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Full Rate Production Begins on Enhanced Army 5.56 Round

ATK has begun full rate production on the U.S. Army’s new M855A1 5.56mm Enhanced Performance Round (EPR) [See “New U.S. Army 5.56 Rounds Head to Afghanistan,” – June 30, 2010].

On Oct. 25, 2010, the company announced that it had received orders from the U.S. Army’s Program Manager for Maneuver Ammunition Systems (PM-MAS) for nearly 300 million rounds of M855A1 EPR. The EPR is an enhanced version of the M855 5.56mm cartridge, used by U.S. troops since the early 1980s.

The new round offers a higher velocity for more energy on target, improved hard-target capability, and greater accuracy and consistency for effectiveness at long range.

The M855A1 Full Rate Production quantities, which will be manufactured at the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Independence, Mo., follows the initial 20 million rounds of M855A1 that were delivered earlier this year to the troops in Afghanistan.

“This is a significant breakthrough in ammunition performance for America’s warfighters,” said Mark Hissong, ATK Small Caliber Systems vice president and general manager. “To ensure optimal performance, ATK and the Army put the EPR through the most rigorous and thorough test regime of any round we have ever produced. The result is the successful fielding of a high-performance round that is in theater today, and capable of providing superior firepower in any combat condition.”

To enable the rapid transition of M855A1 to high volume production, ATK partnered with the Army to develop a flexible manufacturing plan.

According to the company’s recent announcement, “The [M855A1] round’s technological advancements, coupled with ATK’s innovative approach to ammunition engineering, have delivered what the Army calls ‘the most significant advancement in general purpose small caliber ammunition in decades.’”

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Scott Gourley is a former U.S. Army officer and the author of more than 1,500...