M777 howitzer

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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
Indian Army
Canadian Army
Australian Army
Wars War in Afghanistan[1]
Iraq War
Iraqi Civil War (2014-present)[2]
Yemeni Civil War (2015-present)[3]
Saudi-led intervention in Yemen (2015-present)
Specifications
Weight 4,200 kg (9,300 lb)[4]
Length Combat: 10.7 m (35 ft 1 in)
Travel: 9.5 m (31 ft 2 in)
Barrel length 5.08 m (16.7 ft)
Crew 7+1

Shell M107, M795, ERFB, M982
Caliber 155 mm (6.1 in)
Carriage split trail
Elevation 0° to +71.7°[5]
Rate of fire Normal: 2 rpm
Maximum: 5 rpm
Effective firing range M107: 24 km (14.9 mi)
ERFB: 30 km (18.6 mi) base bleed
Excalibur: 40 km (25 mi)

The M777 howitzer is a towed 155 mm artillery piece. It succeeded the M198 howitzer in the United States Marine Corps and United States Army in 2005. The M777 is also used by the ground forces of Australia, Canada, India and Saudi Arabia. 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 United Kingdom 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.[6]

Design[edit]

US Marine gunners test fire an M777 howitzer.

The M777 began as the Ultralight-weight Field Howitzer (UFH), developed by Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering's armaments division in Barrow-in-Furness, United Kingdom. This company was bought by BAE Systems which ended up 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.[citation needed]

With a weight of 4,200 kg (9,300 lb), the M777 is 41% lighter than the 7,154 kg (15,772 lb) M198 howitzer it replaces.[7][8] Much of the weight reduction is due to the extensive use of titanium.[9] The M777 can be transported by helicopter sling-load, transporter aircraft such as the C-130, or towed by air-braked vehicles weighing over 2.5 tonnes (2.8 short tons), such as the FMTV and MTVR.[10][11] The minimal gun crew required is five, compared to a previous nine.[12]

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 quickly.[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.[13] 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.[14]

The M777 may be combined with the M982 Excalibur GPS-guided munition, which allows accurate fire at a range of up to 40 km (25 mi). This almost doubles the area covered by a single battery to about 1,250 km2 (480 sq mi). 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 m (33 ft) of their target, suggesting a circular error probable of 5 m (16 ft).[15]

In June 2012, Golf Battery, 2nd Battalion, 11th Marines, out of Camp Pendleton, California, dropped the M982 Excalibur round on insurgents at a range of 36 km (22 mi) in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. This marked the longest operational shot in the history of the M777 howitzer, and the longest operational artillery shot in history for the Marine Corps.[16]

In 2014 the US military began fielding several upgrades to their M777 howitzers including new liquid crystal display units, software updates, improved power systems, and muzzle sensors for onboard ballistic computing. Future upgrades include a touchscreen Chief Section Display, a new Mission System Computer, and a digital radio.[17]

In May 2017, the U.S. Army revealed they were buying the Swedish BONUS round as an interim system as a result of the required phasing out of cluster munitions from artillery shells, complying with policy to achieve less than 1% unexploded ordinance from non-unitary explosives; the BONUS has two sensor-fused munitions deployed by a 155 mm carrier projectile that scan the ground for targets and fire explosively formed penetrators down from the air. The system has been tested from the M777 howitzer.[18]

M777A2 vs legacy M198[19]
M777A2 M198
Weight 4,200 kg (9,300 lb) 7,154 kg (15,772 lb)
Emplacement time 2 min 10 s 6 min 35 s
Displacement time 2 min 23 s 10 min 40 s
Number carried per C-130 Load 2 1

Variants[edit]

  • M777 – gun with optical fire control
  • M777A1 – digitization 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.[19][20]
  • M777ER - Experimental upgrade created by the Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) project modified with a 52-caliber barrel, adding 1.8 m (5.9 ft) to the cannon and less than 450 kilograms (990 lb) to the overall system, extending range from 30 to 70 km (19 to 43 mi); concept only.[21]

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.[22] 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 [23] and previously in 2011 with Marines from Camp LeJeune also at Fort Bragg.[24]

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. Five hundred and eighty systems will be supplied to the Marines, and 421 to the U.S. Army and National Guard.[25][26]

