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M777 Lightweight Towed Howitzer
M777 Light Towed Howitzer 1.jpg
M777 Light Towed Howitzer in service with the 10th Mountain Division in Support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Logar Province, Charkh District, Afghanistan
Type Howitzer
Place of origin  United Kingdom
Service history
In service 2005 – present
Used by United States Marine Corps
United States Army
Saudi Arabian Army
Canadian Army
Australian Army
Specifications
Weight 3,420 kg (7,540 lb)[1]
Length Combat: 10.7 m (35 ft 1 in)
Travel: 9.5 m (31 ft 2 in)
Barrel length 200 Inches
Crew 7+1

Carriage split trail
Elevation 0° to +71.7°[2]
Rate of fire Normal: 2 rpm
Maximum: 5 rpm
Effective firing range M107: 24 km (15 mi)
ERFB: 30 km (18.6 mi) base bleed
Excalibur: 40 km (25 mi)

The M777 howitzer is a towed 155 mm artillery piece, successor to the M198 howitzer in the United States Marine Corps and United States Army. The M777 is also used by the ground forces of Canada and Australia. It made its combat debut in the War in Afghanistan.

The M777 is manufactured by BAE Systems' Global Combat Systems division. Prime contract management is based in Barrow-in-Furness in the UK as well as manufacture and assembly of the titanium structures and associated recoil components. Final integration and testing of the weapon is undertaken at BAE's facility in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.[3]

Design[edit]

US Marine gunners test fire an M777 howitzer.

The M777 began as the Ultralight-weight Field Howitzer (UFH), developed by VSEL's armaments division in Barrow-in-Furness, United Kingdom. In 1999, after acquisition by BAE, VSEL was merged into the new BAE Systems RO Defence. This unit became part of BAE Systems Land Systems in 2004. BAE System's original US partner was United Defense. However in 2005, BAE acquired United Defense and hence is responsible for design, construction and assembly (through its US-based, BAE Systems Land and Armaments group). The M777 uses about 70% US-built parts including the gun barrel manufactured at the Watervliet Arsenal.

External images
V-22 with M777
Osprey carries M777 for first time

The M777 is smaller and 42% lighter, at under 4,100 kg (9,000 lb), than the M198 it replaces. Most of the weight reduction is due to the use of titanium. The lighter weight and smaller size allows the M777 to be transported by MV-22 Osprey, CH-47 helicopter or truck with ease, so that it can be moved in and out of the battlefield more quickly than the M198. The smaller size also improves storage and transport efficiency in military warehouses and Air/Naval Transport. The gun crew required is an operational minimum of five, compared to a previous size of nine.[4]

The M777 uses a digital fire-control system similar to that found on self-propelled howitzers such as the M109A6 Paladin to provide navigation, pointing and self-location, allowing it to be put into action more quickly than earlier towed and air-transported howitzers.[citation needed] The Canadian M777 in conjunction with the traditional "glass and iron sights/mounts" also uses a digital fire control system called the Digital Gun Management System (DGMS) produced by SELEX with components of the Indirect Fire Control Software Suite (IFCSS) built by the Firepower team in the Canadian Army Land Software Engineering Centre.[5] The SELEX portion of the system, known as LINAPS, had been proven previously through earlier fielding on the British Army Royal Artillery's L118 Light Gun.[6]

The M777 is also often combined with the Excalibur GPS-guided munition, which allows accurate fire at a range of up to 25 miles (40 km). This almost doubles the area covered by a single battery to about 5,000 km2. Testing at the Yuma Proving Ground by the US Army placed 13 of 14 Excalibur rounds, fired from up to 24 kilometres (15 mi), within 10 meters of their target,[7] suggesting a circular error probable of about five meters.

Golf Battery, 2nd Battalion, 11th Marines, out of Camp Pendleton, Calif., dropped the 155mm M982 Excalibur round on insurgents 36 kilometers away — more than 22 miles — in Helmand province, marking the longest operational shot in the history of the M777 howitzer.[citation needed]

M777A2 vs legacy M198[8]
M777A2 M198
Weight 9,800 lb (4,400 kg) 16,000 lb (7,300 kg)
Time to Emplace 2:10 minutes 6:35 minutes
Time to Displace 2:23 minutes 10:40 minutes
number carried per C-130 Load 2 1

Variants[edit]

  • M777 – gun with optical fire control
  • M777A1 – digitisation upgrades with the addition of an on-board power source, satellite global positioning, inertial navigation, radio, Gun Display Unit (GDU) and Section Chief Assembly (SCA).
  • M777A2 – Block 1A software upgrade. Addition of an Enhanced Portable Inductive Artillery Fuze Setter (EPIAFS) to enable Excalibur and precision munition compatibility.[8][9]

