July 15 (UPI) -- BAE Systems received a $45 million contract to improve the firing capabilities of the howitzers of the U.S. Army, the company announced Monday.
The company will work to increase the range and rate of fire of current and future M109A7 self-propelled howitzers in the Extended Range Cannon Artillery Increment 1 prototype series. ERCA will be integrated onto the M109A7, replacing its current 39-caliber turret with a 58-caliber, 30-foot long gun barrel. The modifications would double the current range of the vehicle's firepower.
ERCA is a collaboration of BAE Systems and the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Armaments Center at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Md.
The M109 series, a tank-like vehicle with a crew of four, first saw use in 1963, and its variants are included in over 60 armies around the world.
"ERCA is a significant technological step forward for the Army's artillery portfolio," Scott Davis of BAE Systems' Combat Vehicles division said in a statement "We were selected based on our years of experience in the development of self-propelled howitzer systems. Long-range precision fire is a top priority for the Army, and we are pleased to be a partner in efforts to equip soldiers with the latest technology."
BAE Systems received a $215.8 million contract with the U.S. Army in October 2018 for production of the M109A7 howitzer.