US Army is testing longer gun tube endurance of its artillery

WASHINGTON, US — The US Army continues with the same tests it sent off in 2022 with. The task of the tests is to determine the endurance under the increased intensity of the fire of the American artillery, which operates with a longer gun tube. These are self-propelled howitzers that have an increased range, also known as long-range artillery.

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The reason is that tests done earlier in the past year showed worrying results. The longer barrels of the cannon showed wear during a small number of rounds. I.e. at low firing intensity. The Army will have to analyze not only the capability of the long-range artillery, but also the materials used, the design of the gun tube, the design of the artillery shells used, and the correction of the fuel.

Although not directly related to the war in Ukraine, the fighting there showed excessive wear on the barrel of some older howitzer models. The American howitzer that was sent to the battlefield was the M777 towed howitzer. It, along with European howitzers, are experiencing problems, as their cannon wears out too quickly, due to the increased intensity of fire by Ukrainian soldiers several times more.

A reduction in the wear of the gun tube, both with a normal amount of rounds fired and with several times exceeded, can be achieved with new artillery shells. The US knows this and prototypes of such munitions are currently being developed. They were developed for the Extended Range Cannon Artillery [ERCA] system.

About ERCA

ERCA is the future of American artillery. It is expected that by the end of 2023, significant destructive tests of these projectiles will be conducted. ERCA is a high priority for the modernization of the US military, especially for long-range artillery. She must build a two-phase upgrade. I.e. the first phase is for the soldier to show precision shooting with long-range projectiles and the second phase is for the soldier to show an increased rate of fire.

Some of the key tests of an ERCA system have been tested over the past few years. It all started in 2019 when at live fire tests in Yuma, the long-range artillery tested a self-loading magazine with a magazine of limited capacity. In 2021, the Army is testing an autoloader with an expanded capacity magazine. This test showed a significantly increased rate of fire. Almost at the end of 2021, the third test was testing the detonator of the best artillery shell in the world at the moment – Excalibur. I.e. the artillery section adjusted the blaster to activate its precision targeting capabilities.

The Pentagon is expected to mandate the use of ramjet artillery rounds in the current and future tests. They are currently under development. Sources say that before they can be tested, the developers will have to make a design that meets a set standard – a competitive price per unit.

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The US military’s idea is for such a projectile to use its surroundings. I.e. in flight, a ramjet burns the air. Instead of thinking about where to find more air space in the design of the artillery shell, the idea is for the ramjet to burn the air it has drawn into the shell during its forward motion through the air.

This design is also part of ERCA. Currently, the Pentagon is deploying similar ERCA systems at various locations across the US. Once the design is finalized, it will be sent to the ground test sites.

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