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Subject: US Army considering renewed production of 105mm M119
doggtag    8/6/2004 5:34:58 PM
Over at Jane's Defence Weekly, there is an August 3 post: "The US Army is planning to re-introduce production of the M119A1 105mm towed howitzer, the US variant of the BAE Systems RO Defence 105mm Light Gun, to meet a shortfall of 105mm artillery that will result from the Army's reorganization, service officials said. The Army is looking for 275 new howitzers: 111 for active duty units and 164 for reserve components." (full article is avaliable to subscribers) Comparing the 105mm M119A1 howitzer, to the 120mm M120 mortar, What are the advantages the howitzer has over the mortar? From what I see, the howitzer's RAP can reach 19km, whereas the mortar in US service does not yet have such an extended range projectile, limiting the mortar to just over 7km, roughly half the range of the M119A1 howitzer. Also, the 120mm NATO-standard mortars have PGMs available (such as Strix, Bussard, and a few others), whereas the 105mm howitzers in US service do not yet have any PGMs (the 105mm STAFF round is not configured as separate-loading ammo for the howitzer, but could be implemented). Russian tube-launched missiles, by varying the propellant charge device, can be fired from 100mm guns (the 9M117 "Stabber"), including both the 2A70 of the BMP-3 and various Russian-built towed guns. Incorporating something like STAFF into the howitzer package could afford a self-defense weapon or an additional PGM for point targets. Even a new generation of PGM rounds developed for 105mm systems could present a defense contractor with another market to exploit, as several nations still employ 105mm artillery. The US does utilize a self-propelled version of the 120mm mortar, the M121 (in the M1064A3 vehicle). But to date, no self-propelled 105mm systems are in US service, although UDLP is testing various concepts that may prove favorable to US requirements. It is interesting that several NATO armies do still use towed 105mm guns/howitzers, yet very few still use 105mm SP systems. These countries do, however, utilize both SP and towed 155mm guns, and towed and SP 120mm mortars. Perhaps, with the desire to field more 105mm fire-support weapons, the US may yet consider some form of 105mm SP system. There were conceptual studies for a 105mm LEO-based system incorporated into the Stryker 8x8 chassis (as is UDLP's V2C2 weapon mentioned in another thread) and perhaps an option for the FCS NLOS-C (which currently seems to be favoring a 155mm/L38 weapon). Looking at the most cost-effective platform to develop an efficient SP mount for the US 105, (and this is entirely speculative), the LAV-25/Stryker 8x8 chassis and the stretched M113/MTVL hull are the two most favorable platforms in US inventory (or most readily acquired). Even reconditioning the older M113s (5 road wheels per side instead of the MTVL's 6) into the RISE standard with a slightly cut-down rear hull and incorporating a turreted 105, to vaguely resemble the 122mm 2S1 Gvozdika or the Abbot 105mm SP gun, would afford a shell-fragment/small arms proof artillery mount. This platform would easily fall under the US's stringent 20-ton weight limit for air-deployability. A four man crew would be sufficient for the relatively cramped M113 and Stryker hulls (considering a 105mm howitzer turret has just been installed). An autoloader would not be necessary for the 30-40lb 105mm shells. Modifications to some of the turreted 120mm direct-fire-capable mortars might allow the turret to swap out one weapon for another (as an example, the Russian 120mm 2S31 Vena self-propelled system can function as both artillery or mortar, depending on the propellant charge used: higher pressures for longer-ranged artillery modes). These under-20-ton hulls would have no problem handling the recoil of a 105mm howitzer. To go the more expensive route, there would be no reason a newer, longer ranged 105mm artillery piece could not be re-introduced into the M109-series hulls (the M108 was indeed the same hull, but mounting a 105mm weapon, and a considerably larger amount of 105mm shells). Such a system most likely will not see US service, though. There is also the RDM MOBAT, a 105mm/L33 ordnance mounted on a firing platform at the back of a 4x4 cargo truck: such a concept would fit the US 4x4 FMTV ideally, with minimal expense to implement as opposed to developing a fully enclosed armored SP system. Affording the M119A1 such a mobile capability could prove ideal. Perhaps even a light-capacity knuckleboom gantry/crane could afford the option to remove the gun from the vehicle and place it onto its ground-based chassis/firing platform? The pedestal on the cargo truck could be configured for rapid removal, so the truck would be available as a
