Washington, D.C. - (Oct. 21, 2013) -- The Army's Paladin Integrated Management (PIM) program cleared a major hurdle this week when it received its Milestone C approval from the Defense Acquisition Executive. Milestone C is a key incremental step in the Department of Defense's acquisition process as it allows entry into the production and deployment phase.

"Our goal from the beginning has been to field a significant and capable upgrade to our Soldiers as soon as possible," said Lt. Col. Michael Zahuranic, the Army's product manager for Self-Propelled Howitzer Systems.

While the team has encountered a few hurdles along the way, it has been a true testament to this great Government and industry team that we have been able to make trades in order to ensure we never had to move our first unit equipped date, said Zahuranic.

"The most important target date in any acquisition program is the day you get new and needed capability into our Soldier's hands," said Col. Bill Sheehy, the project manager for the Armored Brigade Combat Team. "We have stayed focused on that target because of the tremendous teamwork between the Army and industry."

The PIM modernization effort represents a significant upgrade of the M109A6 Paladin Self-Propelled Howitzer which includes buying back space, weight and power-cooling (SWaP-C) to ensure the system remains relevant with room to add new capabilities in the future.

While the vehicle's cannon will remain unchanged the PIM will sport a brand new chassis, engine, transmission, suspension, steering system, and improved survivability to go along with an upgraded electric ramming system. The new 600-volt on-board power system is designed to accommodate emerging technologies and future requirements, as well as current requirements like the Battlefield Network. The on-board power system leverages technologies developed during the Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon (NLOS-C) program and ensures the PIM will have enough SWaP-C growth potential to last until 2050.

"The upgraded on-board power system is a key enabler for adding future capabilities to the PIM once it's fielded. Anything new the Army gives us, we now have the power to integrate," said Zahuranic.

These improvements will ensure the PIM can keep pace on the battlefield with other members of the Army's ABCT formation from both an automotive and technological standpoint. PIM is engineered to increase crew force protection, improve readiness and vehicle survivability, and avoid component obsolescence.

As a way of keeping life-cycle costs down, the PIM shares power train and suspension components and other systems with the Bradley Fighting Vehicle.

"Establishing a level of commonality between the vehicles means increased availability and lower costs for spare components over the years," said Sheehy.

The M109 Paladin has been a staple of the battlefield for the better part of the last five decades and the improvements made by the PIM will allow the M109 to stay relevant for the foreseeable future.

Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) will begin in 2014, with the plan to purchase a total of 66.5 vehicle sets (133 total vehicles). PIMs are purchased in two vehicle sets, the self-propelled howitzer and the tracked ammunition carrier. Full rate production is expected to begin in 2017.

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