M777 howitzer

M777 howitzer

Infobox Weapon|is_artillery=yes

name= M777 Lightweight Towed Howitzer
origin= United Kingdom
type= towed howitzer
used_by=USMC, US Army, Canadian Forces
caliber= 155 mm
part_length= 39 calibers
barrel height at full elevation=8.8 meters from ground to tow hook lunette.
rate= 2 RPM normal, 5 RPM max.
carriage=split trail
ammo_wt= 100 lb
range= 24 km with M109 ammunition,
30 km with ERFB base-bleed,
40 with Excalibur
weight= convert|3175|kg|lb|sigfig=2|abbr=on
length= convert|10.7|m|ft|abbr=on in firing position; convert|9.5|m|ftin|abbr=on towed position
crew= 5
The M777 howitzer is a towed artillery piece developed by British Vickers group, and is produced by BAE Systems Land Systems in the US. It is in the process of replacing the M198 howitzer in the United States Marine Corps and United States Army. The M777 is also being used by the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery, and has been used in action in Afghanistan along with the associated GPS-guided Excalibur ammunition.


The M777 began as the Ultralight-weight Field Howitzer (UFH), developed by VSEL's armaments division in Barrow-in-Furness, United Kingdom. In 1999, VSEL was merged into the new BAE Systems RO Defence. This unit became part of BAE Systems Land Systems in 2004. Although developed by a British company, final assembly is in the USA. 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 Land and Armaments group). The M777 uses about 70% US built parts including the gun barrel manufactured at the Watervliet Arsenal.

The M777 is lighter and smaller in size, weighing under convert|4100|kg|lb|sigfig=2|abbr=on, 42% lighter 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 USMC MV 22 Osprey, helicopter or truck with ease, meaning it can be moved in and out of the battlefield more quickly than the M198. The smaller size also improves storage efficiency in military warehouses and Air/Naval Transport as cargo. There is also a reduction in the gun crew size required; from 9 to an Operational Minimum of 5. [http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/ground/lw155.htm M777 Lightweight 155mm howitzer (LW155) at GlobalSecurity.org] ]

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 traditional towed and air-transported howitzers. This system called Towed Artillery Digitization (TAD) is produced by General Dynamics. The Canadian (CDN) M777 in conjunction with the traditional "glass and iron sights/mounts” also uses a digital fire control system called Digital Gun Management System (DGMS) produced by SELEX. This system has been proven on the British Army Artillery's L118 Light Gun over the past 3 to 4 years.

The M777 is also often combined with the new Excalibur GPS-guided munition, which allows accurate fire to 30 km. This almost doubles the amount of land 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 km away, within 10 meters of their target, [http://defensenews.com/story.php?F=2740557&C=landwar Canada Deploys GPS Shell To Afghanistan] ] suggesting a circular error probable of about 5 meters.


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. 380 systems will be supplied to the Marines, and 273 to the U.S. Army and National Guard.

In December 2005, The 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 between the U.S. and Canada. The guns 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, which greatly improved accuracy and lead 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. [ [http://www.afghanistannewscenter.com/news/2007/may/may92007.html Living with an eerie silence] ] They proved so successful that an order for an additional six guns was placed with BAE. [ [http://cmte.parl.gc.ca/Content/HOC/committee/391/nddn/reports/rp3034719/391_NDDN_Rpt01_Pdf/391_NDDN_Rpt01_Pdf-e.pdf CANADIAN FORCES IN AFGHANISTAN Report of the Standing Committee on National Defence] ] A recent press release states that the Canadian government has requested a further sale of up to 37 M777s. [ [http://www.dsca.osd.mil/PressReleases/36-b/2008/Canada_08-68.pdf Defence Security Cooperation Agency - News Release] ] An Australian government request to the US DSCA for 57 M777A2s has recently been made, worth $248m. [ [http://www.dsca.osd.mil/PressReleases/36-b/2008/Australia_08-78.pdf Defence Security Cooperation Agency - News Release] ]

Gun Section 2, 2nd Platoon (5th Section) B/2-11 FA was the first to fire the M777 in combat at 0823 (Baghdad Time) on 2 January 2008 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. 2-11 FA deployed December 2007 with 2nd BDE 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 utilize 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 July 20, 2008 at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, the 1st Battalion, 108th Field Artillery, 28th Infantry Division, PA National Guard became the first Field Artillery unit of the National Guard to field and fire the M777. [ [http://www.newsminer.com/news/2008/mar/27/alaska-brief-march-27/ Alaska in Brief — March 27] "Army to test new howitzer in Fairbanks", "Fairbanks Daily News-Miner", March 27, 2008. Accessed March 27, 2008.]

ee also

* M107 (projectile)
* List of artillery


External links

* [http://www.lw155sdc.com LW155 Sample Data Collection]
* [http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/ground/lw155.htm Global Security]
* [http://www.sfu.ca/casr/bg-artillery-155mm-M777.htm Canadian American Strategic Review]

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