Archive Logo.jpg

October 03, 2006

Artillery in the news.

FCS-NLOS-C... silly name. All part of the "breaking thought patterns" push in the Transfomation effort, where we call things by essentially made-up names so that we putatively think about them differently. The same operating paradigm that gave us "UEx" and "UEy" and "UA" so that we wouldn't slot things into Corps, Divsion, Brigade, but instead think of them as Units of Employment x and y and Unit of Action.

So, we couldn't call a cannon a cannon, either. Or artillery. No, it was Future Combat System Non-Line-Of-Sight-Cannon. This would distinguish it from... Line-of-Sight cannons, which were direct fire systems. Of course, then we were also talking about LOS's that would also have a NLOS mode...

Anyway, that's my world. In meatspace we know have this, from those people at BAE, British Aerospace and Electric, who appear to be the artillery supplier to the free world, no real players in the US anymore, the tube-makers at Watervliet notwithstanding.

Army takes delivery of Cannon firing platform for FCS Manned Ground Vehicles Printer-friendly version E-mail this article E-mail Alerts RSS Feed WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Sept. 29, 2006) – The Army today took delivery of the firing platform for a new cannon artillery system that will reduce battlefield risk to Soldiers, while meeting an essential Army modernization requirement.

The firing platform was unveiled at BAE Systems’ Land and Armaments division in Minneapolis and will be transferred this month to Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona for field testing. The firing platform is part of the Army’s new Future Combat Systems Non-Line-of-Sight-Cannon artillery system.

“The Army’s future force is fast becoming a reality today,” said Maj. Gen. Charles Cartwright, Future Combat Systems program manager. “This latest piece of hardware is tangible proof that FCS technologies are maturing on schedule, in accordance with Army plans and expectations. The true beneficiaries of these new capabilities will be our Soldiers.”

Future Combat Systems is the Army’s primary modernization program, and is the Army’s first major modernization in almost four decades. Future Combat Systems will provide Soldiers with near real-time situational awareness by using an advanced electronic network to integrate 18 new manned and unmanned air and ground systems. Future Combat Systems will increase the ability of Soldiers to handle the variety of missions they face every day, provide greater protection, and increase combat capabilities throughout the operational force.

Soldiers are already testing and fielding components of Future Combat Systems right now in Iraq and Afghanistan; and next year, Soldiers of the Evaluation Brigade Combat Team will begin testing FCS technologies and tactics at Fort Bliss, Texas. The plan calls for 15 Brigade Combat Teams with the full suite of Future Combat Systems; and all other Brigade Combat Teams having some Future Combat Systems capabilities.

The Non-Line-of-Sight-Cannon will give the Army a key capability that it currently lacks: a cannon artillery system that is fully automated, highly mobile, and capable of launching multiple rounds precisely on target simultaneously. Moreover, unlike the Army’s current artillery systems, the Non-Line-of-Sight-Cannon will be fully integrated into an advanced electronic network shared by Soldiers on the battlefield. This will make the Non-Line-of-Sight-Cannon much more responsive to Soldier mission requirements.

The Non-Line-of-Sight-Cannon also will help to minimize Soldier risk; because it will be much more mobile and deployable than the Army’s current-day artillery systems, which employ 1960s-era design technology. Reducing risk is a huge dividend of Future Combat Systems technology overall. Providing Soldiers with near real time situational awareness before they encounter potentially risky or deadly situations will save Soldiers lives. An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle will identify for Soldiers if there’s a sniper in the next alleyway or cavern. An Unmanned Ground Vehicle will help to dispose of an IED or roadside bomb.

The firing platform unveiled today will lead to delivery of early Non-Line-of-Sight-Cannon prototypes in 2008. The early prototype Non-Line-of-Sight-Cannon is the first of eight Future Combat Systems Manned Ground Vehicles.

The Future Combat Systems Manned Ground Vehicles will have 75-80 percent commonality stemming from a common chassis and other common components. These common components include a lightweight band track and a hybrid-electric propulsion system, which maximizes power and fuel efficiency. The Manned Ground Vehicles will be at least as survivable as current Army vehicles and, in most likely operational scenarios, considerably more survivable and capable than anything now in the Army’s inventory.

The Army already has fired more than 2,000 rounds from the Non-Line-of-Sight-Cannon System Demonstrator at Yuma. The firing platform unveiled today includes a cannon assembly that is 1,200 pounds lighter than the M777 cannon used on the Non-Line-of-Sight-Cannon Concept Technology Demonstrator.

“Technological advances are enabling our Army to achieve greater capabilities with less mass and weight,” Cartwright said. “Future Combat Systems is about making our Army more agile and more strategically deployable, while increasing lethality, survivability and tactical mobility. The Non-Line-of-Sight-Cannon is an integral part of our Army modernization efforts.”

There's a video that is essentially impossible to link to. Let's just say I predict a maintenance nightmare with all the autoloading systems.

But the "lightness" fetishists are getting their dream with this one.

Update (for JimB especially): Don't confuse the cancelled Crusader with NLOS-C:

Essentially, we've stuck the M777 ULFH (Ultra Light Field Howitzer, a brit-designed gun) on a light tracked chassis, and added robotics to reduce crew size.