LONDON — Australia is to increase its artillery capabilities with an additional purchase of the BAE Systems-built M777A2 155mm howitzer. The Foreign Military Sales deal was announced Oct 16 by Defense Minister Stephen Smith.
The Australians exercised an option to acquire an additional 19 of the lightweight howitzers included as part of their original purchase of 35 guns in 2010. The additional weapons are valued at around $70 million, and the deal is expected to be signed around the end of the year.
The initial order has already been delivered, forming four batteries in the Royal Australian Artillery. The additional purchase will allow a further two batteries to be available.
The Australians announced in May they were canceling a plan to acquire self-propelled howitzers and proceeding instead with additional towed artillery.
Weighing less than 4,200kg, the M777 is already in service in large number with the U.S. Army and Marines as well as the Canadian armed forces.
India is likely to become the fourth customer, having announced recently it will purchase 145 of the guns through FMS.
Key components of the gun are produced at Barrow-in-Furniss in the U.K. and assembled by BAE at its Hattiesburg, Miss., factory. The barrel is produced at the U.S. Government’s Watervliet Arsenal.