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7 octobre 2010 4 07 /10 /octobre /2010 22:49





M109A6 Paladin Self Propelled Howitzer

The M109A6 Paladin is the latest advancement in 155mm self-propelled artillery. The system enhances previous versions of the M109 by implementing onboard navigational and automatic fire control systems. Paladin has both a Kevlar-lined chassis and a pressurized crew compartment to guard against ballistic, nuclear, biological, and chemical threats.

The Paladin M109A6 howitzer is the fourth product improvement to the original M109 self-propelled (SP) howitzer. It features improvements in the areas of survivability; reliability, availability, and maintainability (RAM); responsiveness; and terminal effects.

The M109A6 is an armored, full tracked howitzer carrying 37 complete conventional rounds and two Copperhead projectiles. It is operated by a crew of four. It is designed with a new turret structure that facilitates integration of the various turret improvements and vulnerability reduction measures. It improves overall crew compartment layout and space. The howitzer can travel at a maximum speed of 38 miles per hour and has a maximum cruising range of 186 miles. 


The M109A6 is the most technologically advanced cannon in the Army inventory. This weapon has a 4 man crew, and weights approximately 62,000 lbs/32 tons, and has a cruising range of 186 miles, Max speed is 35 MPH, It has a fuel capacity of 133 gals.

The Paladin can operate independently, from on the move, it can receive a fire mission, compute firing data, select and take up its firing position, automatically unlock and point its cannon, fire and move out - all with no external technical assistance. Firing the first round from the move in under 60 seconds, a "shoot and scoot" capability protects the crew from counterbattery fire.

 The M109A6 Paladin is capable of firing up to four rounds per minute to ranges of 30 kilometers. The Paladin features increased survivability characteristics such as day/night operability, NBC protection with climate control and secure voice and digital communications. The crew remains in the vehicle throughout the mission.

The Paladin is designed to accept new technologies increasing firing range, rate of fire, and accuracy. TACOM-ARDEC, in order to maintain the state-of-the-art in artillery technologies, is continuing to develop enhancements adaptable to Paladin, such as a 52 caliber gun, Modular Artillery Charge System (MACS), and a laser ignition system. 


The Paladin is an example of equipment bridging the gap between current systems and those planned for the future. It dramatically increases the responsiveness, survivability and flexibility of self-propelled cannon artillery. Adding advanced technology to a 1950s chassis, the Paladin begins a revolution in the way the field artillery fights.

Using computers, the Paladin can determine its own position on the ground and compute its own firing data. Single-channel ground-air radios permit voice and digital communication with the platoon's operation center and with other howitzers in the platoon.

The most significant operational differences between the M109A6 howitzer and prior M109 series howitzers are the Paladin's ability to operate over a widely dispersed area and to move and emplace using the Paladin technology.

The Paladin can move and position within an assigned position area, process technical firing data, and fire a mission without relying on aiming circles and wire lines. Target acquisition and engagement parameters (tactical fire control) are provided by the Paladin platoon's battle command facility, the platoon operations center (POC).

 The automatic fire control system (AFCS) and single-channel ground and airborne radio system (SINCGARS) frequency modulation (FM) radios change the current requirements for surveyed firing points, aiming circles, and land lines.

In the past, communications wire had to be manually strung between the vehicles and the fire-control center. Without the need for wire communications, the Paladin can change position more frequently, an advantage against enemy fire. Such advancements give new meaning to the artillery's ability to move, shoot and communicate. The Paladin's technology reduces the time soldiers are vulnerable to enemy fire. Every time you fire a round, the enemy can zero in on your position and fire back. If you take too long to get out of there, you're probably going to get killed.


In the past, it would take about 20 minutes to prepare a firing position and another 15 to 20 to displace. It was very manpower-intensive to emplace the battery before. A five-man crew served each of the six howitzers in the battery. Surveyers calculated the battery's location, and crew members ran communicaitons wire by hand.

The gun sections each had a guy who would run the wire to the fire-direction center, and when it was time to displace, he would have to go down to the fire-direction center, unhook the wire and roll it up. It didn't take soldiers long to figure out that that's not a good way to do business if you want to stay alive.

New technology allows cutting that wire link from the fire direction center, which limited how far one could disperse the howitzers on the battlefield.

Technology also increases speed. The Paladin's top speed of 38 mph makes it slightly faster than the M-109A3. The Army beefed up the engine and transmission, and installed some new technologies -- an on-board fire control system, on-board position-navigation system, radios. There is also improved ballistic protection on the howitzer and on-board prognostics and diagnostics to help diagnose when there is a problem.

