By Audra Calloway, Picatinny Arsenal Public AffairsJune 8, 2017
PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. -- Two M777A2 howitzers arrived in India May 19 in preparation for live fire testing that will enable engineers to create firing tables compatible with Indian ammunition.
Their arrival heralds the completion of an early milestone established in a Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA) Foreign Military Sales (FMS) signed by U.S. Department of Defense and the Indian Ministry of Defence December 2016 that will eventually lead to delivery of 145 M777A2s to the Indian government commencing in late 2018.
BAE Systems Inc., is the prime contractor for the M777A2 India program and the company will manage the firing table effort, working alongside the U.S. Government and Indian Government.
"The successful build, shipping and clearance of the howitzers for shipment to India reflect the close engagement of the U.S. Department of Defense, the India Ministry of Defence and BAE Systems that will make this partnership successful," said Jim Shields, the Program Executive Officer Ammunition.
The U.S. Army and Marine Corps' M777A2 howitzer program is managed by the Joint Project Manager Towed Artillery Systems (PM-TAS) located at Picatinny Arsenal NJ. PM-TAS is part of the Program Executive Office Ammunition (Army) and the Program Executive Office Land Systems located at Quantico, VA (Marine Corps).
PM-TAS contract support is provided by Army Contracting Command -- New Jersey (ACC-NJ) located at Picatinny Arsenal.
The howitzer components and subassemblies will be manufactured in the U.S. and U.K. and then shipped to India to be assembled at the final Assembly Integration, Test (AIT) facility. The cannon assembly will be manufactured at U.S. Army Watervliet Arsenal, New York and provided as Government Furnished Equipment (GFE). Other U.S. based contractors providing GFE include Seiler Manufacturing in St. Louis, Missouri and Triumph Actuation Systems in Bloomfield, Connecticut.
In addition to benefiting U.S. manufacturing, the FMS allows the U.S. Army to save money.
"The U.S. fleet of howitzers is now in sustainment, so this LOA gives us production dollars and allows us to keep a knowledgeable workforce on staff. We also benefit from lower costs of spare parts," Chris Hatch, Deputy PM TAS explained. "Now that the howitzer parts will be back in production, instead of making one or two spare parts when the U.S. needs them, we are making 145 of all the components. As long as the production line is going, the U.S. military and taxpayers reap the benefits of lower costs."
In addition to providing the howitzers, PEO Ammunition and BAE Systems will provide technical manuals, training programs, and engineering support to develop firing tables so that the Indian Army can fire their own ammunition.
Gun and spare parts deliveries are scheduled to begin in September 2018. PM TAS will also begin training the Indian Army on the howitzers at that time.
Besides being reliable and battle-proven, the M777A2 howitzer is lightweight, which allows it be easily airlifted by helicopter in mountainous terrain, such as the Himalayas in India. It was the world's first 155 mm howitzer to weigh less than 10,000 lbs, a weight reduction achieved through innovative use of titanium and aluminum alloys.