Throughout nearly two decades of anti-terrorism and counter-insurgency warfare, the United States has continued to rely on long standing and reliable weapons platforms like the M777 Howitzer and the M1109AG Paladin Howitzer. These artillery platforms are capable of delivering a massive punch from a long distance — but as the U.S. Army is beginning to acknowledge, those distances may not be long enough if the nation were ever to find itself in a near-peer level conflict.
Despite the capabilities presented by America’s legacy weapons platforms, twenty years of near technological stagnation has had its effect. Although they’re fielding smaller and less capable militaries, both Russia and China have surpassed American military technology in a number of important fields, while America’s focus has been elsewhere. Hypersonic missile technology, hybrid warfare tactics, and even anti-satellite weapons are among a few of the warfighting realms America now finds itself playing catch up. However, it’s not just in the ground-breaking fields of defense technology that the U.S. finds itself struggling — it’s also in good old fashioned conventional war fighting realms: like artillery.
“I’m concerned that we’re currently behind China and Russia, both in terms of range and rate of fire. During the eight years of [President Barack] Obama, we fell behind. We delayed maintenance and deferred modernization — all while China and Russia were improving their conventional forces and artillery,” Sen. Jim Inhofe, the Republican Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee said on October 3.
“We don’t have the best of everything right now, and I want to make sure we can get the best equipment for our war fighters so they don’t face a situation where they are out-ranged or outgunned.”