M777ER the Long Range Cannon project

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The genesis of the Long Range Cannon project was the M777 Extended Range (ER) Howitzer project, a 2014 prototyping initiative to significantly extend the range of the currently fielded M777A2 variant. That effort involved the incorporation of a longer cannon tube for extended-range firing; a more efficient muzzle brake to minimize blast overpressure on the gun crew; a reinforced recoil yoke for higher firing loads; longer road arms to compensate for the increased tube length; an upgraded recoil system for extended-range charges; and upgrades to the balancer system. In all, no structural changes are needed, as all of these are bolt-on assemblies. Dubbed the ER Kit, the prototype components can quickly be retrofitted onto existing howitzers.

In 2018, Army leadership prioritized the M777ER for acceleration and expanded the scope of the effort by adding the condition of improved accuracy at extended ranges. That, in turn, called for a new name—the Long Range Cannon. To achieve the dual goals of expanded range and improved accuracy as expeditiously and cost-effectively as possible, the Long Range Cannon team hopes to maximize use of existing resources and leverage several technologies already in development.

Through a system-of-systems approach, the Long Range Cannon program integrates the M777ER with several high-potential, extended range and GPS-degraded or -denied artillery technologies, including the Location and Azimuth Determining System for more secure and accurate survey control and target acquisition; a projectile tracking system for improving impact accuracy; and a high-explosive, rocket-assisted projectile along with a supercharged propellant to achieve the desired maximum ranges.

The team plans to use the extended range armament to modernize the current weapon-ammunition interface, in an effort to further increase the maximum effective range that the M777ER can achieve. The information resulting from the interface modernization will also provide early data points for the Army’s emerging Mobile Howitzer program.

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February 23, 2017
PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. -- Picatinny Arsenal engineers have fired the newly modified M777A2 howitzer at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, completing the next step towards expanding the system's current firing range.

"We put together an integration test bed for the M777A2 Extended Range (M777ER) howitzer program, incorporating a 55 caliber cannon tube on the M777A2 towed howitzer," said Andy McFadzean a Special Project Officer at the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center or ARDEC.

"We shot a total of 70 rounds using the Modular Artillery Charge System (MACS), zone two to zone six, propelling charge. This test marked the first time a MACS zone 6 was fired from the M777 howitzer. Previously, the top charge fired was a MACS zone 5."

The modification added six feet to the cannon while limiting the increase in overall system weight to less than 1,000 pounds.

The total length of the tube increased the chamber volume as well as the rifling length. That, in combination with the additional increment of legacy propellant (MACS zone 6), resulted in an increase in range of several kilometers.

"We were able to push the round harder for longer, so it goes faster and further," said David Bound, M777ER Team Lead.
The Army's Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) program is investigating and developing technology to extend the range of the Army's 155mm self-propelled howitzer. The M777ER program is integrating the ERCA technology onto the towed howitzer platform.

Project Manager Towed Artillery Systems and ARDEC are using an incremental approach to increasing the range of the M777A2 howitzer. The ultimate goal of the program is to demonstrate a maximum range of 70KM while minimizing the cost and modifications to the weapon platform.

The Army's Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) program is investigating and developing technology to extend the range of the Army's 155mm self-propelled howitzer. The M777ER program is integrating the ERCA technology onto the towed howitzer platform.

Initially, a non-firing, mobility platform was developed with an extended range cannon tube. The mobility trails successfully demonstrated that an M777ER howitzer could be towed behind its current prime mover with little modifications.

Upon successful completion of mobility trials, a firing demonstrator was created using the current 39 caliber cannon without a muzzle brake. The 39 caliber demonstrator put similar stress on the systems structures as a 55 caliber cannon with a muzzle brake. The test results of the 39 caliber demonstrator were used to validate engineering design models for the objective extended range weapon.

The latest configuration of the M777ER weapon integrated a 55 caliber cannon tube onto the weapon platform. The cannon tube was manufactured at the Army's Watervliet Arsenal. The firings at Yuma in November 2016 marked the latest success in the M777ER program.
 
I wonder whether it would be possible for BAE systems to offer the 55 cal barrel on the Archer..

It's already an L52, three more calibers won't make that much difference.
 
I wonder whether it would be possible for BAE systems to offer the 55 cal barrel on the Archer..

It's already an L52, three more calibers won't make that much difference.
Which is an answer in both directions - it probably wouldn't be too much of a challenge to fit, but equally it wouldn't have much benefit.
 
I wonder whether it would be possible for BAE systems to offer the 55 cal barrel on the Archer..

It's already an L52, three more calibers won't make that much difference.
The biggest difference be in the name of Logestics.

