ST 6-50-60 Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for
M109A6 HOWITZER (PALADIN) OPERATIONS


APPENDIX B

AUTOMATED COMMAND AND CONTROL

 

B-1. INTRODUCTION

The capabilities of the Paladin howitzer have substantially changed the role of the POC. The emphasis at the POC shifts from technical fire direction, as is the case of the traditional FDC, to tactical fire direction and command and control of four semiautonomous howitzers. The Paladin unit has a number of unique capabilities as well as some unique problems. Increasing automation means that information flow is accelerated and the demand for information, both into and out of the POC, is increased. This appendix is to help the POC organize in order to handle this increased information flow. The information in this appendix should be considered a baseline, reflecting the minimum requirements.

B-2. ORGANIZATION

a. Equipment:

Appendix G shows the recommended standardized POC layout.

b. Status Charts:

Figures 4-2 and 4-3 show examples of data base management and platoon ammunition status charts. Any chart used or developed must have a specific purpose and show needed information "at a glance." Too many charts only confuse, and require constant updating. Do not clutter the POC area with a lot of unnecessary information charts.

c. Situation Map:

The situation map is one of the most important tools in the POC. It should consist of the following overlays:

- Maneuver graphics for the force being supported. Friendly and enemy unit locations, FLOTs, and observer locations. (The battalion O&I section should provide this information. The FDO must be proactive in ensuring that the information is current.)

- Platoon or battery operations overlay. On this overlay, goose eggs show the current position area of the platoon as well as of the other platoon in the battery.

Anticipated future position areas and the locations of the battery headquarters, the other battery POC, and the battery trains should also be posted. All of this information usually should not be posted on a single overlay. It may be necessary to use separate overlays, one for current and anticipated platoon position areas and one for battery trains and headquarters locations.

- Survey control information.

d. Howitzer Tracking Chart:

This is a large-scale (normally 1:10,000) map the POC uses to track the movement of the individual howitzers. It is prepared for each position area and is used to manage the movement of the howitzers so that they do not endanger themselves or other friendly elements. Detailed instructions for preparing and maintaining the HTC are in paragraph 4-8.

e. Commander's Criteria:

Commander's criteria are the supported maneuver commander's intent for fire support translated into language usable by the BN FDC computer. The FSCOORD, artillery battalion S3, and battalion FDO meet and develop commander's criteria for each maneuver mission or phase of a mission. The FA support plan or the BN FDC tab to the FA support plan must contain commander's criteria. When IFSAS is controlling the battalion fires, this information is automatically part of the tactical fire control solution developed by the computer. However, this information must also be disseminated to each POC so that the maneuver commander's intent for fire support and attack guidance are adhered to in case BN FDC is not available. The battalion O&I section provides this information, and should be regularly queried to ensure this information is passed initially and updated as changes in the tactical situation occur.

 

B-3. AUTOMATIC FIRE CONTROL SYSTEM

a. Command & Control:

To command and control the Paladin, it is important that personnel understand what the AFCS can and cannot do. First, It is not a stand-alone device but is an extension of the LCU. The howitzer CS cannot receive voice calls for fire and input grid coordinates to compute fire missions. The items discussed below are those the CS must input into the AFCS and report to the LCU.

 

(1) Piece Status. The piece status is reported to the POC in the form of the HOW;UPDATE report. The actual status in the HOW;UPDATE depends on directions given by the POC. The HOW;UPDATE received by LCU contains the howitzer grid location and altitude, date and time of closing on position, operational status, azimuth of fire, maximum elevation, and powder temperature. Status codes used are as follows:

Y = operational in a fire area. This means the howitzer is given more authority within a POC-specified radius.

O = out of action. Determined automatically by the AFCS.

M = moving. Determined automatically by the AFCS.

S = stationary at a firing point.

L = linked with a target acquisition asset.

R =relay linked with a target acquisition asset.

(2) Ammunition: The howitzer ammunition is reported to the POC by use of the HOW;AMOUP report. This information is maintained in the LCU by howitzer and is consolidated for IFSAS reporting purposes on the AFU;BAMOUP report. Ammunition reported includes both on-board howitzer ammunition and ammunition available on the ARV if the ARV is in the area.

