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C3 Howitzer Replacement

Colin Parkinson

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Curious what niche M777s would fill in a force with SPH and a useful mix of rocket artillery, and if that niche would be ideally filled by the M777 or if there would be something (or several somethings) better on the tube artillery front for whatever roles are left once SPHs and rocket artillery are fielded.
They will do great in FOB's against a none-near-peer army
 

Kirkhill

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They will do great in FOB's against a none-near-peer army


Lets assume a Troop of 4 M777s with 10 gunners per det. 40 gunners.

Or

4x SPH (12 gunners)
2x HIMARS (6 Gunners)
4x MSHORAD (12 Gunners)
4x 81mm with cmdr and quads (10 gunners)
 

FJAG

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- It doesn't sound (or look) as if it needs much ammunition support as it can reload itself from a ground cache.
Things work differently in tube batteries and missile batteries.

I don't have an accurate TOE for HIMARS but I expect it is similar to an MLRS battery (with perhaps a vehicle tech or two less)

An MLRS battery has around 91 personnel (remember there are neither observers nor FSCC requirements) They break down as follows: 15 for the BC and FDC; 32 in the two firing platoons; 22 in the ammo train; and 30 in the support platoon.

By contrast, an M109 Paladin battery (again, no observers nor FSCC) has 93 broken down as follows: 11 for the BC and FDC; 48 in the two firing platoons; 8 in the ammo train; and 22 in the support platoon.

Note the key difference as between firing platoons and ammo trains is that in a tube battery ammo handling is done at the gun platform, the detachment does most of it while the ammo train basically delivers it forward to the guns. In a rocket battery there is no ammo handling at the launcher platform, the ammo handling is done primarily by the ammo train personnel at a rearming point. While much of the handling is done by machine because it is too heavy to manhandle, it still requires manpower to truck and operate the machinery. In effect three folks handle the laying and control of either a gun or a launcher - everyone else is an ammo humper - whether trucker or loader or fuze setter or whatever.

Note that guns with autoloaders fall very much into the same category as rocket launchers when it comes to ammo handling. The gun detachment itself is reduced but the ammo handling burden of the ammo train is increased so that the overall manning generally equalizes.

Note as well that all artillery has to be capable of 24/7 operations. Manoeuvre forces need to pause for rest every once in a while - artillery works on shifts and cat naps. That too effects manning.
Curious what niche M777s would fill in a force with SPH and a useful mix of rocket artillery, and if that niche would be ideally filled by the M777 or if there would be something (or several somethings) better on the tube artillery front for whatever roles are left once SPHs and rocket artillery are fielded.
The M777's primary niche is airmobile operations. This is why it is well suited as the primary close support platform for a light brigade. It is in fact an excellent, high tech gun with a high degree of accuracy and the ability to fire almost all modern precision munitions as well as the old dumb stuff. The issue for tube artillery is range which equates to propelling charges or various projectile enhancements. Larger propelling charges need stronger chambers which effects overall gun mass to handle and in time you work yourself out of air mobility. It's a balancing act.

The M777's weakness is lack of protection and ground mobility. It is a poor option for both a mech brigade and an armoured brigade. Notwithstanding this it is currently the primary gun for the US Stryker BCTs but there is an advanced program in place to replace it with a wheeled SP in the not to distant future.

🍻
 

Colin Parkinson

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The M777 can be airlifted in and moved about. I want SPG's and MRLS, but I also see a need for towed, given that we are a expeditionary army and we will be spending a lot of time training.
 

