G-8: Army can innovate artillery rounds to add range

By Nickolai Sukharev / May 21, 2024 at 5:05 PM

The Army can work to improve artillery rounds to meet its required ranges -- rather than procure a new weapon system -- when considering its future cannon capabilities, according to the deputy chief of staff.

“We can get ranges and lethality that are required in division lethality by innovating at the round as opposed to going and procuring an entirely new system,” Lt. Gen. Karl Gingrich, the deputy chief of staff for programs (G-8), said Tuesday morning at an event hosted by the Association of the United States Army.

Speaking about an unreleased tactical fires study, which evaluated cannon capability needs, Gingrich stressed that the Army could meet future range requirements by improving the 155mm rounds fired from the service’s howitzers.

“Rather than get a longer gun tube, there [are] technologies out there and many of your companies represent those technologies that allow us existing cannon configurations, whether it's 39 caliber, 52 caliber or whatever, 52 being the NATO kind of standard these days,” Gingrich said.

As part of the Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) program, which sought to develop a now cancelled tracked self-propelled 155mm howitzer to replace a portion of the current M109A7 Paladins, the Army also researched 155mm artillery rounds.

Seeking to increase the firing range of the rounds, the Army first tested and doubled the firing range of its M777 towed howitzer with rocket-assisted projectiles in 2018.

Following the M777 tests, the Army began the ERCA program, a howitzer with a 30ft gun tube fitted on to a Paladin wheelbase, with the aim of increasing the range from from 30km to 70km.

Speaking at the Fires Symposium in Lawton, OK earlier this month, Brig. Gen. Rory Crooks said the unreleased tactical fires study indicated that the Army could achieve the 70km range with a shorter barrel.

Last week, Gen. James Rainey, the commanding general of Army Futures Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that one of the big findings from the ERCA effort was being able to “innovate” at the round.

“Let's work with industry and see what kind of range we can get without having to redo the barrels, which makes you redo the turret, which remakes the platform,” he said.