A reader tips me off to this Gizmag article on the new lightweight M777 howitzer:
The M777 is the first ground combat system to make extensive use of titanium and aluminium and is approximately half the weight of comparable systems, making it easily transportable, easily towed across country at high speed and easily fitted to faster, lighter, purpose built vehicles. It is capable of firing a 155mm shell at up to five rounds per minute while achieving high levels of accuracy with targets up to 30 kilometres away. Firing Raytheon’s new Excalibur satellite-guided artillery shell, the M777 has proven pinpoint accurate, and although specifications call for them being capable of striking within ten metres at a range of 40 kilometres, tests have shown much greater accuracy.
It weighs in at about 9,200 pounds, over 40% lighter than the current M198. The M777E1, with an advanced digital fire control system, weighs about 9,700 pounds.
Here’s some good info from Machine Design:
Besides being significantly lighter, the M777 is 25% smaller and more compact than its predecessor. This smaller “hoof print” came from design changes characterized by dual-function structures and pressure vessels, and by placing the system center of gravity “out of balance.”
The M777’s configuration is described as “static-out-of-balance.” The CG of the recoiling mass sits in front of the Howitzer’s trunnions (i.e., pivot points) when at rest. This design lets the trunnions be close to the ground, keeping the weapon’s overall CG as low as possible. The low CG counteracts the right-hand torque the weapon generates when it fires. The recoiling mass remains within the system structure during firing and keeps the relatively compact, lightweight system stable.
Although currently planned as a towed artillery piece, the Brits are looking to utilize the Supacat Portee vehicle to transport/support the M777 (at right). Here’s a press release posted on Strategy Page on this contraption:
When in the travelling mode, the 155mm M777 lightweight artillery system is carried in the very rear of the chassis, with the ordnance to the front and resting between the split forward control cab. It can be rapidly unloaded using the vehicle’s onboard mechanical handing system.
The gun crew of six is seated in an armour and NBC-protected cab. When compared with a conventional self-propelled artillery system, the 155mm M777 Portee System will have the added advantage that it can be split into two loads for transport slung under a tactical helicopter.
Meanwhile, the Canucks are getting some, too: Canada Takes Delivery of First M777 Howitzers