BONUS: The army just bought this “smart” artillery shell. Here is what he can do.

The US military has ordered a European intelligent artillery shell with sensor-guided submunitions.

the BONUS is a 155-millimeter hull from BAE Systems Bofors and French company Nexter, and produced by a BAE factory in Sweden.

BAE describes BONUS as a “shoot and forget” type ammunition capable of successfully fighting any armored vehicle. Compatible with the majority of existing artillery pieces, BONUS handles like a conventional shell. When launched from any 155mm artillery system, the BONUS carrier shell separates to deploy two rocket ammunition per sensor that then searches for targets in a given footprint, up to 32,000 meters squares [38,271 yards]. “

BONUS is a heat seeking anti-tank system. “The BONUS multimode sensor detects and identifies targets by processing signals received from passive infrared (IR) sensors spanning multiple wavelengths,” according to a BAE / Nexter press release. “The system then combines the results with the signals received from the profile sensor to separate combat-capable targets from false targets. “

Each of the two submunitions detects and attacks its own target, using explosive formation penetrators. The bane of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan who encountered them in IEDs, a VET is a shaped charge device that includes a piece of metal inside the ammunition which is molded into a projectile and fired at the target.

“The high rotational speed of the ammunition, its high descent speed and the absence of a parachute make it virtually undetectable and therefore invincible,” says BAE / Nexter. The manufacturers also state that “by using a combination of sensors, BONUS is effective against targets that use both passive and reactive protection systems.” If this is true, it suggests that BONUS is effective against regular armor plates and explosive reactive armor charges outside a vehicle that detonate to destroy anti-tank rockets. But that still leaves active protection systems like Trophy, which launch projectiles to take down anti-tank ammunition.

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The BONUS hull is a basic purge design, which uses an in-hull gas generator to generate gas flow that reduces drag and extends range. The shell has a maximum range of 35 kilometers [21.7 miles]. The shell can be fired by any 155-millimeter artillery piece, including the M109 self-propelled howitzer and the M777 towed howitzer.

Other countries that use BONUS are Finland, France, Norway and Sweden. BAE declined to specify the quantity of shells ordered by the US military, or the cost of each shell.

The BONUS purchase comes as the US military turns away from years of focus on counterinsurgency against technologically weak adversaries, to prepare for a “great war” against potential adversaries like Russia and China, which deploy sophisticated weapons. Russia in particular has an artillery arsenal that arguably surpasses America’s, deploying advanced weapons such as the 2S35 Koalitsiya-SV 152-millimeter self-propelled howitzer as well as a variety of multiple rocket launch systems. Recently, Russia has refurbished its Heavy Cold War artillery, including the 240-millimeter 2S4 Tyulpan mortar and the 203-millimeter 2S7 Pion howitzer.

American artillery has been somewhat neglected in recent years, due to the counterinsurgency warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan, where air power has proven to be a much more flexible instrument than relatively heavy artillery in warfare. small units. But in the face of potential adversaries with powerful air forces and air defenses, the air support that U.S. ground troops have relied on since World War II may no longer be available when needed. So, the US military is now talking about cannons that can fire a thousand miles and long-range shells that will allow existing howitzers to fire further.

What’s interesting is that ten years ago, BONUS might not have looked so appealing: Al Qaeda and the Taliban did not have armored vehicles. But Russia and China do, and a lot of them. An intelligent anti-armor artillery shell could prove very useful in a mechanized war between the great powers.

Michael Peck is a contributing writer for the national interest. It can be found on Twitter and Facebook.

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