Army launches small business pilot for self-propelled howitzer systems

By Ashley Tressel / August 26, 2020 at 2:37 PM

The Army is starting a small business innovation research pilot program to help increase the rate of fire of self-propelled howitzer systems.

The Special Program Awards for Required Technology Needs (SPARTN) is a new program to address "the three long-standing barriers small businesses have faced in working with the Army: transparency, access, and capital," according to a press release the service issued yesterday.

The first initiative, called "Fire Faster," seeks to create systems or subsystems that increase the rate of fire.

"This rate of fire aspect is more than just putting rounds in the back of the howitzers," Brig. Gen. John Rafferty, director of the Long Range Precision Fires Cross-Functional Team, said in the release. "It's also about asking, 'Where do we spend all of our time*' We spend a lot of our time handling unpacking, unloading and downloading ammunition. If we can do that more efficiently, we will become a more combat effective unit."

The program's goal is to have companies on contract 30 days after the submission period ends, which is Oct. 6.

"The program nearly doubles the amount of capital available under SBIR Phase I, up to $200,000 for a four-month period of performance with considerable increases for Phase II and beyond," the release says. "And those funds do not require the firm to sacrifice any equity or future options as with most private financing. SPARTN improves transparency by providing a clear pathway for successful technologies to transition into official Army programs."

The service says the problems SPARTN seeks to solve already have the support of Army leaders "who can make purchasing and budgeting decisions."

"I am excited to be working together, across our community, on SPARTN SBIR to modernize our weapon systems," Col. Tim Fuller, project manager for self-propelled howitzer systems, said.

The application period for "Fire Faster" is Sept. 18 to Oct. 6.