|Samuel Burnham, an Anniston Army Depot small arms repairer, overhauls an M2 machine gun, converting it to the new M2A1 variant.|
ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala., Aug. 5, 2011 -- Anniston Army Depot is converting the Army’s inventory of M2 Flexible machine guns to a new variant, providing a constant stream of work for the installation’s Small Arms Repair Facility.
The variant, M2A1, has a fixed headspace, or distance between the face of the bolt and the base of the cartridge case, and timing, the weapon’s adjustment that allows firing when the recoil is in the correct position.
“In the past, every time a Soldier changed the barrel on the M2, the timing and headspace had to be changed as well. If that wasn’t done properly, the weapon could blow up,” said Sherry Young, a maintenance management specialist with the depot’s Directorate of Production Management, adding the fixed headspace and timing eliminates this risk to Soldiers.
During conversion, parts of the weapon that controlled the headspace and timing will be replaced with upgrades. Each weapon will also be overhauled by small arms repairers.
The biggest benefit in the change will be time given to the Soldiers who carry it.
“It only takes 30 seconds to change out the barrel on the M2A1 and you’re back in business. The M2 Flex version could take three to five minutes, depending upon your situation,” said Jeff Bonner, weapons division chief.
Bonner said this is the first major change to the M2 weapon system since the machine gun was fielded in the 1930s.
This fiscal year, the Small Arms Repair Facility expects to overhaul 1,700 M2 machine guns. An additional 3,600 are planned for fiscal year 2012 and the program is slated to continue for several more years.
“This is a lot of good work for the small arms facility,” said Bonner. “This work is going to last for several years.”
Approval for the conversion program included a pilot overhaul and conversion in February and March. In June, the first of the 1,700 weapons for fiscal year 11 were inducted.
Shortly after those weapons began the overhaul and conversion process, the shop instituted a lean event to standardize work procedures and improve the flow of work.
“The improvements employees are making will be compatible with the new building as well,” said Bonner, referring to the 83,385-square-foot Small Arms Repair Facility being constructed on the west side of the depot.
Plans are for small arms to move into their new building later this year.
“When we move into the new building, we will be able to pick everything up and the process flow will work the same in the new facility,” he said.
As part of the lean process, employees are finding the most efficient way to serialize certain parts. Several components on the M2A1 will have to be marked with serial numbers tying them to a particular weapon.