Army awards BAE $45M contract to integrate new cannon prototype

By Ashley Tressel / July 15, 2019 at 3:39 PM

The Army has awarded BAE Systems a $45 million contract to integrate a prototype of its new high-priority cannon, the company announced today.

The Extended Range Cannon Artillery is meant to increase the range of the BAE-built howitzer in response to Russia's achieved ranges.

Russia "probably still has a slight advantage in terms of quantities," Gen. Mike Murray, head of Army Futures Command, said in October. "Quality, I would still argue we've got the edge, but the range thing, they've developed some capabilities that really outranged our tactical cannon artillery."

The Army is requesting about $20 million in fiscal year 2020 for the ERCA project as one of the long-range precision fires modernization priority capabilities.

"This effort matures and demonstrates artillery technologies including lightweight cannon and mount structures, high-efficiency recoil cylinders, common lower power fire control hardware, improved fire control software and improved sensor-to-shooter communications, which will increase range and accuracy without an increase in platform weight," the service states in its budget justification books.

According to BAE's release, "ERCA will be integrated onto the M109A7 [self-propelled howitzer] and will require the M109A7's current 39-caliber turret to be replaced with a 58-caliber, 30-foot long gun barrel with the objective of creating firepower double the current range."

BAE, which is also under contract with the Army for low-rate initial production of the M109A7 howitzer, is working with the service's Armaments Center under Combat Capabilities Development Command (Army Futures Command) on the ERCA.