Army’s Bright Acquisition Spot: Howitzer Upgrades

Army’s Bright Acquisition Spot: Howitzer Upgrades

The U.S. Army is moving forward with plans to develop upgraded versions of the M109 self-propelled howitzer in one of the service’s few bright acquisition spots.

The Army is “fully committed” to the M109 Paladin Integrated Management, or PIM, program, Army Secretary John McHugh said on Thursday during a hearing of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee.

“We need a new self-propelled artillery howitzer to keep up with our formations and so we’re going forward,” he said in response to a question from Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., whose district includes Fort Sill, which houses the Army and Marine Corps’ field artillery schools.


McHugh acknowledged the service’s troubled acquisition history, including many failed attempts to replace its Cold War-era fleets of vehicles and helicopters. Most recently, it scrapped the Ground Combat Vehicle, designed to replace the Bradley fighting vehicle, due in part to automatic budget cuts known as sequestration.

But the secretary said the M109 development program is moving forward, albeit slowly. BAE Systems Land & Armaments LP, part of the U.S. subsidiary of the London-based defense contractor, received a contract potentially worth almost $700 million for initial production of the vehicles.

“We really have no particular challenges at this point,” McHugh said of the acquisition effort.

The Army plans to spend almost $8 billion to buy 582 of the more advanced tracked vehicles, designed to support soldiers in heavy brigades with a cannon capable of firing 155mm precision-guided projectiles, according to Pentagon budget documents. The systems, which are being built in York, Pa., and Elgin, Okla., will include a new chassis, engine, transmission, suspension, steering system, and armor, according to the contractor.

The secretary said the service expects to receive its first delivery of about 66 vehicles under low-rate initial production in mid-2015 and get approval to begin full-rate production in 2017.

“These are long timelines,” McHugh said. “They’re frustrating. But when you’re developing something important as this — and it really is a generational change — time’s kind of an unavoidable factor.”

Associate Editor Brendan McGarry can be reached at brendan.mcgarry@monster.com.

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Question from the DAT (dumb ass tanker)…why don’t we take this type of generational improvement approach on all the legacy platforms instead of trying to jump the shark with flying tanks and 70-ton APC’s? Can we take the M1A2 and give it a modern engine? Can BAE (United Defense) take the same approach to the M2 and come up with an upgrade package that doesn’t rely on the yet-to-be invented flux capacitor? If I hear another pentagon ass-clown talk about mature technology risk in the same sentence as a ground combat vehicle I will fire for effect. Upgrade what we have with what’s available and proven to work because ground forces are about practicality.

They are already doing that DAT

The Army is incrementally upgrading both the Abrams and Bradley under two Engineering Change Proposal (ECP) programs. They’re primarily focused on integrating the Army’s new network technologies but include upgraded electronics for Abrams and an upgraded engine and powertrain for Bradley.

I am not sure this improvement plan can be called a bright spot until one is built and tested. DOD has not exactly been really good at getting a fully functioning platform after one is built.

It would be nice, unfortunately R&D budgets are the heroin of the military industrial complex. Why spend $500 mil on a proven but aging weapon system and have it fielded in months…when we can spend billions and billions (in the Carl Sagan voice) on “flying tanks and 70-ton APC’s” that take years to develop and “may” work?
We do need a new IFV, the M2 just is not cut out for prime time. We could build the CV9040 under license but that would make too much sense and save too much money.

Incorporating the Bradley’s engine and drive train and some gun upgrades from the FCS cannon program. Here’s some more background on the program.
http://​www​.defenseindustrydaily​.com/​h​a​v​e​-​g​u​n​s​-​wil

The CV9040 doesn’t offer much over the latest M2A3. In some regards it would be a step backwards as most haven’t been upgraded with improvements seen on the later CV9030 and CV9035. An advanced derivative of the CV90 is a certainly a contender for any replacement for the Bradley. Look at the BAE’s CV90 derived FRES-SV vehicle for example.

On the other hand there are a lot of Bradley hulls sitting around that shouldn’t go to waste. If we were to get a new IFV in the near future the logical thing to do would be to select the “Turretless Bradley” for the AMPV program which will replace remaining M113s in roles like mortar carriers, ambulances, command posts, etc. We should be able to reuse a lot of existing hulls in that scenario.

It makes sense as an upgrade but it’s a damn shame we can’t get something in the league of the German PzH 2000.

