The US Army has taken delivery of an initial batch of 19 redesigned M20A1 Breech Block kits from Watervliet Arsenal, as part of the M119A2 105mm towed howitzer upgrade programme.
More than 650 upgrade kits were ordered by the army under a $22.6m contract in an effort to improve crew safety and reduce logistical footprint in 2011.
Watervliet Arsenal programme manager George Roach said the kits were scheduled to be used by the artillerymen based at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, US.
"Although the order was received in 2011, it took a significant amount of lead time to purchase raw material, design fixtures and gauges, and for the customer to conduct testing prior to going into full production," Roach added.
Manufactured in collaboration with the army's Benet Laboratories, the new kits are designed to rectify a safety related flaw in the M119A2's M20A1 cannon assembly, which requires artillerymen to verify and measure the firing pin protrusion prior to each live-firing manoeuvre.
In addition to addressing firing pin protrusion issues, the upgraded breech block kits enhance soldier safety during misfire as the recock mechanism function has been removed from behind the weapon and incorporated into the breech ring side.
The kit improvements also lowers logistical footprint and maintenance time by reducing the number of breech block assembly parts by approximately 30%.
Initially brough into service in December 1989, the M119A1/A2 is a lightweight towed howitzer designed to provide direct and indirect fire support to the forces deployed in combined arms operations.
The remaining deliveries under the contract are scheduled to take place through to August 2015.