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PuckaMan    RE:US Army considering renewed production of 105mm M119   8/7/2004 10:58:32 AM
Well, if they feel a requirement for it then it should be done. As for SP 105 systems, I don't see the point - Paladins, MLRS, ATACMS, etc. cover most roles, and SP120 Mortars cover the Cavalry role, so, the 105 howitzer Stryker seems to be out of place as a concept to me. Correct me if I'm wrong but 105s seem to be almost the sole domains of Airborne/Air Cav Units - Light, good support range, and more ammo than 155s. I think the premier 105 SP system was the British Abbot - very accurate and reliable. I believe Singapore and some others are developing or have developed something similar to SP 105s, I'll have to check though. Pucka
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doggtag    RE:US Army considering renewed production of 105mm M119   8/7/2004 5:55:11 PM
I agree that the US most likely will not build another 105mm armored SP system. But perhaps the MOBAT concept (but using the US FMTV) could afford the guns a better mobility option than just towing them to a firing position where they must be set-up. The Abbot was indeed probably the best 105mm SP gun. The only really major improvements that have recently come to the 105mm artillery market has been the development of the South African Denel LEO (Lightweight Expiremental Ordnance) 105mm system, which is considerably more of a "gun" that can be used in the artillery role: it is about 52-53 calibers long, putting it in the neighborhood of the defunct-but-very-potent Noricum ATG-N-105 towed gun. There have been lethality improvements, and it is claimed the LEO's 105mm shells are as lethal as earlier-generation 155mm ammo (the new shell fragmentation scoring and burst pattern was computer-developed). I see no reason such technologies could not be retrofitted to other 105mm systems. And I still see a niche for developing more 105mm PGMs (whose 15-20kg shells would be ideal for use against vehicles and fortifications). Putting a LEO-sized 105mm weapon onto an Abbot-like system today would leave you with a platform resembling a scaled-down PzH-2000, and afford you a 30km range envelope. As for using the towed 105mm for Airborne/Air Cav units... that's good. But still it would be expected that a tow vehicle would be available (Humvee or the 4x4 LMTV), or any decent 4x4 of the new US Army light tactical trucks). And the "LMTV MOBAT" could easily be hoofed by a C-130 or even CH-47D-series-or-later Chinook and CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters. The benefit of having the vehicle involved is that there is sufficient power supply for the gun crew's various systems, and naturally the overall ease of operation: no Airborne/Air Cav units will want to manhandle even the relatively light weight (2 tons) of the M119A1 for any long periods (and I doubt an APU will be created that could move the system around like GC45s and similar guns have). Definitely the LMTV mounting may provide the best mobility option for "shoot and scoot": you don't want too many stationary artillery emplacements if you might chance an encounter with an adversary who may have a decent counter-battery fire system. But if you are going for a fire base set-up/ base security operation, having the gun lifted off the truck into a static position suddenly gives you a standard cargo truck at your disposal..
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sandbagger    RE:US Army considering renewed production of 105mm M119   8/13/2004 10:56:26 AM
I wouldn't necessarily say the LEO is the only real improvement to come to the market. Looking at the Variable Volume (V2C2) 105 referred to in another thread uses MACS charges, gets pretty good range and from what I understand could probably shoot the Denel 105 rounds...
