The US Army is preparing an artillery battalion that will receive the first ERCA long-range cannon. In tests carried out at a proving ground in Yuma, Arizona, the cannon made a direct hit on a target from a distance of 70km using an Excalibur long-range guided munition.
According to a report on the Defense News website, the US Army is striving to extend artillery ranges to deprive the Chinese and the Russians of the advantages they currently have in the field. The ERCA is intended to destroy targets while out of range of enemy fire.
The ERCA system is composed of the chassis of a M109A7 Paladin howitzer with a 58-caliber cannon instead of a 39-caliber one, combined with new Raytheon-made munitions and new XM-1113 propellant, enabling a greater range of fire than currently-deployed artillery systems.
Gen. John Rafferty, who is responsible for the development of long-range artillery for the Army, said at the same time as the development of the artillery, new propellant for munitions as well as advanced course-correcting fuses are being manufactured.
In the meantime, the ERCA system is undergoing a series of tests at the US Army's armament center where an automatic loading system is being developed. The first live-fire test of the new artillery is expected at the end of March.