It’s the latest weapon; a giant cannon that can fire shells about three times farther than a standard howitzer. In the tests, conducted at Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona, the 58-caliber XM1299 cannon used a “supercharged” propellant to fire two types of munitions about 65 kilometers – much farther than a traditional howitzer’s 18-kilometer range. The Excalibur precision-guided munition hit a “precise” target, officials said. The other, the rocket-assisted XM1113, was tested for range, not precision, the officials said. It was the longest test yet for the cannon, which is essentially a modernized howitzer being developed under the Extended Range Cannon Artillery program.
The cannon promises a new way to attack targets that lie some 20 to 60 kilometers away. It provides commanders a weapon system other than helicopters and armed drones to go after targets that are deeper on the battlefield.
The big challenge now is finishing an autoloader that will allow the cannon to fire six to eight rounds per minute to devastate an enemy position the way an enormous bomb would.