U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground’s (YPG) position at the forefront of Army transformation efforts is well-known and extends far beyond the developmental testing of things like Extended Range Canon Artillery.
One recent example of YPG testing shaping the future force is the XM204 interim top attack munition, part of a new generation of terrain-shaping obstacles able to target and deter tracked vehicles operated by a near-peer adversary in open terrain, eliminating the old method of emplacing land mines.
The XM204 is part of a new generation of terrain-shaping obstacles able to target and deter tracked vehicles operated by a near-peer adversary in open terrain, eliminating the old method of emplacing land mines. In the case of a small element of Soldiers facing the threat of being outnumbered and outmaneuvered by a mounted adversary with tracked vehicles, the portable and easily emplaced XM204 can help them hold their own until reinforcements arrive.
The launcher module bears four top attack munitions that, when triggered, fire an armor-piercing munition, aiming for the top of a tracked vehicle rather than the more-heavily armored lower sections. The ruggedized launcher module has an easy-to-see bubble level and a safety switch that is both color-coded and bearing abbreviations that leave no doubt whether the system is armed. It also has a self-destruct switch with different timed settings to prevent the possibility of the system lying dormant and dangerous years or decades after the end of a conflict, as happened with land mines.
The Army ultimately intends to use legacy systems such as the ‘bottom attack’ Volcano mine dispensed from a XM343 Stand-off Activated Volcano Obstacle (SAVO) base plate dispenser to both complement the XM204 and be used in a networked munition system that will allow Soldiers to arm and disarm the obstacle fields remotely to allow friendly forces to pass. The first test of both systems working together recently took place at YPG.
“This test integrates the top attack munition with the bottom attack munition, which uses existing Volcano M87A1 cannisters,” said Steve Patane, YPG test officer.
“The purpose of the test is to verify the XM204 capability to initiating the full complement of XM343 base plates to deploy the Volcano canisters to ensure that the self-destruct is happening in 48 hours,” added Jonny Clark, test officer.
Once the arming sequence was initiated, testers monitored both items for 48 hours continuously to verify that the self-destruct mechanism worked as it was supposed to. Concurrently, other items within Project Manager Close Combat Systems’ portfolio, such as the M58 Mine Clearing Line Charge and the Selectable Lightweight Attack Munition, were also under test at the proving ground.
YPG is the ideal place to conduct rapid testing of this vitally important munition. In addition to having wide open spaces far from any populated areas, decades of institutional knowledge, and a full complement of realistic threat target vehicles at hand. One of the test sites was recently re-instrumented with digital equipment, a significant enhancement that complements the decades of institutional knowledge YPG testers have.
“We have a lot of infrastructure specifically for these types of tests that has been here for decades,” said Clark. “We have been the place people go to test these types of munitions.”