The US Army has awarded BAE Systems a $249 million contract modification to complete an additional 60 M109A7 self-propelled howitzers.

“We are excited about the opportunity to continue bringing new howitzers and increased survivability to our soldiers,” said Jeremy Tondreault, vice president and general manager of BAE Systems Combat Vehicles.

“The M109A7 positions the Army to execute its current mission with confidence and support its future needs and requirements as long range precision fires evolve.”

The award exercises options on an existing low-rate production contract and includes the completion of an additional 60 M992A3 Carrier, Ammunition, Tracked (CAT) vehicles to accompany the M109A7.

According to BAE Systems in a release:

“The M109A7 and the CAT vehicle sets provide increased commonality across the ABCT, and have significant built-in growth potential in terms of electrical power and weight carrying capacity. The vehicle design includes a new chassis, engine, transmission, suspension, steering system, a new high voltage architecture and improved survivability, while the vehicle’s cannon remains the same as that of an M109A6 Paladin.

The M109A7 is supported by the Army as a vital technology enhancement program to maintain the combat capability of its ABCTs. It will solve long-term readiness and modernization needs of the M109 family of vehicles through a critical redesign and production plan that leverages the most advanced technology available today. This state-of-the-art “digital backbone” and power generation capability provides a more robust, survivable, and responsive indirect fire support capability for ABCT Soldiers. The M109A7 is a significant upgrade over the M109A6 as it restores space, weight, and power cooling, while providing significant growth potential for emerging technologies.”

The initial contract was awarded in 2017. This most recent order brings the total number of vehicle sets — M109A7 howitzers and M992A3 ammunition carriers — to 156, and the total contract value to $1.16 billion.

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Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
9 months ago

The RA used to have 3 Regiments of M109 in BAOR, one for each Armoured Division.

Yet replaced them with the AS90 and the Americans still use an updated version. Why did we not keep them. Was AS90 better at that time?

Wayne
Wayne
9 months ago

It was probably decided to manufacture our own gun to support British industry. AS90 is a very good SP artillery gun but it needs an upgrade.
Only 2 regiments operate AS90 now, backed up with a MLRS regiment in 3 (UK) Div. I hope they come up with a suitable artillery system to back up our Strike Brigades.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
9 months ago
Reply to  Wayne

A purchase of 4 regiments worth of a new 155mm is in the offing yes. Replacing both the 2 AS90 Regiments and the 2 with LG.

Rob
Rob
9 months ago

What would 4 Regiments worth mean in numbers of guns?

Wayne
Wayne
9 months ago
Reply to  Rob

I beileve that would be 96 Guns. More would be needed for training.

BV Buster
BV Buster
9 months ago

Any news on this 155 replacement? what system would you recommend? Boxer module? M777? Cesar? or passably replace wit 4 regiments of some sort of ISTAR?

BV

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
9 months ago
Reply to  BV Buster

I read elsewhere the army was considering replacing the AS90 at the same time as the Strike rolled units.

A seld propelled was mentioned. Archer was mooted, as was Ceasar previously.

A letter from the Director RA was published to the effect that there is funding for a replacement of the Light Guns.

I know no more than that.

What would be your best bet? Something mobile not towed surely?

BV Buster
BV Buster
9 months ago

I have heard rumblings in the “office” about a replacement but nothing concrete. Towed is dead, long live SP. M777 is a great bit of kit but you cant sling a gun and Pinz under a Chinook at the same time like you can do with a light gun thus doubling your lift requirement. Caesar is a pain in the ass to deal with, its ability to carry out hit and run strikes buy moving quickly using civilian infrastructure is hard to counter, surprisingly not all battlefields resemble the Canadian plains. I would go for a Boxer module, expensive but… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
9 months ago
Reply to  BV Buster

Thanks.

I know nothing of the ins and outs of this only that Boxer 155mm to a layman like me would seem sensible for commonality and so on.

BV Buster
BV Buster
9 months ago

It certainly ticks all the boxes, good gun, well protected, mobile. I cant think of any other system that can do the same.

BV

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
9 months ago
Reply to  BV Buster

You probably have no influence in that department do you, sadly. Psst! Have a word….
Other thing that has just occurred to me is cost. I have no idea how the Boxer module compares to other options.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
9 months ago

Sorry, just re read your post futher up that it is pricey…

BV Buster
BV Buster
9 months ago

Ha, not that department no. in fact no departments as I am a 15 year old Chinese kid (and have been for years now) with an interest in defence with impeccable English even down to army slang/colloquialisms (I had to use a dictionary for that one).

