BAE Systems is shown a green light to develop the U.S. Military’s Extended Range Cannon Artillery prototype via a $45 million contract award.
Under the Military’s program, BAE will improve the range and the speed of fire on the current and future M109A7 self-propelled howitzers — generally known as Paladin Integrated Management.
The ERCA program is among the Military’s near-term initiatives within its No. 1 modernization precedence — long-range precision fires — as adversaries have built their cannon artillery that out-ranges American capacities.
The service stood up Army Futures Command around a year ago with cross-functional groups assigned to conduct the service’s top six modernization priorities as a way to break free from historically slow procurement habits. The Long-Array Precision Fires Cross-Functional Group has centered heavily on increasing the range of cannon artillery.
BAE’s M109A7 howitzers will, partially, convert to ERCA cannons by the development of “power distribution hardware and software integration solutions,” following the corporate statement.
The present 38-caliber turret will be exchanged with a 58-caliber version to mount a 30-foot gun barrel from which the ERCA projectile will be fired.
The program aims to increase the range of artillery “while sustaining the weight present in current programs to attenuate performance impacts to the chassis,” the corporate statement notes.
BAE is also under contract to build precision guidance kits with anti-jamming capabilities, which is compatible with present and new long-range rounds to include the M109 howitzer.
The corporate will work on the prototype at Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey, and BAE’s centers in York, Pennsylvania; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Sterling Heights, Michigan.
Other efforts within the ERCA program embrace creating an improved projectile that can cover past 40 kilometers in range. The Military is developing the XM113 rocket-assisted projectile to answer that call, which may end up in troopers’ arms in less than five years.