US Army Tests Long-Range Cannon, Hits Target 43 Miles Away

It took three test shots to hit the target right.
Loukia Papadopoulos
The photo credit line may appear like thisU.S. Army

The Army's Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) gun fired a shell to a range of 43 miles (70 kilometers) on the dot breaking the world record for precision strikes, reported Defense News. The test took place at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona.

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On the nose

“I don’t think our adversaries have the ability to hit a target on the nose at 43 miles,” Brig. Gen. John Rafferty said in a teleconference held immediately following the successful test. He then further explained that the experiment consisted of three shots.

The first two were failures, while the third one proved a success. The first shot missed due to very high head winds at a high altitude, and the second shot suffered a hardware failure. The army explained that they knew these first shots would likely come short but took them anyway to learn from them.

“This demonstration is not a destination,” said Col. Tony Gibbs, the Army’s program manager for combat artillery system. “This is really just a waypoint in our ongoing campaign of learning as we work to really realign U.S. supremacy in cannon artillery. It’s definitely a big knowledge point for us today.”

A powerful howitzer

The ERCA cannon consists of an M109A7 Paladin Integrated Management (PIM) howitzer chassis where the 39-caliber gun tube has been replaced with a 58-caliber, 30-foot (9-meter) one, and has been equipped with Raytheon-made Excalibur munitions. Gibbs explained that it took about a year and a half of testing and analysis to determine whether the Excalibur projectiles could withstand harsher environments.

“So through a number of tests and analysis, we determined what muzzle velocity is required, what chamber pressures the projectile can withstand and so all that came together in today’s test; we fired it at the right propellant combination to provide the right muzzle velocity to achieve the range," said Gibbs.

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