The commander of Army Futures Command told Congress on Thursday the command wants to field a long-range cannon that can shoot out to 1,000 miles.
Gen. John "Mike" Murray testified at a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee's Subcommittee on Readiness to explain to lawmakers how the newly established Futured Command will change the Army's acquisition and modernization process.
Rep. Trent Kelly, R-Mississippi, asked how the service is going to get ahead of near-peer threats such as Russia and China in long-range fires.
Development of long-range precision fires technology is the Army's number one modernization priority. In October, the service unveiled LRPF, along with its five other modernization priorities -- the next-generation combat vehicle, future vertical lift, a mobile network, air and missile defense, and soldier lethality -- as part of a plan to overhaul modernization and build a future force.
"From a tactical fires perspective, we are going through basically a two-step upgrade to our current Paladin, going to the M109A7, which is a new chassis," Murray said. "The next step is coming very quickly. We call it the extended-range cannon artillery. ... We have already shot a ... round out of that tube and more than doubled the range of our current artillery. And the goal is to get that out even further."
For operational fires, the Army is working on a Precision Strike Missile "that will have a range of approximately 499 kilometers," he said, adding, "Our current missile has a range of 350 kilometers."
Murray said the Army wants to get out much farther with strategic fires.
"We are looking very hard and starting down the path of hypersonics and also looking at what we call the Strategic Long Range Cannon, which conceivably could have a range of up to 1,000 nautical miles," he said.
That’s the equivalent of 1,150 land miles.
Murray didn't provide any further details but said in the short term, the Army is adding back "both cannon and rocket artillery into our formations."
In air and missile defense, the Army plans to field mobile short-range air defense, or MSHORAD, "to keep up with our maneuver brigades," he said.
Under a new streamlined acquisition approach, the service was able to shave five years off the development process, Murray said. "The initial estimate was we could field one in 2025. We are now down to [fielding] four battalions in fiscal year 2020. The requirements process was done in 90 days, as opposed to the three to five years."
-- Matthew Cox can be reached at email@example.com.