Sunday, April 21, 2024

US Army orders more parts for M777 howitzers after their success on Ukrainian battlefields

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Soldiers of the Ukrainian 55th artillery brigade operate on the frontline with a US made Howitzer M777 cannon amid artillery fights on December 29, 2022 in Bakhmut, Ukraine. A large swath of Donetsk region has been held by Russian-backed separatists since 2014. Russia has tried to expand its control here since the February 24 invasion.
Ukrainian forces fire a M777 howitzer in Bakhmut.
  • The US army has resumed orders of M777 howitzer parts from British defense company BAE Systems.
  • The mobility of lightweight howitzers has proved essential for Ukrainian forces.
  • Their proven success has sparked interest from other militaries, BAE Systems said. 

The US Army has signed a contract with a British defense company to restart production of M777 howitzer parts that will be sent to Ukraine to refurbish old guns.

The $50 million deal, announced Thursday by BAE Systems, is the first new order in five years and marks a growing demand for howitzers following their success on Ukrainian battlefields.

M777s are a key artillery weapon and weigh half that of other mobile howitzers, giving troops greater mobility to reposition quickly and avoid being located.

Analysts have said such maneuverability of weapons is vital to survival in Ukraine.

"The M777 provides a rapid reaction capability and a proven pedigree that delivers decisive firepower when needed most in sustained combat conditions," BAE Systems said.

Under the new deal, the company will provide the titanium structures that form the basis of the gun, with first deliveries expected in 2025.

BAE Systems said it expected the production of complete howitzers to follow. There has been increased interest in the M777 from forces in Europe, Asia, and the Americas after the weapon's success in Ukraine.

Though restarting older weapon production lines is rare, the war in Ukraine has become a testing ground for the arms industry.

"Weapons that get visibility and credibility during a conflict often generate foreign sales," Mark Cancian, an adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank and former US Marine, told The Wall Street Journal.

"This new contract creates the optimum conditions for a restart of M777 production in the UK, and presents an opportunity to new and existing users to join a new M777 production initiative and take advantage of the benefits from a hot production line and economies of scale," BAE said in a statement.

Ukraine is obtaining its howitzers from at least 15 allies. But two years into the war, Western nations have been running out of vital military equipment and are facing greater domestic pressure over continuing aid.

To try to plug any gaps that emerge, Ukraine has turned to producing its own weapons, including howitzers.

BAE Systems did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.

Read the original article on Business Insider


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