor of the 1990s at extended ranges through a combination of high on-target strike velocity and improved penetrator geometry and material. Thus, the M919 effectively enhances the lethality and survivability of the BFV without modifying the weapon system. While the effective range of the M919 remains classified, the maximum range of this round is about 17,600 meters. These figures translate into greater crew protection and survivability to move onto the next battle.

In a technological innovation, the barrel life of the M919 was tremendously extended with the use of a blended propellant and a grease paste erosion inhibitor. At high rates of fire, the original M919 had a barrel life of less than 300 round. A team of scientists specializing in barrel heating and erosion from CCAC, AED, Benet Labs, Aerojet and Veritay Technologies conducted an 18-month development program using a 10,000 round, multi-barrel test to verify ARDEC’s claim that the M919’s barrel life had been enhanced to over 5,000 rounds.