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


CHAPTER 1

MISSION, ORGANIZATION AND SYSTEM DESCRIPTION

The M109A6 Howitzer(Paladin) Battalion is organized and equipped to provide rapid and devastating fire support to the maneuver commander. The structure of the battalion and the tactics employed reinforce the principles of war and the tenets of Army Operations set forth in Operations FM 100-5. The battalion exhibits the agility, initiative and flexibility to mass in support of maneuver forces. The unique characteristics of the howitzer system provide the Fire Support Coordinator with maneuver, protection and effective firepower to execute his support plan. Chapter 1 explains the mission and organization of the Paladin battalion. Additionally, the chapter explains the characteristics and capabilities of the Paladin system.

 

1-1. MISSION

The Paladin battalion delivers fires to suppress, neutralize and destroy enemy direct fire forces, artillery and mortars. The battalion strikes throughout the depth of enemy formations interdicting ground forces and suppressing enemy air defense systems. The battalion performs the four standard tactical missions; direct support, general support, general support reinforcing, reinforcing and any nonstandard mission as described in FM 6-20-1, Chapter 1.

a. Basic tasks:

The Paladin battalion performs the same seven tasks in combat 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 as described in FM 6-20.

(2) Acquire targets with organic and non-organic means as discussed in FM 6-20-10 and FM 6-121.

(3) Deliver field artillery fires. Fire mission processing, from the observer's request for fire to delivery by the Paladin is discussed in detail in FM 6-20-1, Chapter 4; FM 6-20-40; and 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, including Paladin 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 increased range with 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.

1-2. ORGANIZATION

The Paladin howitzer replaces the M109A2/A3 howitzer in active and selected reserve component 155-mm platoon-based self-propelled units. The Paladin battalion organization is similar to that of the M109A2/A3 battalion with platoon-based batteries. The battalion is organized into a headquarters and headquarters battery (HHB), a service (SVC) battery, and three identical firing batteries. Figure 1-2 shows a typical Paladin organization.

1-3. OPERATIONS OVERVIEW

The most significant operational difference between the M109A6 howitzer and the M109A2/A3/A5 howitzer is the Paladin's ability to operate over a widely dispersed area. 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

LEGEND

AMMO = Ammunition POC = Platoon Operations Center

HQ = Headquarters SP = Self Propelled

PLT = Platoon

Figure 1-2. Paladin Battalion Organization.

Terrain management for the battalion S3 and the battery commander continues to present numerous coordination challenges and Paladin offers some added challenges over the current M109A2/A3 howitzer 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 block maneuver unit movement.

In the defense, a platoon of howitzers can occupy a position area that may be as large as 1 km in width and 2 kilometers in depth. Within the position area, the howitzer can repeatedly displace and move up to 500 meters, quickly emplace, 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, in addition to the factors of METT-T.

Chapter 3 discusses Paladin employment options in greater detail. Figure 1-1 shows the Paladin operational concept of two platoons employed with three howitzers per platoon.

Increased Responsiveness

- On- Board Position Navigation

- On- Board Technical Fire Control

- Freedom from Wire

- Radio Communications

- Faster "Ready to Fire" Times

Increased Survivability

- Greater Dispersion

- 300-500 meter Survivability Moves

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See Chapter 3 for Employment o FAASVs.

 

 

Figure 1-1. 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. A new turret structure to facilitates integration of the various turret improvements and vulnerability reduction measures and to improve 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, and gun-drive servos which automatically orients 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 threat 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 crew has individual protective equipment, and a microclimatic conditioning system which gives the crew filtered air through protective masks and vests.

d. Design Modifications:

The M109A6 uses the M182A1 gun mount and the M284 cannon assembly which allow use of the M203 series propelling charge. These modifications include a new gun tube assembly, structural improvements to the 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 at least 22 kilometers unassisted and 30 kilometers with a rocket assisted projectile (RAP).

 

 

e. Reliability, Survivability, and Maintainability(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 (DRU) of the Modular Azimuth Positioning System (MAPS) program. The DRU provides accurate position location (northing, easting, and altitude) and pointing (azimuth and elevation) data. 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 (Redundant MIL-STD 1553B Data Bus

- Power Conditioner Unit (PCU)

- Navigation System (DRU, VMS, modems)

 

(1) The AFCS has the capability of accepting a fire mission, computing the technical fire control solution, and slewing the cannon to the proper elevation and deflection. 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 and the Vehicle Motion Sensor (VMS) units are the three major components of MAPS. A brief description of these units follows:

(a) The DRU is a single box having inertial sensor instruments. It 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 performs the following functions: provides vehicle position from a known starting point in terms of UTM coordinates of northing easting and altitude; provides vehicle orientation in terms of azimuth from grid north, and 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 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.

(c) The VMS Modems modulate and demodulate the signal coming from the VMS by passing the signal from the hull to the turret via the slip ring segment boards. The hull side modem modulates the signal onto the vehicle electrical power passing through the slip ring. The turret side modem demodulates the signal and sends the signal to the DRU.

g. Armament Improvements:

Improvements to the cannon include a strengthened breech and improved breech components, a redesigned interior profile of the tube assembly, and a strengthened muzzle brake.

h. The M992A1/A2 Field Artillery Ammunition Support Vehicle (FAASV):

The M992A1/A2 Field Artillery Ammunition Support Vehicle (FAASV) accompanies the M109A6 and completes the howitzer section. The FAASV has a crew of five. The M992A1/A2 is a modified standard M992 FAASV. The X-Y stacker, which is an hydraulic powered internal ammunition lifting device for transferring projectiles from ammunition racks to a conveyor, has been removed from the M992A1/A2 configuration. The M992A1/A2 is a full-tracked, aluminum armored, ammunition resupply vehicle with a hydraulic powered conveyor for single-round transfer of ammunition. The M992A1/A2 is comparable to the M109A6 in terms of speed, mobility, and survivability.

 

 

In addition to ammunition handling equipment, the FAASV 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.

 

i. The Platoon Operations Center(POC):

The Platoon Operations Center provides battle command for a platoon of four M109A6 Paladin howitzer sections. The POC is contained in an M577A1/A2 command post vehicle configured to support M109A6 Paladin howitzer section operations. The Battery Computer System(BCS) or Lightweight Computer System(LCU) is the primary digital interface with battalion and the howitzers.

NOTE: BCS and LCU are interchangeable when used in this manual.