PGK Background and Programme Update
The Precision Guidance Kit (PGK) has fundamentally transformed artillery fires operations for the US Army and has very quickly become the “weapon of choice” to support theatre operations, Northrop Grumman told MONCh ahead of its Bushmaster Conference next week (9-10 April 2019, more here https://www.monch.com/mpg/news/land/4849-ng-bushmaster-conference.html).
Similar to how the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) Global Positioning System (GPS) guided tail kit enriched precision guidance for the US Air Force, the PGK GPS guided nose-kit has drastically improved indirect fires for the US Army. The PGK, designated M1156, is a Northrop Grumman designed and produced precision guidance system that turned 155mm “M795” and “M549A1”artillery rounds into smart weapons.
The Northrop Grumman engineering team enhanced the design to have a single moving part and self-generated electrical power and programme management drove increased reliability to better than a standard fuse (which is 20X less complex) as well as paved the way for future PGK derivatives. Supply Chain metrics make the above achievements remarkable: 1100+ parts, 360 part types and 68 sources of supply managed.
Several US allies have participated in demonstrations of the devices capability with their own military’s artillery systems. The device is under evaluation with Australia and Canada receiving initial quantities. PGK is being offered to several nation’s – and potential deliveries and fielding are subject to US government approvals.
Having recently completed only its second production year, the PGK team has simply surpassed all expectations for cost-effectiveness, as like weapons are at least 7X more expensive, performance and reliability. All Option 1 (15,525 PGKs) and Option 2 (8,001 PGKs) were delivered well ahead of contractual delivery schedule. “Due to the performance, ease of training and exceptional reliability of the PGK, there is now an unsurpassed warfighter demand for PGKs as war reserve stands at a small percentage of required assets,” the company says.
In response to demand, Northrop Grumman has ramped up production from 48 units/day, to 68 units/day. This 141% increase in production capacity happened without missing a single delivery to the customer and seven weeks ahead of contractual schedule. In 90 days, the company developed a new “just in time” lean production line and drove build time from 7.41 hours to 5.92 hours – a 21% cycle time improvement while reducing scrap by 24 percent.
Based upon this success and user confidence, the US Army acquisition community has directed an increase in production to 92 units per day – a 30% rate increase.
All 15 Lot Acceptance Tests (LAT) for Option 1 and all 8 LATs for Option 2 were passed during Tier 1 testing thus allowing Tier 2 and Tier 3 assets, a total of 690 PGKs, to be used for other means. “This unprecedented reliability avoided costs of $8.2 million for the US Army. Similarly, the accuracy measurements of these LATs have blown away threshold accuracy performance requirements (of 50m) by realizing an amazing sub 10m CEP average,” the company concludes. “The LAT reliability achieved is unparalleled having achieved 98.89% reliability rate vs a 92% requirement. The result: a battery can now fire for first time lethal effects thus allowing them to get in and get out which consequently saves money and more importantly saves lives.”