M777 155mm Towed Howitzer

The M777 155mm Towed Howitzer was type classified as M-777 and was approved for production by the Assistant Secretary of the Navy in November 2002 (FY 2003). The first howitzer came off the production line of integrator BAE Systems in Hattiesburg, MS, in February 2004.

USMC Pfc. Clark Wilson pulls the primer trigger to fire an M-777 Howitzer during the 11th Marine Regiment live fire field exercise at Twentynine Palms, CA, 4 September 2007
USMC Pfc. Clark Wilson pulls the primer trigger to fire an M-777 Howitzer during the 11th Marine Regiment live fire field exercise at Twentynine Palms, CA, 4 September 2007.

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M777 155mm Lightweight Towed Howitzer

After more than a year of competitive testing among four proposed systems, in 1997 Textron Marine and Land Systems was awarded an engineering and manufacturing development contract to transform Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering Limited's ultra-lightweight field howitzer into a suitable replacement for the M198 towed 155-mm howitzer. The new howitzer, initially called the LW155 but now officially designated M777 under a joint Army/USMC program, will give the Army and Marine Corps the capability of the M-109 Paladin in a light-weight, towed howitzer.

Description of the M-777 155mm Lightweight Towed Howitzer

The M-777 is an advanced, towed lightweight 155mm howitzer, with self-locating and aiming capability, that meets increased operational thresholds for mobility, survivability, deployability and sustainability. The M-777 will provide accurate, reliable, responsive, on-demand, 24-hour, all weather, and all terrain close support fires to maneuver forces.

A key component of the M-777 is the Digital Fire Control System (DFCS). Non-digitized M-777 howitzers with optical fire control were delivered to the Marine Corps, beginning in February 2004, while the FY05-09 Army program plan funds the procurement and fielding of the digitized, self-locating, self-aiming/self-pointing upgrade of this system (designated M-777A1) to selected Army units, beginning in FY06-08. USMC howitzers will be retrofitted for the digitized upgrades after fielding to Army units. The M-777 and M-777A1 will replace all of the Marine Corps' M-198 towed howitzers and will be the artillery system for the Armyís Stryker Brigade Combat Teams.

The howitzer can be towed by an air-braked 4x4 vehicle with capacity greater than 2.5 tons. The M-777 is air transportable by C-130 (2), by C-17 (6) or by C-5 (12). It can be helicopter delivered with CH-53D/E, CH-47D, or V-22 aircraft.

The M-777 howitzer is made of titanium to achieve its light weight and high performance. The M-777 is 7,000 lbs. lighter than the M-198 howitzer it replaced, primarily due to the use of titanium. Titanium is a new material for field maintenance personnel requiring new equipment, welding procedures, support facilities, and personnel training for field repair of M-777 howitzers.

The M-777A1 will fire the Excalibur 40-km range precision-guided projectile, developed at the U.S. Army Picatinny Arsenal. The round's GPS and inertial navigation guidance will enable it to deliver precision strike capability at all ranges.

Characteristics of the M-777 Howitzer

Length in tow 30.4 ft (9.275 m)
Length firing 33.5 ft (10.21 m)
Width in tow 9.1 ft (2.770 m)
Height in tow 7.4 ft (2.26 m)
Weight 9,200 lbs (4182 kg)
Max effective range w/conventional projectile 15.3 miles (24.7 km)
Max effective range w/rocket-assisted projectile 18.6 miles (30 km)
Max rate of fire four to eight rounds per minute
Sustained rate of fire two rounds per minute
Emplacement time three minutes or less
Displacement time two minutes or less
Crew 7

In April 2006 the USMC awarded Lockheed Martin a contract to manufacture Lightweight Prime Mover (LWPM) trucks to tow the M-777 155mm lightweight artillery howitzer. The LWPM is based on Lockheed Martinís LM4x4 truck, obtained by the acquisition of HMT Vehicles Ltd., a United Kingdom company.

Marines of 2nd Battalion, 11th Marines, First Marine Division, fire the M777 Howitzer during a Field Operation, 9 August 2005
Marines of 2nd Battalion, 11th Marines, First Marine Division, fire the M777 Howitzer during a Field Operation, 9 August 2005.

>M177A1 Lightweight 155mm Howitzer with Digital Fire Control at U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground.
M177A1 Lightweight 155mm Howitzer with Digital Fire Control at U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground.

Live-fire battalion exercise with the M777 Lightweight howitzer during its first Army fielding, Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii, October 2006
Live-fire battalion exercise with the M777 Lightweight 155mm Howitzer during its first Army fielding, Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii, October 2006.

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