Service history[edit]

Soldiers with Battery C, 1st Battalion, 321st Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 18th Fires Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, fire 155 mm rounds using an M777 Howitzer weapons system, on Forward Operating Base Bostick, Afghanistan, 2009.
Marines fire an M777A2 155 mm howitzer
Marines fire an M777A2 155 mm howitzer

United States[edit]

Army[edit]

18th Field Artillery Brigade (Airborne) at Fort Bragg, North Carolina was the initial Army test bed unit for the XM777 Lightweight 155mm Howitzer which included 1st and 3rd Battalions 321st Field Artillery Regiment. Gun Section 2, 2nd Platoon (5th Section) Bravo Battery, 2–11th Field Artillery (FA) was the first US Army unit to fire the M777A2 in combat at 08:23 (Baghdad Time) on 2 January 2008 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. 2–11 FA deployed December 2007 with 2nd Brigade Combat Team (BCT), 25th Infantry Division out of Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. In June 2007, the M777 in its A2 configuration was assigned to the U.S. Army's 3rd Battalion, 321st Field Artillery Regiment. 3-321 FA deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in December 2007 and has become mission capable since January 2008 making 3–321 FA the first U.S. Army unit to utilise the M777 in combat in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. In April 2008, the M777 was deployed for testing with the 2nd battalion, 8th Field Artillery of the U.S. Army at Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks, Alaska. On 20 July 2008, at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, the 1st Battalion, 108th Field Artillery, 28th Infantry Division, Pennsylvania National Guard became the first Field Artillery unit of the National Guard to field and fire the M777. C Battery 1–108th FA was the first National Guard Unit to Shoot the M777 at Camp Shelby, Mississippi.[10] Multiple firing incidents have occurred during training with the M777 including a fatal one in February 2014 with 3-321 FA BN of 18th Fires Brigade at Fort Bragg, NC [11] and previously in 2011 with Marines from Camp LeJeune also at Fort Bragg.[12]

Marine Corps[edit]

In May 2005, 3rd Battalion, 11th Marines, based at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, became the first Marine unit to begin fielding the new M777. 580 systems will be supplied to the Marines, and 421 to the U.S. Army and National Guard.[13][14]

Australia[edit]

In 2008, the Australian Defence Force made a US Foreign Military Sales request for 57 M777A2s worth an estimated US$248m.[15] Subsequently, 35 guns were purchased for the Australian Army to re-equip the 1st Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery and the 4th Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery; replacing 155mm M198s and 105mm L119 Hamels. The first deliveries of M777A2 began in late-2010.[16][17] An additional 19 guns will be bought directly from American production lines to enable a total of six batteries.[18]

Concurrently, the Australian Army has acquired guided 155mm munitions in the form of the M982 Excalibur and XM1156 Precision Guidance Kit[19]

Canada[edit]

In December 2005, 1st Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, conducted an inaugural firing of its first 155 mm M777 towed howitzers, for of a total of six guns. The six guns delivered were supplied by the United States Marine Corps under a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) contract[20] between the U.S. and Canada. First, the guns were tested by B Battery, 1 RCHA at CFB Shilo and then were deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Archer, and were put into service in the Canadian theatre of operations around Kandahar in early 2006. In the summer they made a significant contribution during the Battle of Panjwaii when a small number of rounds were used to huge effect on Taliban elements retreating from the battle area. Many of the 72 reported killed during the heaviest period of fighting were due to artillery fire from only two of these guns. In late fall of 2006, the Canadian M777 Howitzers were equipped with the Digital Gun Management System (DGMS), which greatly improved accuracy and led to these guns being used for Short Range Close Support of Canadian and US ground forces. However, until early 2007, ammunition supplies were constrained and led to reduced firing.[21] They proved so successful that an order for an additional six guns was placed with BAE. In May 2009, the Canadian government ordered a further 25 M777s, bringing the total to 37. [22] [23] The DGMS is also being improved with integrated communications.[24]

Colombia[edit]

BAE is offering M777 howitzers to the Colombian Army, along with M109A5/A6 Paladin self-propelled guns, for their artillery contest. The initial purchase is for 12 units, which may be raised to 25 units. A decision among five companies will be made in 2014.[25]

India[edit]

The Indian Army has also announced plans to acquire 145 guns for INR30 billion (US$501 million),[26] but purchase plans were overtaken when the procurement process was restarted in July 2010. India's Ministry of Defence cleared the proposal for buying 145 guns for $660 million on 11 May 2012 through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route of the US government.[27] This would be put up before the Ministry of Finance for clearance and will subsequently be taken up by the Cabinet Committee on Security for final approval.[28][29] On 2 August 2013, India requested the sale of 145 M777 howitzers for $885 million.[30] On 24 February 2014 the purchase was again postponed.[31]

Saudi Arabia[edit]

In 2011, Saudi Arabia ordered 36 M777A2 155mm towed howitzers from the United States, along with 17,136 rounds of High Explosive (HE) ammunition and 2,304 rounds of longer range Rocket Assisted Projectiles (RAPs).

