Thursday, May 31, 2007

Army contracts for GPS-guided artillery shell for combat service in 2010

Above: Marines from Lima Battery, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment load an artillery round into a M-198 during a fire mission at Camp Hit in January. The Army plans to spend billions of dollars over the next several years to provide a precision-guided munitions capability to its 120 mm mortars, 105 mm and 155 mm artillery and its rocket artillery. Guided artillery projectiles were initially conceived in the 1970s to defeat tanks and other armoured fighting vehicles. However, 'asymmetric operations' have shifted the emphasis to attacking a broader ranger of targets in urban and other complex terrain. ATK, maker of the Precision Guidance Kit, has wide experience in launch vehicles for space. The new artillery will feature gun-hardened electronics, self-generated power, and a GPS guidance system.

The Army recently awarded ATK a $20 million development deal for its Precision Guidance Kit, an artillery shell outfitted with GPS-guided targeting capability.

The award follows weeks of extensive U.S. Army testing at Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz., involving a shoot-off between precision rounds offered by BAE Systems and ATK.

“ATK’s 18-projectile technology development demonstration test performance exceeded the Army’s objective requirement of less than or equal to 30 meters circular error probability,” said Peter Rowland, a spokesman for the Army’s Picatinny Arsenal, N.J.

ATK’s deal with the Army will lead toward a production phase for the $3,000-apiece rounds in 2009, and fielding with soldiers in combat by 2010, said Army officials.

Read the rest at Army Times