Photos Surface of U.S. Army’s New Experimental ‘Super Cannon’

An early look at what the Army might soon use to reach out and touch people. (Photo: Defence Blog/Twitter)

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.

The self-propelled Howitzers can already hit targets at least 70 kilometers away, or more than 43 miles. (Photo: Defence Blog/Twitter)

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.

See Also: The Army is Gearing Up for a Large-Scale War with Its ‘Big Six’

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.

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About the author: Max Slowik is a writer with over a dozen years of experience and is a lifelong shooter. He has unwavering support for the Second Amendment and the human right to self-defense. His ambition is to follow Thomas Paine, as a journalist by profession and a propagandist by inclination.

{ 28 comments… add one }
  • Don Lewis December 28, 2019, 12:31 pm

    Why don’t we dust off the arsenal of high tech weapons that we already have & USE them?

    Because there’s no money in that.

    Don Lewis
    Lubbock Texas

  • Travis December 27, 2019, 9:23 pm

    The U.S. Army has been outgunned and outranged by the Russians and the Chinese since the end of the Cold War. Steve Cook is right, but not for the reasons he outlined. There is nothing new here. This is just a longer barreled M-109 variant, the basis of which has been serving since the 1960’s.

    Army artillerists have gotten just as stupid as the rest of the Army about fighting real wars as a result of Iraq and Afghanistan. They are obsessed with precision and are dumbfounded when considering the traditional mass effect of artillery. Since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. Army also canned the notion of truly big guns. We only field 105mm and 155mm towed and self-propelled. There were a variety of excuses for limiting our artillery options, but it all comes down to the end of the Soviet threat. Well, now big war is back and we are scrambling to meet threats that never really went away. The Russians and Chinese have artillery in all shapes and sizes and for every purpose. We can’t hope to match them because, well, we’re obsessed with dropping single shells on individuals pinpointed at 10-digit coordinates. Furthermore, much of their artillery fires at ranges that we cannot reach with counterbattery fire. While this new M-109 might be able to match those ranges, we will find ourselves overtasking our limited fires capabilities between fire support and counterbattery fires.

    We should never have mothballed the M-110 or the M-107 howitzers after the Cold War. The 8″ and 175mm guns fired slowly, but those shells provided massive effects. We could easily couple the modern RAP and GPS guidance on those shells to make them more modern. Instead, we’re rebuilding a 155mm gun with a ridiculously long barrel.

  • Walter Pautsch December 27, 2019, 4:54 pm

    This is not a tank and is not meant to be an anti armor vehicle. It is mobile artillery.

  • George December 27, 2019, 2:56 pm

    If all the killings recently are from the ‘Assault Rifles’, and the left wants to restrict them from law-abiding citizens, why don’t we just ship all the ‘Assault Rifles to war instead of soldiers.

  • mauser6863 December 27, 2019, 12:54 pm

    First off, this is not a tank, it is a self-propelled Artillery Piece. It is not designed to fight on the front lines, but to act a mobile version of field artillery, while providing great mobility, high rates of fire and enhanced crew protection, over “traditional” towed field artillery. Second, the United States has used rocket assisted artillery at least since the Vietnam War, maybe before that. Although this provides greater range, it usually sacrifices payload to do so. In the 1980’s, murdered ballistic expert, Gerald Bull developed and sold Extended Range Base Bleed Projectiles (ERBBP) and artillery systems to the South Africans (G5 and G6) and to the Austrians, as well as many others. These systems had a very long range and where used by the Iraqi Army and if they were actually a competent force, these systems out ranged all coalition forces during the Gulf War, but were never used effectively. The U.S. Army is very late to the party, but at least they are here now, maybe. Artillery Wins Wars, when politicians allow it to be used. Its cheaper than aircraft and available 24/7 at very short notice and can dominate the battlefield.

  • Griz December 27, 2019, 11:30 am

    Why a tank to hit a target at 60 miles? Aren’t there other tools for that in our arsenal?

    • Scott Syverson December 27, 2019, 2:18 pm

      Griz – that is not a tank chassis. That is a self-propelled howitzer chassis of which we’ve kept in inventory for many decades so that the artillery can keep up with amour and mechanized infantry and fire from primitive, undeveloped sites due to its tread based chassis as opposed to towed artillery which must use roads.

    • ron December 27, 2019, 3:51 pm

      One wouldn’t use a tank – but one COULD use an SP gun!

    • Scotty Gunn December 29, 2019, 3:54 pm

      It is an armored self propelled artillery piece. Not a tank.

  • david huckabee December 27, 2019, 10:46 am

    looks like a very large male weapon that has been stimulated by some female pheromones, maybe?

