By U.S. ArmyMay 30, 2019
The M198 howitzer is one of Rock Island Arsenal's most successful products. Beginning in 1968, it was developed to replace the M114A2 that had been the standard 155MM howitzer since 1941. Primary design and development was conducted at Rock Island Arsenal's Rodman Laboratory from 1973 through 1977. From 1979 to 1987, 1,908 M45 recoil mechanisms were produced at Rock Island Arsenal in cooperation with a private contractor. From 1988 to 1995, 421 complete howitzers were produced at RIA.
From the Cold War to ISIS
Designed to be dropped by parachute, via C-130 Hercules or C-17 Globemaster III aircraft, or transported with a sling, via CH-53E Super Stallion or CH-47 Chinook helicopters, the M198 howitzer weighs in at just shy of eight tons. The M198 was designed to replace the World War II-era M114 howitzer.
Capable of firing both atomic and conventional rounds, the M198 was produced to serve in a multifunctional capacity. The W48 nuclear shell was one of the smallest nuclear devices ever designed, having an estimated yield of only 72 tons. The role of the M198, however, has remained that of a conventional howitzer since the retirement of nuclear shells in 1992. The artillery selection for the M198 includes high explosive rounds, rocket-assisted projectiles, illumination rounds, area deniability rounds, and even shells that are capable of seeking out and destroying the enemy.
Designed, developed and produced at Rock Island Arsenal's Rodman Research Laboratory, the M198 underwent an extensive design and development phase between 1968 and 1977. The howitzer was fielded beginning in 1978, with the first units shipped to both the Marine Corps, and the Army. The M198 is capable of firing a shell every 15 to 30 seconds.
Rock Island Arsenal continues to be responsible for maintaining an inventory of parts for the M198. However, as of 2005, the M198 was slowly phased out in favor of the lighter M777 howitzer. Despite the phased retirement from the U.S. inventory, the M198 remains in service with other nations today, including Thailand, Brazil and Pakistan.