According Militarytimes defense news website, on March 6 the US Army completed a new test of the Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) system , hitting a target over 40 miles (65 km) away and hit intended targets in a demonstration at Yuma Proving Ground (YPG), Arizona. An improved Paladin, self-propelled howitzer, this one is known as â€˜Prototype Zero,’ because it is the first to employ all the improvements needed to more than double the range of the cannon, was about to launch a guided 155 mm projectile over 65 km in about four minutes to strike an tan sport utility vehicle alone on the Arizona desert. The Yuma Proving Ground has been instrumental in everything for ERCA development for the last three and a half years. The ERCA program was started on October in 2015 and since 100 test events on the ERCA program across multiple platforms were performed.
The ERCA (Extended Range Cannon Artillery) itself is a massive undertaking in that everything is under development at the same time and it’s a platform that needs to be compatible with multiple howitzer configurations, multiple projectiles and multiple missions. The ERCA program has been testing various components of its system for about four years. The newest component undergoing testing is a five-round limited capacity autoloader. It holds five projectiles and five propellant charges. In the past ERCA Howitzer Test Bed (HTB) systems have been built on modified M109A6 Self Propelled Howitzers. Testing of the limited capacity autoloader is being conducted from a prototype M109A7 which has been modified and integrated with the ERCA Armament System.
A long-range cannon is intended to give the service a desired level of standoff outside of the range of enemy artillery, where it can destroy those threats and open up windows of opportunity to advance on the enemy in highly contested environments. The US Army’s Long-Range Precision Fires Cross-Functional Team under Army Futures Command has made the ERCA system development one of its centerpiece priorities over the past several years. In 2018, the service was able to double the range of cannon artillery using a modified M777 howitzer by adding a supercharged propellant and the XM1113 rocket-assisted projectile, which takes a 155mm artillery round and extends the cannon range to more than 60 kilometers by providing rocket-assist capability. In the demonstration at Yuma, the Army fired â€” from a 58-caliber, 30-foot gun tube â€” a Raytheon-made Excalibur extended-range guided artillery shell and an XM1113 using supercharged propellant.