AUSA NEWS: New Artillery Round Promises Higher Speed, Extended Range (Updated)
A Boeing-led industry team next summer is aiming to demonstrate for the Army a new air-breathing munition that developers say will greatly improve speed and range compared to conventional artillery rounds.
The Ramjet 155 achieves longer distances and greater speed because it doesn’t have an oxidizer onboard, explained Dan Palmeter, capture team lead for Boeing Phantom Works’ Ramjet 155. Boeing is part of an industry team that includes BAE Systems and Norway-based Nammo.
“It's definitely something the Army has not seen before. We think we have something that can really help them in their long-range precision fires No. 1 modernization priority,” Palmeter said in an Oct. 13 interview from the Association of the United States Army's annual conference in Washington, D.C.
A conventional artillery round, once fired, actually goes slower after it reaches its ballistic arc, he said. Once it reaches the arc it begins to coast, and then loses speed as it descends toward a target.
An air-breathing motor scoops up oxygen as it flies and picks up speed because the space normally reserved for an oxidizer is replaced with more fuel.
A conventional munition fired from the cannons have a range of about 25 miles. The Ramjet 155 has a range of about 44 miles. Further, it can lock-on to moving targets using BAE Systems’ precision guidance and innovative seeker technology, he said.
Nammo’s contribution is the air-breathing and propulsion technology. Boeing and Nammo in 2019 signed a 25-year partnership to develop propulsion technologies. The company is world-renown as a leader in the field, Palmeter noted.
“We had gotten a very clear message from not just the Army, but the Department of Defense … that. they're very frustrated with U.S. industry's efforts to improve propulsion — to make things go farther. We got that message loud and clear,” which led to the Nammo partnership, Palmeter said.
The Ramjet 155 will have a small logistical footprint as it uses the common round design for L39 and L58 cannons, he said.
In July 2019, the Boeing industry team was awarded a contract under the Army’s Extended-Range Artillery Munition Suite Advanced Technology project to develop and mature the projectile. In May 2020, the team was awarded a Phase II contract, according on a Boeing factsheet.
The industry team will demonstrate the Ramjet 155 in the summer of 2022. Until then, researchers will continue to test and improve the system's performance, Palmeter said.
Correction: A previous version of this story had incorrect figures for the projectile's range.
Topics: Army News