G7 105mm Towed Light Experimental Ordnance (LEO)
The G7 105mm light weight Light Experimental Ordnance (LEO) is the latest Gun-Howitzer developed by South Africa’s Denel. The LEO (also designated G7) is a 52-calibre 105mm howitzer with a weight of 3,800kg [the objective was 2700kg]. This howitzer is noticeably lighter than current lightweight guns on the market, such as the BAE Systems M777 (4,200kg) and AH4 by NORINCO (4,500kg).
The G7, which offers the promise of greater range and lethality, has stalled due to a lack of funding. Work on the 58-calibre howitzer started during the 1990s under Project Musuku, a South African Army/Armscor research and development program, where a Denel/Armscor project team was tasked to develop a 105mm artillery system with range, accuracy and lethality similar or better than 155mm 39-calibre artillery systems. This resulted in the Light Experimental Ordnance (LEO) gun [Advanced Multi-Role Light Artillery Gun to the SA Army] that achieved all these objectives.
Using a systems approach, the company launched development of the 105mm/58cal Light Experimental Ordnance (LEO) and the associated projectile and propellant systems, leveraging the company’s work on long-range 155mm ammunition. The first 105mm LEO prototype was completed in 2001 and has since been extensively tested.
The 105mm is being developed to satisfy the users requirement for modern day warfare, that is:
- The need for fewer but more mobile forces to cover the same operational area;
- To ease the logistic burden placed on the system, hence ease of deployment;
- To reduce the gun and logistic weight and make it more (transportable) tactically mobily;
- To improve the fire precision, requiring less ammunition to achieve the same end result;
- To make provision for the demography of the world population, human machine interface;
- To be deployed under all possible conditions;
- To be very reliable.
The gun system is accurate, transportable by helicopter and can be towed by a 4X4 type of vehicle.
- 24-30 km range ammunition, 960 m/s launch
- Modular charge system (MCS) like the 155mm MACS
- Fragmentation lethality BETTER than 155mm HE
- Ammunition weight of 48 pounds
- Fires all current US 105mm artillery projectiles
- Muzzle brake is 60% efficient
- Same armament for both towed and self-propelled versions
- System (cannon, projectiles, and propellant) tuned to provide the most efficient and effective solution
When government funding was exhausted, Denel continued developing the 105mm LEO and in 2003 signed an agreement with General Dynamics Land Systems which led to the T7 light autonomous turret system armed with the 105mm LEO, for integration on the company’s 8x8 LAV III/Stryker chassis. However, T7 development stalled when the US Army decided to equip its Stryker brigade combat teams with the M777 towed gun.
South Africa’s Denel Group announced in August 2016 that it was still committed to completing the development of its Lightweight Experimental Ordnance (LEO) howitzer program. Denel Group’s acting CEO Zwelakhe Ntshepe also stated that the company was seeking partners to co-develop the howitzer. With the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) potentially seeking new artillery, the LEO program has returned to relevance. However, existing programs, most notably the 155mm G5 towed howitzer and G6 self-propelled howitzer (SPH), continue to show promise in the global artillery market.
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