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M777 155mm LIMAWS Portee

The unique feature of the M777 Portee is that the artillery system can be mounted on or towed by the chassis. The advantage of the M777 Portee design was that it was more mobile than ordinary towed howitzers. When the howitzer was loaded onto the vehicle it can go over terrain, that would trap other towed howitzers. With the howitzer removed the vehicle acted as an artillery tractor and can carry additional ammunition instead of artillery system.

The 8x6 Portee System was a new vehicle design utilising suspension technology developed for Supacat's highly successful High Mobility Truck (HMT) 'family'. These vehicles were entering service in 2-axle and 3-axle form with both the UK and US armed forces. They offer a significant improvement in mobility over other wheeled military vehicles. The HMT suspension system made the Portee ideally suited to operation over difficult and demanding terrain.

Portee is comprised of a 155mm/39 calibre M777 towed lightweight artillery system and a purpose-built portee 8x6 version of the Supacat high mobility cross country vehicle (HMT 800). The gun is carried on the rear of the vehicle. In the traveling mode the M777 is carried in the rear part of the chassis, while the ammunition is stowed at the front, between the armored, NBC protected split cab. The howitzer is partially unloaded from the vehicle before firing, on reaching the combat area the howitzer is quickly dismounted an onboard mechanical handling system, allowing it to be towed rapidly into and out of action and up to 3 ammunition containers can be carried in its place. In the towed howitzer M777, the combat calculation includes 8-10 people, in the self-propelled version it was reduced to 4-5 people, due to the achievement of greater automation in its transfer from marching to combat and loading.

This 'Portee' vehicle has the capability to transport the howitzer onto C-130 aircraft, amphibious craft as well as move as a compact system for longer road or cross country journeys. On reaching the combat area the howitzer is quickly dismounted, allowing it to be towed rapidly into and out of action and up to 3 ammunition containers can be carried in its place allowing a total of over 70 readily available rounds. The HMT had been selected as the universal platform for a number of roles in the British Army, including mobile communications Ground Station, EW Ground Station, UAV Ground Station, lightweight mobile artillery platform (rocket) and for other specialized applications.

A new transport concept for the revolutionary BAE Systems M777 155mm howitzer, now in full rate production for the US Marine Corps and US Army, was being showcased at DSEi in 2005. Developed in response to a specific UK MoD requirement (LIMAWS (G) Gun) the M777 Portee system combined the ground breaking strengths of the world's lightest 155mm howitzer with a purpose built vehicle developed by Supacat.

The LIMAWS (G) program was canceled in 2007 due to funding problems. The British Army will continue to rely on AS90 self-propelled howitzers and light guns until these will be replaced by 2023. As of 2000, the Lightweight Mobile Artillery Weapon System (LIMAWS) program was intended to form a lightweight artillery capability for rapid reaction forces, and was planned to consist of lightweight towed 155mm howitzer, lightweight rocket launcher, and a lightweight weapon locating radar. Both the weapon locating radar and the rocket launcher programs were then at the early concept phase of the procurement cycle.

LIMAWS was to provide an indirect fire capability to support light and rapid effect forces. Initial studies showed that the requirement was likely to be best met by a mix of lightweight towed gun systems (LIMAWS(G)) and lightweight rocket launchers (LIMAWS(R)). The two elements of LIMAWS were initially at different stages - by 2001 the Gun was in assessment, while the Rocket launcher is in the concept phase. (LIMAWS-R) used the same MLRS launching system as found on the the US HIMARS truck mounted system, basically, an MLRS system cut in half, 6 MLRS/GMLRS rockets or one ATACMS rocket.

The M777 is the world's first 155mm howitzer weighing less than 10000lbs (4218kg) achieved through innovative design and the use of titanium and aluminium alloys. It is designed specifically to meet the growing requirement for flexible and accurate artillery fire support being capable of rapid re-deployment by battlefield helicopters and of being towed by lightweight limber or utility vehicles. M777 is fully developed and in production and the first 2 US Marine Corps units to be equipped have taken delivery to achieve an initial operational capability (IOC) early in the New Year.

Equipped with a fully integrated digital fire control system the howitzer can be brought into action in less than one minute, and moved to an alternative firing position in less than three minutes. The speed of movement, deployability, rapid into and out of action times and overall manoeuvrability around the battlefield makes the howitzer 70% more effective than its predecessor in terms of rounds fired and target effect, and also offers enhanced survivability.

The M777 is designed to fire the most modern types of ammunition currently in production and development including the XM982 'Excalibur' precision round, allowing it to achieve high levels of accuracy with targets over 40km away. In conjunction with such ammunition, M777 is the most developed, tested, safe and reliable gun and weapon combination available to allies.

The integrated system has been extensively evaluated by the UK MoD as part of the LIMAWS (G) assessment phase, during which both tactical and strategic mobility were assessed and over 350 rounds fired in test conditions. Nick Wilson, head of business development Indirect Fire Systems says, "M777 performed well throughout the evaluation period demonstrating a unique combination of firepower and mobility with the potential to make a significant contribution to the MoD's medium weight capability requirements."

. In mid-2005, the M777 and the French 155 mm artillery system CAESAR passed a series of tests in southern England. During the tests, more than 350 155 mm rounds were fired from the M777. The first 155 mm transported system M777 is designed as a conceptual demonstration model, which consists of a light M777 howitzer and an 8x6 Suparcat HMT conveyor. The weight of the entire system is 12.3 tons, including six crew members and a full set of ammunition. This allows the system to be transported by a C-130 military transport aircraft. One of the main features is the possibility of the system being divided into two parts, which makes it possible for a troop to transfer it by means of transport helicopters.

The Supacat 8x6 was chosen by the British Army as the base mobile off-road platform for various applications. In the 6x4 format, this machine is used as the chassis of an Insys light missile system. The light 155 mm howitzer M777 mounted at the rear of the transporter is already selected by the Marine Corps Corps, which plans to purchase 94 such guns. The first two samples will be transferred to trial operation in early 2006. Earlier in 2005, 495 howitzers were planned, of which 233 were for the US Army, and 262 for the Marine Corps. They should act to replace obsolete field howitzers M198. The gun has the ability to quickly be loaded and loaded onto the chassis using a special loading system.

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Page last modified: 01-10-2017 18:54:31 ZULU