Pentagon Looking to Use US Army Artillery to Shoot Down Missiles

As the threat of missile attacks seems only to be growing, the Pentagon is looking at Army field artillery options that can help them address any incoming missiles. The Hyper Velocity Projectile, a significant innovation, would enable howitzers and deck guns on Navy vessels to take down incoming missiles with advanced projectiles.

The examination of the potential of the Hyper Velocity Projectile (HVP) is largely based on the large number of ballistic missiles associated with potential adversaries of the US. This includes the North Korean Nodong, Russian Iskander-M, and Chinese DF-21.

All of the above-mentioned missiles could pose a significant threat to US ground and sea-based forces, with the Iskander-M being capable of attacking soldier formations as well as headquarters buildings and supply units. The DF-21 poses a threat to aircraft carriers and similarly large Navy ships.

While the Pentagon has other defenses against ballistic missiles, such as the THAAD, Standard, and Patriot PAC-3 MSE missiles, according to a report by Popular Mechanics, they are incredibly expensive to operate. Each can cost upwards of $2 million and are generally more costly than the missiles they are capable of shooting down.

Additionally, no interceptor is guaranteed to hit its target, meaning several must be dedicated to the task of handling a single incoming missile.

However, the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office believes theM109A6 Paladin and M777 155-millimeter howitzers hold some potential and that they may be ideal for the HVP.

Plus, the HVP, which is capable of traveling at a speed of 5,600 miles per hour, has a projected cost of $86,000 a piece, reflecting a significant savings. Further, a howitzer is able to fire multiple shots in quick succession. A six-to-eight-gun battery could potentially launch as many as two dozen rounds in a period of just 15 seconds, making it easier to compensate for potential misses or other issues.

The Navy could also benefit from the HVP as each destroyer and cruiser is equipped with a 127-millimeter gun that could function as an HVP platform.

The Strategic Capabilities Office is set to test the HVP this year, with the results shedding light on what it is truly capable of accomplishing.