(3) Mask Data. The gunner or section chief traverses the tube, elevating and/or depressing to measure site to crest. He then measures piece-crest range by using an AN/GVS-5 hand-held laser range finder or one of the methods described in FM 6-50, Chapter 6. The mask information is determined for each howitzer and is reported to the POC on the AFU;MASK report, where it is also maintained by howitzer. It is from the AFU;MASK report that an XO's minimum QE for the howitzer position is determined. However, this QE applies only to the howitzer from which it was determined. Each howitzer can report up to 8 masks with a maximum of 24 masks per platoon. It is not necessary for each howitzer to report eight masks. If the adjacent POC is not available and one POC must control eight howitzers, the mask data may have to be redefined by the howitzer CS as directed by the POC. For example, the CS may be directed to report the three highest masks within his primary sector of fire.

(4) Muzzle Velocity. Each howitzer maintains its own MVV data. This information is also maintained by howitzer in the LCU data base at the POC. When the Paladin calibrates, the averaged raw velocity data are entered into the AFCS, processed, and transmitted to the LCU by using the BCS DATA XFER screen. This converts the data into the form of a BCS;MVV message for transmission. The POC can request the current MVV data by using the HOW; REQUEST message format. This process is transparent to the Paladin.

All calibration data entered into the AFCS are corrected for nonstandard conditions (projectile weight and propellant temperature) and appear at the POC as variations rather than as measured velocities requiring further processing.

b. AFCS:

(1) The AFCS can process only one fire mission at a time. However, a stored priority Copperhead or FPF mission can be fired anytime it is requested. The AFCS can store up to nine targets of any variety, to include time on target.

(2) Except for priority targets (FPF or priority Copperhead), the gunner or CS can review only stored targets for the purpose of preparing ammunition. The AFCS can process fire missions where the LCU has computed the firing data (firing data sent by FM;COMMDS message), or it may compute its own data (HOW;MSN sent from LCU). In the normal mode of operation, the AFCS computes its own data based on tactical fire control information sent from the POC via the LCU.

(3) If for any reason the AFCS should be unable to process information transmitted from the LCU, the AFCS automatically transmits a "be advised that" (BAT) or an "unable to execute" (UTE) plaintext message to the LCU. The BAT or UTE PTM states the warning or reason for failure to process. Appendix I lists BAT and UTE messages.

 

B-4. INITIALIZATION

It is imperative that platoon and battery personnel be thoroughly briefed on the tactical situation and the role the unit is to play in accomplishing the commander's intent for fire support. This information has a direct influence on the operational employment of the Paladin battery and its platoons. Information critical for howitzer sections is discussed below.

a. Call Signs and Frequencies:

Call signs and frequencies to be used by the howitzers must be known.

b. Survey Control and Logistics Points:

Location of SCPs and logistic points must be known.

 

 

c. Priority Shell-Fuze Combinations:

This information is part of commander's criteria found in the FA support plan or the IFSAS tab to the FA support plan. It aids the howitzer CS in managing ammunition on the howitzer and ARV to best support the operation.

NOTE: It is not possible to anticipate in one document all the different ways in which initialization can take place. Neither is it possible to encompass all the different ways in which the Paladin can be employed. With this in mind, the rest of this appendix takes a broad approach to maximizing the capabilities of M109A6 system.

d. Communications Parameters:

Before communicating digitally, personnel must make various software settings in the AFCS and LCU. Many of these settings should be part of the unit TSOP. Appendix E is an example of a reference card which each howitzer section should have posted near the AFCS. This reference card is arranged much like the net access and net address menus in the AFCS.

(1) Net Access Delay Time. The values set for this function allow each howitzer access to the battery internal FD net. When the LCU transmits data to all howitzers, it is a single broadcast message. If the net access delay time were the same for all howitzers, each would be competing for the same space in time to return an acknowledgment to the LCU. If this were to happen, no AFCS would be able to access the net. By staggering the time for net access, each AFCS has its own space in time to respond to LCU messages. Appendix D shows example communications sequencing between the howitzers and the LCU.

(2) Gun Key Time. Gun key time is a software setting in the AFCS which allows the radio to key up to full power before digital traffic is transmitted.

(3) Broadcast Address. The LCU can transmit to all howitzers with a single transmission. Each howitzer must have the same address as found in the SYS;SBT. This address is valid only for LCU. Any attempt to use it otherwise causes an error at the LCU, or the AFCS responds with a UTE message.

