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30th ABCT first US National Guard unit to transition to new A7 Paladin variant

M109A7 howitzers
Soldiers with the NCNG's 1st Battalion, 113th Field Artillery Regiment, fire new M109A7 howitzers at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, May 20, 2021. Photo: USNG

The US National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 113th Field Artillery Regiment (1-113th FA), 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT) put the newest M109A7 self-propelled howitzer system variant to the test during an artillery live-fire exercise at Fort Bragg earlier this month.

The 30th ABCT was the first National Guard brigade to receive the newest iteration of the Paladin and trained for almost two weeks before the live-fire event.

During the training, 1-113th soldiers had the opportunities to learn the differences between the old hydraulic system and the new electric system before heading to the range.

Staff Sgt. Cody Fields, a section chief with C Battery, 1-113th FA, was excited to learn the new system.

“The new weapons system allows us to do it a little bit faster,” Fields said. “Everything went from hydraulic to electric. It allows us to mitigate some of the maintenance issues we had in the past.”

Soldiers with the 1-113th, who returned home from the Middle East less than a year ago, will have spent 23 days training on the new equipment, which falls in line with the Army’s post-deployment training goals.

“To get such a brand new piece of equipment and be able to come out post-deployment and modernize as we talk about in the Army; post-deployment you modernize on equipment, and then you start a new training cycle, so it’s perfect for them,” Morrison said.

The 1-113th replaced their entire fleet of Paladins with the new A7 model.

The M109A7 Paladins bring extended range and overall performance improvements over the M109A6. They will increase their predecessors’ sustainability through 2050 and will be fitted with Blue Force Tracker capability to ensure situational awareness with other friendly forces. The program has leveraged Bradley commonality for key components – engine, transmission, final drive and suspension – in a new hull. The new electric-gun drives and rammer components, as well as a microclimate air conditioning system, will be powered by the common modular power system utilizing a 600-volt onboard electrical system in the existing cab and cannon assembly.

The new howitzers are being delivered to the army and national guard units by BAE Systems under an initial contract awarded in 2017.