  • DAVID MILLER December 27, 2019, 10:30 am

    WARTHOGG !!!!

  • George Robben December 27, 2019, 8:57 am

    I understand the evolution of the 60-k range weapons, but will it be vulnerable to up close battles?
    What will they have to shoot another tank 100 meters away? The long barrel and less mobility make this even more critical–unless they are going to be deployed with an armada of conventional armor like a mechanized infantry.
    How long does it take to lock in on a target? Will it be like a pocket quarterback that needs protection before it can launch to targets far away?
    What happens to the back flash from the ram jets?
    Guidance will be the key to its success. If we can surgically select targets from greater distances without putting soldiers in harms way, it’ll be a great thing.

    • Andrew December 27, 2019, 11:04 am

      It will take the world’s fastest MBT over an hour to cover the 60+ mile range of this gun. If they can’t kill it before it’s within 100-yds, the gun crew will deserve what they get.

    • PATRICK WHITED December 27, 2019, 11:04 am

      This is an artillery piece. Not a tank. Should have support for those close up engagements.

    • Big Al Robinson December 27, 2019, 12:16 pm

      ANY artillery piece is vulnerable in close battle, and the idea is that never happens.
      These just happen to be self propelled artillery pieces, NOT tanks.
      And with the extended range, they should be even safer.
      One of the newer computerized systems is designed for rapid fire, with each consecutive shell at a lower ballistic ‘arc’, so that all shells arrive simultaneously.
      Having 4 or 5 155mm shells arrive on your position at the same time would be devastating, to say the least.

      • shorthair December 29, 2019, 12:15 pm

        Never happen ??? Remember the early days of Korea .

        • Big Al Robinson January 3, 2020, 10:56 am

          So, which part of “The IDEA is that it never happens” did you miss??????
          It was part of my point, that greater RANGE and ACCURACY makes it even less likely to happen.

        • Big Al Robinson January 3, 2020, 10:58 am

          Which part of “the IDEA is that it never happens” did you miss????
          That was my point, that greater RANGE and ACCURACY means that it is even less likely to happen.
          Perhaps a lesson learned from Korea? And why they went for the improved system?

    • ron December 27, 2019, 3:52 pm

      They could use another tank to kill that tank – and at much farther than 100 yards, I would hope. There are many other systems to kill such tanks, as well.

  • Steve Cook December 27, 2019, 8:09 am

    While it all sounds new and exciting , one thing it isn’t , is new.

    The US military is a little late to this party….like 70 plus years late.

    Germany was using the rocket propelled artillery during WW2.

    Specifically in their huge seige mortar “Thor” and the infamous K5 cannons made by Krupp.

    Think Anzio Annie…the K5 that harrassed the beachead and the town.

    With the K5 they had a rocket assisted round that could reach out to 86km ,but it was not as accurate.

    Come to think of it , maybe the US military was just waiting for Krupps patent on RP artillery shells to expire so they wouldn’t have to pay royalties…(;-))

    • Karl Hirsch December 27, 2019, 9:24 am

      Ha Steve! No, those patents were all taken as war reparations, in many cases before the shooting was even over. Someone in the know could have attained the ones you mentioned and so many more for a pittance. Now the real revolutionary stuff will not be revealed until the third installment of the WW series is on in earnest…

    • Big Al Robinson December 27, 2019, 12:21 pm

      What’s ‘NEW’ that they didn’t get onto much (probably because of secret classification) is the ability for ONE artillery piece to fire rapidly at different ballistic paths to saturate a very small area, with extreme precision.
      What took an entire battery to do, just one of these will do with far greater precision and range.
      “Late to the party”???
      No, this is cutting edge stuff, with highly modified and improved old tech.

    • Pat December 27, 2019, 2:12 pm

      Yes but were they able to shoot a volley move and shoot again

  • likes264 December 27, 2019, 7:33 am

    Nice but still can’t beat a jet loaded with bombs and rockets, Air Force still rules!

    • Zupglick December 27, 2019, 9:14 am

      Drones and Hellfires. CIA rules.

    • PATRICK WHITED December 27, 2019, 11:06 am

      Pussy airmen.

      • Jack January 7, 2020, 9:24 am

        Hey dip-sh-t, maybe if you was with me in 68 after being shot down over Laos and spending 4days running thru the mountains, jungle and rice patties with a company of NVA and VC on your ass you wouldn’t be so mouthy, I lost 7 out of 11 of my crew that trip, so have a little respect.

  • Chris December 23, 2019, 2:06 pm

    My Schwartz is bigger than yours!

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