Crusader was on time and on budget when Rumsfeld killed it because “we don’t need it”. Fifteen years later seems that we do still need gun support. Odd how the world works.

It was also the same year that the Army officially said “we need to be lighter and more deployable” while Crusader was to be 16 tons heavier than the Paladin. We’ve cancelled two artillery systems during advanced testing stages in the last decade due to the Army deciding what we have is good enough and not worth the expense of a whole new vehicle. Crusader was to cost $25 million. I couldn’t find a price point for the NLOS-C, but the projected O&M savings wouldn’t have been realized without the entire FCS program in the game too. The Paladin PIM uses tech from NLOS-C (which was previously harvested from Crusader) and the hull of the Bradley for $10 million per vehicle.

Didn’t this system originate a decade or two ago? Doesn’t this mean more interlinked computer fire control? More software links and complexity?

I get it guy. The Paladin is getting upgraded. Still no evidence to not be skeptical until it is actually built and fielded. You can drink all the nice sugary stuff you want to. I will wait and see if it actually works as planned before calling it anything close to a bright spot. Unless of course someone on here has seen one built and tested it is a wait and see game. The articles done so far make it sound nice but DOD has a nice habit of making things sound nice but not actually working to well when finished.

Clearly you don’t realize what is important here. We spent, what, 10 years and countless billions on Crusader development, with General Dynamics making a profit on every single day they could drag that program out, and as a bonus GD didn’t ever have to build anything. They are laughing about all of the US taxpayer’s money they put in the bank on that scam every day. But that’s nothing compared to GCV. It dragged on for 25 years while 3 or 4 defense contractors leached off of that carcass. You seem to be under the delusion that these programs are supposed to produce weapons. All they are really supposed to do is transfer the maximum possible wealth to a handful of executives at a select number of defense corporations. It’s about welfare for the rich, not weapons.

Rumsfeld killed Crusader because GD had already sucked the easy money out of that program and they had no interest in running the risk associated with starting up an assembly line and building actual vehicles. When are you going to get that? How many times do they have to play the same scam on you before you understand the game?

Some years ago I had an associate from BAE who was involved in the M777 program.
We discussed at great length how its titanium alloy contruction could’ve been incorporated into a longer gun tube similar to the GC45 or 155/52 guns becoming the norm elsewhere,
allowing greater unassisted and assisted ranges than what is available from the 39-cal tubes that the US Army and USMC are so enamoured with.
Rheinmetall of Germany years ago offered a 155/52 upgrade for the M109 (prior to it being renamed Paladin in the A6 model), but with so much of the tech developed from Crusader and FCS/NLOS-Cannon, a 45-cal tube would easily be accomodated into the new M109A6 PIM system without the crazy gun tube overhang we saw in the 155/52 gun the Germans tried.
The extra ~10km range a 45-cal tube offers over the 39-cal types provides an edge, but there are the artillery naysayers who would argue that G-MLRS fills that gap nicely.

I had last seen Crusader back in Feb-April 2009 at Ft Sill.
To the best of my knowledge, they were using it as a test bed at least (the VERY last time I saw it, it was at a wash rack).
I do hope it was never scrapped since then; at least put on display in the museum grounds if it’s no longer being used as a tech test bed.
Very “attractive” vehicle in external appearance when compared to the variations of M109 we’ve seen over the decades.

The improvements the M109A6 PIM offers over even the “standard” M109A6, almost make it a completely new vehicle.
Odd they just didn’t name it M109A7.
With the Bradley’s “running gear” under the hull now, it’s only the turret that reminds you it’s still an M109 series.

GCV got worked on for 25yrs? That must have been double super top secret since the requirements and specs were new and written after the demise of prior programs. There had been other combat vehicle programs proposed but somehow, the Army can’t seem to be able to set out a requirement, take in proposals, choose a particular design, execute the development program and go on to actually procure it. Somehow, though, I think dfens is right, its those damn contractors.

Replacing a lot of M113’s with Bradleys would also be quite reasonable. And a remote-turret Bradley for mechanized infantry to carry the full squad at some tradeoff to vehicle fighting capability while keeping the CFV as-is may represent the optimization of the Bradley force: vehicles to keep dismounts operating at speed with the tanks and bring heavy weapons, along with an ersatz tank that can fight effectively alone.

Strange how the Navy is moving towards longer barrel lengths for its 127mm (with the latest mod at /62), whereas on land we are probably assuming we will never get into an artillery duel again, or that some other platform will take care of business.

