On January 6, 2023, the United States Department of Defense announced a new military aid package for Ukraine, and for the first time, the U.S. will provide the Ukrainian army with 18 M109 Paladin 155mm tracked self-propelled howitzers.
Citing information from Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, artillery remains a crucial capability for the Ukrainians and the PDA (Presidential Drawdown Authority) will provide 18 self-propelled 155 mm Paladin howitzers, 36 105 mm towed howitzers, and thousands of rounds to supply both systems.
Other countries have already supplied Ukraine with M109 155mm self-propelled howitzers including Latvia which has donated six M109 howitzers, Norway with 23 M109A3G, and the UK with 20 Ex-Belgian M109A4
The M109A6 Paladin is an American-made 155mm self-propelled howitzer which is an improved version of the previous version of the M109 howitzer. The development of the M109A6 started in 1985. The US Army made a production decision for the M109A6 on 5 September 1990, with the first Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) options being awarded in September 1990 for 44 vehicles. The first production of M109A6 systems was completed in April 1992 and entered into service with the U.S. Army in 1999.
The design of the M109A6 is similar to the previous version of the M109 with the driver seated at the front left side of the hull with the power pack on its right and the turret at the rear. The artillery vehicle has a crew of 4, consisting of the commander, gunner, ammunition loader, and driver. The hull and the turret are made of all-welded aluminum armor, but the M109A6 is fitted with a new turret with improved armor and Kevlar ballistic lining.
The M109A6 Paladin is armed with one 155mm 39 caliber M284 cannon fitted with an M185 gun mount which has many improvements including a reinforced muzzle brake, advanced bore evacuator, a redesigned chamber and forcing cone, two shallow grooves for torque key replacing one deep groove, a new breech housing assembly, wiring of fasteners, added M49 firing mechanism and improved firing block, improved crank lead springs, strengthened breech handle springs and modified plunger, modification of the breech ring and longer ordnance.
The 155mm gun of the M109A6 Paladin has a maximum firing range of 24 km with standard artillery ammunition and 30 km with using assisted rounds. The vehicle carries a total of 39 rounds. It can also fire Excalibur GPS-guided artillery ammunition with a maximum firing range of 40 km.
The M109A6 Paladin vehicle is powered by a DDEC 8V71T two-cycle diesel engine developing 440 hp at 2,300 rpm manufactured by Detroit Diesel Corporation coupled to an Allison ATD-XTG-411-4 transmission with four forward and two reverse gears. The torsion bar suspension on either side consists of seven dual rubber-tired road wheels with the drive sprocket at the front and the idler at the rear. It can run at a maximum road speed of 64 km/h with a maximum cruising range of 344 km.
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