Troopers with 2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment (2-82 FA), 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division are first to receive the U.S. Army’s newest version of the M109A7 Paladin. The overall modernization of the Greywolf brigade marks a milestone in armed forces history and makes 3ABCT the most lethal and agile brigade in the world. The new addition of the M109A7 Paladin allows the brigade, and Army, to meet new limits when fighting adversaries and engaging in large-scale ground combat operations. Over the course of the next few weeks Greywolf Troopers will become familiar with the new equipment.
The Paladin M109A7 next-generation artillery system being manufactured by BAE Systems is a significant upgrade to the combat-proven M109A6 Paladin cannon artillery system. The enhanced artillery system offers key fire-support for a variety of potential combat missions conducted by the US Army’s Armored Brigade Combat Teams (ABCTs) in conventional, hybrid, irregular and counterinsurgency combat environments. The US Army and BAE Systems signed a memorandum of understanding for the Paladin integrated management (PIM) programme to upgrade the M109A6 Paladin self-propelled howitzer and its associated M992A2 field artillery ammunition support vehicle.
The M109A7 can sustain a one-round per-minute rate of fire and a maximum rate of fire of four rounds per-minute. M109A7 155mm self-propelled howitzer being tested at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona. Weighing 78,000 lb (35,000 kg), the M109A7 is 10,000 lb (4,500 kg) heavier than its predecessor, and it has the capacity to grow to 110,000 lb (50,000 kg). Even with the weight increase, the M109A7 can travel faster than previous versions at 38 mph (61 km/h) and is more maneuverable than a BFV. The testing included RAM, mission and ballistic hull and turret testing. The U.S. Army planned on procuring a fleet of 580 sets of M109A7 howitzers and M992A3 Field Artillery Ammunition Support Vehicles (FAASVs).
The U.S. Army is looking to increase the capabilities of the M109A7. By introducing the new XM1113 rocket-assisted projectile (RAP), it can reach 40 km (25 mi) from the current 39-caliber barrel, and a planned barrel extension to 58-caliber can increase its range to 70 km (43 mi). An additional XM1113 improvement over the legacy RAP round is the replacement of the high explosive, TNT, with an insensitive munition that is less volatile and less prone to unplanned detonation. These improvements are being developed under the Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) program, with the upgraded system designated the M1299. The first ERCA cannons are planned to be fielded in 2023, with the autoloader fielding one year later.