Someone may expect that a GPS-guided (or perhaps, autonomously guided) smart artillery round with rocket boost will win a counter-battery duel without needing the longer gun.

It’s on display at the artillery museum at Fort Sill.

Makes me wonder if an artillery piece could be put on the back of a MTV (like the French CAESAR) or a M993 (like KMW DONAR, which is PzH 2000 on a ASCOD chassis; similar to how M993 is Bradley-based).

There has been a whole battery (six guns, six FAASVs) testing for at least the last two years. I don’t necessarily agree this is the best system we could get easily, it is a success story, meeting all the requirements set at the beginning. It is a big improvement over the M109A6. A7 designation to follow.

The first iteration of what you suggest was the German AGM
(Artillerie-Geschütz-Modul, artillery gun module), an automated 155/52 piece using bits from the PzH2000, in an unmanned turret mounted to an MLRS chassis, with all the crew/fire control taking place in the front cab.
http://​www​.army​-technology​.com/​p​r​o​j​e​c​t​s​/​a​r​t​i​l​l​ery

DONAR followed, utilizing a different chassis.

With the USN for so many years trying to finalize a working 127mm naval guided round, I am surprised they did not push a collaborative effort onto the USMC at any point for a naval-commonality system similar to this AGM, but with a 127mm gun as is used in Mk 45 ship turret systems.
A niche weapon perhaps, when so many nations are standardized on 155mm, but, at least in theory, it seems a good compromise to fill in between 105 and 155mm artillery.
Downrange (on target) effect would be equivalent to Russian/chinese 122mm systems and 120mm mortar ammunition, but with the longer ranges achieved by the 5inch gun tube.

Were money no object, minimally it would be interesting to see what today’s technology could do in such a package.

Oh good. :-)

I thought I read that here, but I couldn’t find the article. I’ll look again when I have a chance. It takes people on both sides to make this scam work, but it starts on the contractor side. They’re the one’s who lobbied for the profit on development procurement system. They’re the one’s who reap the financial rewards from that system, and use that wealth to make sure the status quo is maintained. Sadly the whole thing could be easily fixed if we’d ever elect a president that was worth a damn, but there are plenty of people who are going to do their best to ensure that doesn’t happen any time soon.

The program had its problems. The thing that infuriates me is that they can work on a program like that, spend billions on development, and then cancel it without any accountability at all. If a private company had spent billions on development only to have the program disappear without any results people would be fired all the way up to the CEO. When this happens in the military industrial complex, the defense contractors make hundreds of millions to billions of dollars and never suffer any consequences. In fact, they get paid termination fees, which are like adding insult to injury. And this just goes on, program after program.

AH-1Z, UH-1Y, Stryker, and the fact we’re up to –M model UH-60. The contractor development issue you obsess about seems to be true of new programs, but we have a pretty good track record of rebuilds and upgrades. Rumsfeld cancelled a whole mess of systems he didn’t like and if it wasn’t for 9/11 the Army would have ended up at least a division smaller than it was at the time. As I mentioned before, he cancelled Crusader while Shinseki was pushing for what would become the Stryker and eventually FCS. It was one of the issues that they first soured on.

Not much of a need to replace any current tracked vehicles. Upgrade yes. Compared to what Russian and Chinese vehicles are out there we are still a leap ahead of them.

As I said above, it isn’t the cancelled weapon that bothers me, it’s all that money being spent with zero accountability. All the risk is to the US taxpayer, and the defense contractor walks away rich. That is just plain wrong.

Small upgrade programs work because they don’t have the political clout to drag out development for long periods of time, nor do they have the clout to jack up prices to 3 or 4 times what was budgeted. Mostly these small programs are how I keep my sanity in today’s insane times. There’s a lot of crap work in the small programs too, but nothing like an ATF or JSF program level of stupidity.

It’s a nice thought, but in practice it highlights that the Army and MC seem to go everywhere together, thus the need for 155 and using the army supply chain instead of Navy 127mm.

It would hard to push for a change unless you switched the army to 155 as well, since Army and Marines must be able to cross-supply on the ground. At a big-picture level, getting all the NATO members to standardize on artillery rounds for ship and ground use might be interesting, but would require considerable up front costs.