(4) Physical Address. This address is used when linking a single howitzer with a TA asset capable of digital communications (DMD, FIST DMD, OH-58D, and radar). This address must be different for each howitzer if more than one howitzer is going to be linked.

 

NOTE: AFCS will not allow the duplication of the physical addresses.

e. Data Base Information:

There are many ways to approach building the data base. In all cases, however, digital communications must first be established. Each howitzer and POC must input enough data base information to allow digital communications. Upon completion of data base construction, each howitzer must notify the POC when it is prepared to establish digital communications.

(1) LCU Data Base. There are two options in constructing a data base at LCU:

- Build a complete data base by selecting the weapon-dependent program and receiving all of the information directly from the individual Paladins.

- Modify an existing data base, using data base recording (DBR) DATABASE1 or DATABASE2 or FLEXIBLE DISC UNIT.

Selection of a data base previously recorded normally is the option selected. Corrections are made and transmitted to the howitzer as needed. As a matter of SOP, the automatic transmission howitzer data base (ATHDB) option should be X'd (selected). This allows automatic transmission of the HOW;SBT, MET;CM, AFU;REG, and SPRT;MAP anytime the format is executed or a HOW;REQUEST is executed. Otherwise, changes to the LCU data base are placed in the input queue and require operator action for transmission to howitzer(s). The LCU operator should enter all eight howitzers (both platoons) in the SYS;SBT. These should be the first eight entries. The adjacent platoon howitzers should have an entry of N in the T field. This eliminates the need to enter them in case the POC has to assume control of the adjacent platoon howitzers. However, do not enter the adjacent platoon howitzers (HOW;UPDATE) and ammunition (HOW;AMOUP) into the data base. This results in incorrect platoon location and ammunition count reports to battalion.

(2) AFCS Data Base. Each howitzer CS constructs his own data base, on the basis of known data. Some of this information is provided by the POC:

- Net access (see Appendix E).

- Net address (see Appendix E).

- Navigation subsystem restart.

- Date and time.

The remaining information for the AFCS is available at howitzer level (such as ammunition, load elevation, and TOT response time). At the onset of operations, there may be no more than one or two SCPs where the howitzer(s) may initialize the navigation system. This does not preclude other data base information from being entered. This fact underlines the importance of howitzer sections knowing the location of SCPs. The POC may need only to tell the CS at which SCP to initialize. It is important to note that once the navigation system is initialized, it need not be done again unless a catastrophic failure or loss of survey control occurs.

f. Establish the Net Control Station (Intra platoon):

(1) Each POC is responsible to establish voice and digital communications within its platoon. Strict net discipline is essential because of the increase in radios. Unit TSOPs should specify procedures to establish voice and digital communications.

(2) Voice communications checks should be made first on both voice and digital nets. If voice communications cannot be established, then digital cannot be established. Once each howitzer has completed data base input, digital communications should be established. The POC should first send a HOW;SBT. Once the HOW;SBT is received and acknowledged, the POC should direct the CS to "get initialization." The LCU receives this as a HOW;REQUEST, which the LCU operator executes. If ATHDB is X'd, then the HOW;SBT, AFU;REG, SPRT;MAP and MET;CM automatically transmit. It is important to note that this data base information is not accessible to the howitzer CS and is controlled exclusively by the POC. If the POC is uncertain whether the AFCS has this information, it should be retransmitted. There are two reasons for transmitting the HOW;SBT before any other message: first, to check digital communications from LCU to AFCS: and second, so the howitzer knows its fire unit name (as found in BCS SYS;SBT). This keeps the LCU operator from having to correct the fire unit name when a HOW;REQUEST is received from a howitzer.

(3) Unlike digital transmissions to other subscribers, the POC, when transmitting to howitzers, may transmit to a single gun or make a single broadcast transmission to all guns. For example--

- SB:*/1/2/ / ; Transmission to guns 1 and 2 only.

- SB:*/ / / / ; Broadcast transmission to all guns.

- SB:*/1 / / / ; Transmission to gun one only.

 

B-5. HOWITZER SUBSCRIBER TABLE (HOW;SBT)

The HOW;SBT is used to establish legal digital subscribers for each howitzer. The controlling POC should enter the backup POC in each HOW;SBT. This allows the backup POC to assume control of adjacent howitzers should the need arise.

