Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon (NLOS-C)
The Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon (NLOS-C) provides unprecedented responsiveness and lethality to the Unit of Action (UA) commander. The Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon (NLOS-C) provides networked, extended-range targeting, and precision attack of point and area targets in support of the Unit of Action (UA) with a suite of munitions that include special purpose capabilities. The Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon (NLOS-C) provides sustained fires for close support and destructive fires for tactical standoff engagement.
While air power, precision-guided bombs and missiles often receive all the glamour on the modern battlefield, cannon artillery still plays a critical role in today's fight by serving as the only 24-hour, all-weather reinforcement for the infantry soldier - a fact proven in recent conflicts.
Combat experience and extensive analyses have shown that the greatest threat to ground force survivability is indirect fire artillery. The U.S. Army currently ranks behind several other countries in cannon artillery capabilities, and U.S. Army after-action studies from Operation Iraqi Freedom, Afghanistan, and Desert Storm have exposed that the U.S. Army has a critical need for an advanced cannon artillery solution.
The key indirect cannon system used by the U.S. Army today, although it performed admirably in recent conflicts, is not fully automated or otherwise best configured for a cockpit environment necessary in future manned ground vehicles. To meet this critical shortfall, the U.S. Army is developing the NLOS-C. The NLOS-C will be the key indirect fire support system for the U.S. Army's FCS and will reduce the risk of United States casualties by providing a much-needed artillery system that can outmatch and outsmart any enemy and increase the effectiveness of the entire ground force.
The system's primary purpose is to provide responsive fires in support of the FCS Combined Arms Battalions (CABs), and their subordinate units in concert with line-of-sight, Beyond-Line-of-Sight (BLOS), Non-Line-of-Sight (NLOS), external and Joint capabilities. The system provides flexible support through its ability to change effects round-by-round and mission-by-mission. These capabilities, combined with rapid response to calls for fire and rate of fire, provide a variety of effects on demand. This system incorporates technologies that include CARGO rounds and smart submunitions, and Fire and Forget Seeker technology. Also included is a Self Protection Weapon.
The cannon will be able to move rapidly, stop quickly, and deliver lethal first round effects on target in record time. The Non-Line-of-Sight (NLOS) Cannon will have a multiple round-simultaneous impact (MRSI) capability. The multiple round-simultaneous impact (MRSI) capability, coupled with the Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon's (NLOS-C) superior sustained rate of fire, will provide record effects on target from a smaller number of systems.
The cannon, like all Manned Ground Vehicle (MGV) variants, can rapidly rearm and refuel, and its system weight makes it uniquely deployable. Fully automated handling, loading, and firing will be another centerpiece of the Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon (NLOS-C). The Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon (NLOS-C) balances deployability and sustainability with responsiveness, lethality, survivability, agility, and versatility.
The Non-Line-of-Sight-Cannon will give the Army a key capability that it currently lacks: a cannon artillery system that is fully automated, highly mobile, and capable of launching multiple rounds precisely on target simultaneously. Moreover, unlike the Army's current artillery systems, the Non-Line-of-Sight-Cannon will be fully integrated into an advanced electronic network shared by Soldiers on the battlefield. This will make the Non-Line-of-Sight-Cannon much more responsive to Soldier mission requirements.
The Non-Line-of-Sight-Cannon also will help to minimize Soldier risk; because it will be much more mobile and deployable than the Army's current-day artillery systems, which employ 1960s-era design technology. Reducing risk is a huge dividend of Future Combat Systems technology overall. Providing Soldiers with near real time situational awareness before they encounter potentially risky or deadly situations will save Soldiers lives. An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle will identify for Soldiers if there's a sniper in the next alleyway or cavern. An Unmanned Ground Vehicle will help to dispose of an IED or roadside bomb.
The FCS program is contained in three Program Elements (PEs): Non-Line of Sight - Cannon (NLOS-C), Non-Line of Sight - Launch Systems (NLOS-LS) and Armored Systems Modernization (ASM). PE NLOS-C contains the development effort associated with NLOS-C work and in FY05 some of Manned Ground Vehicle (MGV) common components. To meet pre-production Congressionally directed fielding requirements by FY08, the NLOS-C becomes the lead MGV variant. PE ASM contains the development effort for the balance of the common MGV components.
NLOS-C provides networked, sustained, extended-range (30km) cannon fires for precision attack of point and area targets in support of the FCS UA. The Army is executing the FCS program to achieve the earliest possible fielding of the first FCS-equipped UA. The Army plan is to deliver six pre-production NLOS-C systems for limited user and developmental testing in 2008. The first Production units will fielded by CY 2010, with 18 delivered by CY 2012. The UA Capability for NLOS-C will be fielded in FY 2014.
The Army established NLOS-C as the lead MGV of the FCS FoS. The FCS program focus is on providing combat capability at the unit level. Key to this approach is the synergy achieved by integrated development and acquisition of sensors, unmanned vehicles, airframes, and combat vehicles including NLOS-C working together and connected by a network, all operated by skilled soldiers. Commonality of hardware and software within the FCS program is a priority action needed to reduce the Lifecycle costs and logistical footprint of the UA.
In late January 2003, the U.S. Army and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency selected United Defense to team with General Dynamics Land Systems and the FCS lead systems integrator (Boeing/SAIC) in the design of the ground vehicle portion of FCS. Under the award, the companies are focusing on assessing the requirements of the eight PCS manned ground vehicle (MGV) variants-infantry carrier vehicle, command and control vehicle, mounted combat system, reconnaissance and surveillance vehicle, NLOS-cannon, NLOS-mortar (NLOS-M), maintenance and recovery, and medical treatment/ evacuation-developing preliminary designs for each vehicle and identifying the components and subsystems that will be common to all.
