The Army Just Purchased This 'Smart' Artillery Shell. Here's What It Can Do

Military Tech

The U.S. Army has ordered a European smart artillery shell with sensor-guided sub-munitions.


The BONUS is a 155-millimeter shell by BAE Systems Bofors and France’s Nexter, and produced by a BAE factory in Sweden.

BAE describes BONUS as a “fire-and-forget munition capable of successfully combating any armored vehicle. Compatible with the majority of existing artillery guns, BONUS is handled just like a conventional shell. When launched from any 155-mm artillery system, the BONUS carrier shell separates to deploy two sensor-fuzed munitions that then search for targets within a given footprint, up to 32,000 square meters [38,271 yards].”

BONUS is a heat-seeking anti-tank system. “Multi-mode sensor BONUS detects and identifies targets by processing signals received from passive infrared (IR) sensors covering multiple wavelengths,” according to a BAE/Nexter press release. “The system then combines the results with signals received from the profile sensor to separate combat-worthy targets from false targets.”

Each of the two sub-munitions detects and attacks its own target, using Explosively Formed Penetrators. The scourge of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan who encountered them in IEDs, an EFP is a shaped-charge device that comprises a piece of metal inside the munition that is molded into a projectile and fired at the target.

The Bofors 155mm BONUS Munition from BAE SystemsBAE Systems

“The munition’s high spin rate, high speed of descent and absence of a parachute makes it virtually undetectable and therefore undefeatable,” says BAE/Nexter. The manufacturers also state that “using a combination of sensors, BONUS is effective against targets that use both passive and reactive protection systems.” If true, then this suggests that BONUS is effective against regular armor plate and explosive reactive armor charges on the outside of a vehicle that detonate to destroy anti-tank rockets. But this still leaves active protection systems like Trophy, that launch projectiles to shoot down anti-tank munitions.

The BONUS shell is a base-bleed design, which uses a gas generator in the shell to generate a gaseous flow that reduces drag and extends range. The shell has a maximum range of 35 kilometers [21.7 miles]. The shell can be fired by any 155-millimeter artillery piece, including the M109 self-propelled howitzer and the M777 towed howitzer.

Other countries that use BONUS include Finland, France, Norway, and Sweden. BAE declined to specify the number of shells ordered by the U.S. Army, or the cost of each shell.

The BONUS buy comes as the U.S. Army is turning away from years of focusing on counterinsurgency against technologically weak opponents, to prepare for “big war” against potential adversaries like Russia and China, who field sophisticated weapons. Russia, in particular, has an artillery arsenal that arguably surpasses America’s, deploying advanced weapons such as the 2S35 Koalitsiya-SV 152-millimeter self-propelled howitzer as well as a variety of multiple rocket-launch systems. Recently, Russia has been refurbishing its mothballed Cold War heavy artillery , including the 2S4 Tyulpan 240-millimeter mortar and the 2S7 Pion 203-millimeter howitzer.

U.S. artillery has been somewhat neglected in recent years, a result of counterinsurgency warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan where airpower proved a much more flexible instrument than relatively ponderous artillery for small-unit warfare. But facing potential opponents with strong air forces and air defenses, the air support that American ground troops have relied on since World War II may no longer be available when needed. Thus, the U.S. military is now talking of cannon that can shoot a thousand miles and extended-range shells that will enable existing howitzers to shoot further.

What’s interesting is that ten years ago, BONUS might not have seemed so attractive: Al Qaeda and the Taliban didn’t have any armored vehicles. But Russia and China do, and lots of them. A smart anti-armor artillery shell might prove very useful in a mechanized war between major powers.

This article originally appeared on The National Interest

Read more from The National Interest:

WATCH NEXT:

Casperassets.rbl.ms

Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.

Take $75 off a Casper Mattress and $150 off a Wave Mattress with code TASKANDPURPOSE

And no one knows that better than military service members and we have the pictures to prove it.

Read More Show Less

A low-flying C-17 gave Nashville residents a fright on Friday when the aircraft made several unannounced passes over the city's bustling downtown.

Read More Show Less
George W. Bush/Instagram

This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

Former President George W. Bush is calling for an end to the partial government shutdown, which is about to hit the one-month mark and is currently the longest shutdown in US history.

In an appeal made on Instagram, the 43rd president called on "leaders on both sides to put politics aside, come together, and end this shutdown." The caption was posted with an image of him and former First Lady Laura Bush giving pizza to their Secret Service detail.

Read More Show Less
Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans was arrested on Jan. 29, 2018. (Photo courtesy of Wilmington Police Department, North Carolina.)

A special operations Marine is due in court on March 7 after being arrested last year for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend, Task & Purpose has learned.

Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans was arrested and charged with assault inflicting serious injury on July 29, 2018, according to Jennifer Dandron, a spokeswoman for police in Wilmington, North Carolina. Evans is currently assigned as a Critical Skills Operator with the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, according to the Marine Corps Personnel Locator.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Elyse Ping Medvigy conducts a call-for-fire during an artillery shoot south of Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 22, 2014. Medvigy, a fire support officer assigned to the 4th Infantry Division's Company D, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, is the first female company fire support officer to serve in an infantry brigade combat team supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston (Photo by U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston)

Following Trump's inauguration, some supporters of ground combat integration assumed he would quickly move to reinstate a ban on women in jobs like the infantry. When this did not happen, advocates breathed a collective sigh of relief, and hundreds of qualified women charted a course in history by entering the newly opened occupational fields.

So earlier this week when the Wall Street Journal published an editorial against women in ground combat by conservative political commentator Heather Mac Donald, the inclination of many ground combat integration supporters was to dismiss it outright. But given Trump's proclivity to make knee jerk policy decisions in response to falling approval ratings and the court's tradition of deference to the military when it comes to policies affecting good order and discipline, it would be unwise to assume the 2016 lifting of the ban on women in ground combat is a done deal.

Read More Show Less