Seems to me that the biggest problem is requirments overreach. Trying to build (economically) a ~20 ton vehicle that flies in a C-130 and is also a frontline protected vehicle seems a stretch in retrospec. Trying to build an RAH-66 that self deploys across an ocean … it goes on. I don’t blame the individual contractors so much because if you don’t try to build it you just miss out on the $-stream that your competition will get. Someone else is always ready to nod and get a design contract and then expertly guide it into the bitbucket. Everyone collectively gets blame, but it all starts with that requirements overreach. And I haven’t even mentioned the F-35. Oh wait, I have.

Crusader was a fantastic device– but subsystem decisions doomed the idea: 10diesel engine instead of Abrams turbine meant HUGE development costs, awful side effects, 2) Turret mounted howitzer instead of simpler and cheaper casemate– TOT and target shifting still easy to do. Also, one subcontractor was completely incompetent.

Corporate America doesn’t make just 1000 units of anything and doesn’t take 10 years to bring a product to market on someone else’s dime. The comparisons aren’t apples to apples, but I expect when a program fails it’d be difficult to split out between the contractor, the military, and Congress exactly who is to blame. Imagine writing those contract stipulations and taking that case to court.

Eggshen to answer your question it’s really simple.

The Military industrial complex may be a pipe dream but the Political/Industrial one isn’t.

A new fighter means a new Name and rank boost for a General/Admiral/etc and eventually a cushy “consulting” jobs on the same projects they create and managed while in the military.
The senators and congressmen compete for the industry for votes by getting jobs. Washington St. spends Billions on getting factories built there by bribing companies. Especially aerospace companies.

So if you can spend 50 billion and 20 yrs on R&D and spin off countless projects creating political capital Or spend 5 years and 10 billion evolving a current platform which are you going to pick?

A potential factor contributing to this is the emphasis on air and drone delivered munitions over the last decade. Even more so than armor artillery has seriously taken a backseat in the last decade.

We are very likely to relearn expensive age old lessons when faced with an enemy that has a minimal air defense capability and/or artillery.

Well the Army DOES use 155mm…as do a majority of ~NATO~ allies, using the tildes because that seems such a loose term anymore.
How many weapons systems were procured by NATO partners (even Pacific region equivalent partner nations) on the grounds of commonality in wartime they could share stocks, but has NEVER happened since WW2: not even Desert Storm or OIF and A-stan sees partner nations sharing each others’ ammunition and armaments from each others’ battle stocks.
It seems more smoke-and-mirrors cost savings covertly organized by Ike’s money-loving transglobal MICs more than anything. :-P

Rather than 155 in USMC service (only in towed M777-series form, not Paladins), it would seem logical to share ammo commonality with the Navy that, at least by doctrine, in theory is who ferries the USMC everywhere.
Again though, in theory.

With the investments by the US (Copperhead, then Excalibur and PGK, and at least half a dozen failed attempts by the Navy) and other nations in guided artillery ammunition, artillery has never really “taken a back seat”.
Many ground troops today (last decade esp.) would be more than willing to extol the merits of artillery support on call.
Artillery (the lowly archer) was just never as glamorous as the modern knights of the sky in their helicopters and jets, or the proud “heavy horse” in their battle tanks.
Artillery has always been contributing factor ever since powder met projectile, and will continue to be.
It just never has the glamour and glory of the other forces at work on the battlefield.
Air support cannot always be there when needed, or may have imposed limitations (weather, terrain, politics),
but artillery (rockets, howitzers, mortars) is always at an army’s disposal.

I’m a fan and believer in artillery which rightly deserves its moniker “King of Battle” but it has taken a back seat over the last decade.

The conflict has seen artillery batteries employed as Infantry and many cases where tube artillery was shortsightedly not available e.g. Anaconda, Wanat, Kamdesh etc.

That’s not arty’s fault. We’ve had a fight where we initially had troop limits followed by a period where larger footprints require more security. The environment has often been one where the skies were totally ours and we could wait for CAS to show up 30 min or more later. You can do this when the unit on your flank isn’t waiting for you or conducting synchronized ops at the BN level or above. We’ve also not had the widespread requirement for the unique things arty can do. CAS cannot suppress or maintain supression on an enemy like artillery. It cannot deliver smoke or WP to obscure our movement. Thankfully we haven’t had an enemy where these capabilities are typically required like we did in many previous conflicts.

The sad truth is some think this is evidence war has changed when all they are doing is preparing to fight the next war like the last one. We can only hope the enemy obliges.

If the system you are referring to is the M109 arty system as a whole, then its been around since the 1960’s.

