Watervliet Arsenal has received five contracts to supply various weapon system components for the US Army’s Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) Life Cycle Management Command.

Valued at more than $18m, the contracts will ensure that the arsenal retains a base of critical skills to support the future requirements of soldiers.

Under the first $4.5m contract, the arsenal will manufacture 105mm howitzer cannons and breechblocks, while a second $13m contract covers the production and supply of 120mm Abrams Tank barrels and tank forgings.

The facility will also manufacture 81mm mortar baseplates with a contract value exceeding $560,000.

Watervliet Arsenal manufacturing chief Bill Dingmon said: "What makes these new contracts significant is that in an era of fiscal uncertainty in the US defence budget these contracts will add more than 36,000 direct labour hours to the Arsenal’s future workload.

"Additionally, the majority of the direct labour hours will help to retain the Arsenal’s entire range of critical skill capability that has supported every US soldier since the War of 1812."

While the arsenal has identified 11 critical skill capabilities that it needs to retain to continue as the Defense Department’s large calibre weapons manufacturer of choice, not all of the production requirements exercise all of these core capabilities.

"What makes these new contracts significant is that in an era of fiscal uncertainty in the US defence budget."

The latest contracts are expected to ensure the army’s manufacturing centre at Watervliet retains a full complement of manufacturing capability to respond to any crisis.

The facility is currently manufacturing several of these product lines from previous army contracts, with the exception of the 105mm cannons, which have not been manufactured at the arsenal since 2013.

The arsenal has already received more than $60m in contracts earlier this year for work that is scheduled to be carried out from 2016 to 2018.

Having commenced operations during the War of 1812, the Watervliet Arsenal is relied upon by both the US and foreign militaries for production of advanced, high-tech, high-powered weaponry for cannon, howitzer, and mortar systems.

Image: US soldiers fire 120mm mortars during a live-fire at Forward Operating Base Lightning, in Paktia province, Afghanistan. Photo: courtesy of US Army.