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AUSA 2021: Army pulled Strategic Long-Range Cannon funds, anticipates decision on path forward later this year

Senior US Army leaders are expected to review Strategic Long-Range Cannon (SLRC) feasibility study findings later this year and decide how they want to proceed with weapon development. However, they have already pulled development funding away from the initiative and it is no longer feasible for the service to conduct a full-range demonstration with such a weapon in 2023, according to Brigadier General John Rafferty, head of the army's Long-Range Precision Fires Cross-Functional Team.

The one-star general spoke with Janes on 5 October about his weapons development portfolio ahead of this year's annual Association of the United States Army (AUSA) conference in Washington, DC. He and other service officials have been interested in developing an SLRC capable of launching less expensive munitions out towards the 1,609 km (1,000 mile) range to hit anti-access/area denial targets such as fixed-infrastructure sites, long-range radars, command-and-control locations, hardened silos and bunkers, and communications nodes.

While the army has begun producing various SLRC parts such as the gun tube and the carriage, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine is conducting an SLRC feasibility study. This final report should be finished in the next couple months.

“We remain pretty confident that it was a fair and useful evaluation of the programme, and that it will provide the army with confirmation that we can do this and that it is technically feasible,” Brig Gen Rafferty said. Report findings are also expected to help the service better understand challenges associated with SLRC development and how soldiers could use it on the battlefield.

Once this report is finalised, officials working on the initiative will provide senior army leaders with the final report, cost estimates, and a variety of ways to proceed.

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