WASHINGTON — The Army and industry teams have hit new distance records in recent tests as part of an effort to develop advanced projectiles for artillery weapon systems, according to company announcements at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference.

BAE Systems, which partnered with the Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command Armaments Center, shot the XM1155-SC guided projectile from an M109 Paladin howitzer the farthest distance any guided projectile has been fired from the system, the company announced in an Oct. 9 statement.

The projectile also hit its target area at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, using GPS, the firm added.

In addition, a Boeing and Norwegian-based Nammo team recently set a new record for the longest indirect fire test of a ramjet-powered 155mm artillery projectile from the Army’s Extended Range Cannon Artillery prototype, also at Yuma Proving Ground, the team said in an Oct. 9 statement.

The efforts come ahead of an artillery strategy the Army expects to complete by the end of the year that will guide the service’s plans for its artillery formations as it modernizes.

The Army has been developing the ERCA system for nearly five years, which takes the BAE-manufactured M109A7 Paladin Integrated Management howitzer chassis and replaces its 39-caliber gun tube with an Army-developed 58-caliber gun tube. The Army dramatically boosted artillery ranges out to 70 kilometers (44 miles) with the ERCA cannon, which combines a 30-foot gun tube with RTX-made Excalibur munitions and an XM1113 projectile using supercharged propellant.

Meet the XM1155-SC

BAE Systems grew the XM1115-SC out of its Hypervelocity Projectile to “get after and defeat a fixed or moving target in a GPS-degraded or -denied environment,” Jim Miller, the company’s senior director of business development for combat mission systems, told Defense News in an interview.

BAE fired the projectile from the ERCA cannon in December 2022 and, at the time, “had shot farther than anybody else has ever shot that gun,” Miller said.

The ERCA test occurred 14 months after BAE received an initial $14.8 million prototype development award in October 2021, the company said in a statement.

While Miller couldn’t discuss exact ranges, this recent test broke the record for distance from a Paladin, showing the fielded howitzer can achieve “ERCA ranges,” Miller said.

The Hypervelocity Projectile round has a “releasable” range of 110 kilometers when fired from artillery, according to Miller. “That gives us some hope, some kind of a reality, that we can probably go farther than that,” he added.

Ramjet munition

The Boeing-Nammo team a year ago broke the range record for an indirect Ramjet 155mm munition. During the June 28 test at the Andøya Test Center in Norway, the Ramjet 155mm munition was fired from an L39 cannon and its engine successfully ignited, Boeing said at the time. The engine draws in air to bolster the forward motion of the projectile.

“Our objective was to demonstrate the ability to safely operate from the ERCA system and validate our performance. Both objectives were met,” Gil Griffin, executive director of Boeing’s Phantom Works division, said in an Oct. 9 statement.

According to a Boeing spokesman, despite the physical range limitations on the test, the team was able to beat “by more than a third” the previous record, set during last year’s Ramjet 155mm munition test, which was from a legacy 39-caliber towed artillery cannon with no range restraints.

The Army awarded a contract in July 2019 to the team under its XM1155 program, an effort to further develop extended-range artillery munitions. The duo was awarded a Phase II technology contract nearly two years later.

Following the most recent test, “this program now has a thoroughly tested propulsion system that guarantees enormous range increases for all artillery cannons,” Nammo CEO Morten Brandtzæg said in the statement. “We believe the major development hurdles have now been cleared and production is viable within a relatively short timeframe.”

The companies will also soon test the integration of a Joint Direct Attack Munition mission computer onto the Ramjet 155mm munition, the statement noted.

“The demonstration will evaluate the system’s maturity and effectiveness against stationary and moving targets, and readiness to transition into the next phase of development,” according to the statement.

Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering land warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science degree in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kenyon College.

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