Marines Demonstrate The M Lightweight Howitzer

U.S. Marines demonstrated the M777 lightweight howitzer to local officials at Fort Sill, Okla. The M777 is a lightweight 155mm howitzer and a critical fire support component of Marine Air Ground Task Forces and Army Brigade Combat Teams and light divisions. The M777 was designed and developed by BAE Systems, and is a joint program between the Army and Marine Corps to replace the M198 towed howitzer.

The M777 incorporates the first use of titanium castings, which reduces the weight of the howitzer -- by 7,000 lbs. -- offering improved transportability and mobility, while retaining the full ammunition and range capability of the M198. The lightweight howitzer can be transported by Marine Corps MV-22 tilt-rotor aircraft and U.S.

Air Force C-130 aircraft. The Marines, from the 3rd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment stationed at Twenty-nine Palms, California. Will be the first unit to receive the new howitzers and the battalion's key personnel are currently training with the M777 at Fort Sill.

The M777 recently completed operational testing at California in anticipation of a full rate production decision expected next month. During the tests, nearly 12,000 artillery rounds were fired by four production howitzers. The M777 met all operational requirements and proved to be extremely reliable.

Fielding of the new howitzer will continue with the Army and Marine Corps through 2009. The M777 is assembled at BAE Systems' integration facility in Hattiesburg, Miss., and incorporates components manufactured by a U.S. supplier base that the company has been developing for the past four years. More than 70 percent of the howitzer's parts are manufactured in the U.

S. Its one of the bty's from 3/11 when they 1st got the 777 about 8 months ago. The m777 is nice. I don't know the exact weight but it's about 9,277lbs compared to the 16,000 lbs of the 198.

It has the same rate of fire and fires the same rounds. It only takes two marines to hook it up to the 7-ton. It has hydraulically powered loading tray and breech. It's a lot easier to speed shift. There's a lot less wear and tear on the marines with it being light weight and all.

Around next year this time it'll be outfitted with a computer system call D.F.C.S. (direction fire control system I believe it's called) where we wont need sights or a collimator. It will be all digital.

The new M777 light-weight 155-mm towed howitzer will begin fielding in May to the 3d Battalion, 11th Marines at Twenty-nine Palms, California. The M777 is replacing the aging 155-mm towed M198 howitzer. Some of the M777's greatest improvements are in its mobility, trans-portability, survivability and lethality. The M777 can be emplaced and ready to fire in less than two minutes, which is significantly faster than the M198. The new weapon can be rapidly displaced within two to three minutes, allowing the battery to shoot and move before the enemy can return fire.

Its light weight (less than 10,000 pounds) and independent suspension allow the weapon to travel over rougher terrain (world-wide, which amounts to about 30 percent more terrain) and be sling-loaded under more aircraft than the M198. It fires all current and planned 155-mm munitions. Although its max range is still 30,000 meters with current rocket-assisted projectiles, that range will extend to more than 37,000 meters when firing the new global positioning system/inertial navigation unit (GPS/INU) precision-guided Excalibur munition.

The max rate of fire is four rounds per minute while the sustained rate is two rounds per minute. Within a year of the initial M777 deliveries, both the Marine Corps and Army will start taking delivery of the M777A1, which adds a digital fire control system (DFCS). The DFCS provides the howitzer highly accurate self-location and directional control.

With the introduction of DFCS, the battery only requires survey control points to initialize the system. The section chief will have a navigational aid inside the cab, and the weapon has an onboard single-channel ground and airborne radio system (SINCGARS) and amplifier for digital communications. This provides greater flexibility for the howitzer, which no longer will be tied to wire communications.

The M777 A1 provides commanders greater flexibility in getting to the fight, carrying out their missions and quickly moving to safe locations to carry out subsequent missions.

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