US sending latest generation 155mm M777A2 howitzers to Ukraine
A video broadcasted on The Dead District's Twitter account shows 155mm howitzers transported by civilian semi-trailer tractors for delivery to the Ukrainian army. Interestingly, this time, the howitzers are the latest-generation M777A2s, not only M777s.
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M777A2 howitzers for the Ukrainian army (Picture source: screenshot of TheDeadDistrict'sTwitter account)
The M777 succeeded the M198 howitzer in the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Army in 2005. In 2014, the US military began fielding several upgrades to its M777 howitzers, including new liquid crystal display units, software updates, improved power systems, and muzzle sensors for onboard ballistic computing. Future upgrades include a touchscreen Chief Section Display, a new Mission System Computer, and digital radio.
The A2 version benefits from the addition of an Enhanced Portable Inductive Artillery Fuze Setter (EPIAFS) to enable Excalibur and precision munition compatibility. These M777A2 howitzers are equipped with CLA (Communication Location Assembly) which consists of SINCGARS AN/VRC-91F radio and GPS, as well as antennas for measuring the velocity of the projectile.
Ukrainian forces claim they need this weapon, as their own artillery doesn’t have the range of Russian systems while the M777 has a range greater than Russian weapons. Russian forces claim to have destroyed an M777 in the area of Podgornoye. However, it may have been only damaged. There are also claims that the M777s sent to Ukraine, with the exception of the Canadian-supplied ones, lack the equipment to fire the longer-range M982 Excalibur round. There are supposedly only 4 Canadian-supplied weapons. 12 operational weapons have fired 1,876 rounds over two weeks up until 22 May. The sending of M777A2s to Ukraine will considerably reinforce the Ukrainian artillery’s efficiency.
U.S. soldiers assigned to A Battery (Archer) and C Battery (Cobra), 2nd Cavalry Regiment conduct a certification training on M777A2 155 mm howitzers. (Picture source: U.S. Army/DVIDS)
155mm Excalibur guided projectile
The Excalibur is a 155 mm, Global Positioning System (GPS)-guided, extended-range artillery projectile in use as the US. Army’s next-generation cannon artillery precision munitions. It provides improved fire support to the maneuver force commander, increases lethality, and reduces collateral damage. The target, platform location and GPS-specific data are entered into the projectile’s mission computer through an Enhanced Portable Inductive Artillery Fuze Setter.
The Excalibur projectile uses a jam-resistant internal GPS receiver to update the inertial navigation system, providing precision in-flight guidance and dramatically improving accuracy to less than two meters miss distance regardless of range. The Excalibur projectile has three fuze options (point-detonation, point-detonation delay and height-of-burst) and is employable in all weather conditions and terrains. Excalibur’s capabilities allow for first-round effects on targets while simultaneously minimizing collateral damage and the number of rounds required to engage targets.
U.S. soldiers of Charlie Battery, 3rd Battalion, 321st Field Artillery Regiment, fired the first 155 mm global positioning system-guided Excalibur artillery round in Afghanistan. (Picture source: U.S. DoD)