Artillery: Light And Full Of Fight

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August 22,2008:  This Summer, the first U.S. Army National Guard (reserve) unit received the new M-777 towed 155mm howitzer. Last year, active army units received the M-777. Eventually, the army will buy 273 M777s. The U.S. Marine Corps was the first American user (in 2005) of the M-777, and has bought 380. Canada bought a few to try out in Afghanistan, and was so impressed that they eventually upped their order to 37. Britain also uses the M777, as does Australia.

The M777 is a British design and, at four tons, is the lightest 155mm towed howitzer ever fielded. M777 Fire control is handled by computerized system that allows faster response time and more accurate shooting. The M777 can use all current 155mm ammunition, including the GPS guided Excalibur. The guided round cuts ammo use enormously. This is very useful for the M777, which is light enough to be hauled around slung under a CH-47 helicopter (or the faster V-22, or even parachuted out of a C-130.) The helicopter is the preferred method in Afghanistan, where an M777 on a mountain top, with a few dozen Excalibur rounds, provides precision fire support for troops with a 30-40 kilometer radius.

 


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