Artillery: June 26, 2002


Members of Congress are trying to salvage something from the cancelled Crusader artillery program. At the very least, they want money to keep the development team together to work on new artillery systems. Contrary to widespread belief, Crusader wasn't a Cold War era project, but got started in 1994 after experience in the 1991 Gulf War indicated that improvements were needed in conventional artillery weapons. While the MLRS rocket system performed well (as did the attack helicopters, A-10 aircraft and smart bombs), there were still situations where a self-propelled 155mm gun was the best weapon. But rapid advances in smart bomb and rocket accuracy (that cannot be matched by 155mm shells, because of the difficultly of getting electronics and control systems into the 100 pound shells), made Crusader less urgent. The idea of keeping the development team together, so that 155mm artillery can "leap frog a generation", has appeal inside the Department of Defense (where that phrase is something of a mantra.)


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