The Paladin/FAASV program entails a major product improvement and re-engineering effort - begun in 1979 - to upgrade the U.S. Army's primary self-propelled long-range howitzer, designated the M109 series. Range, lethality, reliability, speed and mobility were all limitations of this 1950's design, as was the lack of onboard navigation/location and nuclear, biological and chemical protection for the crew.

The new Paladin closes the technology gap in response to the requirements of the U.S. Army Soldier. These "shoot and scoot" requirements, were translated into engineering requirements and specifications that updated or replaced every subsystem of the vehicle.

The first 164 Army Paladin systems were manufactured under a September 1991 LRIP contract, resulting in FUE status in April 1993. The subsequent full-scale production (FSP), multiyear contract covered 630 howitzers.

Additional options for 83 systems and a follow-on order for 73 Paladins brought the total number of units produced under FSP to 786. Production of 950 Paladin vehicles and 927 FAASV vehicles has been completed.June 25th, 1999 marked the end of Paladin's Full Rate Production.

By the end of 2001, the Army provided 950 (164 LRIP + 786 FSP = 950 M109A6s) defect-free Paladins and 927 defect-free FAASVs. The Army received a FY 2000 congressional plus-up for an additional 7 Paladin vehicles for continued Army National Guard modernization, with deliveries scheduled for January 2002.

It is believed that Army National Guard planners may seek funding for additional M109A6 upgrades in the coming fiscal years.

The Paladin was delivered into the capable hands of US Army and National Guard Field Artillery units in accordance with a detailed schedule that included advance Materiel Fielding Team customer familiarization, new equipment training for both officers and enlisted personnel, and all of the associated logistics, spares, manuals, trainers and testing devices for the weapons system.

In the beginning, there was a typical weapon system procurement program for the development and low rate production of the M109A6 howitzer.

 It was known as the Howitzer Improvement Program (HIP). There were the usual schedule slips, cost overruns, and high levels of animosity and friction among stakeholders with litigation eminent as the ultimate Sword of Damocles. In the end, there was the Paladin Production Enterprise, an enterprise that delivered every howitzer ahead of schedule, under budgeted cost, and without any meaningful discrepancies for quality or material shortage. 


The Program's development phase endured downward budget adjustments and cost and schedule concerns that mandated a competitive strategy be implemented for subsequent production activity. A series of competition and acquisition strategy analyses were conducted to determine the best way to accomplish a competitive production program. Several factors caused Paladin production to be perceived as unattractive to potential competitive bidders.

The incumbent development contractor enjoyed an obvious, significant advantage in terms of program experience and technical understanding of the system.

 Additionally, evolutionary downsizing of the program from an initial production quantity of 1700 to 824 units decreased the potential return on investment.

The production strategy that emerged from these negotiations placed the low-rate initial production contract with the developer, while concurrently examining all viable competitive options for full-scale production (FSP).

Army leaders contributed to the development of a competition strategy to "level-the-field" among potential bidders. This strategy was dubbed "Producibility Evaluation Task" (PET). A market survey, in the form of an Industry Day, was held to familiarize industry with the Paladin program and provide information on the PET effort. It was explained that the PET acquisition was being issued to enhance competition for FSP.

 With PET, potential contractors could be paid to learn first-hand about the Paladin system, study the Technical Data Package (TDP), and prepare a manufacturing plan and proposal for the full scale protection (FSP) acquisition. The PEO Field Artillery Systems, procurement officials, and legal advisors supported the Product Manager's position to encourage potential competitors to consider an innovative, streamlined approach in their FSP proposals.

Letterkenny Army Depot (LEAD) officials further encouraged innovative approaches by describing how their organic production capability related to the self-propelled howitzers might be combined with industry's capability.

The PET effort resulted in competitive FSP proposals from three sources: the incumbent, BMY Combat Systems; FMC, Ground Systems Division; and General Dynamics, Land Systems Division. During PET, all sources discussed the use of Government facilities with LEAD.

These discussions, obviously competition sensitive, were carefully managed and scrupulously documented by LEAD officials. LEAD's intent was to be completely responsive and cooperative, while remaining passive to any suggestion of strategy or partnering concepts.

Similar protective measures were implemented at the Product Managers Office (PMO); the number of personnel involved was minimized and each was briefed on the sensitivity of discussions and documentation provided by the contractors. Some contractor requests to LEAD were declined due to the illegality of binding fixed price agreements and selling production services directly to the contractors. 


