Artillery, the King of Battle, has long produced more casualties on the battlefield than any other weapon system. Since World War I, the massive barrages of artillery have been used to suppress, disrupt, delay and destroy enemy formations. Areas from an acre to several square miles have been pounded into submission.
But until very recently, artillery has been an area weapon. Only last year we wrote with wonder at the revolution made possible by precision guided artillery shells such as the XM892 Excalibur. In effect, gunners now have a “sniper rifle” with a 20 mile range.
Here’s the Excalibur Wiki.
But the Excalibur ain’t cheap. It is in effect, a gun launched guided missile. And while fewer Excaliburs are needed to prosecute a target than traditional 155mm shells, there are only so many that can be carried in a basic load. Guns still need to carry conventional rounds in their caissons for missions that don’t require precision.
What the Army really wanted was a “bolt on” kit that could be added to a conventional 155mm HE round, much as laser guided bombs and JDAMS are simply guidance kits strapped onto conventional dumb bombs.
ATK Systems has finally fielded such a system. The Precision Guidance Kit is a self contained fuze kit that simply screws into the fuze well of a conventional High Explosive 155mm round. This keeps production costs, shipping costs and training costs down. No special handling for the round is required, and there’s no need to carry additional types of ammunition, just additional fuzes.
Recently, active Army fielding of PGK has begun. April 16 saw the arrival in Afghanistan of the fielding teams, and deployment with direct support artillery.
Fewer rounds to destroy a target, less collateral damage, better first round accuracy, and a relatively low cost. This is one quiet little program that has delivered.