US Army Cancels Extended Range Cannon Artillery Program

The US Army has canceled its Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) program following a failed prototyping effort last year.

Launched in 2018, the ERCA initiative involved mounting a 30-foot (9-meter), 58-caliber gun tube to the Paladin M109 self-propelled howitzer to launch 155-millimeter rounds.

It aimed to provide a long-range capability, with a projected operational range of 70 kilometers (43 miles).

The ERCA was among 24 new systems to be deployed to soldiers by the end of 2023. However, “technical challenges” prevented the weapon from achieving this goal.

“We concluded the prototyping activity last fall,” army acquisition head Doug Bush revealed. “Unfortunately, [it was] not successful enough to go straight into production.”

The US Army was building a total of 20 prototypes of the ERCA system before the effort was halted.

Troubled Program

As early as June 2023, the US Army had projected that the ERCA program would miss its deployment target due to engineering challenges.

The original completion date of the platform was December 2022.

Results of previous live-fire tests showed excessive wear and tear on the cannon after firing a relatively low number of rounds.

However, in terms of range, the first ERCA prototypes were able to hit targets positioned 70 kilometers (43 miles) away during a December 2020 test at Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona.

The service had launched an “exhaustive” tactical fires study to determine what to do with the problematic system, concluding that a longer-range artillery platform was needed.

Replacement Plan

Instead of developing a new system, the US Army said it will focus on existing systems to provide long-range artillery capabilities.

It plans to issue a request for information, then choose promising candidates.

“It’s a shift from developing something new to working with what is available both domestically and internationally to get the range,” Bush said. “The fires study validated the range and volume are still needed, so we want to find a different way to get there.”

The army is set to request $55 million in 2025 to find a suitable extended-range cannon solution.

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