By Audra Calloway
Picatinny Public Affairs
PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. - The M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round (EPR) team from the Program Executive Office for Ammunition earned top honors at the U.S. Army Acquisition Corps Annual Awards Ceremony Oct. 9 in Alexandria, Va.
The ceremony pays tribute to the uniformed and civilian professionals who work tirelessly behind the scenes to provide combatant commanders and their Soldiers with the weapons and equipment they need to execute decisive, full-spectrum operations in support of the overseas contingency operations.
The M855A1 EPR team won an Army Acquisition Excellence Award in the category of Equipping and Sustaining our Soldier's Systems. Seventeen teams were nominated in this award category.
The evening awards ceremony was hosted by Heidi Shyu, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology; and Lt. Gen. William (Bill) Phillips, Principal Military Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology.
Chris Grassano, PEO Ammunition Chief of Staff accepted the award on behalf of PEO Ammunition. He is also the former Project Manager Maneuver Ammunition Systems (PM MAS), the organization that led the M855A1 efforts.
"I was honored to accept the Equipping and Sustaining our
Soldier's Systems Award on behalf of the EPR team and would like
to thank the many dedicated personnel in PM MAS, ARDEC and ARL
(Army Research Laboratory) for their significant and lasting
contributions to making the program successful and getting the
round into the hands of Soldiers," Grassano said.
"The EPR team has equipped our forces with a performance advantage to overcome battlefield challenges. In addition, the team is now fully engaged in applying their technical advancements and lessons learned to additional ammunition categories. This is a technological change that will eventually touch every warfighter
from every Service for generations to come."
Brig. Gen. Jonathan Maddux, PEO Ammunition and Picatinny Senior Commander, also extended his congratulations to the EPR team.
"I'm extremely proud of the tremendous efforts of our M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round Team," Maddux said.
"This team has provided our Soldiers with a decisive edge over our adversaries by developing, exhaustively testing and then fielding the Army's new EPR 5.56 mm to forces," the general added.
"The M855A1 EPR responds to our Army's need for environmental
sustainability at our ranges by eliminating lead, while at the
same time offering breakthrough performance capabilities."
SMALL ROUND, BIG IMPACT
"It's something that's small, and you may think ‘How important is this?'" said Phillips of the M855A1 EPR during a panel on the forum,
"Responsible and Agile Modernization for the Force of Decisive Action." The forum was at the Association of the United States Army conference in Washington D.C. Oct. 11.
"This round is so important with what it does downrange with our Soldiers. They knew all about it," Phillips said.
The EPR, which has an environmentally-friendly copper core instead of the traditional lead, has been getting favorable reviews from Soldiers since it first deployed to Operation Enduring Freedom in June 2010.
While the M855 also has a steel penetrator hidden in the tip of the jacket, the M855A1's penetrator is almost twice as heavy, sharper, and exposed-—a combination that produces better performance.
The M855A1's bullet design shows how improving a previously hazardous material can also provide extremely beneficial performance improvements.
While the EPR is more environmentally friendly, the biggest plus of the M855A1 enhanced performance round is the consistency it brings to the fight—more so than the 5.56mm M855 round it is designed to replace.
There are three main areas in which the M855A1 round excels: soft-target consistency, hard-target penetration, and the extended range at which it maintains these performance improvements.
Army officials say the earlier M855 is a good round, but it is "yaw dependant." Like all bullets, it wobbles when it travels along its trajectory. Its effectiveness depends on its yaw angle when it hits a target.
Not so with the M855A1. The EPR is not yaw-dependant and delivers the same effectiveness in a soft target no matter its yaw angle.
Overall, the Army fired more than one million rounds to ensure the new cartridge met all expectations, making it the most thoroughly tested small caliber round ever fielded in U.S. history.
The M855A1 is tailored for use in the M-4 weapon system [Colt M4 Carbine and Colt M4A1 Carbine/SBR (Short Barreled Rifle) platforms].
But it also improves the performance of the M-16 [M16 assault rifle] and M-249 [FN M249 SAW/LMG] families of weapons.
The M855A1 team has also been awarded a David Packard Excellence in Acquisition Award for 2011. The David Packard Excellence in Acquisition Award is the Department of Defense's highest acquisition award.
It is given to DOD civilians and/or military organizations, groups and teams who have made highly significant contributions or demonstrated exemplary innovations and best practices in the defense acquisition process.
The David Packard Excellence in Acquisition Award will be presented during the PEO/SYSCOM Conference on Nov. 1.
PEO AMMO ACQUISITION NOMINEES
In addition to the M855A1 EPR team, seven other PEO Ammunition teams and individuals were nominated for acquisition awards:
Individual Sustainment Award: Robert N. Muth
Equipping and Sustaining our Soldier's Systems: Accelerated Precision Mortar Initiative Team
Secretary of the Army Project Manager of the Year Award: Col. John Scott Turner, Jr.
Secretary of the Army Product Manager of the Year Award: Lt. Col. Michael Milner
Secretary of the Army Acquisition Director of the Year Award at the Colonel Level: Col. Jeffrey Wilson
Secretary of the Army Acquisition Director of the Year Award at the Lieutenant Colonel Level: Lt. Col. Christopher Seacord
Army Life Cycle Logistician of the Year Award: Alan Galonski
(C. Todd Lopez contributed to this article.)