Army developing next-gen Howitzer

Sept. 6, 2011 at 10:14 AM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 6 (UPI) -- A next-generation 155mm, self-propelled Howitzer is being developed by the U.S. Army.

The cannon will better deliver precision rounds and also feature additional armor protection and power more on-board electrical systems.

"The (space, weight and power) buy-back the PIM will provide is huge," Lt. Col. Dan Furber, product manager, Self-Propelled Howitzer Systems, said. "It allows us to add additional armor to the platform and it allows us to add additional capabilities such as automation or electronic packages."

The PIM is the Army's modernization program for the 155mm self-propelled Howitzer fleet and is scheduled to begin low-rate initial production of the weapon by 2013.

The PIM's on-board power system harnesses technologies developed for the Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon, a 155mm Howitzer formerly developed for the Future Combat Systems' Manned-Ground Vehicles program, which was canceled in 2009.

"We've also harnessed the electric drives from the NLOS-C, which are faster than the hydraulic drives used in the existing fleet," Furber said. "With the electric drives and rammer, we are finding more consistent ramming of the round which allows for more consistent muzzle velocities and we are a little more accurate and responsive with the electric drives."

Prototypes of the vehicle, built by BAE Systems, are now undergoing government testing in preparation for a Low-Rate Initial Production decision.

The PIM vehicle's cannon rests on a chassis built with Bradley Fighting Vehicle common components including engine, transmission and tracks.

Like other 155mm artillery systems, the Paladin will be configured to fire precision munitions such as the Excalibur and the Precision Guidance Kit. The PIM is being designed to provide key fire support for a range of potential combat operations to include conventional, hybrid, irregular and counterinsurgency scenarios.

The Army plans to build 580 new Paladin PIM sets.

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