House panel wants ERCA autoloader report

By Ethan Sterenfeld / July 30, 2021 at 10:24 AM

House authorizers want the Army to submit a report on efforts to increase the rate of fire on the Extended Range Cannon Artillery, a self-propelled howitzer the Army is developing that will fire 70 kilometers.

An autoloader designed for the ERCA "failed to demonstrate suitability as a component of the modified M109A7 Paladin chassis and turret," the House Armed Services tactical air and land forces subcommittee wrote in its mark of the fiscal year 2022 defense authorization bill.

The subcommittee mark requested a report on alternative solutions the Army will consider to increase the rate of fire, including other autoloader solutions. The report will also have to include “detailed schedules and funding profiles” related to increasing the rate of fire.

Both the ERCA and the Paladin, the self-propelled howitzer the new model is based on, require soldiers to manually pick up and load artillery rounds and charges. An autoloader was planned for the ERCA, but it has already been delayed at least to the second increment of the howitzer.

The autoloader was expected to increase the rate of fire and reduce the number of crew members inside the ERCA. The Army has committed to finding another way to increase the ERCA’s rate of fire, according to the subcommittee mark.