Defense Media Network

U.S. Land Forces Developments and Programs

Although the late February EDM deliveries were made to the FCS program at the time, the EDM units will certainly contribute to mobile networking capabilities during continuing capabilities development and testing.

Just over three months later, on June 9, 2009, the Joint Program Executive Office (JPEO) JTRS announced that the Wideband Networking Waveform (WNW) had “successfully demonstrated its validated design and tactical utility June 3 and 4 during a multi-node demonstration with senior service and Department of Defense officials at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center, Charleston, S.C. Thirty ground mobile radios [GMR] were used in the largest demonstration of the capability to date.”

“The Wideband Networking Waveform overcomes many mobile networking challenges,” said Navy Capt. Jeffrey Hoyle, program manager, JTRS Network Enterprise Domain. “We’ve now demonstrated this capability successfully scales to tactically useful numbers of nodes in an operationally relevant environment and is on track to meet joint warfighter requirements to provide a flexible and pervasive networking capability to address the challenges of modern battlefields.”


The continuing emphasis on networking and situational awareness has also been accompanied by a plethora of developments designed to enhance the lethality of land forces. While many of these lethality developments have focused on enhancements within the small arms arena [See “Military Small Arms” story], other activities are being directed toward critical fire support systems.

The XM982 “Excalibur” 155 mm Precision Guided Extended Range Artillery Projectile program provides an excellent example. Carrying a unitary high-explosive warhead and multifunctioning fuze, Excalibur provides all-weather, day and night precision-fire capabilities in complex and urban terrain. The 1-meter-long round weighs just over 100 pounds and delivers its lethal effects to a maximum (objective) range of 40 kilometers with less than 10 meters’ circular error probably (CEP).

Prime contractor Raytheon has delivered approximately 800 Excalibur 1a projectiles to date, with their demonstrated accuracy quickly making them a key weapon of choice for land forces operating in urban environments.

In late October 2008, Raytheon and ATK received design manufacturing and maturation demonstration awards for Excalibur 1b. Goals of the program include enhanced reliability and lower cost. At the completion of the 18-month program, one of the contractors will be chosen for a follow-on 18- to 30-month system qualification and low-rate initial production effort.

Further land force combat synergies are achieved when the advanced artillery projectiles are coupled with optimized howitzer systems like the M777 155 mm lightweight field howitzer. In mid-April 2009, BAE Systems workers celebrated the delivery of the 500th M777 howitzer to the U.S. military.

Weighing in at less than 4,200 kilograms, the revolutionary M777 is the world’s first artillery weapon to make widespread use of titanium and aluminum alloys, resulting in a howitzer that is half the weight of conventional 155 mm systems.

BAE Systems Global Combat Systems’ facility at Barrow-in-Furness, U.K., is responsible for the prime contract management of the M777 program, including direct customer liaison and acceptance of the weapon system in the United States, control of the U.K. and U.S. supply chain, engineering design authority, and manufacturing and assembly of the complex titanium structures and associated recoil components. Final integration and test of the weapon system is undertaken at its Hattiesburg plant in Mississippi.

U.S. Army Col. James Matties congratulated workers on building a “superb” gun and told them it was doing a “magnificent job” in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Scott Gourley is a former U.S. Army officer and the author of more than 1,500...

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    Adam Longaker

    It is good to see that we are doing every thing that we can to support our military’s most valuable assets. (The men and women who defend our country with honor).