Friday, May 21, 2010

Sustaining the M1 Abrams: US Army Puts a TIGER in its Tanks

Honeywell International Inc. in Morris Township, NJ won a U.S. Army contract to change the way it supports its AGT-1500 turbine engine, used on the M1 Abrams tank and related platforms. The company has said that the overall contract under the US Army’s Total InteGrated Engine Revitalization (TIGER) program could amount to $1.4 billion by the end of its lifetime.

What distinguishes Honeywell’s performance-based approach under TIGER from previous contracts? How does the program fit in with overall US Army plans for the M1 Abrams out to 2027? And what are the latest awards made under the TIGER program?

TIGER: The Goals
AGT-1500 M1 Engine Cutaway
AGT-1500 Turbine Engine

Experiences in Iraq have shown the US Army that the Abrams tank will constitute a significant portion of the combat force well into this century, as there are no viable substitutes for it. On the other hand, the fleet’s AGT-1500 turbines are being pressed into service well beyond their intended life. As they wear down and wear out, it has had an increasing impact on the readiness of combat units.

The Honeywell contract will set up an approach based on full life cycle management, on terms that are performance-based. Which means a contract that ties compensation to the number of combat-ready tank engines (for example), rather than a traditional maintenance contract which pays for the number of hours worked to make them ready. Britain in particular has used this sort of approach across the board in its defense maintenance contracts, in hopes of using better incentive patterns to both raise readiness and lower costs. 

TIGER: The Program


As this Associated Press article notes, TIGER will implement a more proactive maintenance system, and give the original manufacturer Honeywell primary responsibility for on-time delivery of replacement engine parts and management of repair schedules, provide support to Anniston Army Depot for the overhaul of up to 1,000 engine equivalents per year. The scope of work includes critical field support services at U.S. military bases, and in Kuwait, South Korea and Germany.

The contract also calls for Honeywell to improve service of the Abrams’ AGT-1500 engine using Six Sigma processes [simple explanation | more in-depth explanation | resources] to gather data on performance, to be followed by data-driven decisions about repairs and engineering improvements.

To fulfill this contract, Honeywell says it will rely on a Web-based database and special in-use monitoring systems. This will help it provide more effective and less expensive repairs and upkeep, using field data to more accurately determine maintenance needs and provide Army units with detailed, timely information about the mechanical status of Abrams tanks. Indeed, Program Manager Lieutenant Colonel Michael P. Flanagan promised that:

“With the TIGER program in place, commanders at every level will know exactly how much engine life remains in each tank, and be able to execute engine repairs and replacements before deploying to the field.”

Honeywell Defense & Space’s Vice-President, Surface Systems was even more specific. Mike Cuff said:

“We will deliver performance-based logistics and engineering design improvements facilitating an integrated lifecycle management approach to significantly reduce operating costs while doubling the service life of overhauled AGT1500 engines from 700 to 1,400 hours.”

Honeywell (technical support, overhaul process expertise, demand management, supply chain management, inventory control and field service/ warranty support) is teamed with the US Army’s Program Manager Heavy Brigade Combat Team (PM-HBCT, configuration management), TACOM Life Cycle Management Command, TACOM Heavy Combat Products Support Integration Directorate (forecasting oversight), and Anniston Army Depot (ANAD, newly renovated TIGER facility, workforce, warranty support) under a long-term agreement. Honeywell will provide engineering support, durability design improvements, integrated supply chain management, material management, field repair support, field and overhaul data collection and fact-based maintenance.

The U.S. Army’s Abrams sustainment & development program ultimately includes the Abrams Integrated Maintenance (AIM) program, the PROSE (Partnership for Reduced O&S Costs, Engine) program, and ultimately a new gas turbine engine.

As The Armor Site! notes in its outstanding M1 Abrams profile, PROSE Phase 1 aims to overhaul existing AGT 1500 engine/ components, in order to re-engineer the production process and improve field support. TIGER is a big part of that effort. 

LV100-5 engine
As part of PROSE Phase 2, On-board electronic diagnostics and health monitoring and an on-board electronic log book, or data memory module, will help reduce maintenance requirements; the goal is a reduction of nearly two-thirds (over 65%) in operations and support costs. 

Honeywell International Engines and Systems and General Electric were also to finalize development of a new LV100-5 gas turbine engine. The goals as noted by GE are an engine that offers replacement with no to very few structural modifications, reduces the parts count by 43%, improves reliability by over 400%; and addresses the M1’s current poor fuel mileage even for a tank by offering a 50% reduction in fuel consumption at idle. This would increase the tank’s operating range by up to 70 Miles with current fuel tanks, while still offering 1,500 hp to drive the M1 Abrams along at its accustomed lightning-fast clip – speeds over 60 miles/ 100km per hour have been reported. With the demise of the Crusader program, however, this particular aspect of the program appears to have been shelved for now.

These measures, plus ongoing electronics upgrades, are expected to sustain the U.S. Army’s fleet of almost 7,000 Abrams tanks into 2027.

