Idaho Army National Guard participates in new smart weapon training

Idaho Army National Guard participates in new smart weapon training

Idaho Military Division Public Affairs/Crystal Farris

The Idaho Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion of the 148th Field Artillery Regiment returned from its annual training July 24, after spending more than two weeks at Camp Guernsey, Wyoming, where it participated in its first M1156 Precision Guidance Kit new equipment training.

“Receiving the PGK NET was a great opportunity that will enhance the battalion and the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team’s lethality on the battlefield,” said Lt. Col. Eric Orcutt, commander of the 1-148th FAR. “We purposely sought to field the PGK prior to the brigade’s upcoming mobilizations. If the PGK capability exists in the theater of operations we end up in, then our Soldiers will be trained to employ it and bring a precision capability to the fight.”

The GPS guidance kit with fuze functions and integrated GPS receiver, provides the 1-148th FAR with the latest technology to perform its warfighting mission and enables the unit to more accurately deploy munitions within 30 meters of an intended target, as opposed to the average 50 meters of traditional artillery.

Small aerodynamic fins on the fuze allow the system to make flight adjustments of the round’s trajectory and steer the shell on target. A fail safe can also prevent the shell from exploding if it falls outside 150 meters of an intended target.

This enables Soldiers to more confidently call in artillery support close to their position, reduce the number of shells needed to destroy a target and reduce difficulties in keeping crews supplied, said Sgt. 1st Class Mike Taylor, master gunner with the 1-148th FAR.

The fuze kit weighs three pounds and threads into the nose of conventional 155mm high explosive artillery shells, providing near-precision capabilities at a cost far less than precision munitions, Taylor added.

During the training, Soldiers belonging to Batteries Alpha, Bravo and Charlie learned about the PGK’s capabilities and conducted live-fire for the first time since the 1-148th FAR completed its National Training Center rotation at Fort Irwin, California, in 2019.

Orcutt said Camp Guernsey provided the battalion the ability to effectively train and conduct live-fire with more than 10 kilometers of open land.

“The 1-148 FAR was excited for the training at Camp Guernsey,” he said. “After last year’s annual training during COVID-19, everyone was eager to get back on the guns, on the hill, behind their fire direction computers, or wherever their job is. The training area was wooded, green, and full of terrain that many have not had an opportunity to experience, keeping the morale high and the training challenging.”

The 1-148th FAR employs fire to destroy, neutralize, suppress or shape enemy forces; provides fire support to maneuver in close combat and during counterattack to control land areas; and provides counterfire.

It is equipped with M1096A6 Paladins, self-propelled howitzers that fire 155mm artillery shells. Crews that operate the Paladin consist of four-man teams; a driver, a number one man, a gunner and a howitzer section chief.

The number one man is responsible for loading and firing the howitzer, the gunner fuzes the round and cuts propellant powder, while the section chief manages all firing data and ensures the howitzer is laid on target.