Artillerymen test of future on today's battlefield
May 2, 2013
FORWARD OPERATING BASE BORIS, Afghanistan -- The Precision Guided Kit is a newly fielded munition in Afghanistan. Artillerymen from Batteries A and B, 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment here became the first unit in Regional Command - East to fire the PGK.
The PGK is the way ahead for the field artillery, allowing ground commanders to have direct oversight and release authority of a precision guided munition.
The PGK fielding team, located at Fort Sill, Okla., arrived here 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," said Staff Sgt. Christian Stephenson, a section chief with 1st Section, 1st Platoon, B Battery. "I feel fortunate that my section gets to go through this training and experience this here."
The units fired 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.
"By using the PGK, fire supporters can support the maneuver commander with a more lethal and accurate form of fires," Sgt. 1st Class Cameron Neal, battalion fire support NCO for 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment said. "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 also will 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 use 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 defeat the enemy by all means available, while simultaneously protecting civilians and their infrastructure. PGK is one more weapon for the commander's arsenal, and one more way to protect 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 use 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" versus "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.
"Our rounds are always on target, that's something we pride ourselves on as a platoon," said Spc. Evan Clayton, an advanced field artillery tactical data system operator with 1st Platoon, B Battery. "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, that still provides the same effective results.
(Mayville serves with 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment.)