Army to Pay General Dynamics to Recycle Ammunition

by: Matthew Potter
April 27, 2011

Category: Business Line, Companies, Contract Awards, Department of Defense, development program, Events, General Dynamics, logistics, production program, Services, U.S. Army | RSS 2.0

In the past armed forces would stockpile ammunition and munitions often using newer, more effective weapons first and allowing older designs to sit in bunkers until a time came to use them. The United States for example used up a great deal of their Vietnam era stocks during Desert Storm in 1991 especially aerial munitions such as smaller bombs and early cluster type weapons. The fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan has seen heavy use of newer, more precise weapons such as JDAM’s, advanced Hellfire missiles and others rather then more traditional unguided bombs and artillery shells. The U.S. has even gone so far as to introduce new “greener” small arms ammunition.

This means that older munitions need to be disposed off. The U.S. has had an aggressive program to do this over the last twenty years including heavy investment into chemical demilitarization of older Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). This also includes dismantling of rockets, missiles and shells and reuse if possible of their propellant and explosive charges.

In support of this effort General Dynamics (GD) was awarded the first option on a potential five year contract to support disarming munitions and ammunition ranging from 25 mm cannon shells to 106 mm recoilless rifle rounds. The initial option is worth almost $40 million and if all options are exercised it may reach a total value of $163 million.

The U.S. does this as part of their overall abatement program that includes cleaning up bases that store munitions, manufacturing facilities as well as disposing of excess stocks. During the Cold War both the Soviet Union and the U.S. built up large amounts of weapons that have been slowly dismantled and destroyed due to various treaties and the end of the tension in 1991. It is difficult work as modern propellants and explosives are highly reactive and dangerous. Last year two contractors died at Redstone Arsenal in Alabama when trying to test methods to defuel solid rocket motors from missiles and launch vehicles.

It is also work that companies like GD can benefit from for several more years as different weapons are withdrawn from service.

Photo from DVIDSHUB flickr photostream.

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