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
9 months ago
Reply to  BV Buster

Is this the gun you mention BV Buster?

Sadly not on order, but I assume this could be included at a later date. The Boxer is clearly a very sensible choice given the different configurations currently available.

“The fully-automated Artillery Gun Module can hold a Remote Controlled Howitzer 155 mm (RCH 155) capable of firing up to 8 rounds per minute to a range of up to 40 km with standard ammunition (56km with Very Long-range Artillery Projectiles (VLAP) ).”

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
9 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins
BV Buster
BV Buster
9 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

http://www.military-today.com/artillery/boxer_rch155.htm

That’s the badger!

Since when have we been sensible when it come to procurement?

It would certainly address availability issues, 155 drive module goes down, swap out with a command variant module and off you pop, “fire mission over!”

BV

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
9 months ago
Reply to  BV Buster

Cheers! With 523 on order, you would have thought we would add additional capabilities other than just the Command Variant, Specialist Vehicle, Infantry Carrier and Ambulance.

Awesome looking bit of kit with the gun attached.

BV Buster
BV Buster
9 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

What was the price 2.5Bn? for 523? ish? I think a steady 5Bn pay out would sort out AS90 replacement, Warrior replacement, HVM replacement, all command variants ect.

BV

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
9 months ago
Reply to  BV Buster

Problem solved along with interchangeable spare parts between variants makes perfect sense to me.

BV Buster
BV Buster
9 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

glad to hear, make cheques out to BV Buster for £5.1bn and I will get it all sorted (100m admin fees).

BV

Pacman27
Pacman27
9 months ago
Reply to  BV Buster

Additional question on Boxer

Would a boxer with the XM360 gun be able to give us a replacement for challenger.

If that is the case then shouldn’t the UK ditch tracked vehicles and go for a full boxer fleet with 155mm, mortars and a light tank version to replace challenger.

BV Buster
BV Buster
9 months ago
Reply to  Pacman27

“Would a boxer with the XM360 gun be able to give us a replacement for challenger” Now your speaking my language! I am now going to bore you socks off, so the MX 360 as I understand is a 44 calibre gun, that would be a step back from what we are replacing CR2s main armament with its 55 cal, that would mean a reliance on DU ammunition which the UK is trying to get away from. The US are reliant in DU due to the issue of not being able to fit a 55 cal gun as the M1… Read more »

Pacman27
Pacman27
9 months ago
Reply to  BV Buster

I know that an upgraded M1 turret with XM360 gun has been added to Ajax (Griffin). I assume this can be put on boxer if need be and assume if we went for an all boxer inventory of 5k vehicles. That would be very efficient from a cost, parts and training perspective and from what I can see Boxer can do at least 95% of what a tracked vehicle can do. Also at that scale we can probably reduce the cost per vehicle to £4m and build in UK. Lets face it we dont really use our tracked vehicles and… Read more »

BV Buster
BV Buster
9 months ago
Reply to  Pacman27

A vehicle with an all up weight of 36 tons cannot compete with an MBT, tank warfare is not a 1 shot 1 kill process, rounds glance off, rounds strike and insane angles causing odd lateral penetrations, its not black and white. The reason why CR2 weighs so much is its ability to absorb battle damage, that’s what we are good at, believe me I know (not in a condescending way). I am in the middle of an essay on STRIKE!!! most of my facts are checked, referenced and good to go. It basically calls on a strike brigade being… Read more »

Pacman27
Pacman27
9 months ago
Reply to  BV Buster

That’s very interesting as in my modelling of a future land force for the uk I have created 16 battalions (900 personnel) of 5 combat companies and 1 support company of 180 personnel for each of the following capabilities Commando force Light Infantry (using Polaris vehicles for speed and load) Strike (all wheeled 2600 vehicles needed) HA (2600 tracked vehicles inc c.600 tanks) This has embedded support and additional Brigade Support of an additional Battalion, also backed up by Divisional (x8) and Command (x4) resources. SFG etc is separate, and the Commando Force is enlarged and given a wider remit… Read more »

BV Buster
BV Buster
9 months ago
Reply to  Pacman27

16 battalions would not get past the cap badge mafia, we have on my last count 33, most of which are under strength. 16 brigades are optimistic indeed, we are struggling to fully man what we have at the moment and most are not front line. Speaking of your ORBAT, why 5 companies and 1 support per Btn? 3 and 1 has worked for years, what do the other 2 achieve? what is there makeup? interesting stuff. Agree about commando force, not their block job. Corps level deployment ended years ago, even with a 100k army we couldn’t do it.… Read more »