Maybe I’m thinking of the Crusader design. Aren’t the individual M109 units now planned to be linked as a battery of great complexity? I wonder if this new system is going to have billions of lines of programming code in order to operate. We should keep artillery fairly dependable and simple to operate.

Not sure what you’re referring to. The software side of artillery has been almost entirely digital for well over a decade and isn’t looking at any significant changes.

I’m not too sure either. Before FCS there was a mobile artillery battery with mobile loaders and howitzers that were operated under a common C and C system, linked together like a missile battery would be. I’m sure it was Crusader, which I’m assured is a precursor to Paladin. What I’m wondering is the possible vulnerability that an overly complex battery might have if it relies too heavily on computerized integration. The vehicles should have autonomous firing capabilities if a C in C vehicle is taken out by (sophisticated) enemy fire. Like ASM counter or cyber attack.

The guys doing the firing solutions have been different from the guys doing the actual firing since the end of WWII. The linkage you described akin to a Patriot battery is nothing new. The risk of a digital artillery system is weighted against the reward of being able to fire faster and more accurately than if you had to do everything with a protractor and pencil. Being able to shoot and close up shop and move to a new position quickly is how artillery survives.

Thanks. My War Books are a couple of decades behind. I’ve started using wiki more but don’t know the reliability, though informative. Most my info comes through the military​.com sites.

I worked artillery acquisition through the late 90s and early 2000s. The “light” version of the Crusader was a real jump in capability. Even though it was initially delayed to 2006 fielding we now would have numerous battalions of this great gun system. The big leap over Paladin was the chassis, drive by wire, auto loader, a cooled cannon that would allowed sustain rates of fire 6 times that of the M109 and Multiple Round Simultaneous Impact (MRSI) missions… a fancy way of saying a single Crusader could generate a 4 to 6 round TOT over much of its range capability. It many engagement scenarios two Crusaders could generate the same steel on target as six gun M109 batteries.
That said I am glad the PIM looks like it is funded. It is well within capability to take this cost effective step to make a significant improvement to Paladin.

Got this from the wiki on ROK improvements to their 1,046 M-109 variants, all upgraded:

“augmented by Samsung Thales with modern digital ballistic computers, multifunctional data display and controllers, GPS navigation and target acquisition system, wireless datalink equipment, ”

What if satellites are knocked out by unfriendly nations in a major conflict? Is the Paladin PIM capable of independent action?

I suppose ultimately it doesn’t matter to you or I who is to blame as long as the problems with procurement get fixed.

There are businesses that make limited quantities of their product, such as business jet manufacturers, but it certainly doesn’t take them decades to do development, they don’t spend other people’s money doing it, and they certainly don’t make a profit off development. Seriously, how stupid do you have to be to pay a “for profit” company a profit to design a product?

I used the wrong acronym. It was the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program that dragged on for 25 years (http://​defensetech​.org/​2​0​0​9​/​0​6​/​2​4​/​r​e​p​o​r​t​e​r​s​-​n​o​t​e​b​o​o​k​-​m​u​r​t​h​a​-​s​p​e​a​ks/) not GCV which is a young program.

It was another General Dynamics fiasco and as near as I can tell they spent about $2.3 billion before that 25 year piece of crap program ended.

I don’t agree that it’s taken a back seat.
Sure, it isn’t “lime light” material that grabs big headlines in the media that makes an administration look good.
But let’s face it: this last decade has seen the fielding of the Excalibur GPS guided projectile, a very successful munition, which is being manufactured far more favorably than the Copperhead.
We have seen the development of numerour precision guided artillery projectiles and guidance enhancing systems like the PGK, which went as far as rapid fielding in the form of the APMI 120mm mortar variant.
We’ve seen the unguided MLRS rockets of the Desert Storm generation replaced with the precision G-MLRS variants.
And it isn’t just the US incorporating guidance into rockets and purpose-built artillery PGMs.
And with the USN’s AGS and LRLAPs, it looks like the Navy finally got serious about precision shipborne fire support that it’s bellowed since the retiring of the last Iowa.

The development sunk into artillery munitions in the last decade is by no means small.
As I said before: it’s just not as glorious to anyone “on the outside” (of the military), so artillery just doesn’t make the headlines.

