BAE Systems has received an order to provide 18 additional M777 155mm Ultra Lightweight Howitzers to the US Army under a new contract from the US Department of Defense.

This order builds on the more than 1,000 M777 gun systems already in service with the US Army and Marine Corps, as well as logistical support contracts received from the DoD.
“This battle-proven capability leverages technical insertions, long-range precision guided munition developments, and flexible mobility options, to make the M777 a very effective artillery technology,” said Joe Senftle, Vice President and General Manager of Weapon Systems at BAE Systems.
“This order further demonstrates a strong and collaborative working relationship between BAE Systems and the Army.”
The M777 Ultra Lightweight Howitzer has become the benchmark for 155mm lightweight towed artillery systems, delivering superior artillery capability in the most hostile environments with unrivalled tactical and strategic mobility.
The gun was initially developed for the US Army and Marine Corps in the early 2000s. Later its users expanded to include a total combined international and U.S. domestic orders exceeding 1,200 guns.
Work on the contract will begin immediately with support from suppliers across the United States and United Kingdom and the BAE Systems facilities. Deliveries for these additional 18 guns are expected to commence in 2021.

37 COMMENTS

  1. People complain that we only have so many tanks.

    The RA is in worse state. Utterly neglected.

    So few guns.

    It’s precision munition programmes scrapped.

    2 Regiments of self propelled guns.
    2 Regiments of elderly Light Guns for 16 AA and 3 Cdo.
    2 Regiments of elderly Light Guns which have replaced AS90s in our forming Strike Brigades.

    Surely effective and plentiful artillery is cheaper than air support?

    • And the Regiments for 16 Bde and 3 Cdo Bde now only have 2 Batteries and a strength reduced from 18 guns to 12 L118s. Don’t get me wrong the L118 is an outstanding weapon system and has been updated massively, and was the weapon of choice over Afghanistan due it’s high rate of fire, ability to be close support, manouverabilty, lightweight and accuracy. And the fact the 105mm has a decent number of fuse options and can be utilised with a view of less colatteral damage. However as normal it’s all about manning. Not enough guys and gals, not enough cash and not enough interest by politicians. There are over a100 still in store and can be used for emergencies and general raising in tensions but if the troops aren’t there to operate them it’s useless.

      • Thank you Airborne.

        I knew both 7 RHA and 29 RA were down to 12 guns.
        I was not sure if they had kept the 3 gun batteries in 29 and made them 4 guns each or removed the Arbroath based battery and just kept 2 batteries with 6.

        At least 148 battery is safe.

        I had no idea we had that many LG still. Good to know.

        I didnt include the Regiments of the Reserve, 2 or 3 use the LG too.

        • Arbroath Bty is now gone I’m afraid, but a small consolation is that the HAC has gone back to having a 3 gun Troop, to support 7 RHA. So they have gone back to a bit of gunnery as well as STA. But oops, for God’s sake don’t call 7 RHA that and forget the “para” in the title. We do rip it out of them but they are a decent bunch of lads who do airborne gunnery, which has its own set of challenges and hardships, and they form the fire support teams within the rifle companies……And never ever ask them for a game of rugby!

    • I could understand the reduction in tubes if the reason given was PGM. But it is just cuts.

      A 155mm Excalibur round is about £50k a bang, which is less than a Javelin which is about $75k a pop. I think the MoD bought about 1500 of the latter about a decade ago to replenish stocks. It is a wonder weapon but you do have to ask yourself is their gap it is filling for something more appropriate? A ‘towed piece’ that could live with the support companies. I suppose with aircraft you have to factor the cost of the platform, the direct cost of the platform, and then the cost of ordnance. I should imagine an artillery battery is cheaper personnel wise.

      Sometimes I have wondered if during the Cold War we would have been better building an ‘artillery army’ over against a ‘tank army’. Who knows?

      • The Russians have never forgotten the value of artillery after WW2.

        Even mortars.

        The British army have no 120MM either I believe?

        • The Russians don’t give a F about collateral damage though. They would just level everything so precision munitions are of no concern. I guarantee they don’t spent 50k a round for artillery.

          • During the Cold War considering we would have been forced on the nuclear pretty quickly I don’t think we were too worried about collateral damage either.

            There is still a need for mass fires, unfortunately there has always been collateral damage in war. PGM isn’t a silver bullet. It would just mitigate damage.

