MISSION, ORGANIZATION, AND SYSTEM DESCRIPTION
The M109A6 Howitzer (Paladin) Battalion is organized and equipped to provide the maneuver commander with rapid and devastating fire support. The Paladin battalion exhibits the agility, initiative, and flexibility to mass fires in support of maneuver forces, providing the fire support coordinator with effective firepower to execute his support plan. The structure of the battalion and the tactics employed reinforce the principles of war and the tenants of Army Operations as set forth in FM 100-5.
The Paladin battalion strikes throughout the depth of enemy formations to suppress, neutralize, and destroy ground forces, direct fire weapons, indirect fire systems, and air defense systems. The battalion is organized and equipped to perform any of the four standard tactical missions (direct support, general support, general support reinforcing, and reinforcing) or any non-standard mission as described in FM 6-20-1, Chapter 1.
a. Basic tasks:
The Paladin battalion performs the same seven tasks as those defined for all field artillery (FA) battalions in FM 6-20-1, Chapter 2. The seven basic tasks of the field artillery are as follows:
(1) Coordinate fire support. Reference FM 6-20 and ST 6-3.
(2) Acquire targets. Organic and non-organic means are discussed in FM 6-20-10 and FM 6-121.
(3) Deliver field artillery fires. Fire mission processing is discussed in detail in FM 6-20-1, Chapter 4; FM 6-20-40; ST 6-3; FM 6-20-50; and Appendix B of this manual.
(4) Survive. The survivability techniques of dispersion, movement, and hardening apply to all FA units. The capabilities of the M109A6 make it inherently more survivable, as dispersion and movement are enhanced and built-in hardening is provided. These increased capabilities improve survivability, responsiveness, and continuity of fires. The operational aspects of this task are discussed in greater detail throughout this chapter.
(5) Communicate. This task is discussed in Chapter 5.
(6) Move and/or maneuver. This task is discussed in this chapter in the context of positioning considerations in conjunction with performing tactical moves and in Chapter 4 concerning movement for survivability.
(7) Maintain and resupply. This task is discussed in Chapter 3.
b. Support of Maneuver Operations:
The Paladin battalion provides more responsive and sustained fire support to the maneuver commander. The combination of the M109A6 system capabilities and tactics results in greater survivability and increased sustainment of combat power.
The Paladin howitzer replaces the prior M109 series howitzer in active and selected reserve component 155-mm platoon-based self-propelled units. The Paladin battalion organization is similar to that of the earlier M109 battalion with platoon-based batteries. The battalion is organized into a headquarters and headquarters/service battery (HHSB), which has a service (SVC) platoon, and three identical firing batteries. Figure 1-1 shows a typical Paladin organization.
1-3. OPERATIONS OVERVIEW
The most significant operational differences between the M109A6 howitzer and prior M109 series howitzers are the Paladin's ability to operate over a widely dispersed area and to move and emplace using the Paladin technology. The Paladin can move and position within an assigned position area, process technical firing data, and fire a mission without relying on aiming circles and wire lines. Target acquisition and engagement parameters (tactical fire control) are provided by the Paladin platoon's battle command facility, the platoon operations center (POC). The automatic fire control system (AFCS) and single-channel ground and airborne radio system (SINCGARS) frequency modulation (FM) radios change the current requirements for surveyed firing points, aiming circles, and land lines.
HHS 155mm SP
HQ COMM 155mm SP SUPPORT
Support=Ammo, Maint., Mess & Supply POC = Platoon Operations Center
HHS= Headquarters & Service SP = Self Propelled
Figure 1-1 Paladin Battalion Organization
Terrain management for the battalion S3 and the battery commander presents numerous coordination challenges and Paladin offers some added challenges over the current operations.
In the offense, the battery can operate in more widely varying terrain positions. The battery can now be located closer to maneuver elements while maintaining a firing capability. Key leaders must insure not to impede maneuver unit movement.
In the defense, a platoon of howitzers can occupy and can repeatedly displace, move, quickly emplace, and fire a number of rounds or missions as necessary. This type of movement is called survivability movement. The use of this tactic depends greatly on the counterfire and air threats, essential FA tasks, in addition to other factors of mission, enemy, terrain, troops, and time available (METT-T). The following are advantages over earlier self-propelled artillery systems:
a. Increased Responsiveness:
- On- Board Position Navigation
- On- Board Technical Fire Control
- Freedom from Wire
- Radio Communications
- Faster "Ready to Fire" Times
b. Increased Survivability:
- Greater Dispersion
- 300-500 meter Survivability Moves
Chapter 3 discusses Paladin employment options in greater detail. Figure 1-2 shows a typical Paladin operational concept of two platoons employed with three howitzers per platoon.
Figure 1-2. Typical Paladin Operational Concept
1-4. SYSTEM DESCRIPTION
a. Features and Improvements:
The Paladin M109A6 howitzer is the fourth product improvement to the original M109 self-propelled (SP) howitzer. It features improvements in the areas of survivability; reliability, availability, and maintainability (RAM); responsiveness; and terminal effects. The M109A6 is an armored, full tracked howitzer carrying 37 complete conventional rounds and two Copperhead projectiles. It is operated by a crew of four. It is designed with a new turret structure that facilitates integration of the various turret improvements and vulnerability reduction measures. It improves overall crew compartment layout and space. The howitzer can travel at a maximum speed of 38 miles per hour and has a maximum cruising range of 186 miles.
b. Automatic Fire Control System (AFCS):
The M109A6 uses an AFCS which provides position location and directional reference, a ballistic computer for on board technical fire control, a muzzle velocity measuring system, and gun-drive servos which automatically orient the tube for deflection and quadrant. The AFCS enhancements increase responsiveness and improve survivability by permitting frequent movement through semi-autonomous operations.
