Picatinny has been at the forefront of Smart Munitions development since the beginning. They have advanced from laser-designated weapons to those using infrared (IR) and Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and seeker technology to become the recognized leader in smart ammunition.
The first development in smart munitions was the Copperhead, a 155mm, indirect fire weapon that gave artillery a new long range capability to destroy tanks, self-propelled artillery, air defense vehicles, armored personnel carriers and other hard point targets. The Army initiated Copperhead development in 1971 and it was fielded in 1982. Copperhead, officially named the M172 Cannon-Launched Guided Projectile (CLGP), gave artillery the capability to kill a moving or stationary armored target with one or two rounds using pinpoint accuracy. It homes on reflected laser energy and delivers a devastating shaped charge warhead for one-shot target destruction using established communications methods and requiring less overall logistical support. As the world's first smart, guided artillery round, Copperhead is no longer in production but serves as a valuable benchmark for precision-guided mortar munitions.
Examples of Smart Munitions Being Developed and/or Fielded by Picatinny
The Precision Guided Mortar Munition (PGMM) adds a new dimension to the battlefield by extending range and precision strike capability. This significantly improves the survivability of friendly forces, reduces collateral damage, increases the lethality of the Army's lift capability and streamlines the logistics tail, which is critical to rapid deployment. The use of PGMM requires no modification to the force structure since it is launched from standard 120mm mortar tubes on existing platforms, and the single-shot lethality of PGMM makes it very cost effective.
The XM982 Excalibur Extended Range Projectile is a family of 155mm, Global Positioning System (GPS)-based, fire-and-forget projectiles being developed as the Army's cannon artillery precision munition. Excalibur will use a jam-resistant GPS receiver to update the inertial navigation system, providing precision guidance and dramatically improving accuracy regardless of range. The program uses a spiral development approach and will field three unique variants. The initial block will contain a unitary high-explosive warhead that has the capability to penetrate urban structures. Future block improvements will include smart and discriminating munitions. Smart munitions will be designed to search, detect, acquire, and engage fleeting and short-dwell targets common to open terrain battlefields. Discriminating munitions are expected to add the capability to selectively identify and engage individual vehicular targets by distinguishing specific target characteristics.
The Sense and Destroy Armor (M898-SADARM) is the Army's first smart fire-and-forget, top-down attack, multi-sensor artillery munition. Engineers at Picatinny headed up the design, development and procurement effort. SADARM was designed for precision engagement of self-propelled howitzers as well as other lightly armored vehicles. By destroying the enemy's counterfire capability, SADARM enabled friendly forces to move at will and dominate the battlespace. Due to affordability issues, the SADARM is currently not produced. Production could begin immediately if necessary.
The next phase of ammunition for traditional line-of-sight (LOS) or direct fire combat system is to expand their lethal range to engage targets at extended LOS and
Beyond Line-of-Sight ranges out to 8km+. The primary munition technology is the 120mm Mid-Range Munition (MRM) which is currently under development at Picatinny for the Mounted Combat System for FCS. MRM is a fire and forget, guided, "smart," tank
fired, projectile that could employ either a kinetic energy penetrator or an
advanced warhead to defeat any high valued target to include the most advanced
armored threats. MRM greatly enhanced system lethality and force
survivability. MRM will have dual mode sensor enabling either full autonomous
acquisition of vehicle targets in it's field of view or can be directed to
engage a specific vehicle or non-signature target through the use of a laser
designator. The guidance concept will be demonstrated via guide-to-hit
experiments currently in process. MRM could also be fired in the future by the
current Abrams tank extending the life of the tank and improve lethality. MRM
will increase the battlespace available to U.S. forces in early
engagement without requiring an increase in the forces' logistics footprint.