In a sort of business coup for a small gun manufacturer, LWRC International based in Cambridge, Md., has cemented an agreement with the Anniston Army Depot to use its manufacturing facilities and civilian labor to build its rifles and carbines, including the 6.8 PSD, M6A2 and the 7.62 REPR.
Information about the deal comes on the heels of the Army's industry for the improved carbine program which will lead to the manufacturing of potentially hundreds of thousands of rifles by one manufacturer.
"To alleviate the concerns or fears that the Army might have about our production capacity, we've entered into a teaming arrangement with the Anniston Army Depot," officials from LWRC told Kit Up! during a visit to their offices last week. The depot has entered into public-private partnerships like this before, the company tells us, but mostly for large vehicle programs like Strykers and Bradleys.
"Nobody in the small arms industry has ever done this," says LWRC executive VP Darren Mellors. "What's the best way for the Army to protect the small arms industrial base? It's to have the work running through their arsenal and depot system."
According to Mellors this agreement is now inked and the depot is already manufacturing parts for the company.
It's kind of a work share. We're going to be running the job in their facility with some government employees working alongside our employees. Our quality system, our tools and fixtures our processes, everything the whole thing is put in place. They're essentially renting out facilities and human resources.Anniston will make, for example, the serialized lower receivers for LWRC weapons since that will make the logistics of transport easier since it's on an Army base.
But the convenience doesn't come without some cost. The Army is charging LWRC an undisclosed premium for use of its labor, which increases the company's manufacturing cost.
"We think that the business model that we've set up with them is still going to make us very competitive on price," said LWRC's Jeff Clemmer.
See, the Army is placing a huge premium for the improved carbine competition on the winning company's ability to actually build the weapon it proposes for the entire U.S. Army. LWRC is in the "small" small arms weapon manufacturing category, with about 12-15k weapons produced per year. They've "surged" to about 4,500 weapons per month during the so-called "Obama Boom" last year, but they're not a Colt or a Remington when it comes to manufacturing capability.
"We're not just signing on with them for a name. We're signing on with them for risk mitigation for the Army and risk mitigation for LWRC because we have other market segments we have to service," Mellors said.
This teaming with Anniston has been in the works for months, but was inked only a couple months ago. LWRC officials believe it's too late for any of the other 40 or so competitors in the IC contest to secure their own deal with Anniston to be competitive.