FORT STEWART, Ga. – Modernized M109A7 Paladin howitzers, assigned to the “BattleKings Battalion,” 1st Battalion, 9th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, conducted firing missions during artillery Table VI section level qualifications on Nov. 5 as part of the culminating exercise in operator new equipment training at Fort Stewart. Bravo Battery, 1-9 FAR, 2nd ABCT, was the first unit on Fort Stewart to go through OPNET for the recently received modernized artillery platform. The “Spartan Brigade,” 2nd ABCT, 3rd ID, is the tip of the spear in the Division’s glide path to become the most modernized division in the U.S. Army by summer 2023.
“From a fire support perspective, the new M109A7 Paladin provides the supported maneuver commander a self-propelled artillery platform that possesses greatly increased maneuverability, survivability and maintenance efficiency,” said Lt. Col. Joseph L. Handke, commander of the 1-9 FAR, 2nd ABCT, 3rd ID.
The modernized Paladin now possesses an electronic diagnostic system for improved maintenance troubleshooting.
“The value added from the new M109A7 is tremendous from a maintenance and logistics perspective,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Mark T. Mansbridge, the battalion maintenance technician for the 1-9 FAR, 2nd ABCT, 3rd ID. “The chassis similarities to the Bradley make parts more easily accessible through the Army supply channels, and the new high voltage turret system has replaced the legacy hydraulic turret which was prone to a lot of leaks and component failures.”
Many of the old hydraulic driven fire control elements have been replaced by a high voltage system that is both more reliable and responsive. The Bradley-common engine, wider chassis, increased ground clearance, digital driver display unit and new suspension system all contribute to a more maneuverable self-propelled howitzer that can rapidly shoot and displace in all conditions in direct support of maneuver forces.
“The M109A7 provides the armored brigade combat team a modernized self-propelled artillery platform that enhances the fires war fighting function’s ability to sustain and maintain the tempo of a combined arms fight,” said Capt. Mark Pangilinan, commander of Bravo Battery, 1-9 FAR, 2nd ABCT. “At the battery level, the M109A7’s focus on mechanical interoperability with like items from the Bradley Fighting Vehicle enables our organization to maintain combat power for the duration of an operation and execute the battalion’s field artillery support plan.”
Additionally, the modernized Paladin has the capability to configure armament based on the operational environment, allowing for additional armor upgrades to provide increased force protection to the howitzer and crew. The 1-9 FAR OPNET will conclude by spring 2022.