The 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT) was the first National Guard brigade to receive the newest iteration of the Paladin and trained for almost two weeks before the live-fire event.
During the training, 1-113th Soldiers had the opportunities to learn the differences between the old hydraulic system and the new electric system before heading to the range.
Staff Sgt. Cody Fields, a section chief with C Battery, 1-113th FA, was excited to learn the new system.
"The new weapons system allows us to do it a little bit faster," Fields said. "Everything went from hydraulic to electric. It allows us to mitigate some of the maintenance issues we had in the past."
Col. Wes Morrison, the 30th ABCT Commander, saw the opportunity to be the first Guard unit to receive the Paladins as an honor.
"The 1-113th, with their history and the leadership they show in the field artillery community, they're certainly deserving," said Morrison.
Soldiers with the 1-113th, who returned home from the Middle East less than a year ago, will have spent 23 days training on the new equipment, which falls in line with the Army's post-deployment training goals.
"To get such a brand new piece of equipment and be able to come out here post-deployment and modernize exactly like we talk about in the Army; post-deployment you modernize on equipment, and then you start a new training cycle, so it's perfect for them," Morrison said.
Soldiers firing the new artillery were excited to get the hands-on training and took pride in learning how the new equipment operates.
"We're really excited to be given that honor and get to shoot these first," Fields said. "To actually shoot artillery and send that 100 pounds downrange in support of our brothers downrange, it's a great feeling."
The 1-113th replaced their entire fleet of Paladins with the new A7 model.
Development of the M109A7 artillery system
The Paladin M109A7 next-generation artillery system being manufactured by BAE Systems is a significant upgrade to the combat-proven M109A6 Paladin cannon artillery system. The enhanced artillery system offers key fire-support for a variety of potential combat missions conducted by the US Army’s Armored Brigade Combat Teams (ABCTs) in conventional, hybrid, irregular and counterinsurgency combat environments.
The US Army and BAE Systems signed a memorandum of understanding for the Paladin integrated management (PIM) program to upgrade the M109A6 Paladin self-propelled howitzer and its associated M992A2 field artillery ammunition support vehicle. The authority intends to procure 580 sets of PIM vehicles, which are expected to sustain until 2050.
M109A7 artillery system design and features
The vehicle is controlled by a crew of four and has an overall length of 9.7m, width of 3.9m, height of 3.7m and maximum gross weight of 35,380kg. It features digital backbone architecture and incorporates an on-board digital fire control system to provide fire mission and compute firing data to the M109A7 cannon system. It also consists of a position navigation system and a computer with comprehensive diagnostics programs.
The new artillery system can select and take up firing positions, and automatically unlock and point its cannon while on the move. The modernization effort also represents upgrades to space, weight and power-cooling (SWaP-C).
Paladin PIM armament
The Paladin M109A7 artillery system is armed with a 155mm M284 cannon with an M182A1 gun mount and an automated loader. The 155mm artillery system can fire at a sustained rate of one round a minute whereas the maximum rate of fire is four rounds a minute. The system has a range of 22km with standard projectiles and 30km with rocket-assisted projectiles.
The Paladin self-propelled howitzer can also be equipped with fire precision munitions, including the Excalibur and the precision guidance kit.
Propulsion and performance
The Paladin PIM vehicle is powered by a 600hp engine. The propulsion system also consists of electric elevation and traverse drives, an electric rammer, L3 HMPT-500 automatic transmission, and an onboard power system with a generating capacity of 70kW at a rate of 600V DC / 28V DC.
The vehicle has a fuel storage capacity of 545l and ground clearance of 0.4m. It can ford at a maximum depth of 1.0m and cross trenches with depths of 1.8m. The gradient and side slopes of the vehicle are 60% and 40% respectively, while the on-road speed is 61km/h and cruising range is 322km.
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