In March 2016, 200 Marines and four M777A2 howitzers from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit set up Firebase Bell, officially the Karasoar Counterfire Complex, near the Iraqi town of Makhmour, supporting the Iraqi Army's Mosul offensive. The firebase is only 15 miles (24 km) from ISIL-controlled territory, and one Marine was killed in a rocket attack on 19 March, just days after arriving; direct attacks on the base dropped off in the following weeks as the Iraqis captured surrounding villages. The Marine howitzers fire every day in support of Iraqi maneuvers, using high explosive, smoke, and illumination rounds.[27] They were relieved by Army soldiers after roughly 60 days, after firing more than 2,000 rounds in 486 fire missions.[28]

In March 2017, the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit was deployed to Syria to provide artillery support with their M777s for forces seeking to eject ISIL forces from Raqqa.[29]

Australia[edit]

In 2008, the Australian Defence Force made a US Foreign Military Sales request for 57 M777A2s worth an estimated US$248m.[30] 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 155 mm M198s and 105 mm L119 Hamels. The first deliveries of M777A2 began in late 2010.[31][32] An additional 19 guns will be bought directly from American production lines to enable a total of six batteries.[33] Concurrently, the Australian Army has acquired guided 155 mm munitions in the form of the M982 Excalibur and XM1156 Precision Guidance Kit.[34]

Brazil[edit]

In 2010, The Brazilian Navy evaluated the 155 mm M777 as a candidate to replace the six 155 mm M114A1 howitzers of the Marine Corps branch.[35] The successor to the M114 hasn't been chosen yet.

Canada[edit]

In December 2005, 1st Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, conducted an inaugural firing of its first 155 mm M777 towed howitzers, for a total of six guns. The six guns delivered were supplied by the United States Marine Corps under a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) contract[36] 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.[37] 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.[38][39] The DGMS is also being improved with integrated communications.[40]

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.[41][needs update]

India[edit]

The Indian Army has also announced plans to acquire 145 guns for 30 billion (US$466 million),[42] 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 US$660 million on 11 May 2012 through the US Government's Foreign Military Sales (FMS) process.[43] This was put up before the Ministry of Finance for clearance and will subsequently be taken up by the Cabinet Committee on Security for final approval.[44][45] On 2 August 2013, India requested the sale of 145 M777 howitzers for US$885 million.[46] On 24 February 2014 the purchase was again postponed.[47] On 11 May 2014 the purchase was cleared by India's Defence ministry.[48] On 11 July 2014, the Government of India announced that it would not order the guns because of cost issues.[49] On 22 November 2014, the selection process was restarted under the "Make In India" program.[50] On 13 May 2015, The defence ministry approved ₹2,900 crore to buy 145 M777 ultralight howitzers from the US.[51] On 15 December 2015, the Indian Ministry of Defence said it was keen on placing a follow-up order of 500 more M777 guns.[52]

On 26 June 2016, it was announced that 145 guns will be purchased by India for US$750 million.[53] On 30 November 2016 Indian government completed the deal to buy 145 howitzers from the US.[54] The deal was completed in December 2016.[55] Indian Army received 1st batch of two M777 howitzers on 18 May 2017.[56]

India received its first shipment comprising 2 Howitzers on 18 May 2017 in New Delhi from United States in ready to use condition.[57]

Saudi Arabia[edit]

In 2011, Saudi Arabia ordered 36 M777A2 155 mm 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[inconsistent], haul ammunition, and carry the crews and their gear. However, they did not order any GPS-guided 155 mm Excalibur shells for their M777A2 guns.[58]

Combat history[edit]

Operators[edit]

Map of M777 operators in blue[needs update]

Current operators[edit]

  •  Australia: 54 systems
  •  Canada: 37 systems
  •  United States: 1,001 systems, 580 for the Marine Corps and 421 for the Army and Army National Guard, have been ordered.[25] Both the US Army and Marine Corps field a "pure fleet" of M777A2 variants.[17]
  •  India: 145 guns for the Indian Army. Deal finalised via a Government to Government contract. Twenty five guns to be delivered by mid-2017 and rest of them will be built under the "Make in India" banner.

