Artillery: April 2, 2003


The effective use of the M109 155mm self propelled artillery in Iraq may bring the recently cancelled Crusader system back to life. The current M109A6 "Paladin" has a lot of the electronic and communications systems the Crusader will have, and is regularly delivering accurate (to within a few meters of the target) fire within three minutes of being called on. The MLRS is still being used, but mainly to destroy enemy artillery spotted via counterbattery radar (which calculates the position of enemy guns by back tracking the trajectory of shells just fired). Once the counterbattery radar has fix on the enemy gun, it transmits the location to a nearby MLRS battery, which fires several rockets (each carrying 644 submunitions) at that position. The submunitions pepper the enemy equipment with these shaped charged submunitions, each which can penetrate armor and generally destroy whatever it hits. The submunitions also send out fragments, acting like a hand grenade as well, as far as any enemy troops in the area are concerned.) After about a week, Iraqi artillery stopped firing, either because most of it was destroyed, or because the Iraqi gunners knew that to do so was suicide. But in the battles up and down the supply routes into Iraq, it is the M109 155mm guns that do most of the work. Whenever a convoy runs into some opposition, rifle and machine-gun fire from troops on the spot, and a few rounds from an M109 10-20 kilometers away usually clears it away. When the war is over, the artillery officers will be cranking out Power Point presentations showing how Crusader could have done it even better.


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