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Analysis: M1299 155mm 58 caliber tracked self-propelled howitzer Extended Range Cannon Artillery

The next generation of US Army tracked self-propelled howitzer is the M1299 based on the M109 series, the new 155mm 58 caliber howitzer was unveiled on the booth of BAE Systems during AUSA 2019, the Association of United States Army Exhibition and Conference which takes place every year in Washington D.C.

Analysis Review M1299 155mm 52 caliber tracked self propelled howitzer Extended Range Cannon Artillery 925 001
M1299 155 mm 58 caliber tracked self-propelled howitzer of US Army program Extended Range Cannon Artillery ERCA at the booth of BAE Systems at AUSA Association of United States Army Exhibition, October 2019. (Picture source Army Recognition)

In July 2019, the U.S. Army has awarded BAE Systems a $45 million contract for the Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) Increment 1 prototype with the purpose of increasing the range and rate of fire on current and future M109A7 self-propelled howitzers. The development program aims to provide the warfighter with extended range while maintaining the weight found in current systems to minimize performance impacts on the chassis. Under separate contracts, BAE Systems is also developing precision guidance kits with anti-jamming capabilities (PGK-AJ) that can operate in the challenging ERCA firing environment. PGK-AJ is compatible with existing and new long-range rounds for multiple firing platforms, including the M109 self-propelled howitzer.

The M1299 is part of the Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA gun) program of US Army to increase the range and rate of fire on current and future M109A7 Paladin self-propelled howitzers. Compared to its predecessors, the M1299 artillery system is receiving two leading-edge technologies: new XM1113 rocket-boosted shell and a longer 58 caliber tube, which increases the range from 38 km to 70 km+, and 100 km within the forthcoming four years.

During a firing test Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona in March 2019, the M1299 gun nailed targets with pinpoint accuracy at a range of 62 kilometers, offering a greater range compared to the M109A7 Paladin which has maximum firing range of 30 km and for 40 km with the M982 Excalibur guided artillery shell for the M777 light towed howitzers.

The M1299 is based on the tracked chassis of the M109A7 self-propelled howitzer that is produced since 2018. However, the M1299 can be seen as a fully new artillery system fitted with a new turret, new chassis, new XM907 cannon, new XM 208 gun mount, new automatic ammunition handling system, as well as many other new systems. According to BAE Systems, the M1299 is developed to provide extended firing range while minimizing impact to system weight and performance impact on the tracked chassis.

The M1299 tracked self-propelled howitzer has a fully-automatic ammunition loading system. It loads both projectiles and charges. This automatic loading system increased the rate of fire from 3 Rounds Per Minute (RPM) on the M109A7 to 10 rpm.

The M1299 continues the use of 155 mm caliber of ammunition but it will use new XM1113 rocket-assisted artillery projectiles. In June 2019, General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems (GD-OTS) awarded a contract for Prototype and Process Development for the 155mm XM1113 Rocket-Assisted Projectile (RAP) round. GD-OTS is partnered with American Ordnance, Nammo-Talley, and SAVIT in the United States.

The XM1113 RAP uses rocket technology to deliver greater thrust to the round when compared to its predecessor, the legacy M549A1. This will enable current U.S. Field Artillery 155mm Systems to fire the XM1113 RAP to a range of 40 kilometers, a 30% increase from the M549A1. When fired from the planned future Extended Range Artillery Cannon (ERCA), the XM1113 will achieve ranges out to 70 kilometers. The XM1113 RAP round aligns with the U.S. Army’s modernization initiative under the Long Range Precision Fires (LRPF) Cross-Functional Team.

The XM1115 is another new guided projectile that will be used by the M1299 that takes into account modern threats and provides guidance without using GPS data. This will allow hitting targets with high precision in the application of enemy electronic warfare and satellite signals.

The M1299 tracked self-propelled howitzer will be operated by a crew of 4, including commander, gunner, loader and driver. The M1299 is based on the M1097A7 tracked chassis sharing engine, transmission, tracks and some other components with M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle. Such commonality allows to reduce production, operating and maintenance costs. The M1299 is powered by a Cummins diesel engine developing 600 hp.

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