B-6. HOWITZER MOVEMENT (HOW;MOVE)

a. HOW;MOVE Format:

The HOW;MOVE format is used to direct howitzer movement. This message gives the howitzer authority to move. When this format is used, it is important to understand the type of control the POC is granting the howitzer. If the POC intends the howitzer to occupy a single firing point, the radius given should be 0. If a position area is desired, thereby allowing the howitzer freedom to select its own position, a radius greater than 0 is specified. Whenever a radius greater than zero is specified, the howitzer is automatically granted move authority. In all cases, the POC should enter an X in REPORT. When the howitzer arrives at the specified location, the AFCS automatically reports the arrival to the POC. If the howitzer is directed to a firing point (no move authority) and the howitzer moves more than 18 meters, the AFCS warns the operator and reports the movement to the POC. If the POC wants the howitzer to lay on a specific azimuth, the desired azimuth is placed in the CSECT field. The LSECT and RSECT fields are used to orient the howitzer in a specific zone of support. If a manual move order is entered into the AFCS, the left, right, and center sectors revert back to sectors entered during initialization .

b. Howitzer Move Authority:

If the howitzer has move authority and the POC wants the howitzer to stop and report, the POC places an X in STAY and an X in REPORT. It is important to understand that when the howitzer has move authority, the LCU cannot compute firing data because the LCU does not know the exact location of the howitzer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

B-7. HOWITZER UPDATE (HOW;UPDATE)

The HOW;UPDATE, when transmitted to the LCU, displays the howitzer location and other firing-related information. The status reported in this format is also displayed in the LCU middle plasma display. The HOW;UPDATE should be compared to the platoon operations and survey overlays when received. If the LCU operator placed an X in REPORT on the HOW;MOVE format, the howitzer automatically reports its location when the CS selects ARRIVE on the AFCS. This is done upon arrival at a survey point (INITAL on the HOW;MOVE), logistic point, or position area. If the howitzer is moving to a firing point, the reported location should be within 100 meters (easting and northing) of the firing point. If the howitzer is sent to a position area, it should be within the specified radius from the grid sent in the HOW;MOVE. If not, the situation should be investigated, since there may be a problem with the AFCS.

Note: After a survivability move within a fire area the HOW; UPDATE is not

automatically transmitted when the CS presses the arrive key.

B-8. HOWITZER AMMUNITION (HOW;AMOUP)

The HOW;AMOUP contains the ammunition file for each howitzer. As previously stated, this includes ammunition on the ARV. If ammunition requires more than one page in the file, the first page when received will have AMOH: X and subsequent pages will have AMOR: X. Upon receipt of each howitzer's ammunition file, the file should be compared to the ammunition breakdown given by the XO.

B-9. AMMUNITION AND FIRE UNIT UPDATE MESSAGE (AFU;UPDATE)

a. IFSAS:

This format reports platoon location and other tactical information to the battalion IFSAS. If received from IFSAS or another LCU, this format cannot be executed. It is for information purposes only. It is part of the initial setup sequencing and must be executed at that time. Failure to execute this format during setup causes the MAXRNG entries to default to 0. This keeps the LCU from computing ballistic solutions, since the maximum range for each shell type is 0. The CORD and AZ fields reflect averages based on the number of HOW;UPDATEs on file.

 

 

 

b. HOW;UPDATE Averages:

Each POC must avoid executing the adjacent platoon HOW;UPDATEs if received, because the CORD and AZ fields reflect averages based on the number of HOW;UPDATES on file. Executing the adjacent platoon's updates can cause gross errors at BN IFSAS when the AFU;UPDATE is sent. This does not apply when one LCU must control all eight howitzers.

 

B-10. FIRE UNIT AMMUNITION UPDATE MESSAGE (AFU;BAMOUP)

The AFU;BAMOUP reports platoon ammunition to IFSAS. Just as with the AFU;UPDATE, the AFU;BAMOUP cannot be executed when received from IFSAS or another LCU. The AFU;BAMOUP reflects the total platoon ammunition based on the number of HOW;AMOUPs on file. You should not execute the adjacent platoon HOW;AMOUPs, as this transmits an incorrect AFU;AMMO file to battalion FDC.

