The Army is conducting a major operational test on its Extended Range Cannon Artillery to better understand how the longer gun tube can handle a heavy amount of firing.
Observations from early testing showed that the gun tube exhibits excessive wear and tear after a relatively low number of rounds are fired. The service is looking at adjustments in materials used, the design of the gun tube, adjustments to propellants and the design of artillery rounds fired.
The service is currently building 20 prototypes for the ERCA system – two for destructive testing and the other 18 sent to a battalion by late 2023, originally reported by Army Times sister publication Defense News
The Army is set to make those deliveries, meaning it has made 20 prototypes within three years.
One possible solution would include use ramjet artillery currently in development, but the ramjet technology must meet certain cost requirements. Ramjet technology allows a missile to draw in air for combustion simply by its forward motion through the air, saving onboard air storage space.
The Army has been putting together the ERCA systems across different locations, including New York’s Watervliet Arsenal, which makes the gun tubes. Their final integration will occur at Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey. From there, they will head to Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona for characterization testing.
Zamone “Z” Perez is a rapid response reporter and podcast producer at Defense News and Military Times. He previously worked at Foreign Policy and Ufahamu Africa. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, where he researched international ethics and atrocity prevention in his thesis. He can be found on Twitter @zamoneperez.