Military Technology 3/2019

Spotlight on the US Army MT 3/2019 · 29 effective role played by indirect fires in the Russian-Ukrainian conflicts. These combined to make LRPF the army’s number one priority. Brig-Gen Stephen Maranian, head of the LRPF CFT, stated “we need to increase range, volume of fires and lethality of our surface to surface fires.” The intent is to achieve much of this through improvements and modernisation to current artillery cannon, rocket and missile platforms. Deep strike has been provided by US Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS), launched by the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) and M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS). However, as a Fires Center of Excellence spokesperson explained, “The ATACMS inven- tory is aging plus, by international agreement, the M39 and M39A1 cluster munitions used in ATACMS will be removed from the inventory after 2018.” A new missile now called the Precision Strike Missile (PRSM – previously designated Long Range Precision Firepower (LRPF)), has been in the works for several years. Both Raytheon and Lockheed Martin have can- didates developed under technology maturation and risk reduction con- tacts. The new missile is intended to address targets including assembly areas, airfields, communications and air defences out to 499 km and potentially further using precision guidance. Candidate prototype test fir- ings are anticipated in 2019. The army is suggesting that the selected sys- tem from the shoot-off could have an Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in 2023, four years earlier than the previous date. A preplanned upgrade to PRSM is also being considered that would provide for tracking and attack of moving targets, including ships. This is essential to the army’s potential role in cross-domain warfare. Tube artillery is also to receive major capability upgrades. The BAE SystemsM777155mmtowedhowitzer LongRangeCannon system-of-sys- tems was demonstrated at Yuma Proving Grounds in September 2018. This effort, begun in 2016, leverages technologies from the Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) project, including a longer 58-calibre barrel, projectile tracking, survey, and advanced projectiles. The last includes the XM1113 rocket-boosted projectile. The demonstrator showed the ability to reach 60km – over double the current range. As it entails only adaptions to the existing howitzer system, the approach could rapidly demonstrate a substantial increase in combat capability. Operational trials of the Long- Range Cannon are planned for 2020. Further out, US Army Research Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM) commander, Maj- Gen Cedric T Wins, indicated in a statement that, “with more advanced hypersonic cannon, it could be possible to reach 100 km, reducing the need to shoot rockets that cost substantially more.” On the self-propelled side, the M109A7 development is complete and full-scale production was to begin in 2018. The A7 modernisation address- es vehicle chassis, suspension, power, and digital backbone issues that were preconditions to pursuing any firepower updates. The new A7 base- line allows pursuit of the additional improvements, seen as essential when confronting near-peer opponents. Fitting the ERCA, new ammunition, closer integration with the FASSV ammunition supply vehicle, and adding semi or full auto-loading capability of 6-10 rpm, plus likely a new fire con- trol system, would result in an M109A8 version. The army vision is to be Stephen Miller is a former US Marine and defence industry executive. He has led major ground, air and naval military and security programmes in 24 countries. His hands-on operational, system development, acquisition and field support experience provides a unique perspective on their critical connection. Recognition of the renewed role and benefits of artillery has pushed the acceleration of development and integration of capabilities to extend its range, accuracy, and lethality. The Long Range Cannon system-of-systems uses the current M777 howitzer (shown) as a base, allowing more rapid fielding of a gun that can achieve these goals. (Photo: USMC) The M1 ABRAMS remains the US Army’s primary MBT but it is the A2 SEPv3 version, incorporating advanced features and capabilities, that is now being acquired in increasing numbers. (Photo: GDLS) ready to field such a system by 2023. As the M109 is the primary artillery weapon for the Armour Brigade Combat Team (ABCT), this advance would assure the arm is not outmatched by opponents. Next Generation Combat Vehicles (NGCV) The purview of the NGCV includes the AMPV, Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF), Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV), future Robotic Combat Vehicles (RCV) and next-generation main battle tank MBT. The AMPV programme was awarded to BAE Systems in 2014 and is currently undergoing user trials, with low rate production of 289 systems underway through 2020. Five versions are being pursued in support, com- mand, medical, engineer and mortar roles, to be fielded to the ABCTs.