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US Army preparing for 2024 ERCA operational assessment

Shown here is the XM1299 prototype zero during a demonstration at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, in March 2020. The US Army is producing 18 ERCA platform prototypes that build on this early version. (Janes/Ashley Roque)

The US Army will begin testing Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) prototypes at Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona over the coming weeks in anticipation of a year-long operational test set for fiscal year (FY) 2024.

Brigadier General John Rafferty, the head of the Long-Range Precision Fires Cross-Functional Team, provided Janes with an update of ERCA development and deliveries in an 18 January interview. He said that over the next four to six weeks four prototypes will be delivered to programme officials at Yuma where they will go into their “swim lane” for testing. An additional lot of four prototypes are scheduled to arrive at the site by the end of December.

In total, the army anticipates receiving 18 ERCA prototypes by the end of FY 2023 before the 4th Battalion of the 27th Field Artillery Regiment from Fort Bliss, Texas, begins operational assessment. The service is also crafting a “rough draft” of the ERCA concept-of-operations, and a training package, which will include the firing tables and crew drills, the one-star general said.

“The operational assessment is a team sport; we expect that the ERCA battalion will train like hell for a year and we've got to assess the adequacy of the material [and] have the platforms and the ammunition in a relevant environment,” he added. Throughout the FY 2024 period, the battalion will test the weapon system at Fort Bliss and White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

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