General Dynamics takes aim at electronics obsolescence in Army's M1A2 tank

U.S. Army tank experts are asking General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) in Sterling Heights, Mich., to run the new Continuous Electronic Enhancement Program to combat electronics obsolescence on the M1A2 main battle tank.

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By John Keller

WARREN, Mich. — U.S. Army tank experts are asking General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) in Sterling Heights, Mich., to run the new Continuous Electronic Enhancement Program to combat electronics obsolescence on the M1A2 main battle tank.

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A U.S. Army M1A2 main battle tank fires a practice round. The new CEEP program aims to keep the tank's electronics in the field for as long as the Army needs the weapon system.
Click here to enlarge image

The Continuous Electronic Enhancement Program, better known as CEEP, is to address obsolescence problems on the M1A2 Abrams System Enhancement Package (SEP) tank.

CEEP is the MiA2's long-term strategy to reduce obsolescence through redesigned line- and system-replaceable units that have availability issues that adversely affect readiness and sustainability of the M1A2 Abrams SEP tank, Army officials say.

Richard Dinges is director of engineering programs at GDLS, and the company's man in charge of CEEP. He calls the program "a way to proactively eliminate obsolescence."

Tank designers, he explains, "have programs in place to react to obsolescence; we can redesign, or do a last-time buy. What the CEEP tries to do is take advantage of changes every three years in electronics. We're possibly talking about re-designing the tank so we don't run into obsolescence. It is a little radical in that it is a very forward-looking thing."

Officials of the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) in Warren, Mich., are negotiating with GDLS officials on terms of the CEEP program. GDLS is to receive a five-year sole source contract.

"This program is evolving — and it's a tough nut to crack," Dinges says. "The concept is to plan every three to five years to have a pre-planned block upgrade to the electronics so you continually upgrade your electronics without waiting for them to go obsolete."

Under terms of the yet-to-be-completed contract, GDLS is to supply redesigned components by using small business subcontracts and other interested offerers. GDLS engineers and their subcontractors are to design, procure, integrate, and qualify various M1A2 Abrams SEP components using the latest technology.

Dinges says the contract involves starting an overall master plan to combat obsolescence in tank electronics. Specifically, he says the program will start with two phases.

The first phase involves two displays in the tank — the driver's integrated display, and gunner's control and display panel. "We also want to look at every other thing going on, look at things one at a time, and grow the program," he says.

A new design for each of the various components will be qualified before each of the components five-year inventory is completely expended to assure availability of parts, Army officials say. The contract is to be issued on or about March 21.

For more information contact Tom Scurlock at Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command by phone at 810-574-7214, by post at U.S. Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command, Acquisition Center (AMSTA-AQ-DE), Warren, Mich. 48397-5000 (refer to solicitation number DAAEO7-01-R-N075) or by e-mail at scurloct @tacom.army.mil.

Also contact GDLS by phone at 810-825-4000, by fax at 810-825-4013, by post at P.O. Box 2074, Warren, Mich. 48090, or on the World Wide Web at http://www.gdls.com/.

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