Pacman27
Pacman27
9 months ago
Reply to  BV Buster

A Strike brigade would be 4 deployable battalions each with circa 120 Boxers, 64 of which are IFV, other configurations would be task specific but I believe it should have air defence, 155mm gun and mortars. The organisation is alway in 4’s + 1 support 4 x36 combat platoons, plus 1 support platoon= company 180. This model is repeated 4+1 = Bn (900) and a Brigade (4500). The other key thing with Strike for me is it needs to be backed up with Apache Helicopter and artillery and when deployed would be closer to 6k personnel including ISTAR etc. For… Read more »

BV Buster
BV Buster
9 months ago
Reply to  Pacman27

An Armoured Inf brigade usually consist of 3 battalions of Infantry and 1 armoured regiment. That is how we make battle groups of 2x inf Coy and 1 x Arm Sqn with 1 x Hq Coy/Sqn per BG with 1 coy left over for brigade ops Coy/Recce support. “The organisation is alway in 4’s + 1 support” Same goes for platoons, 3 rifle platoons per Coy, 3 Coys per Btn with 1 support Coy and 1 HQ Coy. Correct 5 companies per battalion but only 3 rifle companies. When it comes to battle grouping, a brigade may have 4 battle… Read more »

Pacman27
Pacman27
9 months ago
Reply to  BV Buster

Hi BV I think we need to have a force for the future not the past and actually I personally would ditch tracked vehicles entirely and go for an all boxer fleet backed by 144 apaches. This means trading off tanks (where will we actually use them) for apaches. The reason for 4 combat units is to have a clear rotation cycle of operational, training up, coming off and rest and recuperation. I am also a big believer in having a reserve and 2 flanks as well as a centre in any deployment and the support and reserve would essentially… Read more »

BV Buster
BV Buster
9 months ago
Reply to  Pacman27

I would agree with you about scraping the tracked vehicles but we have just invested an insane amount of money in Ajax and Challenger 2, they just don’t fit with the strike concept but we have them now, this would have been a great decision 10 years ago but we are where we are. It doesn’t mean CR2 and Ajax are useless, if we have time to deploy, a build up of hostilities where we escalate over time, these forces would massively increase the combat power of a strike formation. A way around this may be to add a medium… Read more »

Pacman27
Pacman27
9 months ago
Reply to  BV Buster

Understand we have sunken costs in CR2/3 and Ajax, but we haven’t actually received any production models yet and my understanding is Warrior CEP is a bit of a disaster with the Turret costing more than a boxer. Perhaps it is just time to stop, cut our losses and move to a full on boxer force. I know many people want heavy armour and I am certainly not against it, just think we cant really afford something we are unlikely to use and I think our boffins can come up with armour for boxer that will make it even better.… Read more »

BV Buster
BV Buster
9 months ago
Reply to  Pacman27

Warrior is a bit of a mess at the moment and is ripe for cancelling, its been one big mess around from start to finish and looking at 3 divs orbat we could be buying as little as 4 battalions worth, not really worth it in my opinion. I think removing all heavy forces for ruthless commonality will limit our options in a future high intensity conflict, we will only be able to deploy against an enemy that has a limited armoured capability. A strike brigade can be made more punchy but if it came up against a well equipped… Read more »

the_marquis
the_marquis
9 months ago
Reply to  BV Buster

Hi BV, I have been wondering whether, in an ideal world, with some additional cash, we could grow the army back to 10 combat brigades: 3 armoured, 4 mechanised, 2 light/strike, and 16 Air Assault. The armoured brigade would consist of 1 Ajax recce regiment, 1 CR2 rgt, 2 armoured infantry bns equipped with Ajax based IFVs, and an RA rgt of AS90 guns. The mechanised/medium brigades would be equipped with one armoured recce rgt with Ajax, 1 light armour rgt with 120mm Ajax, 2 armoured infantry bns with Ajax IFVs, and an RA rgt equipped with the Ajax/ASCOD AGM… Read more »

Trevor
Trevor
9 months ago
Reply to  Pacman27

I agree with that speculation.

