Even in the era of combat drones and laser weapons, artillery is still the cornerstone of military action on land and at sea. The problem is that artillery shells are effective over a relatively short range. Besides, shells that they fire can only follow a ballistic trajectory, which means that once the projectile leaves the gun muzzle, there’s no way of altering its course.
To solve this problem, Northrop Grumman, a major military-industrial manufacturer, has developed a special solid-fuel ramjet engine. The company has successfully completed multiple rounds of tests on its Solid Fuel Ramjet (SFRJ) tactical engine, under development for the U.S. Army. The technology is expected to enable long-range precision fires – one of the U.S. Army’s key priorities – and provide multi-domain battlespace dominance against high-level targets.
Part of phase one of the U.S. Army’s XM1155 Extended-Range Artillery Projectile (ERAP) program, the SFRJ engine is designed to boost the effective range of a 155 mm artillery shell to over 100 km (62 miles). The extended range, guided 155mm artillery shell will be capable of defeating moving and stationary targets in all terrain and weather conditions.
The SFRJ tests validated gun-launched survivability and performance predictions and demonstrated the potential of extending the projectile range to more than 100 km, which is a significant increase compared to current fielded artillery projectiles.
“Successful completion of the rigorous tests of the Solid Fuel Ramjet demonstrates the maturation of the technology to survive the very challenging gun-launch environment and significantly extend the range of the U.S. military’s current field artillery with a high level of confidence,” said Pat Nolan, vice president, missile products, Northrop Grumman.