US defense giant Northrop Grumman and German firm Rheinmetall have formalized a deal under which they would design, develop, and produce a long-range 155mm precision-guided artillery ammunition, according to a company statement.
The new ammunition will be fitted with the M1156 precision guiding kit (PGK), which is a U.S. Army-designed precision guidance system to turn existing 155 mm artillery shells into smart weapons. This kit will enhance the precision of artillery shells being fired, resulting in lesser collateral damage generally done by artillery barrages, also leading to less ammunition being used.
This new 10-year strategic partnership between Rheinmetall’s South African subsidiary Rheinmetall Denel Munition and Northrop Grumman has come into effect since February 2021, the company informed via a press release on Monday.
“In combination with Rheinmetall’s V-LAP [Velocity Enhanced Long-Range Artillery Projectile], which currently achieves the longest maximum range of any conventional artillery projectile, the M1156 PGK results in a swiftly available solution, proven in numerous combat operations, for long-range precision-guided munitions,” the company said.
Yesterday, the @USArmy successfully conducted 2 test fires of the M982 Excalibur precision guided munition, and the XM1113 rocket-assisted high explosive projectile from a Prototype XM 1299 self-propelled howitzer. Both Excalibur projectiles achieved a 65 km precision hit. #LRPF pic.twitter.com/Evd8tFHw6b
— Air Power (@MIL_STD) March 7, 2020
The longest range ever attained by a conventional artillery projectile currently stands at 76 kilometers, achieved in 2019 at the Alkantpan test range with a non-NATO Joint Ballistics Memorandum of Understanding (JBMOU)-conforming 52-caliber gun and RDM 155mm projectile.
The V-LAP projectile is a benchmark 155mm shell made by Denel Munitions and is being used by armed forces of more than 12 nations globally, and the M1156 PGK is also a combat-tested and proven equipment that has seen service in Afghanistan.
“The integration of tried-and-tested technologies results in a quick increase in capabilities and combat power. Furthermore, other NATO nations and non-JBMOU users can adopt this solution based on Rheinmetall’s existing artillery portfolio,” the press release mentioned.
The company also revealed that the projectile would be offered to the US Army in demonstrations at US Army Proving Ground in Yuma, Arizona. Rheinmetall and Northrop Grumman have started conducting testing of the V-LAP projectile variants and PGK in South Africa early in 2021.