peter
peter
9 months ago

Seems pointless to replace the light gun when budgets are overstretched. Where does the warrior upgrade fit in with strike brigades when boxer is more suitable ?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
9 months ago
Reply to  peter

Morning Peter. Warrior has nothing to do with the planned Strike Brigades. The current Warrior and its WCSP upgrade sit with the Armoured Brigades, with the Tanks. Boxer goes with the Strike Brigades, with Ajax, which is a major issue as Ajax is tracked. Ajax ( Scout ) was procured to provide armoured recc for the Armoured Brigades. By moving these regiments to the Strike Brigades, the Armoured Brigades are left without a dedicated recc regiment. There are many other issues regarding the current planned Strike Brigades well documented here and elsewhere. Light Gun is a very poor fit for… Read more »

Pacman27
Pacman27
9 months ago

So if we move Ajax back into HA and order an Ajax IFV replacement for Warrior, we can reinstate a true HA Capability, once CR CEP happens.

We then need to order a further 1k+ boxers and create a true Strike capability whilst resolving the artillery problems we have had for some time now.

This is clearly a 10 year plan and can be brought online within the £17bn budget for this capability. If not questions really should be asked.

Ajax – £7m each (£8bn allocation)
Boxer – £5m each (£7.5n allocation)
CR3 CEP – £3m each (£1.5bn allocation)

BV Buster
BV Buster
9 months ago
Reply to  Pacman27

Greetings all, This problem of vehicles not being the correct spec is systemic of our procurement process moving at a glacial pace. 10 years ago, Warrior 2, Ajax, CR2 upgrade all made sense and they all fitted into our orbat. Not times have moved on we can cut our losses of just take the hit and fit them in somewhere. The problem with having an Ajax IFV is it will be too similar to Warrior2, people with thick rimmed glasses and pocket protectors will say it wont be worth the cost or delay. What does an Ajax AFV have over… Read more »

Pacman27
Pacman27
9 months ago
Reply to  BV Buster

About the same as boxer if reports are to be believed

Have to say the Aussies land 400 has been a very good example to all as is there strategy documentation

Personally I would cut our losses but am aware I m in the minority

More apache, lots of boxer artillery, mlrs, area defence, etc

BV Buster
BV Buster
9 months ago
Reply to  Pacman27

The Aussies have done well with land 400, Boxer with a lance turret could easily supplant Ajax in the brigade reconnaissance role.

I do see you point, why pay for something what we may not use as the world has moved on.

BV

WatcherZero
WatcherZero
9 months ago

AS90 has a higher rate of fire than the M109 but was considerably heavier because it had an autoloader, the new M109 brings it to almost the same weight and gains an autoloader but still with an inferior rate of fire though they are looking at future upgrades beyond the current model which would have a superior sustained rate of fire. They both fire the same ammunition.

Fedaykin
Fedaykin
9 months ago

The British army wanted an artillery system with a burst fire capability to get more HE down range onto the massed Soviet armoured hoard that was the 3rd Shock Army. It was deemed cheaper to adopt a new system to get that capability than upgrade the M109A2 in British service at the time. The Americans had also planned to replace their M109 but continued incrementally upgrade what they had whilst they waited. Unfortunately for them every attempt to replace it ended in failure, the XM2001 being the most recent attempt. The M109A7 has had so many upgrades it is arguably… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
9 months ago
Reply to  Fedaykin

Thank you.

Cam
Cam
9 months ago

The US extra order of 60 is almost more than the entire British As90 Numbers!

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
9 months ago
Reply to  Cam

They are conversions but yeah they are ultimately looking to upgrade around 2/3rds of their 1000 A6 models.

CliveH
CliveH
9 months ago

During DSEI in September, Janes initially reported a need for 98 guns
That same day they issued a clarification that the UK requirement was for 135 guns.

https://www.janes.com/article/91220/mobile-fires-platform-clarification-dsei19d4

Not sure who clarified that but sounds like enough to equip four regiments and replace all the other light gun batteries except those in us by 7 RHA and 29 CDO.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
9 months ago
Reply to  CliveH

135. Would jump at that.7

That is 72 in the 4 Regiments ( if the 3 batteries with 6 guns is the standard? ) and spares for School of RA and 14 Regiment, plus reserves.

That is more than at present as the 2 regiments due for the Strike Brigades have just 2 Gun batteries of 6 guns each, and the rest of the batteries in them are currently TAC groups.

Excluding those of 29RA and 7 RHA which would not be included in this the other Light Gun batteries are all in the Army Reserve.