The weapon at Memorial Field one of 14 British L119 light guns leased to the U.S. Army in 1985 for evaluation. The system was revised by Rock Island Arsenal as the M119 lightweight towed howitzer in 1986. It was adopted to replace the M101 105mm light towed howitzer. A total of 521 M119 and M119A1 howitzers were manufactured at RIA from 1991 to 1997. Watervliet Arsenal in New York manufactured the cannon tube and associated components. Rock Island Arsenal manufactured 1,200 parts for this system. RIA's Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center continues to support this system with parts and upgrades, including the latest A3 variant.
British Design, American Built
First developed to replace the aging M101 howitzer, the M119 is based on the British L119 howitzer. The howitzer underwent extensive research at Rock Island Arsenal, where revisions and upgrades were drafted. In the initial production run, 521 howitzers were produced. In 2013, JMTC received the contract to continue production of the howitzer. In addition, JMTC is responsible for producing replacement parts and providing upgrades when necessary.
Light enough to be airlifted and dropped, the M119 was designed to either be carried with slings by helicopter or dropped from transport aircraft. Its ability to be carried and packed so easily has made it one of the most versatile weapon systems in the U.S. Army inventory, one reason the M119 remains in service today.
There are four production variants plus the L119 model. The M119A1 includes a fire control and maintenance system, while the M119A2 model has upgraded sights. The most recent revision is the M119A3. The A3 model has a digital fire control system and an internal navigation system for self-location. The latest variant entered service in April 2013. The entire system is moved by the M1097 High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV). The system is capable of firing high explosive, illuminating, smoke, and long-range ammunition.