Soldiers Test New Weapon System at Camp Ripley – Brainerd Dispatch

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CAMP RIPLEY – Those booms emanating from Camp Ripley recently were most likely from a new type of artillery.

In late May, Minnesota National Guard soldiers tested their new Paladin A7 self-propelled howitzer on the Camp Ripley firing range.

Training on the new equipment, the New Ulm-based 1-125 Field Artillery Battalion was the second unit in the entire National Guard to receive the new weapons platform, Lt. Col. Mark Gile said. , battalion commander, in a press release. .

Minnesota National Guard Soldiers tested their new Paladin A7 Self-Propelled Howitzer Tuesday, May 24, 2022 at the Camp Ripley Range.

Tim Speier / Brainerd Dispatch

The M-109 A7 Paladin is a next-generation artillery system that enhances the Army’s ability to provide critical fire support in conventional and unconventional warfare. The A7 features an upgraded hill, turret, engine and suspension systems, although the howitzer body is similar to the Bradley tracked combat vehicle, said Sgt. 1st Class James Otto.

“We are upgrading our old M-109 A6 howitzers and through army modernization we are getting new Paladins or PIM – Paladin Integrated Management,” Otto said. “So the M-109 A7 is just an upgrade from what we had before.”

Based in New Ulm, 1-125 has armories in Pipestone, Jackson and Fairmont. The gun batteries on the line of fire in May were from Pipestone and Fairmont.

Crews training at Camp Ripley test a howitzer.
Minnesota National Guard Soldiers tested their new Paladin A7 Self-Propelled Howitzer Tuesday, May 24, 2022 at the Camp Ripley Range.

Tim Speier / Brainerd Dispatch

The main weapon system is the 155 millimeter gun, which can move and acquire a target even when the howitzer is in motion. And the moving aid is a 600-horsepower motor, powered by a fuel tank of over 5,000 gallons.

“It’s a definite upgrade from what we had before,” Otto said. “And I know we’re going to be looking forward to adjusting all of our training to be able to keep these vehicles running.”

Although it must stop to fire its main gun, the A7 can fire around four rounds per minute.

A paladin is made up of four soldiers in the vehicle and four additional soldiers in a section who operate an ammo truck to supply the weapon.

“You have your driver who obviously drives the vehicle and drives around when needed,” Otto said. “Then, the head of house or section is globally responsible. There is a gunner who helps to verify that all firing data is safe, then the number one gunner will pull the lanyard and fire the gun.

The unit completed their qualifications earlier in April, before the field training exercise, to give them more time to learn the new systems.

“They’re already in the artillery mindset and they were ready to use these new vehicles and see what they can do,” Otto said. “I know they were quite impressed with how fast these vehicles move and much faster than older vehicles.”

TIM SPEIER, editor, can be reached on Twitter

@timmy2thyme

call 218-855-5859 or email

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