U.S. Army engineers doubled range of new modified M777A2 155mm towed howitzer to 70 km 10803172

Military Defense Industry Technology - M777A2 Extended Range
 
U.S. Army engineers doubled range of new modified M777A2 155mm towed howitzer to 70 km.
American Picatinny Arsenal engineers have fired the newly modified M777A2 howitzer at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, completing the next step towards expanding the system's current firing range.The modification added six feet (1.82m) to the cannon while limiting the increase in overall system weight to less than 1,000 pounds (453 kg).
     
American Picatinny Arsenal engineers have fired the newly modified M777A2 howitzer at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, completing the next step towards expanding the system's current firing range.The modification added six feet (1.82m) to the cannon while limiting the increase in overall system weight to less than 1,000 pounds (453 kg).
American personnel checking and securing instrumentation on the Extended Range M777A2 in-between firing occasions. Courtesy photo (Photo Credit: U.S. Army)
     
The total length of the tube increased the chamber volume as well as the rifling length. That, in combination with the additional increment of legacy propellant (MACS zone 6), resulted in an increase in range of several kilometers.

"We put together an integration test bed for the M777A2 Extended Range (M777ER) howitzer program, incorporating a 55 caliber cannon tube on the M777A2 towed howitzer," said Andy McFadzean a Special Project Officer at the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center or ARDEC.

"We shot a total of 70 rounds using the Modular Artillery Charge System (MACS), zone two to zone six, propelling charge. This test marked the first time a MACS zone 6 was fired from the M777 howitzer. Previously, the top charge fired was a MACS zone 5."

Project Manager Towed Artillery Systems and ARDEC are using an incremental approach to increasing the range of the M777A2 howitzer. The ultimate goal of the program is to demonstrate a maximum range of 70KM while minimizing the cost and modifications to the weapon platform.

The Army's Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) program is investigating and developing technology to extend the range of the Army's 155mm self-propelled howitzer. The M777ER program is integrating the ERCA technology onto the towed howitzer platform.

Initially, a non-firing, mobility platform was developed with an extended range cannon tube. The mobility trails successfully demonstrated that an M777ER howitzer could be towed behind its current prime mover with little modifications.

Upon successful completion of mobility trials, a firing demonstrator was created using the current 39 caliber cannon without a muzzle brake. The 39 caliber demonstrator put similar stress on the systems structures as a 55 caliber cannon with a muzzle brake. The test results of the 39 caliber demonstrator were used to validate engineering design models for the objective extended range weapon.

The latest configuration of the M777ER weapon integrated a 55 caliber cannon tube onto the weapon platform. The cannon tube was manufactured at the Army's Watervliet Arsenal. The firings at Yuma in November 2016 marked the latest success in the M777ER program.

The engineers have planned additional incremental improvements with several demonstrations over the next few years.

"The next step is to see if the M777ER platform can take the force from the new ammunition since we would be going from a 7 kilometer increase in range to a 40 km increase in range. Once we prove that we can actually do this, a user evaluation will be conducted and feedback on any other modifications will be solicited. This can be expected around July of fiscal year 18," said David Bound, M777ER Team Lead.

The M777A2 is an improved version of the standard M777 lightweight 155mm towed howitzer (referred as LW155 in U.S. army) designed and manufactured by the Company BAE Systems. The M777A2 is a towed 155 mm Howitzer jointly developed by the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps to replace the M198 155mm towed howitzer.

The main feature of the M777A2 is the possibility to fire the M982 Excalibur Guided Projectile thanks to a new software update.
     
 

 

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