The Extended Range Cannon Artillery System is part of an ongoing effort to advance the U.S. Army’s top priority of Long Range Precision Fires. The U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, known as DEVCOM, Armaments Center, has entered into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement program with German defense firm Rheinmetall Waffe Munition GMBH for armaments and munitions systems technology, including propellants developed by Rheinmetall.

PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. -- As part of the ongoing drive to increase the range of cannon artillery, the U.S. Army has signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement, or CRADA, with a German defense company that, along with several objectives, may inform the Army’s development path for the XM654 “supercharge” propellant.

The agreement is between Rheinmetall Waffe Munition GMBH, a subsidiary firm of the leading European defense company Rheinmetall, and the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, known as DEVCOM, Armaments Center, located at Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey.

The Armaments Center is the Army’s primary researcher, developer and sustainer of current and future armament and munitions systems. The center is part of the Army Futures Command and plays a role in several ongoing Army modernization initiatives.

A CRADA is a written agreement between parties to collaborate on research and/or development. Such agreements typically outline the personnel, facilities equipment or other resources to conduct specific efforts that are consistent with an agency’s mission. The agreements also protect each party’s intellectual property.

“With this agreement, we expect to leverage the knowledge and expertise of both parties to evaluate other technology options that may potentially aid in achieving our goals and lay the groundwork for other future collaboration,” said Anthony Sebasto, Executive Director, Enterprise and Systems Integration Center, which is part of the Armaments Center.

The objective of this CRADA is to evaluate the interior ballistics and resulting range performance of the Rheinmetall Nitrochemie 19L Extended Range Top Charge, or ERTC, and the 23L ERTC when fired from a U.S. weapon system with U.S. projectiles, with the goal to achieve or exceed existing range requirements. The 19L and 23L ERTCs are designed for 155mm artillery, 39 caliber and 52 caliber systems, respectively.

Rheinmetall and the Armaments Center will also explore development and performance of a 155 mm ERTC for 58 caliber Howitzers.

The Rheinmetall Nitrochemie ERTCs use technologies that alter the temperature behavior of their propulsion system, redefining the extreme service condition pressure, and the associated maximum operative pressure. The evaluation data will enable the Armaments Center to assess the Nitrochemie charge and propellant technology.

“We are excited to announce this CRADA with the DEVCOM Armaments Center because it allows us to showcase Rheinmetall’s unique propellant technology while shooting U.S. projectiles from U.S. howitzers. We are confident that our technology has multiple applications within the U.S. DOD, and the CRADA is a stepping-stone along the path to us becoming part of the fabric of the U.S. industrial base,” said Dr. Alexander Sagel, CEO of Rheinmetall’s Division Weapons and Ammunition.

A potential application would be the extended range requirements of the Armaments Center’s Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) System. The ERCA system is a true system of systems development and integration effort across the projectile, propellant, precision guidance, armament, and platform.

The first increment of ERCA, which addresses increasing range of existing cannon artillery systems, is on track to transition to Project Manager Self Propelled Howitzer Systems. The second increment, which addresses increased rate of fire, will be testing and demonstrating its integrated Ammunition Handling System throughout FY21.

The Cross Functional Team for Long Range Precision Fires has a Tactical Fires Line of Effort.

The primary initiative is to modernize cannon artillery systems through a 70 kilometer-capable 58 caliber XM1299A0 ERCA weapon, Supercharge propellant, and XM1113 High Explosive Rocket Assisted Projectile for fielding in 2023.

A secondary initiative is to increase the range of the 39 caliber fleet by leveraging the extended range technologies that were developed for ERCA, and can also be used in the M777 and M109 weapons systems

Through this CRADA, the Armaments Center continues to investigate and forecast technological advancements and impacts of emerging technologies. The goal is to provide future commanders with a wide range of long-range options, part of the Army’s goal to stay ahead of emerging challenges to national security

American Rheinmetall Munitions, a U.S. subsidiary of Rheinmetall, headquartered in Stafford, Virginia, will provide local expertise in support of this CRADA effort.