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New Army artillery doubles attack range and outguns Russian equivalent

File photo – U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to the 25th Division Artillery, 25th Infantry Division, prepare to fire a 155 mm artillery round from an M777 howitzer in support of Operation Lightning strike at Pohakuloa Training, Hawaii, May 16, 2018. Operation Lightning strike is a combined arms live-fire exercise that unity increases the interoperability and synchronization in an effort to focus combat power on the battlefield. (U. S. Army photo by Sgt. Ian Morales)

The Army is fast-tracking an emerging program design for a greater range artillery cannon able to get out of range of enemy ground forces by hitting targets at more than twice the distance of the existing artillery.

The service is now prototyping a Comprehensive Range of Cannon Artillery guns with a larger caliber tube, and new grooves to hang weights for the gravity adjustments to the weapon that is a modified M777A2 mobile howitzer.

Existing 155m artillery rounds, fired with a precision of mobile and self-propelled howitzer platforms, have a maximum range of approximately 30 km; the new ERCA weapon is designed to hit reach of more than 70km, the Army, the developers said.

“When you talk about a doubling of the range that you need a longer tube and a larger caliber. We blend this ammo with a howitzer and increases the range. We are an upgrade of the failure, and metallurgy of the tube, the change of the hydraulic lever, increased pressure, and with the help of a new ram jet projectile – as a kind of rocket,” a senior Army weapons developer told Warrior Maven in an interview.

The amendment adds 1,000 pounds to the total weight of the weapon and an additional six yards of the gun of the tube. The ERCA systems also makes use of a newly designed cabin, new cylinder head design and new “muzzle break” for the official explained.

“The ERCA program will develop not only the XM907 cannon, but also products, such as the XM1113 rocket assisted projectile, the XM654 boost, a autoloader and a new fire control system,” a statement said the Army.

As part of an effort to ensure the heavy M777 is sufficiently mobile, the Army recently launched a “mobility” demonstration of ERCA prototypes.

The service has been demonstrated that a modified M777A2 Howitzer with an integration kit for the mass mock-up of the modified XM907 ERCA cannon at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona.

“Their [the user’s] concern is that when the self-propelled program is done, they will be left with a drawn gun variant that they can’t pull around, that is the number one mode of transportation,” David Bound, M777ER Lead, Artillery, Concepts and Design Branch, which is part of the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, or ARDEC, said in an Army statement.

The ERCA is currently configured to fire from a M109a8 Self-Propelled Howitzer, with the help of a 58-Cal. tube; the existing M109a7, called the paladin Integrated Management, fire, a 39-Cal. weapon.

ERCA changes in the Army of the land war strategic calculus in a number of important ways, by encouraging the Army’s number one modernization priority – long-range precision fires. This concept of operations is intended for the mechanized assault troops, and the advancing infantry with an additional stand-0ff range or the protective atmosphere for its operations. More range, precision fire on enemy troop concentrations, lines and equipment necessary to enable a co-ordinated attack, while the forces to stay further back from incoming enemy fire.

A 70-km target range, by one estimate, a substantial leap forward for the artillery; when GPS-guided precision 155mm artillery rounds such as Excalibur, cracks in the land combat ‘ n ten years ago – the strike range was reported at approximately 30 km. A self-propelled Howitzer capable of hitting 70 km lays the weapon on a line with a number of the Army of the advanced ground-missiles – such as the precision-enabled Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System, which also reaches 70 km.

In a modern threat environment, in which near-peer-and smaller-level rivals in increasingly possess precision-guided land weapons, greater range of C4ISR technology and drone weapons, the increase of the range is a pervasive emphasis on the Army and other services. Russia’s violations of the INF treaty, new S-500 air defenses, new Armata tanks and rapidly growing attack with a drone – fleet – all point to a growing need for US to outrange and outgun opponents.

