Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Boeing Ramjet artillery shell set a new range record

Boeing and defense company Nammo, in partnership with the US Army, test-fired a Ramjet 155 munition from a 58-caliber Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) at Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz. During the indirect fire test, the company says, they set a new range record for a ramjet-powered artillery round. However, the exact distance the shell flew is unknown.

Modern artillery has indeed come a long way, but when it comes to range, there haven’t been significant improvements in the guns used by Western powers.

To address this issue, Boeing and Norway-based Nammo have teamed up under the US Army’s XM1155 program to develop a new class of extremely long-range artillery. Considered a powered guided artillery munition, Ramjet 155 utilizes an air-breathing engine design that uses the cannon firing to provide the speed needed for combustion.

Boeing has previously stated that the Ramjet 155 is designed to reach targets at a range of over 70 kilometers (roughly 43.5 miles). According to Nammo, the ramjet-powered round has the potential to fly up to 150 kilometers (just over 93 miles), depending on the weapon used to launch it.

The recent test advances the development efforts of the Army’s top modernization priority, Long Range Precision Fires. The success follows last year’s Boeing-Nammo test, recording the longest-ever indirect fire test of a Ramjet 155 munition. That test was completed using a 39-caliber towed artillery cannon at the Andøya Test Center in Norway.

“This program now has a thoroughly tested propulsion system that guarantees enormous range increases for all artillery cannons,” said Morten Brandtzæg, Nammo CEO. “We believe the major development hurdles have now been cleared, and production is viable within a relatively short timeframe.”

Boeing and Nammo are planning to integrate a precision guidance system in an upcoming test, leveraging a Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) mission computer onto the Ramjet 155. The demonstration will evaluate the system’s maturity and effectiveness against stationary and moving targets and readiness to transition into the next phase of development.

“Our successful tests demonstrate that ramjet projectiles – a real collaborative achievement of Boeing and Nammo – offer the range and precision desired by the Army,” said Brandtzæg. “Ramjet technology heralds a revolution in artillery, significantly extending the range and delivering strategic advantages to our users.”