SOFEX 2016

Going self-propelled [SOFEX16D1]

10 May 2016

BAE Systems and Emirates Defense Technology have announced a teaming agreement to pursue opportunities in the United Arab Emirates for the M777 lightweight howitzer. As well as promoting the lightweight 155mm/39 towed howitzer itself, the agreement provides a platform for the further development of a self-propelled artillery version based on EDT’s Enigma vehicle.

Enigma was unveiled at IDEX in February 2015. The 8x8 Armoured Modular Fighting Vehicle (AMFV) features a modular roof design and is bidding to fulfil a variety of requirements of the UAE Land Forces. Among them is a mobile indirect fire version offering precision attack and fire-and-move capabilities.

To answer this requirement, BAE Systems (Hall 6, Stand B606) and EDT have schemed a version with an M777 mounted on the back of an Enigma vehicle. Most 155mm weapons are too heavy for mounting on a wheeled vehicle, but at just over 4 tonnes in its towed configuration, the M777 is light enough for consideration.

More than 1,000 M777s are in service with US, Australian and Canadian forces, and have been widely used in combat.

A model of the self-propelled concept was first shown at IDEX in 2015, with the M777 carried on top of the Enigma vehicle on a large hinge assembly, deployed for firing from the rear. The gun would be mechanically lowered to the ground for firing, shooting over a wide arc to the rear of the vehicle. The M777 offers a traverse of up to 25° either side of the central position. Placing the weapon on the ground avoids the recoil forces being absorbed by the vehicle, although the standard M777’s base is not required and can be removed, leading to a significant weight-saving.

In the 8x8 self-propelled system, the operating crew would be reduced by an increased degree of automation, including a feed system that moves shells from storage inside the vehicle to the gun loader.

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