In December 2003, United Defense received a $2 billion contract from Boeing to begin engineering development and demonstration of five MGV variants: infantry carrier vehicle, maintenance and recovery, medical, NLOS-M and NLOS-C. Emphasizing that "United Defense is pleased to be working alongside General Dynamics Land Systems and Boeing/SAIC to create vital ground combat vehicles for the future Army," a United Defense company representative focused on the support capabilities that the NLOS-C element will provide to tomorrow's soldier.
The key indirect cannon system used by the Army today - the M109A6 Paladin - is operating on a 1950s-designed chassis that has been routinely upgraded, requires manual firing procedures and is not designed to keep pace with PCS units envisioned for the Army's future force, explaining that the automation provided by the NLOS-C will enable a two-person crew to achieve what it currently takes five soldiers to accomplish. Moreover, the automation provided by the NLOS-C will reduce the physical demands and stresses placed on the soldier and provide substantially increased firepower faster and more accurately than ever before.
Specific features will include: increased strategic mobility (NLOS-C will be the first self-propelled howitzer to be C-130 transportable); high tactical mobility to keep pace with all units; networked communication systems; a real-time digital operating environment to enhance situational awareness; a fully-automated howitzer with unmatched rates of fire and increased lethality; advanced projectile tracking system to ensure greater accuracy; an MRSI capability for optimum enemy destruction and suppression; and built-in active protection Systems for optimum crew protection.
Early work had been focused around two technology sets: Electrothermal-Chemical (ETC) guns and Electromagnetic (EM) guns, but these technically challenging concepts soon fell by the wayside. ETC uses pulse power electrical energy to augment and control the release of chemical energy from conventional and advanced propellants. This electrothermal-chemical system uses a plasma generator instead of a primer, with the ignition, and potentially combustion control, of solid propellant achieved by high temperature plasmas. EM gun research (also known as a rail gun) was focused on the acceleration of projectiles solely through the application of electricity to achieve ultra-high velocity without energetic materials.
The NLOS-C was initially conceived as having a 120-155mm cannon. It initially appeared that the FCS NLOS-C will probably be a smaller-caliber gun than the Crusader. Because of recoil and other factors, it was not be feasible to put a 59-caliber 155mm cannon on an FCS-size chassis.
In mid-2004 the Army made a decision about the caliber for the non-line-of-sight cannon (NLOS-C) anticipated to be the cannon fielded in support of future combat system (FCS)-equipped units of action (UAs) and, possibly, in the Stryker brigades. The goal was to improve precision and reduce our logistical tail.
The clear choice for the NLOS-C was the 38-caliber 155-mm howitzer. The 155-mm was 58 percent more effective against personnel targets than the 105-mm and 82 percent more effective against materiel targets than the 105. The 38-caliber was selected over the longer 39-caliber tube, trading four kilometers of range (using the M549 rocket-assisted projectile) to save 1,367 pounds. This will make the NLOS-C C-130 deployable with about 25 percent of its basic load of ammunition.
The study assessed the impact of caliber on the ability to meet the NLOS-C mission module priorities. These priorities are NLOS-C Operational Requirements Document (ORD) objectives that specify the system's performance and force effectiveness for transportability, lethality, survivability and sustainability. In making the caliber decision, we also assessed challenges in terms of risk, cost and developmental scheduling.
Additionally, analysis confirmed the overwhelming benefit of fielding a course-correcting fuze (CCF) that will vastly improve accuracy and drive down the logistical tail. With the support of the Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) Commander, the Artillery community worked aggressively with the acquisition and technology communities to provide 155-mm and 105-mm Cannoneers this CCF capability as quickly as possible.
To move from the existing 40- to 60-ton systems of today to an 18-ton system of the future is no minor challenge. The gun mount and cradle still will undergo significant stress and, therefore, must be built of high strength/ strong materials. The tube must have consistent pointing performance. If too rigid, the tube is subject to structural failure during firing. If too flexible, the variable directional pointing of the tube throws inaccuracies into the firing computations.
New technologies and better engineering has resulted in the development of high-quality forged and rolled steel that is selectively wrapped and specially bonded with composites for increased strength, predictable rigidity and less weight.
A request by Congressman Tom Cole to split the non-line-of-site cannon (NLOS-C) from the development track of the Future Combat Systems was included in the 2006 Defense Authorization bill reported out of an Armed Services subcommittee mark up on 12 May 2005. This technical change will ensure full funding for NLOS-C and put it on a faster track than other man ground vehicles. The Tactical Air and Land Subcommittee voted to include several provisions that will protect the non-line-of-site cannon, including a $50 million increase in funding for NLOS-C over the President's request. It also included provisions to maintain objective lethality and survivability requirements and it states that NLOS-C should not be compromised to meet weight requirements of the FCS vehicles.
The NLOS cannon was designed to move rapidly, stop quickly and deliver lethal fire in near-record time. The aluminum-armored vehicle has a diesel engine that provides power to a hybrid-electric drive that propels two extremely quiet 18-inch band tracks. With a two-man crew, the NLOS cannon features an automatic ammunition-handling system and is being designed to easily fit inside the cargo bay of a C-130 aircraft. The NLOS will be more fuel efficient than existing self-propelled artillery systems, according to officials who estimate perhaps as much as 30 percent more.
Manual tasks -- such as having to manually handle projectiles and powder charges, and yank a rope lanyard to fire each round -- have become automated. In the NLOS cannon this entire process is completed by using an automated ammunition handling system which includes a laser igniter, robotics, all-electric drives, networking, and much more. It's a more efficient, faster and less labor-intensive system, according to officials.
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