In August of last year, the Yuma Proving Ground (YPG) in Arizona added another achievement to its credit, firing an Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) projectile at the highest velocity ever recorded, said the US military in a press release this month.
Even as we talk about ballistic missiles and rocket systems, artillery systems are cost-effective options available to the military. Missions can be completed at a fraction of the cost when artillery is used, the press release says. However, with the advancement of technology, targets also move faster and this requires projectiles fired from artillery guns to be sent through the air faster. To do this, the propellant charge that must be modified and Paul Henderson, A propulsion engineer from the Command and Armaments Center for Combat Capability Development (DEVCOM-AC) was tasked to achieve this for the project.
The charge, however, is inside the gun chamber when fired and invisible from the outside when fired. The team therefore built a transparent structure ballistic simulator (BSIM) to allow visual observation of the firing. The BSIM bursts at low pressure, according to the press release, but videos of the shot captured before the BSIM burst provided key clues to understanding what was happening between the short interval the gun was fired and the projectile fired. left the barrel.
By examining data relating to temperatures, turbulence, and firing rate inside the gun, the engineering team attempted to minimize pressure waves and provide more controlled combustion of the charge. The team ran computer simulations with a variety of configurations to arrive at those that could provide even combustion, then tested them with the BSIM. Following this, the configuration was tested in the artillery gun.
The YPG team also recorded data on gun pressures and muzzle velocity as well as high velocity video which was then used to design the projectiles that could be compatible with these higher velocities. Their collaborative effort ended in success as the ERCA projectiles reached record speeds during testing, the press release said.