Home » Afghan Update » M777 Ultra-Lightweight 155mm Howitzer In Afghanistan

M777 Ultra-Lightweight 155mm Howitzer In Afghanistan

Our man who was just in Farnborough, Glenn Anderson, shot some great footage of BAE’s new ultra-lightweight howitzer that uses titanium on the trails to shave off some serious pounds. The M777 weighs about half what a typical 155mm howitzer weighs. Check out the BAE rep pick up the howitzer’s titanium trail with one hand.

– Greg Grant

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

SMSgt Mac August 3, 2010 at 11:06 pm

Titanium! Cool (and KaChing!!!)

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ddj August 3, 2010 at 11:51 pm

Hasn't this weapon been in afgan for at least a couple years?

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blight August 3, 2010 at 9:11 pm

Wikipedia agrees, but could be wrong.

“The M777 is also being used by the Canadian Forces, and has been used in action in March 2008 in Afghanistan along with the associated GPS-guided Excalibur ammunition.”

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elgatoso August 5, 2010 at 5:56 am

Wikipedia was not wrong
The Ultralightweight Field Howitzer (UFH), designated M777 in the USA, was selected in 1997 by a joint US Army / Marine Corps initiative to replace M198 155mm towed howitzers. The first of five EMD systems was delivered in June 2000. The US Marine Corps is to procure 380 systems and the US Army 273 systems. A low-rate initial production (LRIP) contract for 94 systems was awarded in November 2002.

Operational testing with the USMC, was completed in December 2004. A contract for full-rate production of 495 systems was awarded to BAE Systems in April 2005. In May 2005, the USMC began fielding the M777 with the 11th Marines unit at Twentynine Palms in California.

The first 18 systems were delivered to the US Army's 2nd Battalion, 11th Field Artillery in Hawaii in October 2006. http://www.army-technology.com/projects/ufh/

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Stephen Russell August 4, 2010 at 1:17 am

any chance of this gun being Navalized IE used in DDs, CG types, & send some to US Mex border area for the new Test Range for new shells.
Open Fire, Fire at will.

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Blight August 4, 2010 at 8:41 am

If it’s navalized, then what is the weight advantage? If anything the gun on naval vessels could use an upgrade to 6″…and didn’t cruisers use to mount 8″ guns? Then again, naval gun support is taking second fiddle to the cruise missile these days…

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Bob August 4, 2010 at 1:25 pm

Cannot be used on U.S. Mexican border. Much of the land is sensative environmental national park land that is full of endangered species. That is partly why ICE and LEO must stay out of the area.

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blight August 4, 2010 at 3:24 pm

Should probably redraw the park so that it's borders are at least twenty miles away from the national border, then mobilize some national guard units (or unemployed people) to act as border spotters. Have government fund this, then subtract it from the pork that congressmen are allowed to send to their districts in the border states.

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mat August 5, 2010 at 12:38 am

What would be the point of using it in naval role as most ships big enugh to cary such a gun already have one that comes with auto loader and can manage higher rate of fire ,if you want more fire power just dump the old 5in mark 45 that only manages cca 20 rund /minute ,much more modern oto melara 127 compact with watercooled barrel capable of 40 runds /minute even tht light weight 127mm manages 25rnd/min, compare that to M777 max 5rnd/min sustained 2 rnd/min , High rates of fire enable the naval guns to be used in AA role,even fire decoys in adition to anti-ship and naval bombardment.

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jsallison August 4, 2010 at 2:53 am

Coupled with a helicopter/whatever you call an Osprey it would seem that this 'towed' gun might have more mobility potential than a self propelled gun under certain circumstances. I'm catching whiffs of a potential game changer, here.

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Oblat August 4, 2010 at 4:16 am

Most of the wieght of an artillery system is in its ammunition making the whole thing rather pointless.

The only notable thing about it is how BAE is now using the loss of control of the roads of Afghanistan as a selling point. Embrace failure and keep on selling.

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JEFF August 4, 2010 at 10:22 am

Except by being the physically largest element, its mass and other properties directly impact what vehicles can carry it. If you had a helicopter transporting the whole system and ammunition weight were a serious problem, you can always choose to carry less, that isn't the case with the cannon. It isn't subdivisible.

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Project Thor August 4, 2010 at 11:59 am

Don't feed the Troll…

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STemplar August 4, 2010 at 4:41 pm

So what if we are in a theatre of operations with no roads? or a rainy season that makes them impassable? Increasing mobility and firepower in tandem is hardly a failure.

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@mika2k1 August 4, 2010 at 4:43 am

Why are taxpayers paying for the security costs of private corporate interests (oil, mining, etc)?

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tim August 4, 2010 at 7:51 am

A stripped down V-22 once hoisted this howitzer in a hover for a photo shoot, but it really can't move one. It can only lift around 6000 lbs at sea level.

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FormerDirtDart August 4, 2010 at 1:10 pm

You might want to recheck your data

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Blight August 4, 2010 at 8:46 am

Betting a Chinook can still carry one, but Afghanistan has altitude and range limitations..and random SA-7 fire?

It would probably cost too much to redesign the M777 as a pack howitzer that could be carried quickly by Ospreys…and inevitably pack howitzers tend to be too light for meaningful long range fire support.

A rocket artillery unit like a Nebelwerfer would be lighter, but it’s so inaccurate as to be meaningless on the modern battlefield.

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FormerDirtDart August 4, 2010 at 1:29 pm

Considering the video shows a Chinook carrying one, you're probably correct. And the fact that an M198 (at over twice the weight) has been transported by Chinooks for the last three decades. As for the operating altitude in Afghanistan, A Ch-47 would likely have little difficulty moving the M777, and a heck of a lot easier than the M198.

While a Blackhawk would probably not be suitable to lift this gun in Afghanistan, in most other environments it should have no difficulty. Which was not even a consideration with it's predecessor, the M198.

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Will August 4, 2010 at 8:28 pm

It's not just the air mobility. The weight of the gun also determines how big a vehicle has to be to tow it. And how big the crew needs to be be to quickly get it into action & ready to displace. The FH-70, for example, is about as old as M198. It's even heavier but has an APU to help the crew.
The Taliban don't have their own arty but the bad guys might be able to shoot back next time.

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Anonymous August 4, 2010 at 1:24 pm

I would be interested to see how much a gun that light displaces; you could see the whole carriage recoil in the action shots. On the M119 (the light 105mm we use), the lightness of the carriage meant you were forever having component failure problems, ranging from leaking hydraulic systems to stuff like cracked sight mounts, and on sandy ground they would tend to displace, which meant you had to take them out of action to relay when the displacement exceeded a certain point. The old M198 was HEAVY but it was a rock-solid firing platform; given that you could lift one with a Chinook, it would be interesting to see what the real advantage is - maybe ability to airlift at higher altitudes?

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Bob August 4, 2010 at 1:29 pm

Morters are the ticket. You didn't see the NVA using heavy guns, nor do the Taliban. They seem to do quite well with the humble morter.

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blight August 4, 2010 at 3:28 pm

Interesting point. But usually mortars don't have the range of a gun tube. Many small outposts have their own mortars, but since they're short-ranged they can be suppressed by enemy mortars too (COP Keating springs to mind), which is why you need big guns from off-site for fire support.

Unless you're suggesting some sort of gigantic mortar with a barrel long enough that the weight advantages to a mortar are lost…

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William C. August 5, 2010 at 1:08 pm

Actually the NVA did use some heavier guns, including this Soviet 130mm model that outranged most US guns with the exception of the long range 175mm M107.

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