Currently, the United States is developing a project for a promising extended-range artillery system ERCA (Extended Range Cannon Artillery). One of the results of this project is an experienced XM1299 self-propelled gun with a new type of XM907 gun. The Pentagon regularly publishes information about this project, but this time it is a leak. Two new photos of the XM1299 self-propelled guns of some interest appeared in unofficial sources.
American SPG and Chinese blogger
Two photos of the self-propelled gun were published on December 11 on Twitter by a blogger under the nickname 笑脸 男人 (Smiley). He indicated Beijing as his location, which, however, did not prevent him from obtaining and publishing for the first time completely new photographs of a promising American combat vehicle.
Judging by the depicted "mise-en-scenes", the photographs were taken during some work activities. Perhaps soon after the armored vehicle returned from test firing - this is evidenced by the soot on the muzzle brake and near the exhaust pipe. However, the details are unknown.
Apparently, a member of the ERCA project - military or civilian personnel - took a couple of photos "for himself" without permission. Then, by some means, these files fell into the hands of a Chinese (?) Blogger. It is possible that the Pentagon is already investigating and trying to establish the source of the leak - if, of course, it was not planned. In the meantime, photographs of the promising object have already been circulated on the Internet, and it is not possible to delete copies of them.
It should be noted that the US Department of Defense in recent months has repeatedly officially published photos of the XM1299 self-propelled guns at the training ground in different circumstances. The public showed the self-propelled gun independently and in comparison with the existing model of the same class; Also known are photographs of the shot of the XM907 gun. A slide from the presentation showing the architecture of the ACS and its main components has been known for a long time.
Nevertheless, new photographs are of great interest. You can see that over the past time, the prototype has received some new devices and devices. In addition, recent photos clarify the well-known appearance of the XM1299 a little.
The new photos show an experienced self-propelled gun of an already known configuration. It has an armored "six-roller" chassis of the existing type (the vehicle is also being tested on a platform with seven pairs of rollers), on which a completely new turret with a promising weapon is installed. At the same time, some differences are noticeable, showing the continuation of the work and the development of the project.
You can see that in recent months, the XM1299 has received additional side skirts on the hull and turret. Also noticeable are overhead armor plates on the frontal parts. The side screens cover the identification marks in the form of several letters on board the hull. Screens of this kind are used on armored vehicles to enhance protection against bullets, shells and shrapnel. At the same time, it is unclear exactly how the level of protection of the new ACS increases in comparison with its predecessors.
The turret and gun mount have not changed externally, but the latter has a new unit. On the casing of the recoil devices, a certain rectangular block of small dimensions is noticeable. Judging by its shape, size and location, this is a radar antenna. The on-board radar system can be used both as an additional sight when firing direct fire, and as a projectile velocity meter. In light of the tactical role of the XM1299, the second radar application is the most useful.
New photos clarify the configuration of the means of access to the tower - to the crew seats and to the internal assemblies. As it was already known, on the roof of the tower, at the starboard side, there is a round hatch with a machine gun mount. Previously, it was made in the form of a low turret with a rotating installation. In recent photos, the turret is missing, and the mounts for the machine gun are located right on the roof of the tower.
In the center of the roof there is a low superstructure, the roof of which is made in the form of hinged hatch panels. The back panel in the photo is folded up and back. On the side of the superstructure there is a blind unit. Probably, the presence of the superstructure is associated with the dimensions of the gun mount and the XM907 cannon itself. The hatches in its roof, respectively, are needed for access to weapons.
The XM1299 turret has a large aft niche - presumably, it houses a mechanized stowage of ammunition. In older photos of experienced self-propelled guns, the sides of the niche have some protrusions or hatches. The "new" self-propelled gun does not have such devices. What this is connected with is unknown.
For obvious reasons, a couple of new photos do not allow us to assess the internal changes of the armored vehicle. Also, the pictures do not in any way affect the topic of promising 155 mm ammunition - a key element of the ERCA program.
It is worth recalling that photographs of an armored vehicle in a similar configuration, but without some details, appeared in the middle of this year. Over the past time, the experimental equipment has been supplemented and improved, which brings the moment of achieving all the required characteristics closer.
It should be noted that both in its former and in its current form, the experienced XM1299 self-propelled guns differ markedly from what previously appeared in the Pentagon's presentations. At the same time, in today's configuration, the technique is a kind of transitional link between the first prototypes and the expected configuration.
The similarity of the new prototypes and the three-dimensional image of the XM1299 is due to the presence of an invoice reservation, a new configuration of the commander (?) Hatch, as well as the installation of new devices from the fire control system. In the future, it is likely that the installation of a combat module with a machine gun for self-defense, antenna devices and some other devices is required.
Most of the innovations of recent months, reflected in the new photos, concern increased survivability and performance. Only one visible improvement should have an impact on the main combat performance of self-propelled guns.
The emergence of a radar tool for tracking the flight of a projectile at the initial part of the trajectory makes it possible to make corrections to the aiming and increase the accuracy of fire. Such a system turns out to be an important and necessary addition to other fire control means. As far as we know, the XM1299 ACS uses a modern digital control system, capable of providing effective firing in all specified ranges. In particular, it includes a ballistic computer and a programmer for transmitting data to the GOS shells.
For the XM907 gun, new guided active rockets XM1113 and XM1155 are being created. To date, the prototype cannon has been able to send prototype projectiles to a range of 70 km. In the near future, it is planned to bring this parameter to 100 km. To solve such problems, not only a new cannon and a projectile are needed, but also appropriate fire control means.
It can be assumed that the installation of new devices is directly related to the conduct of further tests, the purpose of which will be a new increase in the range and accuracy of fire. However, the presence of a radar will be useful when working at any range, up to the minimum.
To date, the ERCA program and the XM1299 ACS have solved some of the tasks. Moreover, experimental products are already setting firing range records - their characteristics are almost twice as high as those of serial weapons. At the same time, the development of the project continues, and the experienced equipment receives new devices and units.
Since the ERCA program is a real source of pride, the Pentagon regularly reports on its successes and publishes various materials. However, this time new information on the project appeared in unofficial sources. And thanks to the anonymous "Smiley" we know what is happening with the XM1299 ACS and how its development has been carried out in recent months.