Actual view of the XM1299 self-propelled guns. Photo by Twitter.com/lfx160219
Currently, the United States is developing a project for a promising artillery system with increased firing range ERCA (Extended Range Cannon Artillery). One of the results of this project is an experimental self-propelled gun XM1299 with a new type of gun XM907. The Pentagon regularly publishes information about this project, but this time it is about a leak. Two new XM1299 self-propelled guns of interest have appeared in unofficial sources.
American SPG and Chinese blogger
Two photos of self-propelled guns were published on December 11 on Twitter by a blogger under the nickname 笑脸 男人 (Smiley). As his location, he indicated to Beijing that, however, it did not hinder to get and for the first time publish completely new photographs of a promising American combat vehicle.
Judging by the depicted "mise-en-scenes", photographs were taken during certain working events. Perhaps, soon after the armored car returned from test firing - this is evidenced by soot on the muzzle brake and near the exhaust pipe. However, the details are unknown.
Apparently, a certain participant in the ERCA project - military or civilian personnel - without appropriate permission, took a couple of photos “for themselves”. Then, in some ways, 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 - unless, of course, it was planned. Meanwhile, photographs of a promising object have already been distributed on the Internet, and it is not possible to remove 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 self-propelled guns independently and in comparison with an existing model of the same class; also known photos of the XM907 guns shot. A slide from the presentation, showing the architecture of self-propelled guns and its main components, has long been known.
Tower and gun mount close-up. Photo by Twitter.com/lfx160219
However, the new photos are of great interest. You may notice that over the past time the prototype received some new instruments and devices. In addition, fresh photos clarify the well-known appearance of XM1299.
The new photo shows an experimental self-propelled guns of a known configuration. It has an armored “six-rink” chassis of the existing type (the car is also tested on a platform with seven pairs of rollers), on which a completely new tower with a promising gun is installed. At the same time, some differences are noticeable, showing the continuation of work and the development of the project.
You may notice that in recent months, the XM1299 has received additional side screens on the hull and turret. Overhead armor plates on the frontal parts are also noticeable. Side screens are covered with identification marks in the form of several characters on board the hull. Screens of this kind are used on armored vehicles to enhance protection against bullets, shells and fragments. At the same time, it is unclear how exactly the level of protection of the new self-propelled guns is increased in comparison with its predecessors.
The turret and the gun mount did not seem to change, but a new unit appeared on the latter. On the casing of the recoil devices a certain rectangular block of small dimensions is noticeable. Judging by the shape, size and location, this is a radar antenna. The airborne radar system can be used both as an additional sight when shooting direct fire, and as a projectile speed meter. In light of the tactical role of XM1299, the second option is the most useful radar application.
US Army's recent official XM1299 photo
New photos clarify the configuration of the access means to the tower - to crew seats and to internal units. As already known, on the roof of the tower, on 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. Fresh photos do not have a turret, and machine gun mounts are located directly 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 folding hatch panels. The back panel in the photo is folded up and back. On the side of the superstructure is a block of blinds. Probably, the presence of a superstructure is associated with the dimensions of the gun mount and the XM907 gun itself. Hatches in her roof, respectively, the need for access to arms.
The XM1299 turret has a large-sized aft niche - presumably, it contains mechanized ammunition laying. In older photos of the experimental self-propelled guns, the sides of the niche have some protrusions or hatches. The “new” self-propelled gun does not have such devices. What it is connected with is unknown.
For obvious reasons, a couple of new photos do not allow us to evaluate the internal changes of the armored car. Also, the pictures do not touch on the topic of promising ammunition caliber 155 mm - a key element of the ERCA program.
It is worth recalling that photos of the armored object 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 closer the moment of achievement of all the required characteristics.
Fire tests of self-propelled guns. Photo US Army
It should be noted that both the former and the present form, the experienced XM1299 self-propelled guns are noticeably different from what was previously featured in Pentagon presentations. Moreover, in today's configuration, the technique is a kind of transitional link between the first prototypes and the expected equipment.
The similarity of the new prototypes and the three-dimensional image of the XM1299 is due to the presence of an overhead reservation, the new configuration of the commander (?) Hatch, as well as the installation of new devices from the fire control system. In the future, probably, 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, are related to increased survivability and operational characteristics. Only one visible refinement should affect the main combat performance of self-propelled guns.
The appearance of a radar to track the flight of the projectile on the initial part of the trajectory allows you to make corrections to the aiming and increase the accuracy of the fire. Such a system is an important and necessary addition to other fire control tools. As far as is known, the XM1299 self-propelled guns employ a modern digital SLA capable of providing effective shooting in all given range ranges. In particular, it includes a ballistic computer and a programmer for transmitting data to GOS projectiles.
The ultimate XM1299 look and self-propelled components. Figure US Army
For the XM907 gun, new guided active-rocket shells XM1113 and XM1155 are being created. To date, the experimental gun was able to send prototype shells 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 gun and shell are needed, but also appropriate fire control equipment.
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 range and accuracy. 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 self-propelled guns have solved part of the tasks. Moreover, the experimental products already set records for firing range - their characteristics are almost twice as high as the parameters of serial weapons. At the same time, the development of the project continues, and experienced equipment receives new devices and assemblies.
Since the ERCA program is a real cause for pride, the Pentagon regularly talks about 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 self-propelled guns and how its development has been carried out in recent months.