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AlbanyRifles    105mm M119 & prime movers   8/13/2004 11:14:39 AM
The M119s are used in the light/airborne and air assault units in the US Army (Air Cavalry in the US Army means the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior equipped air cav troops in divisional cavalry squadrons or the AH-64s in the 3 ACR). With the transition from brigades to UAs, the US Army will increase from 33 brigades to 48 UAs, each UA w/ 16 M119s (2 ea 8 gun batteries per strike battalion). This is why there is an increased requirement for the guns. A gun/howitzer has a better range of ammunition choices as well as flexibility over a mortar. They are more accurate at longer ranges than a mortar. And the prime movers for the M119 is the heavy HMMWV or M1078 LMTV 2.5 ton truck. The M1078 seems to be the prim emover of choice for the future.
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doggtag    RE:105mm M119 & prime movers   8/13/2004 2:20:09 PM
Thanks AR. Yes, I figured the LMTV would prove beneficial in this somewhere. It would be interesting to see if they stay content with just towing it, or if they do a trials/test phase on the feasibility of an "LMTV MOBAT" concept. Considering just many other offshoots of systems we test (such as fielding the HIMARS 1x6 MLRS rocket pod on a 5-ton truck), it would be interesting to see if the Army pursues it. Besides, making the gun fully wheeled SP, it can be moved faster: LMTV goes 60+ mph, but Army limits towing speeds for the M119 to 55mph and below (so I was told years ago at Ft Drum)...not that it is adhered to, though.).
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Sam    RE:105mm M119 & prime movers   8/13/2004 10:24:13 PM
MOBAT Please no.. What happens when your MOBAT breaks down, has flat tire, ect? If my prime mover breaks down I just hook it up to ammo truck,supply truck. Or 1stSgts Hummer. Thats one of the reasons the MC got rid of SP howitzers. When it breaks down you loose a tube.
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doggtag    RE:105mm M119 & prime movers   8/14/2004 8:42:51 PM
Sam, coupled with a knuckleboom crane like the US Army likes putting all over its FMTVs and HEMTTs, we could use our American ingenuity and expand on the RDM MOBAT: the gun CAN be removed from the truck and configured onto its wheeled chassis/ground platform...or just carried on another truck, en porte: years ago, when I was a Drum, a crew whose 2 1/2 broke down put the gun onto a HEMTT with the help of a 5-ton wrecker (the HEMTT was towing a fuel trailer which couldn't left behind at the field site... in the field, you use what you got.) If you are having considerable difficulties with your vehicles breaking down, perhaps investigations into who is doing the piss-poor job on PMCS should be looked into. And hell, if you get a flat tire, just change the damn tire. Correct me if I'm wrong, but to my knowledge, US Army trucks DO carry a spare. Towed guns don't always carry one, and their tires go flat also (even though a UK T& E (test & evaluation) version had foam-filled tires not needing to be checked for proper inflation..
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Sam    RE:105mm M119 & prime movers   8/15/2004 12:35:26 PM
Doggtag were are talking combat movement not an admin one. That gun is NMC until it gets to the firing pos and is firecap. From the pictures i've seen MOBAT gun cannot be seperated from truck. Its not like you can strap/bolt a howitzer on a truckbed abd expect to fire it. Even if it could ne detached, you have to wait for the wrecker to come to your pos. Wreckers are a Bn not battery asset. Neither is a HEMTT. Its not a matter of PMCS, its accounting for Murphy. The grunts don't care if my water bull or fuel or FDCs generators get to the firing pos. But the FSCC does want 6 guns ready to go. In the MC we always had spare tires for the howitzers on the prime mover or the battery supply truck. Takes 5 min to change a tire on a M-198 less on the M-119. been there done that. The whole object of the game is to get all the guns in place on time. Let the truck driver change his tire without holding up the mission. Keep it simple keep it towed.