Frequent movement is key in avoiding enemy counterfire. Secure digital and voice communications for tactical fire control are provided by the single channel ground and airborne radio system (SINCGARS).
c. Survivability Improvements:
Upgrades include a remotely operated travel lock which allows the crew to emplace or displace without dismounting from the vehicle, turret Kevlar liners, hydraulic component segregation, projectile relocation, fixed CO2 fire suppression system for the engine compartment, and portable units for the crew and driver's compartments. The howitzer’s microclimate conditioning system provides filtered and conditioned air to crew’s protective masks and vests.
d. Design Modifications:
The M109A6 uses the M182A1 gun mount and the M284 cannon assembly allowing use of the M203 series propelling charge. These modifications include a new gun tube assembly, and the advanced bore evacuator and muzzle brake. Additional improvements to the breech and recoil system enhance component life. The M203 series charge will provide maximum range of up to 24 kilometers unassisted and 30 kilometers with a rocket assisted projectile (RAP).
e. RAM Improvements:
RAM improvements include an engine cooling package, starter protective circuitry, sealed starter, new alternator, and final drive quick disconnects. The suspension, hydraulic, and electrical systems have been upgraded and a maintenance diagnostic and limited prognostic capability has been added, the Prognostic/Diagnostic Interface Unit (PDIU).
f. Fire Control:
The AFCS includes the Dynamic Reference Unit - Hybrid (DRU-H) of the Modular Azimuth Positioning System (MAPS). The DRU-H provides accurate position location (easting, northing, and altitude) and directional (azimuth and elevation) data by both inertial and satellite navigation. The major components that make up the AFCS are:
- Display Unit (DU)
- Control Unit (CU) *
- Communications Processor (CP) *
- Ballistic Computer/Weapons Controller (BC/WC) *
- Hydraulic components (servos, manifold, check valves)
- System Interconnect cabling (MIL-STD 1553 Data Bus)
- Power Conditioner Unit (PCU)
- Navigation System (DRU-H, VMS, Global Positioning System (GPS)/Precision Lightweight(GPS) Receiver (PLGR), modems)
* - items are incorporated as one in the AFCS Computer Unit (ACU).
(1) The AFCS has the capability of accepting a fire mission, computing the technical fire control solution, and slewing the cannon to the commanded deflection and quadrant. An embedded training feature has been included within the AFCS. This feature allows the crew to autonomously practice mission scenarios. The M117/M117A2 Panoramic Telescope (PANTEL), M145/M145A1 Telescope Mount, and M1A1 Collimator remain on board the howitzer as backup optical indirect fire control instrumentation.
(2) The MAPS has been designed to work on multiple US Army weapon and targeting systems. To meet this need the MAPS is made up of modular components which are combined in different configurations to provide the survey/orientation information needs of the particular system. In the Paladin application, the DRU-H , Vehicle Motion Sensor (VMS), and GPS/PLGR aiding units are the major components of MAPS. A brief description of these units follows:
(a) The DRU-H along with GPS/PLGR aiding contains all necessary sensor electronics, processing, and input/output circuitry to perform its survey/orientation function and interface with the other MAPS components. The DRU-H performs the following functions: provides vehicle position from a known starting point in terms of UTM coordinates of easting, northing, and altitude; provides vehicle orientation in terms of azimuth from grid north, compensates for weapon pitch and cant; supplies angular velocity rates; and provides weapon elevation, grid azimuth, azimuth rate, elevation rate, travel local grid azimuth reference and travel local elevation reference. In the Paladin configuration, the DRU-H is mounted on the right trunnion of the armament system.
(b) The VMS is a mechanical drive that converts vehicle odometer outputs to electrical signals as a measure of vehicle displacement. The VMS, located in the engine compartment, is driven directly from the transmission output drive for the odometer cable. The VMS supplies the electronic information to the VMS modem.
g. Armament Improvements:
Improvements to the cannon include an improved breech and components, a redesigned interior profile of the tube assembly, a strengthened muzzle brake, and an advanced bore evacuator.
h. The M992A2 series Carrier, Ammunition Tracked Vehicle (CATV) / Field Artillery Ammunition Support Vehicle (FAASV):
The M992A2 CATV accompanies the M109A6 and completes the howitzer section. The CATV has a crew of five. The M992A2 is a full-tracked, aluminum armored, ammunition resupply vehicle with a hydraulic powered conveyor for single-round transfer of ammunition. The M992A2 is comparable to the M109A6 in terms of speed, mobility, and survivability. In addition to ammunition handling equipment, the CATV features projectile rack assemblies and storage compartments; a diesel powered auxiliary power unit used to drive the hydraulic system and recharge vehicle batteries; and an automatic fire extinguisher system (AFES).
i. The Platoon Operations Center (POC):
The Platoon Operations Center provides battle command for a platoon of M109A6 Paladin howitzers. The POC is contained in an M577/M1068 command post vehicle configured to support M109A6 Paladin howitzer operations. The Battery Computer System (BCS) or Lightweight Computer System (LCU) is the primary digital interface with the battalion computer system and the howitzers in Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System (AFATDS)/ Initial Fire Support Artillery System (IFSAS) equipped battalions.
NOTE: BCS/LCU, IFSAS/AFATDS, and M577/M1068 are interchangeable when used in this manual.