M777 is Dead On!

The past seven months of combat in Ukraine have demonstrated that the reign of artillery on the battlefield is far from over.

Something of a hybrid between a cannon (or simply "gun") and a mortar, howitzers are especially useful pieces of kit for any modern infantry. Able to be depressed to below 45 degrees, they can pummel enemies' infantry, armor, and positions with excellent accuracy. 

But, like a mortar, they can also fire at higher angles (between 45 and 90 degrees) to provide indirect fire on enemy positions from places of relative safety. 

This flexibility in modes makes howitzers incredibly useful in modern combat. They first appeared around the late 16th century but rapidly developed into what most people think of when they hear the words "cannon" or "artillery" today. 

During the 20th century, these weapons got more complicated and bigger. The big howitzers of the First World War were mostly to blame for the terrible things that happened there. The howitzer still retains its place among the ranks of many armies and will likely do so for the foreseeable future. 

Of the howitzers used by armed forces today, the M777 is among the best on the market. 

It was developed by the British in the early-2000s; this 6.1-inch (155 mm) towed howitzer is used by many armed forces, including Australia, Canada, Colombia, India, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, and the United States.

Designed and built by BAE Systems' Global Combat Systems division, the weapon was first unleashed on the world in 2005. Lightweight at only 10000 lbs (4,218 kg) apiece, the M777 is one of the lightest howitzers of its size anywhere in the world. 

In fact, due to its titanium and aluminum alloy construction, it is not less than 41% lighter or 15,772 lb (7,154 kg) slimmer than the M198 howitzer it replaced for the U.S. Army. Weight savings were also made by its clever design to have dual functions for some parts, like its suspension hydraulics also serving as a jack for the weapon. 

And its weight is one of its main benefits, as it is light enough to be carried into battle by land or air with relative ease. If push comes to shove, a crew of 5 soldiers can also manhandle the weapon. 

It can also be deployed and relocated in only a matter of minutes. When emplaced, the gun has a very low profile, meaning it can be hidden in plain view relatively easily.

The M777 has a fire rate of 4 rounds per minute for a short period, with a long-term sustained rate of fire of 2 rounds per minute. It can also fire a variety of rounds (like the M982 Excalibur) depending on the intended target over a range of 25 miles (40 km) with a Circular Error Probable (CEP) of 16 feet (5 m).

Needless to say, that is very accurate. Even more so thanks to its computer-aided aiming and fire control systems. 

The M777 has already earned its place in military history and will continue to do its part, especially in places like Ukraine.