Heh,
WRT the Stryker and the FCS,
I remember a day and age when the initial Stryker plan was called IBCT, INTERIM Brigade Combat Team, proof-of-concept for the future FCS brigades to follow, just in wheeled form as that got it fielded fastest, because a suitable/surrogate vehicle was available to mount the important stuff (battlefield network) and refine the concept.
Then it became Infantry Brigade Combat Team once it was becoming more apparent that the money was there for FCS, or for Stryker Brigades, but not both.
Now it’s just SBCT Stryker Brigade Combat Teams.

Now we see,
just as “sequestration” was a poor word the government choose for “across the board budget slashing” (because it’s not like the government ever sequestered itself away in a room until the budget was actually FIXED, rather than just temporarily patched),
apparently “interim” has a different meaning to the DoD than what it does to anybody who’s ever properly used an English dictionary.
Let’s face it: EVERY military system is an interim solution until its replacement comes along.

I thought the finalized plan was to co-develop a replacement gas turbine for the Abrams and to power Crusader, in the form of the LV-100…?

At one preliminary point, wasn’t there consideration of the SCORE rotary engine than initially, at least in theory, showed promise enough as potential powerplant for the coming USMC EFV, but then the rotary engine for military applications never achieved its suggested potential either.…?

Gee, any surprise there? Marketed product never achieves capabilities it was sold on…?

When SPz2000 was still in the requirements phase, we were arguing with the Bundeswehr on optimal 155mm barrel length. This was one of the reasons why the two nations took divergent paths on howitzer development, justifying both Crusader and the M109 Howitzer Improvement Program. As with the next generation of armored fighting vehicles, the Germans kept to their practical, “good enough” approach while our systems development languished. And the Germans did not use low production rates as an excuse for not fielding new systems.

But is is GD’s fault or is it the USMC? The requirements for an armored vehicle that could move fast on water like a speed boat, on land it was to be fast like a sports car while STILL providing armored protection to the occupants. The USMC specified the apped requirements for water, land and the level of armor protection. Then of course, it had to carry the right number of passengers (Marine infantry squad) and meet a book full of other requirements including over the horizon launch and run in at speed.

If you understand the importance to cost and program performance of the initial requirements stage then this should be one of the greatest examples ever. Making a large heavy LAND VEHICLE at over 25 MPH on the water is very expensive (and difficult).

Oh yes, I figured out why rotary engines don’t live up to their potential hp production capabilities. Too bad I was never able to follow up on what I discovered. One more bit of knowledge that will die with me, no doubt.

Sure, we are at least 20 years ahead of China. Too bad that happens to be about 2/3rds of the time it takes us to develop a new weapon. Or should I say, it is 2/3rds of the time it takes us to cancel the production of a weapon just as it leaves development.

Funny how those poor contractors all line up and say they can definitely do whatever the program office wants them to do when they bid on a program, but then when the fail miserably later they somehow never own up to the fact that they were lying their asses off when they said they could meet the requirements in their proposal. Plus, guess who actually writes the requirements that the contractors bid to? Did you guess the very contractors that later bid on the program? If you did, you’re just another big loser like the rest of us stupid US taxpayers, because that’s exactly who writes these requirements that they later can’t meet. Hold on, I have to wipe the tears from my eyes for these poor defense contractors who just can’t do what they say they can do. It’s, its so sad…

Wow, a rare but thoughtful insight into the process as it is.

Well, let’s see. Who wrote the requirements for that vehicle? If it is like most programs, General Dynamics wrote the requirements. They got paid to write them. Then they got paid to write a proposal to the requirements they wrote. Then they got paid a couple of hundred million when the program got cancelled because they couldn’t meet any of the requirements they wrote and said they could meet in their proposal. Plus GD made $230,000 free and clear over and above what they were reimbursed, for every day of the 25 years they were able to drag that program out. Sorry if I have a hard time bringing up a tear for GD.

No, GD did not define the top level requirements of over the horizon launch, fast (speedboat-like) transit for 25 miles or so and then high speed on land in an a heavily armored vehicle. That was absolutely from the USMC.

And your 25 years is some funky math. Contract award — 1996 and final cancellation was 2011. I certainly don;t know as much as dfens but that looks like 15 years to me.

Mortars belong to the Infantry. They have seen extensive use since the beginning of the current fight. They are not a replacement for artillery.

If you want to justify that artillery hasn’t taken a back seat because we finally fielded Excalibur a round in development since ’92 or the ongoing development of G-LMRS fine but by that standard everyone is cutting edge because we’ve had new munitions sprouting like grass. This is nothing new.

