new cannon, a new platform, and new ammunition.”
YPG has also conducted extensive developmental testing of prototypes of the XM 1299 self-propelled howitzer, and recently hosted the third Soldier Touchpoint of the system held at the proving ground. This event marked the first time that Soldiers have been able to drive the vehicle in realistic conditions in the natural environment.
“It’s meant to get equipment into the hands of Soldiers earlier,” said Flores. “It gets user feedback for the development of the weapon system and the munition.”
“They validate the Soldiers’ crew drills, get them used to it, and see what they think,” explained Hector Magana, test officer. “They ask if it is going to help them or not, what about the new system that they like and don’t like. Based on that, they make changes to the vehicle before it gets fielded.”
The Soldiers who participated in the week-long event hailed from the unit that will do operational assessments of the platform in fiscal year 2024.
“Each one of them was handpicked specifically for the skills that they have shown in the line of duty,” said Giancarlo Torres, test officer. “Any recommendations they may have will be taken with high value.”
YPG support included personnel to drive and operate the weapon, data collectors, test officers, instrumentation personnel. Though Soldiers will ultimately fire the
weapon, this touchpoint focused on other aspects of operation, such as breech and tube maintenance, and YPG gun crews performed all firing.
“We make sure the vehicles are ready, that they have all of the ammunition and propellant they need to do live fires and make sure they have support from drivers and test officers to ensure everything is done safely,” said Magana.
“Our personnel are the ones trained on how to operate the prototypes,” added Flores. “It makes sense to bring the Soldiers here to be trained by our trained personnel as well as the developers.”