BAE Systems Plc may win U.S. Army approval as soon as next month for full-rate production of self-propelled howitzers after the $10 billion program was hobbled by several years of delays over defects.
The company has been assembling the weapons system since October 2013 under low-rate contracts as it produced the vehicles late and with numerous welding defects. Deliveries were halted for six months in 2017 because of welding flaws that required the return for repairs of 50 of 86 vehicles already delivered.
Since then, London-based BAE has invested $200 million in improvements at its factory in York, Pennsylvania.
The 155mm Paladin howitzer and the ammunition carrier that accompanies it are the centerpiece of the Army’s artillery plans as it shifts its focus to countering Russia after 18 years of emphasizing the defeat of terrorists. It’s part of the service’s “Long-Range Precision Fires” capability, which tops its list of modernization priorities. The weapon is scheduled to be upgraded in the next few years with a new Extended Range Cannon designed to match Russian systems in Europe.
BAE Systems “is slowly making progress” by “providing high quality vehicles at improved production rates,” Army spokeswoman Ashley John said in an email. “Our confidence is increasing that” it “will continue to consistently deliver quality vehicles at increased production rates through the fall to support” a decision on full-rate production by year’s end, she said.
The Army’s senior leaders meet monthly and program managers meet daily with BAE Systems leadership “to continuously assess” progress, John added. (end of excerpt)
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