The U.S. Department of Defense has ordered 70 BAE Systems lightweight M777 howitzers to begin equipping the U.S. Army's Infantry Brigade Combat Teams (IBCTs). Valued at $134m (pound87m), the order takes the U.S.-UK production program to Oct. 2013 and a total of 1071 guns.
Mike Smith, managing director of BAE Systems' Global Combat Systems Weapons business commented: "Bringing M777 to the IBCT's will enhance their ability to carry out an ever-expanding range of missions. This latest order reinforces the system's credentials while continuous development of sub-system enhancements underlines our determination to keep M777 the howitzer of choice."
Weighing in at less than 4200kg, the revolutionary M777 is the world's first artillery weapon to make widespread use of titanium and aluminum alloys, resulting in a howitzer which is half the weight of conventional towed 155mm systems. As a result, it can be deployed by medium-lift helicopters quickly and beyond the reach of roadside bombs to otherwise inaccessible areas, extending its reach over the theater of operations.
BAE Systems' facility at Hattiesburg, Mississippi, is responsible for final integration and testing of the weapon system. The prime contract management of the M777 program and manufacture and assembly of the complex titanium structures and associated recoil components are undertaken at Barrow-in-Furness in the United Kingdom.
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