Technology slowdowns contributed to Long-Range Cannon cancellation

By Ethan Sterenfeld / July 20, 2022 at 1:52 PM

The technology behind a cannon that could fire 1,000 miles failed to mature enough for the program to proceed along a development pathway before a science and technology effort was canceled earlier this year, Army Under Secretary Gabe Camarillo told reporters today.

“The technology wasn’t progressing as quickly as we had expected it to when the effort was started, and so we’ll continue to invest in enabling technologies and move forward on that,” he said. “So, we’re just not transitioning to that next phase on the Long-Range Cannon. We’re going to go back and mature the technologies, wait until they evolve, and then we’ll see where they are.”

Doug Bush, the Army acquisition executive, told a House panel in May that the service had terminated the Long-Range Cannon program, due to the potential high cost and redundant capabilities.

The program, which has also been called the Strategic Long-Range Cannon and the Extended Range Cannon Artillery II, sought to use unspecified technologies to dramatically extend the range of cannon artillery. The 1,000-mile range was intended to target enemy anti-access/area-denial assets at a lower cost than other missiles.

If the system had progressed further, development might have moved into a program of record or middle-tier acquisition pathway, according to Camarillo.

“It was a science and technology prototyping effort,” he said. “The idea was originally that that would mature to the point where we could bring that into some kind of full development capability.”

The House’s version of the fiscal year 2023 defense authorization bill, which passed the lower chamber last week, would authorize funding to restore the program, even after the Army’s cancellation.

Congress had denied funding for the program in its FY-22 defense appropriations bill. That followed earlier doubts from lawmakers, including a provision in the FY-20 National Defense Authorization Act that ordered a scientific study into the cannon’s scientific feasibility.

Although the study concluded last fall, there is no expected public release date.