The Army’s groundbreaking long-range cannon hit a target 43 miles away over the weekend, military officials said, marking another successful test of an artillery system that the Pentagon says will give the U.S. a major battlefield advantage over foes such as China and Russia.
The latest test of the Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) system took place at Arizona’s Yuma Proving Ground. The cannon launched an Excalibur extended-range artillery shell and scored a direct hit on its target.
“I don’t think our adversaries have the ability to hit a target on the nose at 43 miles,” Brig. Gen. John Rafferty, director of the Army’s Long-Range Precision Fires Cross Functional Team, told Defense News and several other media outlets after the successful test.
It took the ERCA three shots before it successfully hit the target, underscoring the work yet to be done on the system. The Pentagon hopes it will be operational by 2023.
Such systems — part of the Army’s broader long-range precision fires strategy — could be crucial in future conflicts. The goal, Pentagon officials have said, is to field multiple cannons and other ground-based systems that have much greater range than anything America’s foes can put on the battlefield.
Such an advantage would allow the U.S. to target enemy positions with relatively low risk to American personnel.
The system tested in Arizona over the weekend is just the beginning. The Army also has prioritized research into a “Strategic Long Range Cannon,” which could hit targets over 1,000 miles away.
“If you look at doctrinally how the U.S. military uses long-range fires to shoot and then maneuver … it’s one of the most important capabilities that we have as an entire Department of Defense,” Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told The Washington Times in an interview last year. “If you also look at long-range precision fire capability, it will create the reverse effect for anti-access area denial capabilities that near peer competitors have heavily invested against. It can reverse the paradigm.”