Production of M777 howitzers is about to resume

 07. 01. 2024      Category: Ground forces

The U.S. Army has awarded BAE Systems Inc. a contract for the production of the main designs of the 155 mm M777 ultra-lightweight towed howitzers. The contract paves the way for the resumption of serial production of these guns.

In practice, the contract marks the start of the programme, while the details of the implementation contract and its total final value are agreed with the customer.

Picture: M777 | BAE Systems
Picture: M777 | BAE Systems

BAE Systems Inc. will involve its subcontractors in the UK and US supply chains in the production of the main titanium structures that underpin the M777 howitzers. The first designs are expected to be delivered in 2025.

As BAE Systems points out, following the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian war (24 February 2022) and the subsequent delivery of 198 M777A2 howitzers to the Ukrainian armed forces from US, Canadian and Australian military aid stocks, there has been a surge of interest in this weapon system across Europe, Asia and the Americas.

The new contract creates the optimum conditions for the resumption of serial production of the M777 in the UK, with new and existing users able to increase their resources and take advantage of production line ramp-up and economies of scale. BAE Systems Inc CEO Thomas Arseneault mentioned the possibility of resuming production of these guns (and the M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles also used in Ukraine) as early as 30 November 2023

The resumption of production of the main M777 designs for the US Army comes at a time when the howitzers have been deployed during defensive operations in Ukraine. "We are very proud of our role in supporting our allies," said John Borton, vice president and general manager of BAE Systems Weapons Systems UK, which manages the production and assembly of the M777 light howitzers.

BAE Systems believes that with new technologies, the development of long-range precision-guided munitions and flexible mobility options, the M777 howitzers will remain at the forefront of technological developments in artillery systems well into the future.

At half the weight of other towed 155mm howitzers, the M777 provides rapid reaction capability and ample firepower. With more than 1,250 M777A1/A2s in the arsenals of US, Ukrainian, Canadian, Australian and Indian ground forces, the M777 is the only combat-proven 155mm light howitzer in the world.

Serial production of this weapon ended in 2018 with the completion of deliveries to India and the US, but BAE Systems continues its marketing efforts and is offering a new variant of the ER (Extended Range) howitzer that has been given a longer barrel and a higher capacity chamber (India has taken delivery of the M777A2 and K9 Vajra-T).

However, the US Army is already looking for a successor for its Stryker Brigade Combat Teams (SBCTs) equipped with the M777A2 howitzer. It should be a wheeled self-propelled gun.

 Author: Rafał Muczyński