North Carolina National Guard has announced that its Soldiers start fielding the newest configuration of Paladin self-propelled howitzer.
The National Guard press release said that Soldiers began trained on the new M109A7 Paladin Self-Propelled Howitzer System at Maneuver Area Training Equipment Site at Fort Bragg on March 17.
Experts from Program Manager Self-Propelled Howitzers Systems New Equipment Training Team from Tank Automotive and Armament Command (TACOM) showed maintainers of F Company, 230th Brigade Support Battalion, 1 -113th Field Artillery Regiment, 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team, the improvements in survivability, mobility and firing upgrades that make the system more lethal on the modern battlefield.
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“It is a lot of combat power,” said Joseph Bethel, TACOM Field Maintenance New Equipment training team lead.
The instructors and students met at the huge service section at MATES. It housed four new Paladins and two M992A3 Carrier Ammunition Tracked, a design similar to the Paladin but without the 155 mm howitzer and built to carry extra rounds as an ammunition resupply vehicle in combat.
The instruction blended classroom study and testing with hands-on training on one of the Army’s newest weapon systems. The NCNG’s 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team is the first National Guard brigade to receive the M109A7, which was first fielded in 2017.
“We are very proud to be the first National Guard unit to get these,” said Col. Wes Morrison, commander of the 30th ABCT.
The three instructors share more than 60 years of military experience and several more years as civilian employees of TACOM.
Students strained against torque wrenches securing the bolts that keep the long dual-pin tracks, similar to bulldozer treads, tight. Every hose and belt in the 675 horsepower V-8 diesel engine was inspected by hand. Students used ruggedized diagnostic computers to interface with Paladin’s onboard computer system to solve problems before they start.
While new to the Paladin, many of the engine, transmission, electrical and other mechanical systems are compatible or identical with the M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle.
“Interoperability saves money in the long run,” Bethel said.
The students will complete 23 days of training and then return to their home units in the 30th ABCT to prepare the brigade to deploy the guns later this year.
“Students will be able to properly diagnose and repair electrical and mechanical systems at the end of this training,” said Staff Sgt. Richard Shell, a NCNG MATES artillery repair technician.