Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System

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Under the Army Battle Command System (ABCS) at higher headquarters level, the Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System (AFATDS) forms, with other service and national systems, a common operational picture (COP) of fire support, not just artillery but also guided missiles and air operations.[1] The system is being co-developed with the U.S. Marine Corps, and replaces the TACFIRE system. It is ABCS that interfaces to the Global Information Grid, not AFATDS.

Artillery control

AFATDS generally goes to a tactical headquarters that actually directs the weapons, but it can interface to precision-guided munitions or long-range weapons systems.

M109 155mm Howitzer

AFATDS does not go down to the individual artillery piece level, but the Platoon Operations Center for a M109A6 howitzer firing platoon interfaces to AFATDS using the lightweight computer unit (LCU) with battery computer system (BCS) software.[2] The LCU, in turn, communicates with the Automated Fire Control System (AFCS) of each artillery piece. [3]

M777 Lightweight Howitzer & the next generation

Not only does the M777 howitzer replace the M198 towed howitzer, it is the first artillery piece that can fire the XM982 Excalibur guided shell, a 155 mm precision-guided artillery round with extended range. The projectile is a joint development with the Swedish Army. AFATDS does interface to the Excalibur, and to the now-cancelled future Non-Line of Sight (N-LOS) artillery piece.

M270 launcher

While the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System was originally intended for both unguided rockets with greater range than the 155mm howitzer, as well as the MGM-140 ATACMS surface-to-surface missile, its M26 unguided rockets are being replaced with two guided rockets with lesser range than ATACMS but longer range than the M26: the M30 with cluster submunitions, and the XM31 with a unitary warhead. ATACMS can communicate with these extended range systems.

Interoperability

This Army and Marine system can exchange information with the AN/SYQ-27 Naval Fire Control System (NFCS) aboard Burke-class destroyers.[4] NFCS, in turn, interfaces to the Navy's Global Command and Control System-Maritime.

With the Air Force Theater Battle Management Core System (TBMCS), the two systems work together to deconflict Army artillery fires with the Air Tasking Order. The TBMCS operates as part of the Global Information Grid at the level of Unified Combatant Commands.

Internationally, it works with the Artillery Systems Cooperation Activities (ASCA): U.S. AFATDS, French ATLAS, Italian, German ADLER and British BATES. ASCA is a superset of NATO standardization agreements (STANAG).

References

  1. Hughes, Dan & Ron Filak, Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System (AFATDS)
  2. U.S. Army (Department of the Army) (1 August 2000), Chapter 1: Mission, Organization, and System Description, Field Manual FM 3-09.70: Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for M109A6 Howitzer (Paladin) Operations
  3. U.S. Army (Department of the Army) (1 August 2000), Appendix B: Automated Command and Control, Field Manual FM 3-09.70: Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for M109A6 Howitzer (Paladin) Operations
  4. Kollar, Gregory T. (March-April 2005), "Naval Fire Control System", Field Artillery