During the war in Afghanistan in 2005, US forces launched the M777 towed artillery piece. At 9,300 pounds, the M777 is considered “lightweight.” Indeed, the M777 is at 41% lighter than its predecessor, the M198 Howitzer, a “medium-sized” artillery piece that debuted in 1979. The newer, lighter artillery provides Army and Marine Corps troops with a piece of mobile and transportable artillery. The significant weight reduction of the M777 is mainly due to its titanium construction.
M777 lighter and more transportable
To transport the artillery, the American forces hitched the howitzer to a seven-ton truck, which made it easy to move around. For initial deployment, artillery can be raised with an MV-22 Osprey, CH-53E Super Stallion, CH-47 Chinook, or C-130 Hercules.
Despite its lightness and mobility, the M777 does not sacrifice range or firepower. Provides a NATO compliant 155mm cartridge within a 25 mile radius. The 8-man crew is capable of firing an accurate 7 rounds per minute.
The M777 is of British origin. Originally designed by Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering (VSEL) Armament Division, BABY bought VSEL and inherited the M777 project. BAE quickly “Americanized” production of the M777, using approximately 70% US-made parts. The finished product, which proved popular, was exported all over the world. India purchased 145 M777s, for US$750 million. The order, completed in late 2016, provided India with 25 fully built M777s, while the remaining 120 howitzers were completed in India by Mahindra Defense Systems Limited.
Australia also bought the M777 – 35 of them. Brazil, Canada and Saudi Arabia also use the howitzer. And, of course, the United States. The United States has used the M777 in Iraq, Afghanistan and against Islamic State. Against ISIS, the M777 proved particularly useful on cloudy days, when limited visibility prevented aircraft from carrying out strike missions.
Artillery goes into action in Ukraine
More recently, the artillery took part in the Russian-Ukrainian war. The United States plans to offer the Ukrainians 90 M777s, most of which have already been delivered. In April, a US Department of Defense official Explain the rationale for M777 deliveries to Ukraine. “We think these howitzers will be… very, very effective in helping [the Ukrainians] in the Donbass fight, which we have already seen, is deeply dependent on long-range fire, especially artillery from both sides. In May, after Ukrainian forces began deploying the M777, a DOD official assessed howitzer performance. “We think the howitzers…are having an impact, especially in Kharkiv. Is this now the only reason? I don’t think we’d go that far to say that, but we think the systems that they’re getting – not just American systems, but other countries’ systems – are absolutely helping them regain some momentum and take back some territory.”
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov told US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III that Ukraine had deployed 74 M777 artillery pieces to the front lines, where the howitzer was used for provide long-range indirect fire. Seek to keep this artillery relevant for the duration of the conflict.
Harrison Kass is defense editor at 19FortyFive. A lawyer, pilot, guitarist and minor professional hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a trainee pilot, but was discharged for medical reasons. Harrison is a graduate of Lake Forest College, the University of Oregon, and New York University. He lives in Oregon and regularly listens to Dokken.