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Video Above: Army Tests Robots Armed with Anti-Tank Missiles

by Kris Osborn, President, Center for Military Modernization 

(Washington D.C.) The arrival of GPS-guided precision land artillery and rockets in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2007 and 2008 represented a quantum leap forward for weapons historically thought of as "area" systems designed to blanket a target region with suppressive fire to enable forces to maneuver. The advent of weapons such as Excalibur, a GPS-guided 155mm artillery shell able to hit targets at 30km within a one-meter CEP (Circular Error Probable) introduced paradigm changing warfare concepts for Commanders looking to pinpoint enemy targets without destroying civilians or the surrounding infrastructure of an attacked area.

Precision Targeting

This breakthrough, which began roughly 15 years ago, is now evolving to a point wherein senior Army weapons developers explain that yet another generation of capability with precision fire is beginning to emerge through the advent of new sensors, navigation systems and targeting technologies.

”The idea of precision used to be that, you know, GPS was considered precision. previously. Now, we can be extremely precise with targeting with sensors, both onboard and off board sensors. You can imagine the level of accuracy that we can achieve now with precision munitions. We've completely changed the whole definition of precision," Lt. Gen. Thomas Todd, Chief Innovation Officer, Army Futures Command, told Warrior in an interview.

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Video Above: Lieutenant General, Thomas Todd - Chief Innovation Officer of Army Futures Command sits down for an exclusive interview with Kris Osborn.

One such example can be seen with what's called the "Shaped Trajectory" 155m artillery round, ammunition which can succeed in changing course in flight to hit previously unreachable targets such as enemy vehicles under a bridge or on the other side of a mountain. While much of the technical specifics enabling this are not likely to be available for security reasons, testing and developing of this new round are progressing quickly to a point of operational readiness.

Added to this, the Army is also more than doubling the range of its 155mm artillery through a well-known program called Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) which has already demonstrated an ability to destroy targets with precision out to ranges of 70km or more. Not only can ERCA succeed in massively increasing the standoff range of artillery attack, but it can also enable long-range precision as well.

“We are going to be able to do things with our tubed artillery that we’ve never been able to do, nor have our adversaries ever been able to do before in the way of ranges and accuracies and lethality,” Todd said.

The advent of new technologies of this kind generates a circumstance wherein Army war planners need to adjust to more modern applications of Combined Arms Maneuver wherein forces can attack with precision from greater standoff ranges.

Kris Osborn is the defense editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.

Kris