Best value selection procedures and criteria were implemented through the FSP solicitation's instructions and Source Selection Plan. The FMC Ground Systems Division proposal was judged best value, and FMC was awarded the $334 million, multi-year, FSP contract.

FMC's approach included creating the Paladin Production Division (PPD) as an independent business unit— a collocated production facility at LEAD. (Shortly afterward FMC and BMY formed a partnership to be known as United Defense).

 PPD proposed to use existing LEAD capability for chassis overhaul and conversion, armament testing, completed vehicle break-in, and performance testing. This strategy evolved from PPD's analysis of the business risks associated with the Paladin Production Program. They accurately perceived the value of a low cost business environment and the benefit of avoiding duplication of the existing production infrastructure at LEAD.

 PPD planned to procure the new turret and then perform all system integration activity at LEAD facilities on a "nominal fee" basis. Additionally, FMC planned to renovate and upgrade Building #56 (at their expense) and procure facilities' support services from LEAD (utilities, snow removal, rail service, etc.). In the end, $46 million in savings was attributable to the competitive multi-year acquisition strategy adopted by the PEO/PMO Officials.

The Letterkenny Army Depot is a key partner with the Defense Depot Letterkenny, PA (DDLP) in ensuring availability of the 1900 necessary parts to the production line. Letterkenny Army Depot's partnership role is to deprocess old howitzers, salvage reusable chassis and components and integrate all chassis/automotive upgrades into the refurbished Paladin chassis. United Defense Limited Partnership Paladin Production Division, also collocated at Letterkenny Army Depot forms part of the production line, applying its skills in systems and turret integration after receiving the Paladin chassis from Letterkenny.

The Defense Contract Management (DCM) partner is the designated Department of Defense in-plant organization to ensure both product quality and fiscal integrity of the defense contractor, United Defense Limited Partnership. Major suppliers include Honeywell (navigation/positioning systems), Detroit Diesel (new low heat rejection engines), United Defense - Ground Systems Division (turret manufacturer), Watervliet Arsenal (cannons and ballistic shielding) and Alliant Tech Systems (Automatic Fire Control System).




Prime Contractor United Defense, L.P. (York, PA)
TRW (Carson City, CA)
Crew 4 (accompanying M992 FAASV-5)
Weight empty (approx.) 56,400 lbs
Weight combat-loaded (approx.) 63,615 lbs
Propulsion 2 cycle diesel, 440 horsepower, Detroit Diesel Corp. DDEC 8V71T
Allison ATD-XTG-411-4 transmission
Cruise Range 186 miles
Fuel Capacity 133 gallons
Max speed (Highway) 38 mph
Max speed (Off-road) 19mph
Into action time 45 seconds from a complete stop
Armament (Main) 155 mm, 39 caliber,
Gun Mount M284 cannon assembly, fitted with the M182A1 mount
Armament (Secondary) 0.50 caliber M2 MG
Extended Range 30 km with HE RAP and M203 propellant.
Max unassisted Range 22,000 m
Max assisted Range 30,000 m
Minimum Range 4,000 m
Max Rate of Fire 4 rds/min for three minutes
Sustained Rate of Fire 1 rd/min (dependent on thermal warning device)


1st Armored Division
"Old Ironsides"


The 1st Armored Division's commitment to the civic and military values for which "Old Ironsides" has been renowned for half a century (patriotism, discipline, readiness, self-sacrifice, combined arms cooperation, shock action, decisiveness, and generosity in victory) remains relentlessly strong today.

The distinctive insignia of the 1st Armored Division is drawn in bold colors characteristic of the division. The insignia is designed from the triangular coat-of-arms of the American World War II Tank Corps. The yellow, blue, and red colors of the shoulder sleeve insignia represent the combined arms nature of the armored division (Armor, Infantry, and Artillery).

Superimposed on the triangle is the insignia of the former Seventh Cavalry Brigade (Mechanized), the predecessors of the Old Ironsides. The tank track represents mobility and armor protection, the gun denotes firepower, and the chain of lightening symbolizes speed and shock action. Mobility, firepower, and shock action are the basic attributes of Armor.

The Arabic numeral in the apex of the triangle indicates the First Armor Division. The nickname of the division, officially sanctioned by the Department of the Army is emblazoned under the triangle and is an integral part of the insignia.

Old Ironsides Designation

The 1st Armored Division was activated at Fort Knox on July 15, 1940. Its first commander was Major General Bruce R. Magruder from July 1940 to March 1942.

In 1941 General George S. Patton Jr. had just named his 2nd Armored Division "Hell on Wheels" and everyone thought that the 1st Armored Division needed a name too. Major General Bruce Magruder announced a contest to find a suitable name for his Division.

