HATTIESBURG, Miss. --- BAE Systems RO Defence delivered the first U.S.-built XM777 Lightweight Howitzer to representatives from the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps during ceremonies held today at its new facility in Hattiesburg, Miss.
Today's delivery also marks the successful integration of the company's U.S. supplier base, which BAE Systems has been developing for the past two years.
According to Frank Hoerster, BAE Systems director of fire support systems, the XM777 will provide the most advanced artillery support to our fighting forces as well as improved survivability to gun crews. "We're proud to deliver the first lightweight howitzer to the Army and Marine Corps, and proud of the partnership between BAE Systems, the program office and our suppliers," Hoerster added.
Col. John Garner, Joint Program Manager for Lightweight 155mm Howitzer said "Delivery of this gun is another significant step forward toward fielding the howitzer to the soldiers and marines who need it. We greatly appreciate the support of the community of Hattiesburg and the State of Mississippi which has made this day possible."
The XM777 was designed and developed by BAE Systems, and is a joint program between the Army and Marine Corps to replace the M198 towed howitzer. The XM777 provides increased strategic and tactical improvements over the M198 and will be used by both Army and Marine Corps light units.
The howitzer delivered today -- a pilot production unit -- will undergo accuracy and strength of design testing prior to a low rate initial production (LRIP) decision scheduled for October 2002. BAE Systems will deliver a second pilot production howitzer later this year and is scheduled to begin LRIP in November 2002.
The Hattiesburg operation is the final assembly and integration facility prior to delivery to the Department of Defense. The pilot production howitzer incorporates the first use of titanium castings, which reduces the weight of the XM777 by 7,000 pounds over the M198. More than 70 percent of the howitzer's parts are manufactured in the U.S.
Last month, gun crews from the Army and Marine Corps, as well as independent evaluators, completed the operational assessment (OA) phase of this advanced artillery program. The testing consisted of ten weeks of training and operations in which more than 5,000 rounds were fired by test howitzers.
BAE Systems employs nearly 100,000 people including Joint Ventures, and has annual sales of around $18 billion. BAE Systems designs, manufactures and supports military aircraft, surface ships, submarines, space systems, radar, avionics, communications, electronics, guided weapon systems and a range of other defense products.
-ends- BAE Systems Delivers First US-Built XM777 Lightweight Howitzer