BAE Systems has been awarded £42.8m by the US Department of Defense for 43 M777 lightweight towed howitzers.

BAE Systems has been paid £42.8m by the US Department of Defense for 43 M777 lightweight towed howitzers.

The contract brings the total value of M777 orders in 2008 to £147m and the total number of orders for the gun to more than 700.

The M777 is the world’s first artillery system to incorporate the use of titanium and aluminium alloys in gun design, resulting in a howitzer that weighs less than 4,200kg, or half the weight of conventional 155mm systems.

With its low profile, high durability and quick deployment and stowage capabilities, the M777 can be quickly positioned in the most challenging locations, including by medium-lift helicopters.

The M777 effort is managed by the Light Weight 155mm Joint Programme office at Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey.

BAE Systems’ facilities at Barrow-in-Furness, UK, and Hattiesburg, Mississippi, manufacture, integrate and test the guns.

Separately, BAE Systems has received a $10m (£5.38m) contract from the US government to provide 100 armoured commercial vehicles, including armoured Chevrolet Suburbans and armoured Toyota Land Cruisers.

The armoured commercial vehicles will be manufactured in Cincinnati, Ohio, and production is expected to be complete by the first quarter of 2009.

The commercial vehicles will be purchased directly from the original manufacturers prior to additional armour and security features being installed.