Modernized Paladin M109A7 howitzers, assigned to the “BattleKing Battalion,” 1st Battalion, 9th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, conducted firing missions during artillery Table VI section level qualifications on November 5 as part of the culminating exercise in operator new equipment training at Fort Stewart. Bravo Battery, 1-9 FAR, 2nd ABCT, was the first unit on Fort Stewart to go through OPNET for the recently received modernized artillery platform. The “Spartan Brigade,” 2nd ABCT, 3rd ID, is the tip of the spear in the Division’s glide path to become the most modernized division in the U.S. Army by summer 2023.
“The value added from the new M109A7 is tremendous from a maintenance and logistics perspective,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Mark T. Mansbridge, the battalion maintenance technician for the 1-9 FAR, 2nd ABCT, 3rd ID. “The chassis similarities to the Bradley make parts more easily accessible through the Army supply channels, and the new high voltage turret system has replaced the legacy hydraulic turret which was prone to a lot of leaks and component failures.”
“The M109A7 provides the armored brigade combat team a modernized self-propelled artillery platform that enhances the fires war fighting function’s ability to sustain and maintain the tempo of a combined arms fight,” said Capt. Mark Pangilinan, commander of Bravo Battery, 1-9 FAR, 2nd ABCT. “At the battery level, the M109A7’s focus on mechanical interoperability with like items from the Bradley Fighting Vehicle enables our organization to maintain combat power for the duration of an operation and execute the battalion’s field artillery support plan.”
The modernized Paladin now possesses an electronic diagnostic system for improved maintenance troubleshooting. Many of the old hydraulic driven fire control elements have been replaced by a high voltage system that is both more reliable and responsive. The Bradley-common engine, wider chassis, increased ground clearance, digital driver display unit and new suspension system all contribute to a more maneuverable self-propelled howitzer that can rapidly shoot and displace in all conditions in direct support of maneuver forces. Additionally, the modernized Paladin has the capability to configure armament based on the operational environment, allowing for additional armor upgrades to provide increased force protection to the howitzer and crew.
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 authority intends to procure 580 sets of PIM vehicles, which are expected to sustain until 2050.
The PIM modernisation programme includes upgrades to hull, turret, engine, and suspension systems to offer increased reliability, survivability and performance over the M109A6 artillery system. The upgraded system is capable of providing consistent fire support in all weather conditions. The PIM cannon is mounted on the chassis structure common to the Bradley tracked fighting vehicle. The vehicle is controlled by a crew of four and has an overall length of 9.7m, width of 3.9m, height of 3.7m and maximum gross weight of 35,380kg. The Paladin M109A7 artillery system is armed with a 155mm M284 cannon with an M182A1 gun mount and an automated loader. The 155mm artillery system can fire at a sustained rate of one round a minute whereas the maximum rate of fire is four rounds a minute. The system has a range of 22km with standard projectiles and 30km with rocket-assisted projectiles.