 

B-11. REQUEST FOR DATA MESSAGE (HOW;REQUEST)

This format requests data base information from AFCS to LCU or from LCU to AFCS. When received from AFCS, the LCU operator has only to execute the request and the requested information is automatically addressed for transmission. A unique capability of this format is that it allows the LCU operator to request HOW;UPDATEs while the howitzer is moving. When received by the AFCS, the current howitzer location is transmitted back to the LCU. This allows the POC to track howitzer movement while en route to the next directed location or during survivability moves when in a position area.

 

B-12. SENSOR TO SHOOTER OPERATIONS (LINKED)

a. Target Acquisition Links:

This message links a Paladin howitzer with a target acquisition system. There are two types of link which may be established: a relay link and a direct link. The relay link allows the howitzer and observer to communicate through the LCU. The direct link requires the howitzer to change its digital fire direction frequency to that of the observer.

 

 

 

b. Prior Coordination:

Anytime a howitzer is to be linked, prior coordination is essential. This is necessary to determine the amount of control and/or support the observer needs. The following items must be coordinated with the FSO, FIST, FO, aerial fire support observer (AFSO), or other target acquisition agency:

- Duration of link.

- Requirement to store targets, to include priority targets.

- Target number block to be used.

NOTE: This should be the observers assigned target number block. Do not use the platoon LCU block unless absolutely necessary.

Type of ammunition required and number of rounds for adjust phase and fire-for-effect (FFE) phase of all fire mission processing.

c. Copperhead Firing:

The most likely situation requiring linked operations is the firing of Copperhead. The FIST or COLT may be linked directly to the howitzer. A direct link may be used for maneuver forces in movement to contact when only suppressive fires are needed. Priority targets may be established along the axis of attack and then be deleted and new ones established as the supported unit moves.

d. Link Suspension/Breakage:

The POC, using the HOW;OBSR format, establishes as much control as needed during the link and terminates the link by transmitting an updated HOW;SBT. Otherwise, the link is automatically broken upon expiration of the time established in the HOW;OBSR. If the linked observer is processing a fire mission, the termination is suspended until the mission is ended. If the AFCS has a stored priority target (FPF or priority Copperhead), the linked observer cannot establish a priority target until the POC deletes the one previously established. The POC may use the howitzer for fire missions, even if linked, as long as the howitzer is not processing a mission for the linked observer. In all cases, a priority mission (FPF or priority Copperhead) which has been established on the howitzer will override any other mission.

 

B-13. FIRE DIRECTION PROCEDURES

It is important to understand that Paladin fire mission processing differs from that for conventional cannon artillery units (such as the M109A3 and M119). The AFCS is the primary means of technical fire direction except in special situations. If it becomes necessary for the LCU to perform technical fire direction, the operator must first ensure that he has the current howitzer location and ammunition file. The operator must then place an X in the GUNORD field of the HOW;UPDATE message format. Once a howitzer is placed in a fire mission status and firing information is transmitted, only a priority mission (FPF or priority Copperhead) will override a mission. If the FDO wishes to override a mission in process, he must direct the LCU operator to end the mission in process or order the AFCS operator to abort the mission if in a degraded mode of operation.

a. FM;CFF Processing:

The LCU unique fields (data elements which follow the EDT indicator) are very important. Unlike conventional cannon systems, operator input into the LCU reformats the FM;CFF into a HOW;MSN format. This format is for transmission only and cannot be found in the message skeletons. Upon execution of the FM;CFF, the operator sees an FM;CFF addressed to the howitzers specified in the PTF: or SHTF: displayed on the LCU lower display. LCU is not computing technical firing data, so the RG: field and the MAXORD: field are not filled out. The RPT: field is also very important; placing an X in this field causes each howitzer to generate an MTO, shot, splash, and round complete or ready reports to update the LCU middle display. The decision to place an X in this field causes an increased communications burden on the internal fire direction net because each howitzer is reporting.

b. FM;CFF:O Processing:

This format is received from IFSAS or another LCU. It differs from the FM;CFF in that the tactical fire control information (such as shell-fuze and number or volleys) is present upon display. Otherwise, operator information is input the same as the FM;CFF.

c. FM;COMNDS:

This format is produced when the LCU is performing technical fire control. When displayed, this format is automatically addressed for transmission to the howitzer which has GUNORD: X in the HOW;UPDATE. If the LCU data base has a combination of GUNORD: X and GUNORD: BLANK in the HOW;UPDATEs, the HOW;MSN will always be prepared for transmission first.