Watervliet Arsenal Secures $8.5 Million Contract for Mortar Weapons

29 November 2016

 A new $8.5 million U.S. Army and Marine Corps weapons contract for "mortar bi-pods" will have employees at the Watervliet Arsenal busy down the line.

The 203-year-old arsenal, America's oldest government-owned defense supplier, will make the nation's fighting force lighter and faster by building the new-age mortar supports: a pair of legs that support the mortar barrel and allow artillery soldiers to aim the device.

The $8.5 million joint contract was recently agreed upon by the United States Army and the U.S. Marines. Watervliet Arsenal announced it publicly on Monday."It's important because it gives us a stable workload for the future," said Scott Huber, a major/minor components foreman at the arsenal.

"A lot of this job is a real change from what we do normally," he continued, speaking about the new lightweight materials that will be used in making the bipods, including Kevlar and titanium. "That's lighter than welding, or any other metal part that we could put on there, and the key is, it still keeps the strength."

Older model bipods were made with steel, and weighed five more pounds than the new models, which are still in development.

"Five pounds may not sound like a heck of a lot, but it is to the soldier who has to carry this thing on a long hike," said John Snyder, public affairs officer, on Monday. Snyder said the new contract is a point of pride for a facility that needs a big public boost.

"That 8.5-million dollar contract, it sounds good and it brings a new workload in," Snyder said. "But at the end of the day, we're all proud Americans here, and we have learned to appreciate every contract because we know it's going to support the war fighters somewhere."

The new parts that Watervliet will be making will not be built for about 1 1/2 years. Once they are, several hundred will be delivered to the Army and Marine Corps, with the potential to always make more, when ordered.