Paladin M109A6 Artillery System Overview
- The Paladin M109A6 is a self-propelled howitzer (SPH) cannon artillery system, produced by the ground system division of United Defense LP, now known as BAE Systems Land and Armaments. First fielded in 1994, the system is used by the US Army, Israeli Army, and has been acquired by Kuwait and Taiwan. By June 1999, the US Army had received 950 units, with additional units procured in the subsequent years. The first M109A7 upgraded from the M109A6 standard was delivered to the US Army in April 2015.
- Operational Features: A crew of four operates the Paladin, comprising a commander, driver, gunner, and loader. This team can autonomously receive mission details, compute firing data, set the cannon, fire, and relocate to a new position, demonstrating its ‘shoot and scoot’ capability. This ability allows them to fire the first round within 60 seconds, safeguarding the team from counterattacks. The Paladin played a crucial role in Operation Iraqi Freedom and other subsequent operations in Iraq.
- Armament Details: The Paladin is equipped with a 39-calibre 155mm M284 cannon, capable of reaching distances between 24km to 30km depending on the ammunition used. With an automatic fire control system and integrated inertial positioning and navigation, it can achieve a high firing rate, making it a formidable artillery system. Additionally, it’s being updated to fire the Excalibur projectile which boasts a range of 40km and exceptional accuracy.
- Protection Features: The Paladin’s design focuses on crew safety. The team stays inside the vehicle throughout missions, benefiting from nuclear, chemical, and biological protection systems. Additional enhancements include temperature-regulated air and Kevlar lining in the turret for added ballistic protection.
- Communication Suite: Paladin’s communications setup is top-notch, incorporating a secure voice and digital system, inclusive of the VIC-1 Intercom and the SINCGARS radio subsystem.
- Vehicle Propulsion and Power: Propelled by a 440hp diesel engine from Detroit Diesel Corporation, the Paladin can reach a top speed of 40mph and has a range of 214 miles. An electrical power supply rated at 650A, 24V DC supports the system’s operations.
- M109A7 Development and Delivery: The successor to the M109A6, the M109A7, was first introduced as a prototype in 2007. The US Army has plans to acquire a total of 580 sets of this artillery system. With several contracts awarded over the years for production sets, BAE Systems has been fulfilling the orders, transitioning from low-rate initial production to full-rate production.
- Upgrades and Improvements: BAE Systems and the US Army initiated the Paladin Integrated Management (PIM) program to enhance the Paladin system. The upgrade maintains key elements but introduces a Bradley-common chassis, a new 600hp engine, improved suspension, steering, survivability, and an automated loader. Enhanced digital capabilities and power-generation systems have been integrated, ensuring adaptability for future battlefield requirements. The firepower of the M109A7 is also doubled with a longer gun barrel and is fitted with the extended-range cannon artillery (ERCA) system.