The ground shakes as a US Army M109A6 Paladin howitzer fires a 155mm round at a range in Mosul, Iraq, in 2010. The Army has placed a low-rate initial production order for a new version of the armored artillery vehicle. (US Army)
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WASHINGTON — The Paladin Integrated Management (PIM) system has been approved by the US Army for low-rate initial production, BAE Systems announced.
A contract is expected before the end of the year, with first production deliveries in early 2015. Assuming all goes well, a full-rate production decision will come in February 2017.
The LRIP order will cover 65 sets of the PIM, a self-propelled howitzer, and the supporting Paladin Integrated Management Carrier Ammunition, Tracked (PIM-CAT), as well as two PIM and one PIM-CAT vehicles that will be destroyed as part of tests. The Army expects to acquire 580 sets.
The PIM is the successor to the legacy M109A6 155mm howitzer, and continues to use the same gun as the older artillery piece. But from the bearing ring on down, the PIM is essentially a new weapon system, one that comes with digital displays and a 70 kilowatt, 600-volt on-board power system.
BAE also has built in commonality with the Army’s Bradley fighting vehicle, something the Britain-based company said will help cut down costs.
“This program is a very good example of a partnership that works between the public and private sectors,” Adam Zarfoss, BAE’s artillery program director, told reporters at the annual Association of the Untied States Army (AUSA) conference here. “This is all about a program that positions the Army for the longer term.”
Zarfoss touted the growth potential of the artillery system, which uses only a portion of the available power. BAE knows there will be technological additions, he said, and by building in an extra 45,000 watts of power, those additions will be easier to include. The chassis also is designed to handle extra weight.