Munitions of the future on today's battlefield
May 1, 2013
By U.S. Army 1st Lt. Andrew Mayville
2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment
FORWARD OPERATING BASE BORIS, Afghanistan (April 22, 2013) -- The Precision Guided Kit, is a newly-fielded munition in Afghanistan. Recently, artillerymen from Battery's A and B, 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment at Forward Operating Base Boris, became the first unit in Regional Command East to fire the PGK, April 21.
The PGK is the way ahead for the field artillery and will allow ground commanders to have direct oversight and release authority of a precision guided munition.
The PGK fielding team, located at Fort Sill, Okla., arrived at FOB Boris, April 16. The team facilitated blocks of instruction for the gun line, fire direction center, and fire supporters. Through classroom lessons and practical exercises, the fires teams trained for four days on the PGK.
"It was great having our battle buddies from our sister units come to join us with this training. I feel fortunate that my section gets to go through this training and experience this here," explained Staff Sgt. Christian Stephenson, Section Chief for 1st Section, 1st Platoon Battery B.
The units fired a total of five rounds, all landing within five meters of each other and within 25 meters of the target. The effects on target were achieved, and the training proved very successful.
Sgt. First Class Cameron Neal, the Battalion Fire Support NCO for 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment said, "by using the PGK, fire supporters can support the maneuver commander with a more lethal and accurate form of fires. By being more accurate, we can reinforce the maneuver commander's confidence in his fires, allowing us to be relevant in the current fight."
The fielding will also help prevent civilian casualties. The U.S. Army takes civilian casualties into consideration when deciding which asset to assign to a specific problem.
The PGK allows the field artillery to get back into the fight and continue to support and protect our ground forces. As more units receive the PGK training and start to utilize the munition, collateral damage concerns will decrease as the efficiency of effects on targets increase. The end state and goal is for the U.S. Army to continue to destroy the enemy by all means available, while simultaneously protecting civilians and their infrastructure. PGK is one more weapon for the commander's arsenal, one more means to kill the enemy and one more way to protect our Soldiers and allies.
The PGK is a fuze set on conventional artillery ammunition that allows for more accurate fires. Compatible with two standard artillery rounds, the M795 High Explosive and M549/A1 Rocket Assisted Projectile, it is designed to utilize the basic characteristics of more advanced "smart" munitions and put them to use with conventional rounds.
The PGK fuze has built-in software allowing it to acquire a global positioning signal. As the round follows its ballistic trajectory, the GPS signal processes the round's current location and flight pattern and compares that data to the target's coordinates. With this "should hit" vs "will hit" data, small "canards," or aerodynamic fins designed to increase performance on the fuze begin to rotate and make small corrections to the ballistic trajectory that guide the projectile along its predetermined flight path. The difference in accuracy between conventional fuzes and PGK were noticed immediately.
Spc. Evan Clayton, an advanced field artillery tactical data system operator with 1st Platoon Battery B explained, "Our rounds are always on target, that's something we pride ourselves on as a platoon. But watching the PGK's impact on top of each other, round after round, was definitely impressive. The accuracy was definitely noticeable."
The accuracy of area fire weapons is based on circular error probability. This means for any given target a circle can be drawn around it. Based on the characteristics and nature of the weapon system, the round may impact anywhere inside of that circle. The CEP for conventional rounds increases with the range to the target, while the PGK's CEP remains constant at any range.
PGK allows for more precise artillery and for fewer civilian casualties on the battlefield. The field artillery has already proven the effectiveness of expensive "smart" munitions. Now they have a cheaper alternative, which still provides the same effective results.