An extremely long-range self-propelled cannon developed by the US army broke the world record for the longest guided cannon shot in history by successfully hitting a target approximately 70 km (43 miles) away, Defense News reported.
Citing generals involved in the firing tests, Defense news reports that the Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) system hit the target "on the nose" from such distance at a firing range in Yuma, Arizona.
"I don’t think our adversaries have the ability to hit a target on the nose at 43 miles,” Brig. Gen. John Rafferty, head of the project, said, according to the outlet.
The previous record was set by the same ERCA gun in March this year, as it hit a target located about 65 km (40 miles) away.
The @USArmy fired three M982A1 Excalibur weapons from its Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) prototype on Dec. 19 with one round striking a direct hit a target at a range of 43.5 miles (70 km). #LRPF-CFT #ArmyFutures #ArmyTech #SoldierLethality @SL_CFT https://t.co/hn4gOk6oLu pic.twitter.com/mHMp6GvoeB— Army Futures Command (@armyfutures) December 21, 2020
The cannon hit the 70 km mark, which was reportedly the test's primary aim. According to the report, two other tests using different shells conducted the same day had failed, with the first shot falling 100m short of the target because of the wind, and the second had a malfunction.
"This demonstration is not a destination", the Army's program manager for combat artillery, Colonel Tony Gibbs, added.seeking ways to keep up with the latest technological advances by Russia and China's armies.
"This is really just a waypoint in our ongoing campaign of learning as we work to really realign US supremacy in cannon artillery. It’s definitely a big knowledge point for us today”, Gibbs said.
ERCA is based on the M109 self-propelled 39-caliber howitzer, armed with a bigger 58-caliber (1473 mm), 30ft-long barrel. This supercannon shoots the shell from the muzzle at a speed of around 1,005 meters per second (3,300ft per second), which increases the shot range dramatically. The aim of the ERCA project is to give artillery soldiers the power of hitting the enemy without fear of receiving a retaliatory blow to their positions.
Meanwhile, US army engineers are reportedly testing a new version of the existing Excalibur 155mm guided shell with movable fins, GPS and a laser seeker to zero in on moving targets to within ten meters.
The US army is reportedly planning to have the new cannon ready for deployment on the battlefield by 2023.
The longest-range cannon ever produced was the so-called German Paris Gun, used in the First World War bombings of the French capital. It could fire a shell that weighed 106kg to a range of about 130 km (80 miles), though the gun was described as unsuccessful.