Home Ammunition engineers hit the range to improve ammo for Marines

Ammunition engineers hit the range to improve ammo for Marines

Caleb Hughes, the large-caliber ammunition engineer at MCSC’s Ammunition Program Management Office, looks through a sight used to align the M777 howitzer to a target during a field artillery demonstration at Marine Corps Training Command aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico last month. During the demonstration, MCSC employees gained first-hand experience of field artillery Marines in action to inform their work behind the scenes at MCSC.

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Virginia — Marine Corps Systems Command is proactively seeking feedback on the products developed and delivered by the command to maintain technological dominance, now and in the future.

Last month, MCSC’s Ammunition Program Management Office participated in a field artillery demonstration at Marine Corps Training and Education Command aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, to gain first-hand experience of field artillery Marines in action and their role in the Marine Air Ground Task Force. During the demonstration, MCSC experts experienced the full spectrum of operations of a field artillery unit, from the inner workings of a fire direction center to the live firing of the M777 howitzer.

“The trip to TECOM was unique for our employees because most testing for ammunition is done in very controlled environments by a select audience,” said Lt. Col. Bill Lanham, deputy program manager for PM Ammo. “This was a great opportunity for employees who more times than not are looking at drawings and talking with engineers, but not actually seeing the products in use. It also allowed for an open dialogue with Marines about how we can improve the technology they use.”

Fielded by the Marine Corps’ Program Executive Officer Land Systems in 2005, the M777 Lightweight 155mm howitzer provides timely, accurate and continuous firepower in support of Marine Infantry forces. PM Ammo bears responsibility for purchasing and fielding of 155mm howitzer rounds to the fleet. Participation in the demonstration allowed MCSC engineers, and financial and safety officers to gain a better understanding of the product, which can then be applied in future acquisition actions.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Michael Reynolds, project officer for artillery and fuzes for PM Ammo, said serving as an ammunition technician for an artillery battery for his first eight years in service taught him how important it is for equipment to work right the first time. He said familiarity with the finer details of munitions makes his work at MCSC easier.

“There are too many things Marines have to focus on when in action—ammo should not be one of them,” said Reynolds. “Understanding how our Marines work in the field creates a stronger sense of partnership as we continue to ensure the products we deliver serve their purpose correctly the first time.”

Caleb Hughes, the large-caliber ammunition engineer at PM Ammo, reviews, tests and verifies large caliber rounds to ensure they meet force specifications, and maintain optimum functionality and safety. He said the opportunity to see a product he works on in action at the demonstration was a perfect connection to the documentation he spends his days with.

“I am relatively new to PM Ammo, so this opportunity was my way to see a demonstration and talk with the Marines that use our products,” said Hughes. “I really came away with a greater understanding of how the elements of a munition, like propellant and round fuses, work together. This helps me to better visualize the processes that make the ammunition we provide our Marines the best there is.”

MCSC experts know the value of open communication with the Marines who use the tools and equipment the command buys and fields, said Reynolds. The better acquisition professionals understand how a product is used and perform, the better their ability to support mission accomplishment.

“It is our job to make sure we are buying and delivering items that fit the necessary requirements so the ammunition works the first time, every time,” said Reynolds. “It is important that we continually understand the Marine’s requirement outside of our individual tasks so that we put out a quality product that is reliable, safe and as lethal as it is designed to be. Sometimes we have to open our aperture to look at the big picture of what our work does.”

MCSC continuously works to engage Marines for feedback on the full spectrum of equipment and gear – from large caliber ammunition, to personal protective equipment to tropical boots. Click here to read more about how the command works with Marines and sister services to equip the Nation’s Naval Force in Readiness.

By Mathuel Browne