        • Considering in all these conflicts the NGOs, politicos, and media insist on using kid gloves in all turn into insurgencies. During which the insurgents will kill more of there own civilians and destroy more of their own infrastructure than any quick and efficient campaign ever would. What is the point of avoiding collateral damage to the point of slowing down and inflicting casualties on your own forces?
          When insurgents are sheltering in neighborhood and using human shields. They are doing it only because they KNOW that it will keep the governments of the West from ordering them shelled. When they force local farmers, businesses, and local politicians to supply them they are able to do it because they know and the locals know that Western authorities will not order any form reprisals (not even confiscation and burning of the farms) therefore they fear the insurgent more and will the insurgencies what they want.
          They MUST be disabused of this belief. If they are hiding in a neighborhood shell it then sweep it, do not risk the lives of infantry out of concern for the media. If a farming village or shop is providing food for enemies in the hills of Afghanistan, confiscate evict the residents and shopkeepers burn the crops and destroy any remaining seed. Make it clear the terrorists may kill you but if you side with the terrorists YOU and your whole family will starve until you hand them over. Any NGO that tries to interfere in Military operations in theater or give aid and comfor to the enemy should be shot on sight. With the NGOs members and major donors back home placed under arrest for treason.
          Above all else what the officers in the field ask for they should be granted. Whether it is air strikes or artillery bombardments or deployment of heavy armor units. Unless the politicians are committed to full warfare and that entails, their should be no deployment of military personnel.

    • We always seem to need twice as much as we get. And what we get isn’t full fat. 🙁

      Take T45, We ended up with 6 with deficiencies to replace 12 T42. The initial plan with T42 was to buy about 24+ all to B3 standards (and perhaps better). We ended up with 12 with the first being built to a truncated design that was shown to be false economy in the Falklands.

      I am just hoping we get all the F35b now. I expect when we have 7 Astute’s that Astute will be dropped/

    • Hi David

      I think you will find that some of us are for mass retirement of certain types of weapon and standardisation and modernising of others. As always it comes down to individual views.

      I think people would generally like our armed forces to be slightly larger (so that personnel get a good work life balance, rather than us just having more people) and that they were better equipped.

      I for one am happy to remove all tanks, warriors and Ajax (ie our heavy armour tracked capability) for a larger Boxer fleet backed up with a much larger force of apache helicopters, but this is an unpopular view overall.

      What all of us really dislike is the equipment we buy in UOR’s at great cost, and the total ineptitude of senior army brass to sort their equipment out whilst spending millions on the wrong kit and taking 20 years on designs that are overly complex and ultimately out of date by the time they come to market.

        • Okay guys you make good points. But I remember all the same arguments about money when we were spending 3% or 4% of GDP on defence. Do you not think a Doctor, Nurse, Teacher or Policeman wouldn’t say exactly the same ‘If only we had 25 – 50 – 100% more money’ There’s an old saying ‘To govern is to choose’ we can only spend our cash once. There isn’t a mum or dad or credit card we can go too and ask for more. If you want some new bit of kit say what you would get rid of to pay for it.

  2. Afternoon all
    It is always very easy to get into the numbers game, specifically how many of this or that – in this case the tubes artillery ORBAT of the U.K. military.
    And yes David, normally that means people advocate buying some.
    Until we work out what we effect we wish to generate, how we want to move around the battlefield the subject is mute.
    With regard to the M777 – great gun and light weight but the gain is lost when you realise how much heavier the weapon is (155mm artillery round), we would need to increase the size of the logistic chain to support it.
    You have to take the whole system into account, something that’s sometimes gets lost in the chase for the latest toy.
    I would be more worried about the AS90 – the vehicle and the gun are now rapidly becoming obsolete and the cost per track km is only going to go up for a smaller and smaller return in capability

  3. Nothing can replace a battery of AS-nasty firing on an objective before the run in, smoke, Ilume and HE are vital if you are to survive the first few minutes of an attack. If you look at what has been going on in Ukraine over the last few years you will see that (Not) the Russians has been re-invigorating their arty units, each brigade having a 2S-19 regiment and some sort of launcher regiment, that’s a huge amount of firepower in one place and it really is getting results.
    Lee: Agreed, AS90 is getting on a bit and has missed a few mid life updates, if we lose it then we may as well just not bother with anything.

    BV

  4. Given the logistics chain associated with the bigger 155mm artillery round, would it be sensible to have an SPG based on Boxer equipped with a 105mm gun. Whilst an AS90 replacement should be equipped with a 155mm gun. The whole point about Strike is that it is meant to be mobile and light on it’s feet(wheels). Keeping the logistics burden down will help with this.

    • I agree. Light always implies difficult terrain too. But we could consider our vehicles are bigger these days so carry more, but there aren’t as many, which means we have in a way ‘shot ourselves in the foot’. But I could make an argument that use of PGM might reduce the number of shells needed. And that other having only one heavy shell in the inventory used bother for towed and SPG might actually accrue more savings.

