In 1963, the U.S. Army introduced the M109A1 155mm turreted self-propelled howitzer, called the Paladin. The Paladin has seen service in every American conflict from the Vietnam War to the present. It is currently the primary fire support system for the Army’s Armored Brigade Combat Teams. To an Army determined to change the way it pursues modernization, the history of the Paladin program is a cautionary tale. Two efforts at replacing the Paladin, the Crusader and Non-Line-of-Sight-Cannon, foundered due to a combination of requirements hubris, technology overreach, high costs and changing international threats. Currently, the howitzer is undergoing its sixth major upgrade. The Paladin upgrade program operates under a special public-private partnership between Anniston Army Depot and BAE Systems, Inc. When upgraded, Paladin will be an effective capability for decades to come. I have written about the Paladin as an example of what is right and wrong with Army acquisition for RealClearDefense here.
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