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Smart Bombs: Military, Defense and National Security

The M777 Could Swing the Howitzer War for Ukraine

M777 Artillery
Soldiers serving with Alpha Battery, 2nd Battalion, 77th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Inf. Division, shoot a round down range from their M777A2 howitzer on Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 22, 2014. The round was part of a shoot to register, or zero, the howitzers, which had just arrived on KAF from Forward Operating Base Pasab. The shoot also provided training for a fire support team from 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th IBCT, 4th Inf. Div.

You might recall that American M777 towed howitzers were promised to Ukraine recently. Sometimes promises are broken in warfare, but not so in this case. The Americans indeed donated 90 M777 howitzers to Ukraine. These pieces have already made it to the battlefield, and Ukrainian soldiers have fired numerous 155mm shells downrange at Russian targets.

Quick learners

This video on Twitter is must-see TV – see below. It is a well-produced, high-action spot that shows Ukrainian artillery crews at work. Some of them recently received a crash course led by American training personnel, and the schoolwork is already paying dividends. 

The United States took a train the trainer approach. They invited 370 select Ukrainian artillery officers and non-commissioned officers to Germany and gave them a two-week course covering the basics of towed-howitzer operations. Other personnel learned how to maintain the guns. The Ukrainians appear to have learned quickly.

In addition to the howitzers, Ukraine’s armed forces received a remarkable 144,000 155mm rounds, as well as 72 trucks to transport the guns. This is enough to supply five battalions.

The defenders have expressed their appreciation. Valerii Zaluzhnyi, the commander in chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, said on Facebook that the artillery pieces are welcome additions. “Special greetings and thanks from our artillerists to the American people for the M777 howitzers. My guys know the price of artillery. First of all, they wanted to convey that this is a high-precision and very effective weapon. Together to victory.”

Featured Artillery

Australia and Canada sent a total of ten additional M777s to Ukraine. Made with titanium, the guns are lighter than previous models of American towed howitzers. This makes them easier to transport by airplane and truck. Once disengaged by the towing vehicle, it takes just six minutes to lay the gun, then the crew can begin firing.

The U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Army have featured the M777 in their field artillery since 2008. The gun saw extensive action against the Taliban in Iraq and Afghanistan, and later against ISIS. 

The howitzer showcases a longer-ranged 155mm projectile that weighs about 100 pounds – Ukraine’s Soviet-era guns usually fire 152mm and 122mm projectiles with a shorter range and less accuracy than the M777. Its standard M795 high-explosive shell has a range of 19 miles. This projectile can target everything from tanks and armored vehicles to enemy trench emplacements, supply and ammunition depots, and command and control installations. NATO countries can resupply the shells if Ukraine uses up the original batch sent by the Americans.

Heavy artillery has been on the Ukrainian wish list since the war started. The Ukrainians are also fond of U.S. M109 Paladin self-propelled howitzers, but they are not likely to get these advanced systems. The Ukrainians are getting self-propelled guns from the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Italy.

Counter-Artillery Fire Is Needed

As the fight in Ukraine morphs into an artillery duel between Russia and Ukraine, the defenders will need to focus more on counter-battery fire. Here, another NATO member has stepped up to the plate. Germany plans to send counter-battery radar to help the Ukrainians destroy Russian cannons. The Cobra system they will supply can scope out 40 enemy artillery positions, mortars, and rocket launchers within a range of 62 miles, according to the German military

The Ukrainians will make good use of these artillery systems. They will help the defenders better target the enemy. Additional personnel can also attend the impromptu artillery school in Germany and take their newly acquired knowledge to better prepare Ukrainian field artillery soldiers. This important development could swing the howitzer war in Ukraine’s favor.

Now serving as 1945’s Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood.

Written By

Now serving as 1945s New Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer.

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Alex

    May 17, 2022 at 10:39 am

    To supply weapons and rejoice when others fight is the meaning of the entire Anglo-Saxon empire.
    After all, we understand that this will only delay the end of Ukraine and allow many more civilians to die. This is the whole point.

    • aldol11

      May 17, 2022 at 4:27 pm

      you are either Russian or stupid or both

  2. troll-feeder

    May 17, 2022 at 11:13 am

    I thought the death and destruction Russia has brought to their brothers was about saving Ukraine, Alex? This is what you have shared on this website seemingly hundreds of times.

    Your freudian slip shows everyone that your overlord’s true intention is the end of Ukraine. Oops 😬.

    • Alex

      May 17, 2022 at 12:31 pm

      I rejoice in the destruction of the Nazis and support the Ukrainians, who, with the help of Russia, are crushing these bastards. You still do not understand this, Bandera with a dozen nicknames?

      • Jay Hall

        May 18, 2022 at 5:21 am

        The fact of the matter is that its illegal for one country to invade another. So saving Ukraine by invading it sounds very interesting. Also another world leader said that about Poland and Czechoslovakia about 90 years ago. Ironic your excuses is the same as that hated Nazis.

        • Alex

          May 18, 2022 at 12:12 pm

          You tell NATO about this, and do not hysteria here.

  3. Alex

    May 18, 2022 at 12:11 pm

    Just wondering, how do you comment on the videos that will appear more and more often? As an example: a video was published showing the defeat of American M777 howitzers and Ukrainian artillery crew by the Kub kamikaze drone.

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