US DOD orders M777 Howitzers
The US Department of Defense has ordered 70 BAE Systems lightweight M777 howitzers to begin equipping the US Army's Infantry Brigade Combat Teams (IBCTs).
Valued at $134m (£87m), the order takes the US-UK production programme to October 2013 and a total of 1071 guns.
The order follows a $21m (£13m) contract in July to design, develop, qualify and manufacture an improved Power Conditioning Control Module (PCCM). This is the battery charging system that provides stable power to the Digital Fire Control System. Over the next four years, 1049 units will be produced for fitting to in-service guns.
The improved PCCM must be lighter but deliver better reliability and accommodate future accessories, such as electronic thermal management and laser ignition. It will also allow the use of lithium ion, as well as the current lead-acid, batteries.
Mike Smith, managing director of BAE Systems' Global Combat Systems Weapons business commented: "Bringing M777 to the IBCTs will enhance their ability to carry out an ever-expanding range of missions. This latest order reinforces the system's credentials while the focused development underlines our determination to keep M777 the howitzer of choice."
Weighing in at less than 4200kg, the revolutionary M777 is the world's first artillery weapon to make widespread use of titanium and aluminium alloys, resulting in a howitzer which is half the weight of conventional towed 155mm systems. As a result, it can be deployed by medium-lift helicopter quickly and beyond the reach of roadside bombs to otherwise inaccessible areas, extending its reach over the theater of operations.
BAE Systems' facility at Hattiesburg, Mississippi, is responsible for final integration and test of the weapon system. The prime contract management of the M777 program and manufacture and assembly of the complex titanium structures and associated recoil components are undertaken at Barrow-in-Furness in the United Kingdom.
Source: BAE Systems
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