In fact, senior Army developers specifically say that the ERCA program is, at least in part, designed to be the Army is out of the range rival Russian weapons. The Russian army is currently in the production of the latest howitzer cannon, the 2S33 Msta-SM2-variant; it is a new 2A79 152 mm cannon is able to hit ranges of over 40 km, significantly higher than the 25 km range to reach it by the original Russian 2S19 Msta – for the first time in service in the late 1980s, according to the data of globalsecurity.org.

Earlier this year, statements of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation said that 2S19 Msta-S modernised self-propelled howitzers were fielded in the near Volgograd, Russia. The 2S19 Msta-S howitzers are fitted with an automatic fire control system with an increased rate of fire, digital electronic maps, ballistic computers and satellite navigation systems, the report says.

Therefore, doing the simple math, a 70km US Army ERCA weapon seems considerably outrange the 40km Msta-S modern Russian howitzer.

While senior Army weapons developers are happy with the possibility of longer range accurate artillery fire, they also acknowledge that the effectiveness of the hinges on the further development of sensor -, fire -, and target technology.

“Just because I can shoot farther, that does not mean that I solve the problem. I have, for the acquisition of the right audience. We want to be able to moving targets, and targets obscured by uneven terrain,” the senior Army developer said.

Multi-domain warfare is also an integral part of the strategic impetus for the new ERCA weapon; a greater range of land weapons can be naturally better in the fall air options.

Within this concept, former Army TRADOC Commander Gen. David Perkins, and the Air Force, Air Combat Command Commander General James Holmes started a new series of tabletop exercises a few months ago – designed to replicate and explore these types of a war in the future scenarios. The project is aimed at exploring the nature of conflicts is expected to need technologically advanced Army-air force integration.

In a previous Pentagon report, Holmes said the joint wargaming effort “to turn it into a doctrine and the concept that we can agree on.”

Such a development would mark a significant step further than before the military thinking, that sometimes the course of the years is slightly more stove-piped in her approach of the military service doctrines.

It is interesting that the new initiative can take, and also the adjusting of the tenants informing of the 1980s Air-Land Battle Doctrine; this concept came to fruition during the Cold War, was focused on integrated air-ground combat coordination at a large mechanical force in the great war. While AirLand battle focused on the Soviet Union decades ago, new Army-air force-strategy in today’s threat environment will be the address of the possibility of a major war with an advanced opponent like Russia or China.

In fact, the Army of the new Activities 3.0 leather all examine this phenomenon, if it tries to rotate with the force of more than a decade of counterinsurgency preparation massive force-on-force warfare.

Jumping more than 40 years in the future, outside the AirLand Battle in to the threat of the climate, the idea of cross-domain warfare is a completely new and more comprehensive meaning. No longer would the air force only serves to support the advancing armored vehicles with both air cover and forward strikes, such as is expressed in the Air-Land Battle, but a force active in the current war environment would have to integrate multiple new domains such as cyber and space.

After all, drones, laser attacks, cyber-attacks and electronic warfare (EW) tactics were hardly on the map in the 1980s. Forces today would need to harden air-to-ground communications against cyber and EW attacks, a network of long-range sensor and to focus on technology and respond to technologically advanced near-peer attack platforms, such as the 5th generation stealth fighters or weaponized space assets.

In a simultaneous related effort, the Army is also producing an adaptation of the existing 155mm rounds which have a greater range, an extra 10km to 40 km.

Fired from an existing Howitzer artillery cannon, the new XM1113 round makes use of the ram jet rocket technology to deliver more thrust to the round.

“The XM1113 makes use of a large and powerful rocket engine that allows for almost three times the amount of thrust, compared with the older M549A1 RAP,” Ductri Nguyen, XM1113 Integrated Product Team Lead.” “The outside profile form has also been streamlined for lower air resistance to the achievement of the 40-plus kilometers, with the launch of the existing fielded 39-calibre 155mm weapon systems.”

Soldiers can also integrate the existing Precision Guidance Kit to the artillery shells as a way to add a GPS-controlled precision fuse of the weapon. The new custom round also used safer Insensitive Munitions Explosives.

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