Combine two costly steel sand castings into one steel investment casting.
The M777 Lightweight Howitzer contains a muzzle brake sand casting that is welded to a tow bracket sand casting. The weldment between the two sand castings has failed field testing. If this failure were to occur in the battlefield, a mission abort might be necessary if the gun could not be towed.
The two problematic sand castings will be combined into one single-piece steel investment casting which will eliminate the weldment and the potential for field failure. Cost avoidance in manufacturing can be attained by eliminating the costly welding and inspection steps included in the current manufacturing approach.
This project will incur an anticipated production cost savings of $8.1 million and eliminate field failure. Additional savings will accrue with the supply of replacement parts over the lifetime of each gun.
Demonstration and field testing of the new casting is planned for May 2006. When successful testing is complete, the castings will be implemented into full-rate production with potential retro fitting of existing guns.