The Army's capability to project land power grew this week with the induction of the M109A7 self-propelled howitzer and its companion M992A3 carrier ammunition tracked vehicle into low-rate initial production, the US Army said in a statement.
The M109A7 and M992A3, formerly known as the Army's Paladin Integrated Management, known as PIM, program, were both inducted during a ceremony at Anniston Army Depot where Congressman Mike Rogers, Alabama's third congressional district representative, described what the systems bring to the Army.
"If we have to fight, we want to make sure it's not a fair fight. These systems ensure that it won't be a fair fight," Rogers said.
This summer M109A6 Paladin vehicles and M992A2 Field Artillery Ammunition Support Vehicles will be shipped to Anniston Army Depot where they will be disassembled to provide cab structures, overhauled gun and cannon assemblies, and other vehicle components to industry. The entirely new chassis, built at BAE Systems' facility in York, Pa., will marry with the reworked Anniston components at the new BAE Systems production facility in Eglin, Okla., for final assembly.
The M109A7 and M992A3 entered Milestone C in October 2013, under the PIM program. They were first fielded, in 1963. For the past 50 years the platform has provided the Army with a highly mobile, armored combat support weapon capable of performing a role in nearly every function: move and maneuver, fires, protection and mission command. In short, artillery systems like the M109A7 and M992A3 represent an in-theater capability that delivers a volume of explosive destruction that otherwise only bombers and precision weapons costing considerably more would be able to deliver. But decades of upgrades to the platform show that it has reached its limit especially in terms of space, weight and power-cooling, or SWaP-C.
While the vehicle's cannon will remain unchanged, the M109A7 will sport a brand new chassis, engine, transmission, suspension, steering system. These components are also found on the Army's Bradley Fighting Vehicles, thus increasing commonality and reducing logistical footprints and cost. Improved survivability is also a main line of effort in the upgrade program.
The vehicle will also feature a new 600-volt on-board power system, which is designed to accommodate emerging technologies and future requirements, as well as current requirements like the Battlefield Network. The electronic gun drive system, which was developed for the cancelled Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon, NLOS-C, provides significant improvement to firing operations. Also, the on-board power system ensures the platform will have enough SWaP-C growth potential to last until 2050.