Home' Defence Technology Review : DTR MAY 2016 Contents 45
DEFENCE TECHNOLOGY REVIEW | ISSUE 20 | MAY 2016
BAE SYSTEMS AUSTRALIA has complet-
ed the upgrade of the sixth ANZAC-class
frigate with the undocking of HMAS
Parramatta on 19 April at the company’s
Henderson facility in Western Australia.
Following 600,000 hours of complex
systems integration and engineering work
on the hard stand at Henderson for the
Anti-Ship Missile Defence (ASMD) up-
grade under Phase 2 of Project Sea 1448,
HMAS Parramatta will now begin the
three-month test and trials phase of the
The ASMD program, which involves
some 30 local and national sub-con-
tractors and more than 100 Australian
suppliers, sees the integration into each
ship of the CEA Technologies CEAFAR/
CEAMOUNT active phased array radar,
Sagem Vampir NG infrared search and
track system, Kelvin Hughes SharpEye
ENGINEERS AT THE US Army’s Pica-
tinny Arsenal have developed a test bed
version of the M777A2 155mm 39-calibre
towed howitzer that has the potential to
more than double the system’s current
Under the M777 Extended Range (ER)
initiative, the principle modification
to the M777A2 is an extension of the
barrel length by 1.83m, which adds ap-
proximately 450kg to the overall system
weight. A mobility demonstration is
planned to determine if the modifica-
tions to the howitzer are feasible or if a
new system is required.
Under the Extended Range Cannon
Artillery (ERCA) project, the Armament
Research, Development and Engineering
Center (ARDEC) is developing technol-
ogy that seeks to extend the range of all
US Army and US Marine Corps 155mm
artillery systems. The ERCA program
develops not only the XM907 cannon but
also innovative technologies such as the
XM1113 rocket-assisted projectile, the
XM654 supercharge, an autoloader and
new fire control system.
Program Manager Towed Artillery
Systems, which leads the M777ER pro-
gram, is taking the ERCA cannon design
and adapting it to the M777 to determine
if it can be a cross-platform solution.
“Their [user] concern is that when the
self-propelled program is done they will
be left with a towed cannon variant that
Sixth ANZAC frigate through
ABOVE: The newly modified M777A2 howitzer fitted with the 52-calibre tube for
mobility trials and demonstrations. Image: US Army
ABOVE AND INSET: The sixth upgraded
ANZAC-class frigate, HMAS Parramatta,
at her undocking at the BAE Systems
Australia Henderson yard.
Images: BAE Systems Australia
M777 howitzer range to double
they can’t tow around, which is its num-
ber one mode of transportation,” said
David Bound, M777ER Lead, Artillery
Concepts and Design Branch of ARDEC.
“The visual prejudice we are up against
is that it looks like it may tip over with
all that extra cannon. We are trying to
increase confidence that the M777 is an
acceptable candidate for an extended
range upgrade,” Bound added.
For trials purposes a ‘mobility tube’
was fashioned out of an old 52-calibre
tube and modified to fit into the M777A2
at the weight of the XM907 cannon.
Additionally, grooves were added to the
exterior of the tube to allow Picatinny
engineers to attach weights at different
positions, enabling them to adjust the
centre-of-gravity and weight distribu-
tion of the weapon forward or rear.
“We are able to replicate how that tube
reacts in the system using the different
weight configurations. Then, we can
hook this up to a truck so we can see what
the users can expect from a human-fac-
tors point of view of how much harder it
is to elevate, traverse back and forth, and
what the trucks are going to see as they
tow the system around,” said Bound.
The current M777A2 has an assisted
maximum range of just over 30km. AR-
DEC expects that once upgrades to the
weapon system are complete that range
will more than double to around 70km.
It is unclear how the extra length of the
M777ER will affect its transportability
in platforms such as the C-130 Hercules
medium transport and load-outs in the
C-17A Globemaster III heav y airlifter.
The impact of the additional weight
and altered weight distribution of the
M777ER would also need to be assessed
when being carried as an underslung
load from battlefield helicopters such as
the CH-47 Chinook.
– Ian Bostock
navigation radar system and an upgrade
to the Saab 9LV 453 combat management
system to the Mk 3E standard.
At the same time as each ship is receiv-
ing its ASMD upgrade, a number of other
significant engineering and structural
changes that are unique to each vessel are
also being made. These include enclosing
the quarter deck, galley refurbishment
and modifications to accommodate the
Royal Australian Navy’s new MH-60R
naval combat helicopters.
Ship seven, HMAS Toowoomba, is
mid-way through her upgrade and the
eighth and final ship, HMAS Stuart, will
be docked next month to enable work to
commence on her. HMAS Toowoomba is
scheduled for undocking later this year,
whilst HMAS Stuart will complete her
upgrade in mid-2017.
– Staff Reporters
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