M109A6 Paladin: What are the key characteristics of this self-propelled howitzer which is coming to Ukraine? – Technology Org

M109A6 Paladin self-propelled howitzers were not specifically mentioned in the latest US military aid announcement. But many sources say this particular model will be the one coming to Ukraine. What do its features look like?

M109A6 Paladins from the US Army.  Image credit: US Army Photo by Staff Sgt.  Richard Wrigley

M109A6 Paladins from the US Army. Image credit: US Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Richard Wrigley

During the military briefing, the press secretary of the US Department of Defense, Brigadier General Pat Ryder, made a preliminary remark stating that the 155-mm self-propelled guns that are included in the list of the upcoming military aid, are the M109A6 Paladin.

The original model of the M109 entered the service with the US Armed Forces in 1963, so its concept was developed quite early, less than two decades after World War II. The latest modification is the A7, which was introduced in 2015. Ukraine will be receiving a slightly older variant, the M109A6 that first appeared in 1994.

What are the main differences between the M109A6 Paladin and the earlier models?

A6 modification features a range of survivability and armament-related improvements. This includes better armor, safer ammunition and equipment storage unit, engine and suspension upgrades, as well as an improved M274 cannon and its mount.

Interior of M109A6.  Image credit: US Army

Interior of M109A6. Image credit: US Army

The number of onboard ammo storage has been increased to 39 155 mm rounds (from 36 rounds). This machine also received a digital inertial navigation system, an encrypted digital communication system, a series of sensors and improved automation features, as well as a modernized fire control system with the possibility to integrate it into a single wide-scale control network in larger artillery batteries. .

M109A6 Paladin can halt its movement and open accurate fire in just 30 seconds. Time is saved through communication with the central battery Fire Direction Center (FDC) that is responsible for the coordination of fire.

Interior of M109A6.  Image credit: US Army

Interior of M109A6. Image credit: US Army

Earlier models required at least several minutes to achieve the same objective. Therefore, the upgraded variant features significantly better mobility and survivability.

The cannon operation sequence has not changed and remains manual, except for partial automation of the projectile loading process. The loader operator must manually place the projectile in front of the breech of the gun. Then, the ejector charge is added. Next, the gun is getting prepared for a shot and the machine executes it.

This loading cycle is repeated as needed.

Loading projectile into the cannon of M109A6.  Image credit: US Army

Loading projectile into the cannon of M109A6. Image credit: US Army

Maximum fire rate, range of fire

The M109A6 can achieve the maximum fire rate of 4 rounds per minute, maintaining it for the duration of 3 minutes. The sustained rate of fire is 1 round per minute.

Loading ejector charge.  Image credit: US Army

Loading ejector charge. Image credit: US Army

The effective firing range is also greater compared with A1-A4 generations. Standard high-explosive rounds reach an effective hit distance of 21 km (13 mi), while modern high-precision Excalibur shells can reach targets at a range of 40 km (25 mi). There is also a possibility to use rocket-assisted projectiles (RAP) with a bit lesser range of up to 30 km (19 mi).

The Paladin weighs around 27.5 tons and has a length of 9.1 metres. Its cannon can traverse a full circle. Additionally, the howitzer has a 0.50 caliber (12.7 mm) M2 machine gun.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *