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BAE's $1.3 billion contract for howitzer delayed by Army


July 18. 2018 10:01PM
An M777 155mm lightweight field howitzer at the International Defence Exhibition (IDEX) in Abu Dhabi in 2015. (GABRIELA MAJ/BLOOMBERG)

The U.S. Army is delaying approval of full-scale production of BAE Systems Plc’s new self-propelled howitzer, citing the need to improve quality before proceeding with additional contracts options valued at about $1.3 billion.

The Army postponed triggering the most lucrative phase of the program for London-based BAE to “adequately address quality control issues,” service spokesman Ashley John said in an email Wednesday. “The Army will continue to work closely with BAE leadership to resolve the concerns.”

The delay came after Bloomberg News reported last week that the howitzer’s manufacture was hobbled by poor welding, supply-chain problems and delivery delays. Among the setbacks have been a six-month halt in deliveries last year because of welding flaws and the return of 50 of 86 vehicles that had already been delivered to repair production deficiencies.

Self-propelled 155mm howitzers are the centerpiece of the Army’s artillery.

The weapon is mounted on a tracked vehicle and travels with another that hauls ammunition. The Army’s “long-range precision strike” program tops the service’s list of modernization priorities.

“We are working very closely” with the Army and the Defense Contract Management Agency, which oversees contractor performance, “and are confident the actions we have taken will support the effective transition to full production,” BAE spokesman Alicia Gray said.

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