The Saudis have purchased HMMWV vehicles to tow the guns, haul ammo and carry the crews and their gear. However, they didn't order any GPS guided 155mm Excalibur shells for their new M777A2 guns.[32]

Combat history[edit]

Operators[edit]

M777 Light Towed Howitzer in Operation in Logar Province, Afghanistan

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.baesystems.com/ProductsServices/l_and_a_ls_m777_howitzer.html
  2. ^ http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/ground/lw155.htm
  3. ^ "U.S. Upgrades and Orders More Lightweight BAE Systems Howitzers". Press release. BAE Systems – USA. 4 October 2011. Retrieved 6 October 2011. 
  4. ^ "M777 Lightweight 155 mm howitzer (LW155)". GlobalSecurity.org. 
  5. ^ LSEC Firepower Team
  6. ^ Army News article on the Canadian DGMS
  7. ^ Canada Deploys GPS Shell To Afghanistan
  8. ^ a b Goldman, Harvey I. (12 June 2007). "LW155 Howitzer Towed Artillery Digitization". NDIA Armaments Technology and Firepower Symposium 12 June 2007. .dtic.mil. Retrieved 27 January 2013. 
  9. ^ Gooding and Kratzer, Keith and David (October–December 2008). "PEO GCS's Digitized Towed Howitzer Supports the GWOT". US Army Acquisition Support Center. Army Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology Magazine. p. 32. Retrieved 27 January 2013. 
  10. ^ Alaska in Brief—March 27 "Army to test new howitzer in Fairbanks", Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, 27 March 2008. Accessed 27 March 2008.
  11. ^ http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Latest-News-Wires/2014/0222/82nd-Airborne-paratrooper-dies-in-howitzer-explosion-at-Fort-Bragg
  12. ^ http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/9271350/
  13. ^ a b "DoD Orders 46 Additional M777 Howitzers". Deagel.com. 22 February 2011. Retrieved 2012-07-29. 
  14. ^ page:190
  15. ^ "Australia – M777A2 155MM Light-Weight Howitzers". www.dsca.mil. Defense Security Cooperation Agency. 17 July 2008. Retrieved 12 September 2012. "WASHINGTON, July 17, 2008 – The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Australia of M777A2 155MM Light-Weight Howitzers as well as associated equipment and services. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $248 million." 
  16. ^ a b Bergmann, Kym (23 October 2010). "Push is on to bring out the big guns". The Australian (News Ltd). Retrieved 4 January 2011. 
  17. ^ Kennedy, Mitch; Doran, Mark (3 March 2011). "Changes in Artillery". Army News (Canberra: Australian Department of Defence). p. 3. 
  18. ^ "Army to get more towed guns". 16 October 2012. Retrieved 16 October 2012. 
  19. ^ FMS: Australia Requests Precision Guidance Kits for 155mm Munitions - Deagel.com, 12 August 2013
  20. ^ FMS Contract Details
  21. ^ Living with an eerie silence
  22. ^ BAE Wins $118m Orders for M777 Howitzer
  23. ^ More howitzers on the way
  24. ^ M777 equipped with new digital gun management system
  25. ^ Colombia; BAE Systems offers Paladin, M777 155mm - Dmilt.com, 10 August 2013
  26. ^ Rajghatta, Chidanand (28 January 2010). "US okays howitzers worth $647 million for India". The Times of India. 
  27. ^ India Orders 145 M777 Ultra Light Howitzers From BAE Systems
  28. ^ "India clears $660 million deal for artillery guns". Economic Times. 11 May 2012. 
  29. ^ "Defence Ministry clears M777 howitzers procurement projects". DNA. 11 May 2012. 
  30. ^ FMS: India Requests Sale of 145 M777 155mm Light-Weight Towed Howitzers - Deagel.com, 7 August 2013
  31. ^ RAGHUVANSHI, VIVEK (24 February 2014). "India Postpones Purchase of 145 Ultra Light Howitzers". www.defensenews.com. Gannett Government Media. Retrieved 24 February 2014. 
  32. ^ a b "The Arabian Light". October 7, 2011. Retrieved 5 May 2013. 

External links[edit]


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