Watervliet Arsenal marks two centuries as DoD's cannon maker

Wednesday - 7/17/2013, 2:49pm EDT

Watervliet Arsenal by Tom Temin, anchor, Federal Drive

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In the age of unmanned aircraft and laser-guided missiles, cannons and mortars might seem quaint and old fashioned. But the military is not ready to retire these ancient technologies. In fact, it maintains leading-edge capability in the manufacturing, testing and lifecycle support of these precision weapons.

The make-or-buy decision for cannons and mortars falls into the "make" category at the Watervliet Arsenal. Tucked into a small town north of Albany, N.Y., the Army's Watervliet Arsenal is celebrating its 200th anniversary as the premier manufacturer of the weapons. The co-located Benet Labs does the research work in evaluating manufacturing techniques, maintenance trends and upgrade technologies for cannons and mortars.

In World War II, Watervliet employed thousands and turned out countless guns of all sizes. Today about 600 people work there, under the leadership of Col. Mark Migaleddi. Much of the factory is silent, but Watervliet has a small but steady stream of work building replacement barrels and mortars for use in Afghanistan.

Federal News Radio's Tom Temin, co-anchor of the Federal Drive radio show, traveled to the Watervliet Arsenal for a close-up look at this historic facility.

(Photos by Tom Temin. Video by Mike O'Connell.)