Easier to produce and move around 2 different 155 barrels over three.

Thru of course that only works for people who already have both the 39 and 55 barrels.
 
I wonder whether it would be possible for BAE systems to offer the 55 cal barrel on the Archer..

It's already an L52, three more calibers won't make that much difference.
The biggest difference be in the name of Logestics.

Easier to produce and move around 2 different 155 barrels over three.

Thru of course that only works for people who already have both the 39 and 55 barrels.

I hadn't registered that the ERCA and M777ER are supposed to use interchangeable ordnance, but I see that they are. I didn't think that was typical for earlier SPGs and towed guns.

In that case, yeah, I'd expect that a US Archer would be based around that same ERCA tube, somehow.
 
I wonder whether it would be possible for BAE systems to offer the 55 cal barrel on the Archer..

It's already an L52, three more calibers won't make that much difference.
The biggest difference be in the name of Logestics.

Easier to produce and move around 2 different 155 barrels over three.

Thru of course that only works for people who already have both the 39 and 55 barrels.

I hadn't registered that the ERCA and M777ER are supposed to use interchangeable ordnance, but I see that they are. I didn't think that was typical for earlier SPGs and towed guns.

In that case, yeah, I'd expect that a US Archer would be based around that same ERCA tube, somehow.
Oh Eyeah interchangeable ordnance between SPG and Tow guns been a thing fof the last...

I dont know.

Nam at least.

For the US.

You can take a 155mm from a M777 truck and shoved it in a M109 tube just fine. Same with the gun tubes thru that is a more recent turn of the century deal between the M109A4 irc and the M777 for the US.

Biggest difference is that the M109 can use a larger powder charge then the M777. Thats thanks to the SPGs bigger mass, heavier recoil system and difference breech design.

But other then that same ammo for all nato guns. Biggest reason for Nato standards to be a thing.

All Nato 155 shells are interchangeable between the like 18 different guns.

The issue is targeting.

You can not use a 52 cal firing table for the 55 or 39 tubes and vice verse.

Which is the biggest reason why you want to unified tube sizes. Makes it easy to mix match personal and gear while not worring bout a private at FU oclock at night reading the 39 cal table off instead of the 55 cal one.
 
Thanks. I knew the shells were interchangeable, and that there was pressure to standardize a lot of elements like charges, though as you say towed guns usually can't fire the top charge of the SP guns. I think the NATO joint ballistics MOU specified both chamber geometry and a few specific barrel lengths for 155mm, to help simplify things.

It was more the actual gun tubes that I thought were unique to each platform. Seems like having those in common is at least somewhat recent. Certianly seems like a good idea.
 
I wonder whether it would be possible for BAE systems to offer the 55 cal barrel on the Archer..
The ordinance of the archer is based on the Swedish FH-77 Howitzer, that began development in the 1960s and went into production in 1978. The Army has made a significant investment in the ERCA program for both the M777ER and the M1299. So any wheeled 155mm system will utilize either the M777ER 155/55mm or the M1299A1 155/58mm ordanance,, likely the complete ordinance added to which ever system is selected. To many observers, the Armys need for a wheeled SPG, could have been solved by taking the turret from the aborted XM1203 Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon (NLOS-C), and substituting the M777ER 155/55mm in leua of the 155/38mm tube and dropping in the back of an Oshkosh HEMTT A4, FMTV-A2 or an MTVR. I even read that the complete turret from the M1299A1 should be dropped on an Oshkosh LVSR Cargo truck.
 
I wonder whether it would be possible for BAE systems to offer the 55 cal barrel on the Archer..

It's already an L52, three more calibers won't make that much difference.
The biggest difference be in the name of Logestics.

Easier to produce and move around 2 different 155 barrels over three.

Thru of course that only works for people who already have both the 39 and 55 barrels.

I hadn't registered that the ERCA and M777ER are supposed to use interchangeable ordnance, but I see that they are. I didn't think that was typical for earlier SPGs and towed guns.

In that case, yeah, I'd expect that a US Archer would be based around that same ERCA tube, somehow.
Oh Eyeah interchangeable ordnance between SPG and Tow guns been a thing fof the last...

I dont know.

Nam at least.

For the US.

You can take a 155mm from a M777 truck and shoved it in a M109 tube just fine. Same with the gun tubes thru that is a more recent turn of the century deal between the M109A4 irc and the M777 for the US.

Biggest difference is that the M109 can use a larger powder charge then the M777. Thats thanks to the SPGs bigger mass, heavier recoil system and difference breech design.

But other then that same ammo for all nato guns. Biggest reason for Nato standards to be a thing.

All Nato 155 shells are interchangeable between the like 18 different guns.

