Munitions Acquisition Supply Solution (MASS)

Whatever happened to the £2b 15 year partnership contract with BAE for small arms and medium calibre ammunition such as mortar bombs and artillery shells, the Munitions Acquisition Supply Solution (MASS)?

Armour Piercing

This was let in 2008 and the certainty of pipeline allowed BAE to invest over £200m and modernise its ammunition production facilities in Radway Green, Glascoed and Birtley after decades of neglect, especially when they were the Royal Ordnance, owned by the MoD. DiD have a good write up on the contract arrangements here

The reason I ask is that a couple of recent contract notes seems to indicate ammunition is being obtained on the open market, outside of the MASS partnering arrangements.

The Authority has a possible future requirement to procure three natures of Armour Piercing Rounds, 5.56 mm, 7.62 mm and 12.7 mm. The minimum estimated quantities for the first year are detailed below:
— 5.56 mm — 76 800;
— 7.62 mm — 16 640;
— 12.7 mm — 15 000.
These Rounds will be for use within training and operational roles with the UK Armed Forces. First Deliveries would be required before the end of 2016. The potential contract will be firm for two years, and the following three years will be classified as Option Years with banded quantities, where deliveries will occur in the April of Years Three through to Five of the contract; exact figures will be provided in the preceding September.

Estimated value £1.5m to £2m


The Authority has a possible future requirement to procure 2 separate configurations of Multipurpose (MP) Ammunition:
— 4 MP/1 MPT: 80 000 rounds for 2 financial years,
— 1 MP/1 MPT/1 API: 40 000 rounds for 2 financial years.
All rounds shall be ballistically matched when fired through a 0.5” HMG or M3M.
1. MP — round shall have a AP penetrator, a kinetic HE element and an incendiary element,
2. MPT — round shall have a AP penetrator, a kinetic HE element, an incendiary element and tracer element,
3. API — round shall have AP penetrator and incendiary element.
These rounds will be for use within training and operational roles with the UK Armed Forces.
The requirement would be for up to 10 years, 1st delivery commencing in Autumn 2016. The potential contract will be firm for 2 years with banded options for the following 8 years. For years, 3 to 10 of the contract exact figures against banded option quantities will be provided in the preceding Autumn should the contract extend into the option years.
Should this requirement proceed, a Contract Notice will be published and you will be invited to complete a pre qualification questionnaire, which will be measured against selected criteria in terms of commercial and technical requirements.

Maybe this is normal, maybe the contract requires competitive tendering or at least advertising but they usually indicate where single source arrangements are in place.

This comes on top of another contract advertised last year for 9mm


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John Hartley
John Hartley
September 5, 2015 3:30 pm

To my amateur eye, it does seem that RO makes a very limited range of ammo. Most other ammo firms make a wide range & can swap to whatever is needed. So it might be military one month, police the next, then target, then hunting, etc. RO has made other calibres in the past, perhaps they should do a limited run of .455 & .303 from time to time. Perhaps a few new calibres such as .338 Lapua & 12.7mm? Just making FMJ 9mm, 5.56 & 7.62 for military use does leave them vulnerable to the feast/famine of the MoD.

September 5, 2015 5:32 pm

JH, 12.7 (0.5 cal) is hardly new.

As for the others, is there sufficient demand to support the cost of retooling for the calibres?

What is interesting is the term “Armour Piercing”. It’s possible that the normal production of rounds are mostly anti-personnel ball rounds when they are looking for is something different. If it is 12.7, I’d say they were looking for SLAP rounds, but 5.56 and 7.62? Maybe rounds with dense penetrator heads.

John Hartley
John Hartley
September 5, 2015 10:36 pm

Obs, what I meant was that RO has not made 12.7 in recent times. Not sure if they did in WW2. Again they have too limited a range to cope with the boom/bust of the UK MoD. Even Serbian Prvi Partisan, makes a wide range of calibres. Not that much tooling really, when you realise how many calibres share the same casehead. For example, if you are making 7.62×51, you can also make .243 Winchester & .338 Federal fairly easily, as they are based on the same case.

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
September 6, 2015 8:23 am

The running down of our ability to manufacture both ammunition and propellants has been going on for decades. The decision to ensure we can still manufacture core small arms calibre ammunition may have something to do with the mess the MOD got into when it contracted Pakistan to supply out forces in Afghanistan and ran into serious quality control issues.

Not manufacturing all types of ammo used by the UK is not necessarily a bad thing as long as the UK purchases enough to cover training and initial operational requirements, though the latter is often under estimated. Hopefully the MOD will base its requirements on data regarding ammo consumption gathered during operations in Iraq and Afghanistan rather than some equation thought up by the bean counters.

One Good Eye
One Good Eye
September 7, 2015 11:38 am
Reply to  Lord Jim

Lord Jim, you use the word ‘hopefully’ when talking about MOD’s ability to forecast ammo usage…this really is a huge issue for MOD for all commodities not just ammo. Nobody trusts any of the consumption/usage information in any of the inventory systems, each FLC uses different software tools to compile stock and usage information and different methods of calculation for demand forecasting to give industry a chance to manufacture in a timely manner. It doesn’t surprise me that MOD is asking industry to quote for ammo that may well be in scope of the MASS contract – the whole supply chain performance for ammo is shot to pieces!

Tony Williams
Tony Williams
September 8, 2015 2:54 pm

The last I heard, Radway Green makes only 5.56mm and 7.62mm.

The MASS agreement guarantees a certain minimum level of orders for BAE to keep the plant viable, anything more than that can be bought from wherever. At the peak of the fighting in Afghanistan, large quantities of 5.56mm were bought from RUAG of Switzerland.