FORT SILL, Okla. (TNN) - It was a big day for Fort Sill’s Long Range Precision Fires Cross Functional Team. Years in the making, the first prototype of the team’s Extended Range Cannon Artillery System (ERCA) was test fired in Yuma, Arizona.
The first time the ERCA was fired with with an operational round and it was successful.
“The importance of this, is to demonstrate the first prototype that will lead us on our way towards delivering the capability of achieving a 70 kilometer range in over-match against our adversaries," said Colonel David Scott Lee, the Chief of Staff for the Long Range Precision Fires CFT.
The need for the ability to fire more than 40 miles was identified by Army senior leaders about three years ago. There were multiple teams across the country working to make the ERCA possible. But it was Fort Sill’s Long Range Precision Fires Team who directed the efforts.
“The CFT’s job is to pull it all together,” said Brigadier General John Rafferty, Director of the Long Range Precision Fires CFT. “These are all different organizations in different locations with different command and leadership structures. Our job is to pull it all together because it is a system.”
Brigadier General Rafferty was another key player in the weapon’s development. He was in Yuma as it was being test fired Friday, and says he’s pleased with the result, but there’s more work to do.
“There’s a sense of accomplishment across the team, but we realize this is just the beginning of the next phase," said Brig. Gen. Rafferty. "We don’t have time to pat ourselves on the back. There’s not a moment to lose.”
The next phase is integrating an auto-loader, giving the ERCA the capability to shoot six to 10 rounds per minute, expected to be complete in 2024.
“We’re getting this rapid experimentation and prototyping out so we can get to a rapid capability to deliver to our war fighters in the near future," said Col. Lee.
In 2023, 18 Extended Range Cannon Artillery Systems will be sent to a battalion where soldiers will be trained on proper use. The Army has yet to decide where that battalion will be.