New, Improved Howitzer Prototype Readied for Production
Low rate initial production of the cannon will begin next summer or fall, said Roy Perkins, director of Army market creation for BAE Systems.
The PIM has fired about 2,800 rounds and driven some 4,000 miles in tests at Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz. The program has melded the Howitzer turret that was upgraded in the 1990s to a new chassis that is based on the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, Perkins said.
The program was what the Army had left in terms of modernizing its mobile Howitzer after the cancellation of the Future Combat Systems, and its non-line-of-sight cannon.
The Army decided to proceed with upgrades to the Paladin instead, and awarded BAE Systems a contract to build five prototypes along with an equal number of ammo carriers.
The new chassis will do away with much of the hydraulic system and convert it to an all electric system. The new power system allows the vehicle to move the cannon turret with electric power. Soldiers have complained for decades about the hydraulic system that leaked oil. The chassis produces 675 horsepower over the old chassis' 440 horsepower, Perkins said. There will still be exportable power that can be used for jammers and communications gear, he added.
"For those who have been around hydraulic systems, they leak. It doesn't matter what you do, they leak," he said. The only remaining hydraulics left on the system is the recoil on the gun, he said.
Overall, the Army is downsizing. There are currently 973 Paladins in the inventory, but the upgrades will only be done on 580, he said.
"This will allow the Howitzer to maintain its viability for the next 30 to 40 years," Perkins said.
Photo Credit: Army