BAE Systems Receives U.S. Army Contract For M326 120-MM Mortar Stowage System
MINNEAPOLIS - BAE Systems has received a $13.9 million contract from the U.S. Army to procure 588 of the M326 120mm Mortar Stowage Systems. The contract calls for BAE Systems to begin low-rate initial production (LRIP) immediately and deliver the first 52 M326 systems to the Army by October 2008.
"Time is critical when our light maneuver forces are in combat, and the Mortar Stowage System makes it easier for Soldiers to quickly set-up and take down the M120 120-mm Mortar on the battlefield," said LTC John Lewis, the product manager - Mortar Systems (PM-MS). "Due to its weight, the 120-mm mortar tube takes considerable physical effort to put it in place, fire and quickly move to avoid enemy counterfire. The M326 will increase survivability by significantly speeding the time it takes to set up and take down a mortar system."
The company will deliver an additional 536 systems through full-rate production, which will begin immediately following LRIP completion. All of systems will be assembled at the Louisville, Kentucky, facility and will be delivered by early 2010. The contract also includes options for funding the delivery of up to 100 additional systems, as well as new equipment training, installation, warehousing and spares. If all options are exercised, the contract could grow to $20.6 million.
"With the M326, a 120-mm mortar crew can set-up, fire and be on the move again in three minutes without having to lift the heavy tube," said Jim Unterseher, vice president of Army Programs, BAE Systems. "Like so many of BAE Systems' technologies, the M326 helps to take the burden off the soldier and allows an innovative technology to do the work."
The M326 was developed by BAE Systems and is a simple and rugged device that can be easily attached to the M1101 Trailer, the M998 High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle or a variety of other vehicles that serve as a prime mover for 120-mm mortar systems. It significantly reduces mortar crew workload by using a hydraulic system to hoist the fully assembled M120 Mortar, which weighs more than 300 pounds, into and out of the trailer or vehicle used to haul the weapon.
The assembled mortar base plate, tube and bipod are held together as a unit by a steel strut that connects the mortar to the M326 lift arm. The hydraulic lifting enables rapid weapon set-up and removal. During tests, mount and dismount of a fully assembled M120 Mortar have been achieved in less than 20 seconds.