ATK [ATK] Defense Group focuses on the customer, no matter what the year is or the fiscal situation, across its broad portfolio of ammunition, medium caliber guns, precision weapons, special mission aircraft, missile warning systems and tactical rocket motors, the unit president said.

“Our goal as a business is be a trusted partner with our customer, to help them achieve their mission, developing products at affordable prices,” Senior Vice President and President of ATK Defense Mike Kahn told Defense Daily.

Senior Vice President and President of ATK Defense Mike Kahn Photo: ATK
Senior Vice President and President of ATK Defense Mike Kahn
Photo: ATK

For example, ATK developed a new front end for artillery shells, the Precision Guided Kit (PGK). The existing fuze is taken out and replaced with a fuze that guides the projectile in flight. “That makes it very, very accurate at a very low cost,” Kahn said. “You take an existing platform and give it tremendous capability.”

If you don’t have the luxury to invent a brand new weapon, which is expensive, you take what you have and come up with an innovative design modification that doesn’t cost much but offers more capability, he said.

“Unlocking value through innovation” is key, Kahn said.

The aircraft modifications the company can do provide capabilities that haven’t existed, he said. For example, converting a cargo aircraft to a gunship, can mean either a roll-on pallet that is rolled on and clamped down, or adding medium caliber weapons or other installations. Those modifications provide more capability at less cost than designing a new platform.

Also, ATK has developed insensitive munitions solution that makes missiles safer for troops to handle in the field and offers better performance, he said.

“Since customer budgets aren’t growing, the company spends time considering how to develop and deliver those kinds of solutions to customers to help them achieve the mission for today and tomorrow,” Kahn said. “We’re not developing brand new systems.”

For rocket motor systems, Kahn said, “There’s a significant amount of technology sharing to make sure we’re using the best, safest, most reliable manufacturing processes. We’re trying to leverage the industrial base, which is not huge…to keep it healthy. There are a lot of common vendors regardless of the size of the motor.”

For example, some materials used for Minuteman ICBM cases are used today by other rocket motors.

“From a business standpoint, our practice is–once we have a good design–we want to deliver on time and at or below cost” Kahn said.

As to how the potential return of sequestration in 2016 might figure in, “We do the best we can do, work with the customer to understand what the future state is, up or down.”

Over the last couple of years, the company has worked with customers and the supply chain on each program so it knows what it is doing and can prepare for what could be coming. “We plan together.”

Kahn has seen more international interest in company products over the past several years and the company has won key international contracts. This helps keep the defense group “fairly stable.” The awards range from providing ammunition of different calibers, guns, to special mission aircraft.

“I do see our ability to service our international allies with products that we have as an important part of our business,” and a growing part of the business as well.

ATK is always looking for ways to better partner with industry and offer products that perform better, he said.

While the Defense Department is calling for “innovation” in its products, Kahn sad that’s what ATK does.

“One of the United States’ strengths is to innovate,” he said. “In this case, for our government, (solutions) that doesn’t break the bank.”

Innovation in any business is key, he said. “Innovation is in the heart of what we do, to design, develop and deliver solutions to our customers, and servicing international customers,” Kahn said. “Unlocking value and the timing of the better buying program fit right into ATK’s sweet spot, doing what we’ve been doing all along.”

ATK is at booth #6203, Hall D, Upper Level.