The issue is targeting.

You can not use a 52 cal firing table for the 55 or 39 tubes and vice verse.

Which is the biggest reason why you want to unified tube sizes. Makes it easy to mix match personal and gear while not worring bout a private at FU oclock at night reading the 39 cal table off instead of the 55 cal one.
Do you know where the 155 caliber came from? Everybody used 6 inch 152 mm in WWII, but then during the cold war suddenly came the 155.
 
I wonder whether it would be possible for BAE systems to offer the 55 cal barrel on the Archer..

It's already an L52, three more calibers won't make that much difference.
The biggest difference be in the name of Logestics.

Easier to produce and move around 2 different 155 barrels over three.

Thru of course that only works for people who already have both the 39 and 55 barrels.

I hadn't registered that the ERCA and M777ER are supposed to use interchangeable ordnance, but I see that they are. I didn't think that was typical for earlier SPGs and towed guns.

In that case, yeah, I'd expect that a US Archer would be based around that same ERCA tube, somehow.
Oh Eyeah interchangeable ordnance between SPG and Tow guns been a thing fof the last...

I dont know.

Nam at least.

For the US.

You can take a 155mm from a M777 truck and shoved it in a M109 tube just fine. Same with the gun tubes thru that is a more recent turn of the century deal between the M109A4 irc and the M777 for the US.

Biggest difference is that the M109 can use a larger powder charge then the M777. Thats thanks to the SPGs bigger mass, heavier recoil system and difference breech design.

But other then that same ammo for all nato guns. Biggest reason for Nato standards to be a thing.

All Nato 155 shells are interchangeable between the like 18 different guns.

The issue is targeting.

You can not use a 52 cal firing table for the 55 or 39 tubes and vice verse.

Which is the biggest reason why you want to unified tube sizes. Makes it easy to mix match personal and gear while not worring bout a private at FU oclock at night reading the 39 cal table off instead of the 55 cal one.
Do you know where the 155 caliber came from? Everybody used 6 inch 152 mm in WWII, but then during the cold war suddenly came the 155.
155 was from the French. US used their howitzers in WW1 and stuck with it. 155mm was common with US forces (and UK who used US Long Tom guns) in WW2. After that it just stuck as that was the main US calibre.

In the Cold War NATO also had limited numbers of 175mm, 203mm and for a brief period 240mm. These were for specialist tasks though. 175 and 203mm for counter battery due to range and 203 for nuclear until 155mm nuc rounds arrived. Both 175 and 203 were retired in favour of 155 and MLRS. 240 disappeared in the 50's when ammo ran low (although Taiwan has some in bunkers on islands).
 
I wonder whether it would be possible for BAE systems to offer the 55 cal barrel on the Archer..

It's already an L52, three more calibers won't make that much difference.
The biggest difference be in the name of Logestics.

Easier to produce and move around 2 different 155 barrels over three.

Thru of course that only works for people who already have both the 39 and 55 barrels.

I hadn't registered that the ERCA and M777ER are supposed to use interchangeable ordnance, but I see that they are. I didn't think that was typical for earlier SPGs and towed guns.

In that case, yeah, I'd expect that a US Archer would be based around that same ERCA tube, somehow.
Oh Eyeah interchangeable ordnance between SPG and Tow guns been a thing fof the last...

I dont know.

Nam at least.

For the US.

You can take a 155mm from a M777 truck and shoved it in a M109 tube just fine. Same with the gun tubes thru that is a more recent turn of the century deal between the M109A4 irc and the M777 for the US.

Biggest difference is that the M109 can use a larger powder charge then the M777. Thats thanks to the SPGs bigger mass, heavier recoil system and difference breech design.

But other then that same ammo for all nato guns. Biggest reason for Nato standards to be a thing.

All Nato 155 shells are interchangeable between the like 18 different guns.

The issue is targeting.

You can not use a 52 cal firing table for the 55 or 39 tubes and vice verse.

Which is the biggest reason why you want to unified tube sizes. Makes it easy to mix match personal and gear while not worring bout a private at FU oclock at night reading the 39 cal table off instead of the 55 cal one.
Do you know where the 155 caliber came from? Everybody used 6 inch 152 mm in WWII, but then during the cold war suddenly came the 155.
Not exactly everyone used 152mm.

Both the US and the UK Armies used 155mm guns, like the M12 which used the M1918M1 155mm gun to name one. The Long Tom was another 155mm gun as well that was used heavily. As did the French who actually first catorigited the type after the Franco Prussian War. With the US picking up the type in WW1 from the French as well.

Post WW2, heck even during the war thanks to Lend Lease, we gave out alot of such weapons to our allies then everyone else.

