Leaked photos of the U.S. Army’s new and improved rocket-propelled artillery have made it online, highlighting the ongoing development of the Extended Range Cannon Artillery program, or ERCA.
These photos give us some of the first detailed looks at the improved 155mm guns and self-propelled Howitzers. The project is being developed by the Armament Research, Development, and Engineering Center, or ARDEC’s Science and Technology office.
Last year the Army revealed developments that doubled the range of their existing Howitzer systems from around 30 to 40 kilometers to over 60 kilometers. Current estimates place the range of the rocket-assisted artillery at 70 kilometers with a goal of reaching 100 kilometers or more, or just over 60 miles.
Not only that, but according to public information, the experimental Howitzer systems feature improved autoloading feeding systems that increase the firing rate from 3 rounds per minute up to 10. The rocket-boosted munitions can be self-guiding and will still be able to navigate to targets in GPS-denied environments.
ARDEC says this gives the Howitzer systems a “10x” improvement in effectiveness, combining the extended range and increased rate of fire.
The experimental self-propelled Howitzer is designated the XM1299 with the XM907 cannon. Updates from earlier this year suggest that the Army is moving forward with developing the XM1113 shell using an XM654 booster to achieve 70-kilometer ranges as part of the ERCA.
The XM907 cannon is longer than most current 155mm artillery pieces and heavier. This may make it less mobile but given the superior range that is a potentially welcome trade-off. According to the Defence Blog, however, the XM1299 sports improved mobility to make up for the longer and heavier cannon.
The Army is also looking at ramjet-powered projectiles among other technologies including hypervelocity shells with partners Boeing and Nammo to achieve their 60-mile goal.