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US Army Demonstrates Auto-loading Artillery

The US Army’s Picatinny Armaments Center recently highlighted its progress toward developing automated loading for its self-propelled howitzers.

These efforts are receiving increased attention as a part of the Extended Range Artillery Cannon (ERCA) project a key component of the Long Range Precision Fires a priority initiative in the Army’s modernization.

The lethality and operational benefits of auto-loaded self-propelled howitzers has been well established in its field use in the German PzH2000, Russian 2S19 “Msta-S”, and Swedish Archer.

ERCA XM1299E1 auto-loading integration on to the M109A7 requires not simply new ammunition handling but also a new breech, gun positioning, and ammunition and fuse selection and setting. Achieving a rate of fire of 7 rounds per minute has been demonstrated in Army evaluations, though these employed a limited capacity loader.

The next step for the ERCA Integration Team is preparing a full-capacity autoloader and optimized turret system for two demonstrations planned for 2021. These will further validate autoloader technologies and increased rates of fire.




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