WASHINGTON — The coronavirus pandemic has caused another delay for the U.S. Army’s plagued M113 replacement program, which has struggled with manufacturing problems as the BAE Systems-made Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle entered low-rate initial production, according to the company’s second quarter fiscal 2020 earnings briefing released last week.
The company had to delay delivery of the first LRIP vehicles by roughly four to six months, moving delivery from March to July.
But as BAE prepared to move ahead on delivery, the pandemic hit, bringing with it another delay of roughly a month, which pushed the vehicles’ delivery date to August.
The AMPV program entered LRIP in January 2019, but the program office indicated last year that delivery of the first vehicles would be delayed by two months and the completion of production qualification testing would be delayed by seven months due to tooling and assembly line challenges at BAE’s facility in York, Pennsylvania.
Because of the issues, the Army’s AMPV budget request in FY21 showed the program took a hit. The service indicated it would buy 32 vehicles instead of the 143 planned for the fiscal year, and the program’s budget was cut from $445 million to $193 million.
The Army and BAE developed “a production approach that would allow us to incorporate efficiencies during LRIP that modernize manufacturing and increase the overall throughput of the program,” Amanda Niswonger, a BAE spokeswoman, told Defense News in an Aug. 3 statement.
“This included installing new technology and processes such as robotic welding, digital X-ray, and advanced machining. And we worked closely with the Army to update and refine manufacturing processes to incorporate the most modern weld and inspection technology,” she said. “These changes had an impact on our delivery timeline which was not reflected in the original delivery schedule, but continues to meet the Army’s fielding schedule.”
The service and BAE had formalized the schedule change just as COVID-19 hit the U.S., which affected a large number of manufacturing facilities and supply chains globally.
“We have worked tirelessly to mitigate the impacts from COVID-19 with our employees, supply network, and customer base to keep our manufacturing sites operational and continue to receive parts as needed,” Niswonger said. “Unfortunately we could not overcome all the challenges and our first delivery has slipped one month.”