Regiment fields new Howitzer weapon system

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    Photo & Story by SGT Lance Pounds



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    Photo & Story by SGT Lance Pounds


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    Photo & Story by SGT Lance Pounds




FORT HOOD, Texas – More than 300 Troopers from Fires Support Squadron, 3d Cavalry Regiment, put two weeks of training to the test as they underwent a live-fire fielding of 11 of the Squadron’s 18 new M777A2 Howitzer weapon system Dec. 7 at a remote training area on post. This is the last major weapons system to be fielded within the Regiment during its conversion to a Stryker organization.


Organic to a Stryker organization, the M777A2 howitzer is unique to Fort Hood due to the fact that 3d CR is the only Stryker unit on post; therefore these are the only M777s that reside here.


This weapon system offers the Regiment with the capability to employ a quick and accurate response to enemy fire in support of maneuver squadrons across the battlefield.


“It brings with it the same capabilities and firepower as a Paladin M109A6, a large and heavy tracked vehicle, but in a smaller package,” said Lt. Col. Lynn Downie, squadron commander of Fires Squadron, 3d Cavalry Regiment.


One benefit to the advancement of this weapon system is that it is self-locating. Much like a GPS in a vehicle, the M777 knows its location, which reduces the amount of set-up time. Another benefit is when the system receives coordinates from the fires direction center; it computes the direction in which the crew needs to aim the system to hit the target.


It also provides wide-range of internal indirect fires support to the Regiment; from short-range with its mortar systems, to long-range with the use of the Excalibur GPS-guided munitions round, which can be launched in excess of 30 kilometers.


In addition to the Excalibur Round, the M777 employs four other rounds, such as general high explosive and white phosphorous smoke.


“Each round weighs more that 95 lbs., which when taken into context, means we can provide the Regiment with 1,800lbs of high-explosive shrapnel to employ on an objective in one second,” said Maj. Jason Tolbert, the operations officer for Fires Squadron, 3d Cavalry Regiment.


Another benefit to the M777 is its ease of operation. In an average of 6 minutes, crews of ten men were able to set-up and check the operation of their respective weapon system.


“We want to reduce the time between when ground forces call in fire support to the time the round hits, because their survival relies on it,” said Tolbert as he expects quicker set-up and operation in the future as training progresses.


Thus far, the Troopers have been trained on how to execute the crew drills required to emplace and fire the Howitzer system. They also trained for degraded operations. In the event of a malfunction, the crew would revert to the back-up procedures to continue their mission.


“It takes each and every Trooper doing their job effectively to make sure this weapon system is employed and fired correctly,” said Spc. Thomas Harrison, a cannon crewman from A Battery, Fires Squadron, 3d Cavalry Regiment.


Like with any other weapon system in the Army, it took a whole team of Troopers to declare mission success of this initial fielding. From forward observers, who used bi-no’s to observe and relay the grid coordinate of each impact, to the direction center, who forwards the information to the weapon crews.


“This process ensures timely and accurate delivery of munitions to the intended target,” said Tolbert.


More than 300 Troopers form Fires Support Squadron received their M777 operator validation during this exercise. A task most of them seemed to excited to perform.


“Its like watching all of your hard work pay off as each round leaves the barrel,” said Harrison. “I love this system.”


Watch the M777 firing here.