U.S. Army officials have delayed a decision on BAE Systems self-propelled howitzers full-rate production, Bloomberg reported on Thursday.
Bloomberg quotes Army Secretary Mark Esper as saying that London-based contractor has made progress, but they’re still not at the point where they’ve convinced they are prepared to go into full-rate production.
“There’s some thresholds they have to meet” for the service and for the Defense Contract Management Agency, which is monitoring the company’s progress in improving quality,” according to a Bloomberg interview.
Rather it was a question of M109A7 program, the latest howitzer in the BAE Systems M109 family of vehicles, the primary indirect fire support system for the U.S. Army Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT).
It uses the existing main armament and cab structure of a Paladin M109A6, and replaces the vehicle’s chassis components with modem components common to the Bradley vehicle. The improved chassis structure provides greater survivability and commonality with the existing systems in the ABCT, reducing operational sustainability costs by replacing obsolete components.
The M109A7 also leverages technologies from previous design programs, such as a 600-volt on-board power generation, distribution, and management system, coupled with a high-voltage electric gun drive and projectile ramming systems.
The state-of-the-art digital-backbone and power generation capability provides significant growth potential for future payloads, and will accommodate existing battlefield network requirements. The upgrades ensure commonality with the existing systems in the Army’s Armored Brigade Combat Team, including the BAE Systems-built Bradley Fighting Vehicle and the new Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle family.
The decision on a contract for full-rate production was to have have been made last July but was delayed until December over problems in quality and delivery, including past problems in welding. Then the service decided to wait again because “BAE failed to consistently deliver vehicles in accordance with scheduled quantities,” according to Army spokeswoman Ashley John.