Approximately 200 names were submitted including "Fire and Brimstone" and "Kentucky Wonders." The General took them home to study over the weekend but failed to find any that appealed to him.

While mulling the matter over, he happened to glance at a painting of the U.S.S. Constitution that he had bought during a drive for funds for the preservation of that famous fighting ship. From the painting of the U.S.S. Constitution USS Constitution he noted its nickname, "Old Ironsides".

Impressed with the parallel between the early development of the tank and the Navy's "Old Ironsides" spirit of daring and durability he decided the 1st Armored Division should also be named "Old Ironsides." Thus a famous warship of the US Navy and the famous 1st Armored Division of the US Army are historically and appropriately welded by name "Old Ironsides."

That ended the search for a name. The 1st Armored Division became "Old Ironsides" that same day and forty months of fighting later testified that its name was well chosen. This was a fighting Division.


 In November 1990 it was alerted for deployment to the Middle East in response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. In less than two months the Division moved 17,400 soldiers and 7,050 pieces of equipment by rail, sea, and air to Saudi Arabia for Operation Desert Shield/Storm. The Division's own 1st Brigade stayed in Germany and was replaced by 3d Brigade, 3d Infantry Division. On February 24, 1991, the 1st Armored Division crossed into Iraq leading VII Corp's main flanking attack - its mission to destroy the elite, Iraqi Republican Guards Divisions. In its 89-hour blitz across the desert Old Ironsides traveled 250 kilometers; destroyed 768 tanks, APCs and artillery pieces; and captured 1,064 prisoners of war. Four 1st Armored Division soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice in this historic effort. Old Ironsides marked its successful return to Germany on May 8, 1991, when MG Griffith uncased the Division Colors in Ansbach. The 1st Armored Division celebrated its triumph with a visit from the Vice President of the United States and attendance at victory parades in Washington, D.C. and New York City.


The Division again answered the Nation’s call to duty March 4, 2003 when it received orders to deploy to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility in support of the global war on terrorism . “Old Ironsides” began moving out April 15 in Support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The division and task force marked some major “firsts” during the 15-month long mission. For Soldiers of the 1st Armored Division, this was longest deployment of any division in Iraq. Task Force 1st Armored Division was the largest division-based task force in U.S. Army history. Units serving with the Task Force included brigade-sized elements of the 82nd Airborne and 3rd Infantry and 1st Cavalry Divisions, the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, the 124th Infantry Battalion, the 18th and 89th Military Police Brigades and 168th MP Battalion.

Engineer units serving with the task force included the 153rd, 203rd, 389th, 439th, 535th, 842nd and 1457th Engineer Battalions, the 493rd Engineer Group, and the 249th and 671st Engineer Companies. Also serving the task force were the 55th Personnel Service Battalion, the 8th Finance Battalion, the 350th and 354th Civil Affairs Battalions, the 315th and 345th PSYOP Battalions and the 16th Corps Support Group.

At its height, more than 39,000 Soldiers were part of the task force.

The task force secured some of Baghdad’s roughest neighborhoods and brought stability to the city and its surrounding countryside.

The Task Force’s accomplishments included planning and executing Operations Iron Hammer, Iron Justice, Iron Grip, Longstreet, Iron Bullet, Iron Promise and Iron Sabre. During these task force operations, Soldiers captured more than 700 criminals and former regime insurgents. They also confiscated thousands of rockets, mortars, tank rounds, rocket-propelled grenades and small arms.

In addition to combat, task force Soldiers protected and improved the quality of life for over 5 million Iraqi residents in the city of Baghdad. The task force trained Iraqi police and national guardsmen, renovated schools, established neighborhood councils and spent over $60 million on these and other projects.

After turning the city over to the 1st Cavalry Division April 15, the task force headed south to pacify the cities of Najaf, Diwaniyah, Al Kut and Karbala.

Extended for 120 days to tackle the new mission, elements of the task force moved south and took over 17,000 square kilometers in southern Iraq to dismantle a radical militia that had taken control of a number of cities and was trying to discredit its nation’s new-found freedom. In 60 days of combat operations, Task Force 1st Armored Division defeated the militias and restored stability to the nation’s southern region.

Those mission successes and achievements did not come without cost.

During Operation Iraqi Freedom, 133 Iron Soldiers lost their lives while serving in Iraq and 1,111 were wounded in combat. 



Operation Desert Storm 1991

Operation Iraqi Freedom 2003



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