Potential operators[edit]

  •  United Arab Emirates: On 5 May 2016, BAE Systems confirmed that it is working with Emirates Defense Technology (EDT) to develop a self-propelled version of the M777 howitzer for the UAE Armed Forces.[59]

BAE Systems believe they have substantial opportunity to sell the M777 to Chile, Denmark, Italy, and Portugal.[35]

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hw91mzpyzjM
  2. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93HFYz2LRoA
  3. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pIBiLtYzRJE
  4. ^ U.S. Upgrades and Orders More Lightweight BAE Systems Howitzers, BAE Systems 
  5. ^ John Pike. "M777 Lightweight 155mm howitzer (LW155)". Retrieved 4 November 2014. 
  6. ^ "U.S. Upgrades and Orders More Lightweight BAE Systems Howitzers". Press release. BAE Systems – USA. 4 October 2011. Retrieved 6 October 2011. 
  7. ^ "M777 Howitzer - Specifications". Canadian Army. Archived from the original on 3 August 2016. Retrieved 18 March 2017. Weight: 4200 kg 
  8. ^ "M198 Towed Howitzer - Specifications". GlobalSecurity.org. Archived from the original on 1 April 2013. Retrieved 18 March 2017. Weight: 15,758 pounds (7.154 kilograms) 
  9. ^ "M777 155mm Ultralightweight Field Howitzer". Army Technology. Archived from the original on 15 November 2016. Retrieved 18 March 2017. The construction of the M777 makes extensive use of titanium and titanium castings, enabling a weight reduction of 3,175kg (7,000lb) compared to the M198 howitzer which it replaces in the US Army and USMC inventory. 
  10. ^ "M777 155mm Ultralightweight Field Howitzer". Army Technology. Archived from the original on 15 November 2016. Retrieved 18 March 2017. The M777 has a production weight of 3,745kg and can be transported by helicopter, transporter aircraft and ship. The howitzer can be towed by an air-braked 4x4 vehicle greater than 2.5t. 
  11. ^ "M777 Howitzer - Specifications". Canadian Army. Archived from the original on 3 August 2016. Retrieved 18 March 2017. The M777 weighs 9200 pounds [...] making it highly mobile and easily transportable by C130 aircraft, helicopter or a truck of at least 2.5 tonnes. 
  12. ^ "M777 Lightweight 155 mm howitzer (LW155)". GlobalSecurity.org. 
  13. ^ "LSEC Firepower Team". dnd.ca. Retrieved 30 May 2017. 
  14. ^ "Army News article on the Canadian DGMS". forces.gc.ca. Retrieved 30 May 2017. 
  15. ^ "Canada Deploys GPS Shell To Afghanistan". Retrieved 4 November 2014. 
  16. ^ Lamothe, Dan (30 June 2012). "Long shot: Artillery battery sets lethal record". Marine Corps Times. Retrieved 11 October 2013. 
  17. ^ a b "PM Towed Artillery Systems". Defense Media Network. Retrieved 4 November 2014. 
  18. ^ Army Concerned Over Ban on Cluster Munitions, Land Mines - Military.com, 2 May 2017
  19. ^ a b Goldman, Harvey I. (12 June 2007). "LW155 Howitzer Towed Artillery Digitization" (PDF). NDIA Armaments Technology and Firepower Symposium 12 June 2007. .dtic.mil. Retrieved 27 January 2013. 
  20. ^ Gooding and Kratzer, Keith and David (October–December 2008). "PEO GCS's Digitized Towed Howitzer Supports the GWOT" (PDF). US Army Acquisition Support Center. Army Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology Magazine. p. 32. Retrieved 27 January 2013. 
  21. ^ Picatinny engineers seek to double range of modified howitzer - ARDEC.Army.mil, 21 March 2016
  22. ^ "Alaska in Brief—March 27" "Army to test new howitzer in Fairbanks", Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, 27 March 2008. Accessed 27 March 2008.
  23. ^ The Christian Science Monitor. "82nd Airborne paratrooper dies in howitzer explosion at Fort Bragg". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 4 November 2014. 
  24. ^ "Ten injured during artillery training at Fort Bragg". WRAL.com. Retrieved 4 November 2014. 
  25. ^ a b "DoD Orders 46 Additional M777 Howitzers". Deagel.com. 22 February 2011. Retrieved 2012-07-29. 
