The Fires Center of Excellence Capabilities Development and Integration Directorate here, is celebrating a major victory after the Paladin Integrated Management program received Milestone C approval within the Defense Acquisition System.
This Materiel Development Decision moves the project from the engineering design phase of the acquisitions process into the manufacturing and production phase.
“This is a big win for the Army and the Field Artillery,” said Col. Michael Hartig, with U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command Capability Manager Brigade Combat Team Fires, or TCM BCT Fires. “It’s a big win for us for years to come.”
The last time a weapon system was approved for production on this scale without an urgent needs statement from theater was probably the Bradley Fighting Vehicle.
“In today’s economic situation with the defense budget, you’re not going to get a new start. This is about as close as you can get to a new platform without being a new start,” said Hartig.
“It’s a huge improvement on what we currently have. The PIM (Paladin Integrated Management) is the same gun, same M109A6 fires delivery capabilities, but the hull, the bottom of the vehicle is brand new.”
The PIM has a higher profile than the current Paladin and was redesigned to accept components of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, such as the engine, transmission, and tracks. Hartig said 27 percent of its parts are used on the Bradley, which will save the Army money in production costs, parts inventory and in training maintenance personnel.
“The engine, the transmission, the road wheels, the torsion bars — that’s what costs units money. If you deploy and have a maintenance issue, you have the ability to cross level parts from other organizations within the [armored brigade combat team],” said Hartig.
The new cab has more space with an all-electric system to replace the hydraulic system of its predecessor. The PIM also uses the 600-volt system from the Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon, which will provide enough power for future technologies.
“The logic is whatever the [armored brigade combat team] comes up with: if the Bradley gets a new [command and control or C2] device, we can put a new C2 device on ours. We can finally keep up with what our maneuver brothers are doing,” said Hartig.
The PIM has more armor to protect Soldiers inside as well as added technology that will alleviate the need to expose crew members operating crew served weapons from open hatches.
Doug Brown, deputy TCM BCT Fires, said the lack of protection for the crew chief was the number one complaint on the Paladin and the Field Artillery Ammunition Supply Vehicle in theater. To fix that problem the PIM can accommodate the common remote operating weapon system , known as CROWS.
“Instead of getting out of the turret to fire, you can do it inside the weapon using a screen. They are also making it possible for not only the crew chief to operate the CROWS, but that Soldier will be able to pass it to the gunner or the assistant section chief,” said Hartig.