TIGER: Contracts & Key Events

M1A1 High Gear
M1A1, making tracks

A global tank market 2006-2016 report by Forecast International notes the significant share of global spending covered by upgrades and maintenance agreements like TIGER for advanced western tanks. The M1 Abrams receives particular mention in that respect, which is more or less inevitable given its comparative numbers.

Contracts under the Total InteGrated Engine Revitalization (TIGER) Program are issued to Honeywell International Inc. in Phoenix, AZ. This was a sole source contract (W56HZV-06-C-0173) initiated on Nov 4/05 by the US Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command in Warren, MI.

May 10/10: A $93.4 million firm-fixed-price contract to provide parts and support for the overhaul of 1,000 automotive gas turbines, 1,500 engines, or equivalents, for TIGER Program Year 5 (PY5).
Work is to be performed in Phoenix, AZ (66%); Greer, SC (19%); Anniston, AL (13%); and Rocky Mount, NC (2%), with an estimated completion date of Dec 31/11 (W56HZV-06-C-0173).

Aug 7/09: A $255.1 million firm-fixed-price contract under the 4th option year of the TIGER contract, bringing the annual announced total to $329.1 million. The engine equivalents will support the Anniston Army Depot (ANAD) turbine value stream (TVS) AGT 1500 engine overhaul line.

Honeywell will provide parts and support for the overhaul of 1,000 AGT-1500 engines of equivalents per year for Program year 4 (PY4) and the potential Program Year 5 (PY5), in support of Abrams tank production, Abrams derivative vehicles, and Army stock spares. This action is required as soon as possible but no later than the end of Q3 FY 2009, in order to ensure a continuous flow of engines through the engine overhaul line to meet the tank production line requirements at the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center (JSMC) and to meet field spare requirements. 

Work is to be performed in Anniston, AL (13%), Phoenix, AZ (66%), Greer, SC (19%), and Rocky Mountain, NC (2%) with an estimated completion date of Dec 31/10. One bid solicited with one bid received (W56HZV-06-C-0173).

April 14/09: A $74 million firm-fixed-price, cost plus fixed fee contract for urgent funding action to provided parts support for the overhaul of 1,000 AGT 1500 engines in Abrams tanks and Army stock spares), for program year four (PY4) of the Total Integrated Engines Revitalization (TIGER) program. These parts are required, in order to avoid a break in production at the Anniston Army Depot (ANAD) Turbine Value Stream (TVS) AGT 1500 engine overhaul line. 

Work is to be performed in Anniston, AL (13%), Phoenix, AZ (66%), Greer, SC (19%), and Rocky Mountain, NC (2%) with an estimated completion date of Dec 31/10. One bid solicited and one bid received.

June 2/08: Honeywell announces that it has been awarded the 3rd option year of the TIGER contract, valued at $311 million. This brings the total contract value to more than $1 billion. To date, Honeywell says that the Army has avoided more than 475 engine ‘returns to depot’ thanks to field-level repairs in TIGER repair shops. For engines returned to depot, they add that the post-overhaul engine Acceptance Test rate has improved by more than 40%, and that 21 design changes made to improve the engine’s durability are in development, testing or implementation.

Honeywell says that it is working with the Army’s Program Manager Heavy Brigade Combat Team and Anniston Army Depot (ANAD) under the contract to provide parts, enabling the ANAD overhaul of approximately 1,000 engines, while moving toward the US Army’s goal of Conditioned Based Maintenance that is performed only when necessary, rather than on a set schedule that trades the possibility of unnecessary maintenance for assurance that the fleet can be kept at high readiness even without the visibility afforded by extensive internal diagnostics and related measures.

June 18/07: Honeywell follows up on its $230 million May 2007 acquisition of Dimensions International by announcing [MS Word format] that it has integrated its platform and mission logistics organizations, and developed a support facility in Kuwait to strengthen its equipment pre-positioning, depot maintenance, asset management and vehicle repair, overhaul and up-armoring capabilities.

Dec 27/06: A $404.4 million modification to a cost-plus-fixed-fee and firm-fixed-price contract for the Total InteGrated Engine Revitalization (TIGER) Program. Work will be performed in Phoenix, AZ (66%), Anniston, AL (13%), Greer, SC (19%), and Rocky Mount, NC (2%), and is expected to be complete by June 30, 2009.

March 1/06: A $321.5 million modification to a firm-fixed-price and cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for Revitalization of the Automotive Gas Turbine 1500 Engines Fleet under the Total InteGrated Engine Revitalization Program. Work will be performed in Phoenix, AZ (66%), Anniston, AL (13%), Greer, SC (19%), and Rocky Mount, NC (2%), and is expected to be complete by Dec 31/09.

Jan 24/06: A $69.4 million firm-fixed-price and cost-plus-fixed-fee TIGER contract. Work will be performed in Anniston, AL (13%), Phoenix, AZ (66%), Greer, SC (19%), and Rocky Mount, NC (2%), and is expected to be complete by Dec 31/09.

Feb 28/06: A $321.5 million modification to a firm-fixed-price and cost-plus-fixed-fee TIGER contract. Work will be performed in Anniston, AL (13%), Phoenix, AZ (66%), Greer, SC (19%), and Rocky Mount, NC (2%), and is expected to be complete by Dec 31/09. 

This article can be found in its original format here.

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