Advanced Technology to Help Artillery Troops 

Operation gunsmoke is the 65th Field Artillery Brigade live-fire exercise consisting of 1300 Soldiers from six states conducting operations in Camp Guernsey, Wyo., for annual training 2016 (US Army photo by Spc. Nathaniel Free, 128th MPAD)

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The US Army is looking to automate the work of its gunners, which involves a lot of physical work lifting projectiles. Its gunners will get some high-tech help, designed to augment or replace human muscle at every stage of the loading process, part of the Field Artillery Autonomous Resupply (FAAR) initiative run by Army Futures Command.

The concept envisions convoys of robotic vehicles snaking their way across roads, trails, and rough terrain, shuttling loads of 155-millimeter artillery shells to frontline forces. These convoys would run from battalion supply areas—where food, ammunition, and medical supplies are stockpiled—out into the field to artillery units conducting fire missions.

Representatives from six small and mid-size tech companies recently trudged through the mud with soldiers at Fort Bliss, Tex., so they could watch close-up as troops moved 155 mm shells from pallets to their M109 Paladins. The six firms are under 12-week, $150,000 contracts to refine their ideas 

According to breakingdefense.com, the service’s No. 1 modernization priority is what it calls Long-Range Precision Fires, including conventional howitzers. The Army had already begun upgrading the hull and automotive systems of its venerable M109 armored howitzer vehicle under its Paladin Integrated Management (PIM) program. Now it’s looking to upgrade the gun and turret under what’s called Extended Range Cannon Artillery.