Add in that when Nato became a thing in the 1950s everyone was still suffering from the WW2 Rebuilds besides the US so when it became time to standardize everyone either had alot of surpluss US 155mm or only that instead of their own gear. Plus the fact that it was a good balance between old triangle of Range, Striking Power, and Mobility?

It was decide on that over the 152 since more nations had 155 over any other types.

The US Army did try before hand in the 1950s to standardize on the 175mm instead of the 155mm, looking at the added range but the expense, weight, and later the Nam Barrel Explosions kinda sour alot of other nations on that type with even the US dropping the type in 1970s.
 
OT: Nam Barrel Explosions ?
Google seems unable to find them, but I did get to read about tragic 'USS Newport News' incident...
 
OT: Nam Barrel Explosions ?
Google seems unable to find them, but I did get to read about tragic 'USS Newport News' incident...
During Vietnam War the M107 175mm SPG used hard since it had more range then anything short of Missikes with 40 miles of range.

Now every gun from a 22 cal to the 36 inch Little David has a barrel life. Which is a combination of both how many shots til the rifling is gone and mechanical stresses the tube can have til it explodes. Early guns, especially the big ones, had rifling which lasted far less then tube will. Propellant, material, and shell design improvements post WW2 pushed those to the point they were one and the same.

The M113 175mm gun was one of the first guns to take advantage of this with like 1000 full charge shots between barrel replacements.

Exect in Nam when they begun to be used heavily, they only last bout 500 shots.

After which they Exploded, killing the crews. With one nearly taking out an entire Firebase when the main powder dumb got hit with red hot shrapnel.

You can see the problem.

So the Army order all guns down to 400 shots between replacements as they investigate what was going on.

Turns out that the new heat treatment for the barrels was slightly off. Causing mirco fractures round the breech which after so many firings caused failure of the breech.

The Army immediately fixed tge issue resulting in the M113A2 barrels and pulling the older ones for recasting.

But well this was a few years after the first one exploded, so by the end of Vietnam the 175mm guns have gotten a Reputation of a Crew Killer. Throw in that it was a fairly expensive piece...

The PDF here is a far more detail and accurate breakdown.

It is a shame that we didn't standardize on the 175mm like tge 1950s army wanted. 40 miles of range is nothing to snuff at even now, apparentlythe Israelis manage to get theirs to hit 50 miles in the Yom Kippur War. Can you image it with modern gear? Likely push 100 with rap and tickle 200 with that Ramjet one...
 

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13 MARCH 2023
India and the US are exploring the development of an extended-range, longer barrel variant of the M777 155 mm/39 calibre ultra lightweight howitzer (ULH), manufacturer BAE Systems told Janes.

Ravi Nirgudkar, managing director, BAE Systems – India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, told Janes that discussions have been held [to develop an enhanced version of M777], and the belief is that we will see them [discussions] continue as both parties [India and the US] recognise the potential benefits that an extended-range variant of the M777 could bring”.

According to Nirgudkar, the enhanced version will likely be equipped with a 155 mm/52 calibre. “It is far too early to speculate on any aspect of the programme, as discussions are still under way,” he added, without delving into technical or range-related details.

However, Nirgudkar said that it “would not make sense” to upgrade the Indian Army's existing 39 calibre M777 howitzers to the improved 52 calibre M777s across the whole fleet. “The extended-range barrel provides a different capability [compared with existing 39 calibre M777s], albeit with a common logistics footprint,” he said.

“It is envisaged that the extended-range capability could be offered as a possible kit, but the intention was never to offer this as a [39 calibre M777] fleet-wide upgrade,” Nirgudkar added.

BAE Systems also has a 52-Calibre 155mm barrel for the ULH, which it is willing to manufacture in India, further expanding Indian artillery capability from this battle-proven system. This would make India the first customer to have a 155mm 52-calibre platform under 5,800kgs in weight.
 
Given their border tensions with China, I'm sure Indian gunners would love to have the extra range to lob ordnance high over intervening hills, then re-locate ready for next fire-call....
 
I don't know but I doubt it, it only shot to around 60 km and it wasn't anywhere near as high pressure AIUI.

It's essentially a GC-45 on a Vickers lightweight howitzer.
 
BAE Systems has signed an agreement with the U.S Army for M777 lightweight howitzer major structures, under an Undefinitized Contract Action (UCA), which is currently limited to $50 million. This allows BAE Systems to start delivering on the programme, while finalizing the details of the contract and its total value with the customer.

BAE Systems will work with its supply chain in the UK and the US to produce the major M777 titanium structures, which form the basis of the gun. The first major structures are due to be delivered in 2025.
 

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