Sunday, 18 December 2011

Indian Army To Go Ahead With M-777 Howitzers Deal

Rubbishing all reports that deal for M-777 ultra light howitzers has run into rough weather. Defense ministry officials made it clear that India is going ahead with the deal. This deal was for 145 guns at a total cost of 650 million USD.

Antony told the Indian parliament on Dec. 12 that India is looking at buying the guns through the U.S. government's Foreign Military Sales program.

The procurement was stalled after a report on the trials was released, but the program is back on track now, Antony said.

"The field evaluation trial report of the guns was a confidential document. Four pages of draft field trial report were received in an anonymous envelope by the Army headquarters. An enquiry in the matter is underway," the minister said.

The Ultralightweight Field Howitzer (UFH), designated M777 in the USA, was selected in 1997 by a joint US Army / Marine Corps initiative to replace the existing inventory of 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, during which nearly 12,000 artillery rounds were fired by four production systems, 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.

The M777 will be the artillery system for the Stryker Brigade Combat Teams (SBCT). The systems fitted with the digital fire control system are designated M777A1, and those with the software update which allows the firing of the Excalibur projectile, M777A2. M777A2 received full material release in July 2007, clearing the upgrade for fielding. All M777A1 systems will be upgraded to the A2 standard.

The M777 was deployed by the US Army and Marine Corps to Afghanistan in December 2007 and to Iraq in 2008.

In July 2008, Australia requested the foreign military sale of 57 M77 howitzers.

BAE Systems has developed a mobile version, the M777 Portee, which is mounted on a purpose-built 8x6 Supacat vehicle. The vehicle was first shown at Eurosatory in June 2006.

This gun is half the weight of all 155mm howitzers in the world but matches their fire power making it a deadly weapon in the hands of good artillery unit.

The maximum firing range is 24.7km with unassisted rounds and 30km with rocket-assisted rounds. The M777A2 will fire the Raytheon / Bofors XM982 Excalibur GPS / Inertial Navigation-guided extended-range 155mm projectiles using the Modular Artillery Charge Systems (MACS). Excalibur has a maximum range of 40km and accuracy of 10m.

The LRIP systems employ an optical sighting system for direct and indirect firing by day or night. Full production systems will be fitted with the General Dynamics Armament Systems Towed Artillery Digitisation (TAD) system. LRIP systems will be retrofitted with TAD.

The M777 is able to deliver up to five rounds a minute.

The TAD digital fire control system provides onboard ballistic computation, navigation, pointing and self-location, providing greater accuracy and faster reaction times. The TAD system also includes a laser ignition system, electric drives for the howitzer's traverse and elevation and a powered projectile rammer.

Ultra light howitzer
Country users
United States, Canada, India
Designer Company
BAE Systems 
5 to 8 soldiers
Digital fire control system
155 mm 39 calibre
3,175 kg
Rate of fire
5 rounds/minute
Firing Range
30 km maximum, 40 km with Excalibur munition 
Lenght, 9,275 m; Width, 2,770 m; Height, 2,26 m in towing mode
Lenght, 10,21 m; Width, 3,720 m; Height, 0,65 m in firing mode mode

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