New threats from Russia and China mean the Army must take on new missions — but it’s got almost no new money so the Army is looking at ways to modify existing systems to do some radically new things.

So imagine howitzers firing precision-guided cannon shells to shoot cruise missiles out of the sky or to sink ships on the South China Sea. Imagine networking existing sensors in new ways to counter Russian heavy jamming. Imagine eight-wheel-drive Stryker armored vehicles acting as mobile anti-aircraft guns.

“One of the highlights that I was trying to emphasize is repurposing existing capability,” said Maj. Gen. John Rossi, head of the Army Fires Center at Fort Sill, speaking to me after his remarks to the Association of the US Army’s annual air and missile defense conference. “I see very promising potential for using something we already have” in new ways, he said, for less money and time than developing new weapons.

If this economy-minded “teach old dogs new tricks” approach sounds a lot like Secretary Ash Carter’s Strategic Capabilities Office, that’s not an accident. SCO is pushing the Hyper Velocity Projectile (HVP), a BAE Systems cannon shell with precision guidance that can be fired from Navy 5-inch deck guns or Army 155 millimeter howitzers. The Navy side is further along, but the Army has test-fired the 155 version of the HVP, Carter boasted recently.

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Image courtesy of Breaking Defense