  26. ^ page:190
  27. ^ Near ISIS front, U.S. Marine artillerymen ‘fire every day’ - Militarytimes.com, 7 April 2016
  28. ^ Marines in Iraq came under 'numerous' rocket attacks, commander says - Militarytimes.com, 30 June 2016
  29. ^ "Marines have arrived in Syria to fire artillery in the fight for Raqqa". The Washington Post. 8 March 2017. Retrieved 9 March 2017. 
  30. ^ "Australia – M777A2 155MM Light-Weight Howitzers" (PDF). 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. 
  31. ^ Bergmann, Kym (23 October 2010). "Push is on to bring out the big guns". The Australian. News Ltd. Retrieved 4 January 2011. 
  32. ^ Kennedy, Mitch; Doran, Mark (3 March 2011). "Changes in Artillery". Army News. Canberra: Australian Department of Defence. p. 3. 
  33. ^ "Army to get more towed guns". 16 October 2012. Retrieved 16 October 2012. 
  34. ^ FMS: Australia Requests Precision Guidance Kits for 155mm Munitions - Deagel.com, 12 August 2013
  35. ^ a b "Marinha do Brasil interessada no obuseiro M777 da BAE Systems" [Brazilian Navy interested on BAE Systems' M777 howitzer]. Forças Terrestres - ForTe (in Portuguese). 2010-09-19. Retrieved 2017-03-19. 
  36. ^ "FMS Contract Details". Retrieved 4 November 2014. [unreliable source?]
  37. ^ "Afghanistan News May 9, 2007". afghanistannewscenter.com. 
  38. ^ "BAE Wins $118m Orders for M777 Howitzer". defense-aerospace.com. Retrieved 4 November 2014. 
  39. ^ "More howitzers on the way". forces.gc.ca. Retrieved 30 May 2017. 
  40. ^ "M777 equipped with new digital gun management system". forces.gc.ca. Retrieved 30 May 2017. 
  41. ^ Colombia; BAE Systems offers Paladin, M777 155mm - Dmilt.com, 10 August 2013
  42. ^ Rajghatta, Chidanand (28 January 2010). "US okays howitzers worth $647 million for India". The Times of India. 
  43. ^ HP. "India Orders 145 M777 Ultra Light Howitzers From BAE Systems". Retrieved 4 November 2014. 
  44. ^ "India clears $660 million deal for artillery guns". Economic Times. 11 May 2012. 
  45. ^ "Defence Ministry clears M777 howitzers procurement projects". DNA. 11 May 2012. 
  46. ^ FMS: India Requests Sale of 145 M777 155mm Light-Weight Towed Howitzers - Deagel.com, 7 August 2013
  47. ^ RAGHUVANSHI, VIVEK (24 February 2014). "India Postpones Purchase of 145 Ultra Light Howitzers". www.defensenews.com. Gannett Government Media. Retrieved 24 February 2014. 
  48. ^ "India buys new artillery guns, 27 years after Bofors". 11 May 2014. Retrieved 26 May 2014. 
  49. ^ "Indian MoD says M777 buy in doubt over high cost, offset requirements". 13 July 2014. 
  50. ^ Pandit, Rajat (23 November 2014). "Three decades on, defence minister clears Rs 15,750 crore howitzer projects". Times of India. TNN. Retrieved 22 November 2014. 
  51. ^ Govindan, Adarsh (14 May 2015). "New Aircraft Carrier, Brahmos Missiles, C-295 Planes & M-777 Howitzers all cleared for Purchase". defencenews.in. TNN. Retrieved 13 May 2015. 
  52. ^ Basu, Nayanima (14 December 2015). "Ministry keen to purchase 500 more Howitzer guns from BAE Systems". thehindubusinessline.com. Retrieved 30 May 2017. 
  53. ^ "India clears purchase of 145 ultra-light Howitzer guns from US". intoday.in. Retrieved 30 May 2017. 
  54. ^ "M777 howitzer deal inked by the Indian government". 30 November 2016. 
  55. ^ Lal, Neeta (19 December 2016). "India Gets its Guns – 30 years late". Asia Sentinel. Retrieved 21 December 2016. 
  56. ^ "Army gets its first artillery guns three decades after Bofors, will be tested at Pokhran today". indianexpress.com. 18 May 2017. Retrieved 30 May 2017. 
  57. ^ Peri, Dinakar. "Two M777 Ultra-Light Howitzers arrive from U.S.". thehindu.com. Retrieved 30 May 2017. 
  58. ^ "The Arabian Light". 7 October 2011. Retrieved 5 May 2013. 
  59. ^ Binnie, Jeremy. "BAE Systems looks to sell M777 to the UAE". IHS Jane's 360. IHS Jane's. Retrieved 9 May 2016. 

External links[edit]