    • Paul the 105mm is too lightweight too deal with AFV’s. We used to operate an SPG called Abbot that had the 105mm and it couldn’t hurt an AFV except in direct fire and we knew that 40 – 50 years ago.

  5. Is there not a Boxer version of the AS90 available and I really like the Caesar system as well.

    Perhaps there are a couple of relatively straight forward solutions that would enhance the strike brigades going forward. probably worth getting some modules for boxer at worst.

  6. Morning all
    Good to see how small pieces of news can turn in to solid debate and discussion.
    With regards to the state of Royal Artillery – it has been an areas that has been neglected after years of operating in Afghanistan where the light gun and the advent of the drone took centre stage. Like other parts of the Army ORBAT, especially tanks, the inability of the military to fully sustain an all arms posture has left those that are not being heavily utilised to fall by the wayside.
    We have to remember that the option to take AS90 to Afghanistan was there but rejected on cost and logistical grounds, the same goes for CR2 which was suplimented in theatre by Dutch Leapord II’s and US Abrams tanks.
    L118 is a great weapon and provides the manoeuvrability, direct and indirect firepower and is light weight enough to support at the end of a long logistics chain – a life extension plan is well overdue.
    AS90, in its current guise, has reached the end of its effective life. The barrel is too short, the LRU’s need updating and refreshing and the engine needs to be completely overhauled or replaced by a model diesel unit. Giving it a 52 cal barrel, updated electronics and a new engine would give the platform another 15 years and align it to the CR2 OSD, or, the platform could be replaced completely with something from the market place – I am sure their are many out there.
    MLRS needs to be completely updated, I would suggest replaced with the latest US version, which allows the missile rack to rotate and fire off centre.
    As commentators have mentioned above, we seem to have left the mortar game – why? It provides cheap sustainable indirect fire the can suppress the enemy and allow infantry to better move around the battlefield.
    The RA have some thinking to do over the next couple of months, do they focus on new capabilities like watchkeeper at the expense of their core role, providing gun fire support

  7. 160+ AS90 in storage where the British Army has most of its equipment nowadays. There seems to be no move to upgrade what is left or to upgrade 2 or more ‘reserve’ regiments at least. 45+ GLMRS AND 250+ CR2 also gathering dust and rust. With deployabe brigades reducing the army is now being deprived of its heavy stuff and all we be will left with is fast mobile strike brigades – God help us – with as much strike power for the most part to knock the skin off a rice pudding. The army has never adopted the 120m mortar although everybody else does. Our anti-tank capabilities? Zero. Warrior, Ajax and all IVF AND APC’S have to scoot after a short burst of 40mm if enemy armour is encountered. Simply not fit for the modern battlefield. For the navy, Albion, Bulwark and some marines are ‘saved’, the Navy gets two carriers so they have done pretty good. More ships on the way but dont hold your breath. The RAF has been promised two more typhoon squadrons to replace three tornado frontline squadrons, cheers Cameron! No reason why 120 typhoons cannot be retained as frontline, reserve and OCU’s. 4 lightning squadons of a similar make up – by 2024 please! – will give the RAF a formidable presence.
    Europe doesnt need us and the yanks never have. Scrap the new nuclear subs and then we can get out of Scotland and give them independance as well.At least we will get away from the droning of that dreadful woman but with the cut in subsidies to that country £30bn from Dreadnought, £15bn from foreign aid we be able to fund and field an effective balanced fighting force.Lossiemouth? Tough. The Scots dont get to cherry pick what they want. Open a new station in the NE of England or get them to contribute to Lossiemouth’s cosy.
    Of course its no good having all new shiny kit if we dont have the men and women to man it. This is highlighted time and again on this site but nobody seems to get it but keep banging on about buying 100 Apaches for christ’s sake. Latest news alert: 34 apaches in storage!! Do you really this govt wants to achieve these recruitment targets? If they do then lets get £20k+ starting pay after training minimum, and massively reduced deductions from pay for ‘keep’ etc. Homes upgraded, bonuses or tax free payments for encouragement and achievement and longer service time. Perhaps we can get the poles or romanians in.
    More cuts are coming, that is the only certainty our armed forces face. Morale is rock bottom in the army especially. Williamson will try his best l’m sure, but the treasury wins in the end, but the country loses. The Chiefs of Staff should resign en masse in protest instead of waiting to moan in their inevitable bloody autobiographies!

    • The AS90 reserve regiments comment is worth highlighting in my view.

      I think there are 2 reserve regiments supposed to be “aligned” to the 2 RA Regiments supporting the Armoured Brigades and both, like all the rest of the RA reserve gun regiments, have the Light Gun!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here