I’m not talking about the media (who cares). I’m talking about internal Army discussions and future employment. Since Afghanistan there has been concern at Sill and at Benning by the Infantry branch for the Artillery branch and its role in future conflict.

We recognize CAS can not replace what artillery provides the commander in firepower in the areas of responsiveness, flexibility, sustainability and cost. I have been privy to many conversations where fixed wing and drone CAS was considered a real replacement for artillery. That’s a mistake. It’s worked for the last decade because of unique conditions that won’t exists in the future.

Between the Corps and GD someone has engineers to tell them when they’re trying to break the laws of physics. That the Corps (and any branch) shovels money to a corporation to make pipe dreams come true is criminal, but can you blame GD for over-promising if there’s no incentive for them not to? COL John Boyd became a pariah in the Pentagon because he was smart enough to read those proposals and call BS, but still get overruled by his superiors. One aircraft manufacturer proposed an aircraft design with stacks of graphs and test data, but formatted to hide the fact that the graph showed lift even when the aircraft was parked. Boyd was brilliant and one of a kind, but forced to retire for doing the right thing.

If you’ll notice I was quoting the senator in that article I provided the link to. He said it was a 25 year program. Take it up with him.

Hold on, he wasn’t a senator. He was a representative.

And regardless of who wrote the requirement, clearly no one held a gun to GD’s head forcing them to propose. They did that on their own. The collected plenty of money for it over the decades too. I’m still not feeling the tears.

Hell, I’ve been on plenty of proposals where we lied. That’s what a proposal is, a pack of lies. If you win, you’re guaranteed at least a decade of free money. What could possibly be the down side to that? Do you think it was a surprise to Boeing when their JSF prototype wouldn’t take off vertically? How much money do you think they made off of the JSF program up to that point? I’ll bet they were real ashamed of themselves when they had to cash that check.

I suggest that we need a decreased capability howitzer to make the total force better. A 120mm howitzer may show decreased capability compared to a 155mm, but it can be lighter, faster, and have ammunition commonality with 120mm guns on tanks, mortars, antitank missiles, and even infantry rocket launchers. The big advantage of the 155 is its ability to kill with fragments when the location of the enemy is unknown. Our intelligence should make the likelihood of that advantage being useful –small.

It isn’t a choice. We have to do both. F-16s get updated from A/B to C/D and with various blocks and software mods. The missiles they shoot and the weapons they drop also get updated.

Most new generals and admirals are not from the procurement system.

The fact is, the customer shouldn’t be expected to know what they want. If they did, the movie you would see would be Smurfs IV with Leonardo Di Caprio on a cruise ship. (Boats like Titanic, blue people like Avatar, and Leo diC! what could go wrong?)

What is needed is a fire team vehicle (smaller than a squad vehicle), with a 120 chassis mounted gun (for antitank capability and mortar support) .50cal coax and .50 cal HMG at the vehicle commander’s station, and 6 men (2 crew and a 4 man fire team) with 6 to each infantry platoon. Each squad would have 2, so they patrol mounted with overwatch, or set up a scissors fire trap while mounted. A fire team could dismount and the vehicle with its cannon and HMGs could overwatch. It would be like a Stu-III or Hetzer in size

A120mm howitzer would not have ammunition commonality with a tank cannon and mortar, let alone missiles and rocket launchers. In fact being 1/2 way between the 105 and 155 artillery would not offer much of an advantage over either and would add another logistics headache

well now you have to remember all this stuff you talk about DOES make PERFECT sense. therefore YOU will NEVER be heard. now we can’t have ANY of that COMMON SENCE stuff running around in the Govt.
THAT is just TOO unaccepted. however for you Mr. guest. as an over 40 year vet of 4 wars and a Sr. Enlisted Guy. Thanks for bringing this to some Dumb F—Ks attention. and I Thank YOU for Caring.

We fired at least missions a day from our three guns at fob paliwoda in 2004 for 12 straight months.

If we wanted to go smaller there’s always 105. However it will exacerbate the range disadvantage already suffered by 155mm/39’s against ROW artillery systems.

In the old days the Army had M108+M109+M110 artillery. M108 was a lightweight 105, M109 was 155mm, M110 was the 203mm. One was too light, one was too heavy, one was just right.

Digging through old threads, realized I meant to say “force the army to use 127mm”. Mea culpa.

I’m missing some zero’s. I meant $230,000,000, but have since found out it is more like $300,000,000.

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