BAE SYSTEMS XM777 completes operational assessment; lightweight howitzer moves forward in development
26 Jun 2002
BAE Systems XM777 Lightweight Howitzer completed a major test phase last week at several military installations in California. Gun crews from the U.S. Marines and U.S. Army, as well as independent evaluators from the Marine Corps' Operational Test and Evaluation Agency, conducted the series of tests during the operational assessment (OA) phase of this advanced artillery program. OA is a key requirement leading to a Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) decision scheduled for October 2002.
The testing consisted of six weeks of operations in which more than 5,000 rounds were fired by test howitzers. During one phase, three 96-hour operational scenarios were conducted with some of the individual fire missions consisting of as many as 80 rounds. The XM777's mobility was rigorously tested using both Marine Corps and Army tow vehicles at 29 Palms and Camp Pendleton, California. Testing culminated with amphibious operations at Coronado Naval Base near San Diego.
The XM777 Lightweight 155mm Howitzer was designed and developed by BAE Systems as a replacement for the M198 howitzer used by both Marine Corps and Army light units. The XM777 provides increased strategic and tactical improvements over the M198 howitzer including a 40 percent weight reduction.
The next major milestone for the XM777 will be delivery next month of the first U.S.-produced howitzer from BAE Systems integration facility in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Howitzers produced at this facility will incorporate components manufactured by the U.S. supplier base that BAE Systems has been developing for the past two years. The first howitzer will undergo accuracy and strength of design testing prior to the LRIP decision. Low rate production is scheduled to begin in early 2003.
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