US orders lightweight artillery weapons from BAE Systems

The US Department of Defense has ordered 70 BAE Systems lightweight M777 howitzers to begin equipping the US Army’s Infantry Brigade Combat Teams.

Valued at $134m (£87m), the order takes the US-UK production programme to October 2013 and a total of 1,071 guns.

The order follows a $21m (£13m) contract in July to design, develop, qualify and manufacture an improved Power Conditioning Control Module. This is the battery-charging system that provides power to the Digital Fire Control System. Over the next four years, 1,049 units will be produced for fitting to in-service guns.

Weighing in at less than 4,200kg the M777 is said to be the world’s first artillery weapon to make widespread use of titanium and aluminium alloys, resulting in a howitzer that is half the weight of conventional towed 155mm systems.

BAE Systems’ facility at Hattiesburg, Mississippi, is responsible for final integration and test of the weapon system.

The prime contract management of the M777 programme and manufacture and assembly of the complex titanium structures and associated recoil components are undertaken at Barrow-in-Furness in England.