Army estimates production ERCA could cost less than $6 million

By Ethan Sterenfeld / January 27, 2022 at 12:14 PM

Each Extended Range Cannon Artillery piece could cost a little less than $6 million once the system reaches production, according to an Army listing.

The service plans to spend $117 million on “up to” 20 ERCAs per year in a five-year production effort, according to the listing, which seeks a contractor to “mature and validate” howitzer’s technical data.

ERCA is a new howitzer the Army is developing that is expected to fire 70 kilometers with specialized rounds and propellant.

There is no date on the listing, which was posted on the National Advanced Mobility Consortium website. The service has used its other transaction agreement with the consortium to make ground vehicle prototyping and development awards.

One contractor would be selected to finish the system’s technical data package and to build a prototype, according to the listing. The project would last 18 months.

“This is not a design effort, although the contractor will be expected to offer potential solutions or lessons learned as difficulties are encountered during the build process,” the listing stated.

If the validation is successful, the Army could make a follow-on production contract without a formal competition, the listing stated. Acquisition rules allow the military to make a follow-on award without a competition if the original award under an OTA used competitive practices.

The Army makes each ERCA by modifying an M109A7 Paladin Integrated Management, the newest version of the service’s self-propelled howitzer, which the service is currently producing. Program costs were $15 million per PIM in fiscal year 2021, according to Army budget documents.

An operational experiment with 18 ERCA prototypes, will begin with a battalion of the 1st Armored Division in FY-23. The service’s heaviest divisions, including the 1st Armored, are expected to be among the first units to field the cannon.

An Army prototype shop at Picatinny Arsenal, NJ, will assemble at least 12 of the ERCAs for the operational experiment, a service official said in August. The final six could be built by a contractor.

At press time, an Army spokeswoman had not responded to questions about the cost figure in the listing and when it was posted.