The US Army has awarded BAE Systems a contract, valued at $45 million (€40 million) to develop a prototype for the Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) Increment 1, the company announced on 15 July.
The prototype, to be developed in collaboration with the Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC) Armaments Center, is intended to increase the range and rate of fire on current and future M109A7 self-propelled howitzers (SPH).
This prototype phase will address capability gaps in the Army’s indirect fire systems and improve the rate and range of fire, through development of power distribution software and hardware integration solutions. ERCA will be integrated onto the M109A7 and will require the SPH’s current 39-calibre turret to be replaced with 30-foot long, 58-calibre gun barrel, with the objective of doubling the current range.
“ERCA is a significant technological step forward for the Army’s artillery portfolio,” observed BAE Systems’ Combat Vehicles Vice President of Programs, Scott Davis. “We were selected based on our years of experience in the development of self-propelled howitzer systems. Long-range precision fire is a top priority for the Army, and we are pleased to be a partner in efforts to equip soldiers with the latest technology.”
The development programme aims to provide soldiers with extended range while maintaining current system weight, to minimise performance impact on the chassis. Under separate contracts, BAE Systems is also developing precision guidance kits with anti-jamming capabilities (PGK-AJ) that can operate in the challenging ERCA engagement environment. PGK-AJ is compatible with existing and new long-range rounds for multiple firing platforms, including the M109 SPH.
BAE Systems is currently producing the M109A7 configuration for the Army and is in the low-rate initial production phase. Development work on the ERCA Self Propelled Howitzer will take place at the Army’s Picatinny Arsenal and BAE Systems’ facilities in York, PA, Sterling Heights, MI and Minneapolis, MN.