With the arrival of precision artillery and GPS-guided rockets in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2007 and 2008, the United States saw a leap forward for weapons historically considered “area” systems designed to cover an area with suppressive fire to allow forces to maneuver. The advent of weapons such as the Excalibur shell, a GPG-guided 155mm artillery shell capable of accurately hitting targets thirty kilometers away, introduced game-changing capabilities for commanders seeking to identify enemy targets. without destroying civilians or infrastructure.
This breakthrough, which began fifteen years ago, continues to evolve. Leading Army weapons developers say another generation of sniper capabilities is beginning to emerge with the advent of new sensors, navigation systems and targeting technologies.
“Before, the idea of precision was that…GPS was considered precision. Now we can be extremely precise with targeting with sensors, both onboard and offboard. So you can imagine the level of accuracy we can achieve now with precision ammunition. [W]We completely changed the whole definition of precision,” said Lt. Gen. Thomas Todd, chief innovation officer with Army Futures Command. national interest in an interview.
One such example is the Shaped Trajectory 155m artillery shell, which can successfully change course in flight to hit previously inaccessible targets, such as enemy vehicles under a bridge or across a mountain. Although most of the technical specifics allowing this are not available due to safety concerns, the development of this new cycle is progressing rapidly as it approaches operational readiness.
Additionally, the Army has also more than doubled the range of its 155mm artillery through the Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) program, which has already demonstrated its ability to destroy targets at ranges of seventy kilometers or more. . In addition to increasing the range of artillery strikes, the ERCA massively increases accuracy.
“We’re going to be able to do things with our tubular artillery that we’ve never been able to do, and our adversaries have never been able to do before in terms of range, accuracy and lethality,” Todd said.
The advent of such new technologies means that army war planners will have to adapt to more modern applications of combined arms maneuvers to conduct attacks from greater ranges.
Kris Osborn is the defense editor for the national interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a highly trained expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army – Acquisition, Logistics and Technology. Osborn also worked as an on-air military anchor and specialist on national television networks. He has appeared as a guest military pundit on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also holds an MA in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.