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doggtag    RE:105mm M119 & prime movers   8/15/2004 2:09:10 PM
Actually, Sam, you CAN "just bolt a gun on a truck and expect it to fire." It's been going on since WW1 when someone decided that a mobile gun to shoot at aircraft was needed...and there weren't any tracked vehicles, so they built them on wheels. They started with simply installing guns (even 3" and greater) on simple pedestal mounts: the first SP guns WERE on wheeled platforms. There were scores of adaptations in WW2 where artillery was pretty much little more than bolted onto trucks: the Italians had a variety, including 90mm and 105mm guns. Although being bolted down, they only had a limited firing arc (they weren't pedestal mounted like the MOBAT). But the guns still retained all their components to be set onto the ground and used as standard towed guns. And again, the biggest argument of SP guns over towed systems is that, generally, SP guns can leave sooner after firing, avoiding CBF. And the M119A1 does not take up the footprint of the M198 guns, so it can be carried easily. If you have even investigated anything on the MOBAT, you would see that the only requirements for it to get into firing position is to lower its stabilizing jacks (like a crane or backhoe). And it can carry its own GPS-equipped fire control system, effectively like so many heavier 155mm tracked SP systems. But the key is the faster in- and out- of action times. No manhandling into position whatsoever. And with the fold-down decking of the MOBAT, there is sufficient area for the crew to tend the gun WITHOUT any fears of falling off. And if need be, the RDM MOBAT CAN sacrifice its gun to become a cargo truck. I'm just suggesting that our American ingenuity can make a better product. Besides, if the LMTV/FMTV family is as versatile as the older families it replaces, certainly a "bolt-on" truck bed with the necessary gun attachment points can be installed just as easily as it can be a standard cargo truck, wrecker, or van. The 2.5 ton capacity of the LMTV (5000 pounds) could easily support the weight of the M119A1 (at 4500 pounds), although the RDM MOBAT is based on a 4-ton capacity 4x4 truck (the LMTV CAN be upgraded to handle higher loads). And with stabilizing jacks, any excessive recoil could be handled. As for your argument about the MOBAT breaking down, how is that any different from one of your prime movers breaking down ? (which most likely, is hauling the gun's ammo and crew stores.) And such a "light" gun CAN be configured, easily, to be a "bolt-on, bolt-off" system, providing the chassis proves its able to withstand the gun stresses: I mentioned it was no different that what was done to create HIMARS, or for that matter, how is it any different from mounting/carrying several hundred pounds of TOW launcher and missiles on Humvees? The system CAN be removed/installed on the truck with a truck-mounted crane (the MHE): you don't need a HEMTT. ...And nothing personal, but... Army artillery groups surely have some operational requirement and equipment differences than the USMC. It may be Stewart & Stevenson that submits the suggestion up the chain, and somebody in the Pentagon will express some interest. Perhaps S&S can "offer up" a system with the M119A1 as a compliment to the HIMARS: using the 5-ton 6x6 chassis would actually be more ideal. click on the FMTV Vehicle Info for PDFs of each of the vehicles' capabilities and growth potentials. But I do agree: the LMTV being prime mover and carrying the ammo/crew stores could tow the gun. Then after a fire mission (when the truck is "empty"), the gun could be loaded onto the truck, driven back into the airplane (C-130 easily), then flown elsewhere as needed (it will take up less room, lengthwise, if carried by the truck). And since when does the military only want to keep things simple anymore?.
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AlbanyRifles    RE:105mm M119 & prime movers   8/16/2004 2:29:05 PM
Makes more sense to keep it towed. Easier to sling load Quicker to man handle into position (that is one of the keys of 105mm, you can man handle it and get fire) Artillery displaces forward and fires....service battery brings ammo to gun and you try to keep from pulling an empty gun off of the line. Greater flexibility. And towing speeds above 55 mph? Convoys don't move that fast (they better not, you lose convoy integrity otherwise) so towing speed is not that big of a deal. And the US Army does not have artillery groups, they have brigades at the corps level which have MLRS and 155 mm. All of the 105 mm howitzers are going to be in divisions, brigade combat teams and UAs.
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