MilEME09

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The M777 can be airlifted in and moved about. I want SPG's and MRLS, but I also see a need for towed, given that we are a expeditionary army and we will be spending a lot of time training.
Airlift only works if you have air superiority, something we may not have in a near peer fight
 

KevinB

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Airlift only works if you have air superiority, something we may not have in a near peer fight
Not necessarily - you can run Air Ops in contested space - just with more danger - but the point to the 777's in either Airborne or Airmobile roles - is support of a Light Infantry Group - something that you can't really do with heavy SPG's
 

MilEME09

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Not necessarily - you can run Air Ops in contested space - just with more danger - but the point to the 777's in either Airborne or Airmobile roles - is support of a Light Infantry Group - something that you can't really do with heavy SPG's
True, that said with NATO asking Canada for a heavy Brigade, is the M777 the right gun for us? Or do we need to look at other options?

We finally have companies making new C3 parts for us, including carriages and barrels, so that fleet in theory could be torn down to the bolts and fully replaced with new parts now. So if we need a light gun, can we apply the digital gun management system if the m777 to the C3, and once again use it?
 

KevinB

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True, that said with NATO asking Canada for a heavy Brigade, is the M777 the right gun for us? Or do we need to look at other options?

We finally have companies making new C3 parts for us, including carriages and barrels, so that fleet in theory could be torn down to the bolts and fully replaced with new parts now. So if we need a light gun, can we apply the digital gun management system if the m777 to the C3, and once again use it?
The 777 isn't the right gun for Mech/Armored Formations -- but it is a much better gun that the C3 (or LG1) in terms of range and payload.

NATO can ask all they want - but Canada doesn't have a Heavy Bde -
It has a Medium Brigade with tanks, it is significantly light on some components of a Heavy Armored Bde (mainly not enough tanks, no IFV, no SPG, No Rockerts, no real AT and no AD etc...

I'd rather kick the 105mm to the curb as the CAF doesn't have much in terms of Arty anymore -- long gone are the days of 3 guns batteries in the Reg Regiments - and Res units fielding 6 gun batteries for Ex's.
105 is fine for direct support - but 155mm is needed for GS and precision fires.
 

Kirkhill

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Things work differently in tube batteries and missile batteries.

Understood

I don't have an accurate TOE for HIMARS but I expect it is similar to an MLRS battery (with perhaps a vehicle tech or two less)

An MLRS battery has around 91 personnel (remember there are neither observers nor FSCC requirements) They break down as follows: 15 for the BC and FDC; 32 in the two firing platoons; 22 in the ammo train; and 30 in the support platoon

By contrast, an M109 Paladin battery (again, no observers nor FSCC) has 93 broken down as follows: 11 for the BC and FDC; 48 in the two firing platoons; 8 in the ammo train; and 22 in the support platoon.

MLRS Bty 91 vs M109 Bty 93 (-2)

MLRS BC & FDC 15 vs 11 M109 BC & FDC 11 (+4)
MLRS Spt 30 vs M109 Spt 22 (+8)

MLRS Ammo 22 vs M109 Ammo 8 (+14)
MLRS Fires 32 vs M109 Fires (48) -

The M109 Battery has 6 guns with 6 ammo carriers with 4 ammo numbers per carrier and 4 gun numbers per gun.
That means 6 guns employ 24 gunners while the Ammo numbers are actually 8 in the Ammo train plus 24 = 32.
32 out of your 93, or 1/3, are actually Ammo handlers.
And a lot of that handling is caused by double handling from sea can to ammo carrier and then from ammo carrier to gun.

Meanwhile the Archer system loads the gun from a sea can that can be transported over the road on any PLS truck with 2 Ammo numbers and 2-3 gun numbers

6 Archers - 30 gun and ammo numbers total (18 gun numbers)
6 Paladins - 56 gun and ammo numbers total (24 gun numbers)
6 M777s - 60 gun numbers only and no allowance for ammo numbers (mind you I wouldn't expect road deliveries of ammo to FOBs, or the need to have the ammo on wheels in a FOB - wouldn't it be cached or dumped by air?)
6 HIMARS - 18 gun numbers



Note the key difference as between firing platoons and ammo trains is that in a tube battery ammo handling is done at the gun platform, the detachment does most of it while the ammo train basically delivers it forward to the guns. In a rocket battery there is no ammo handling at the launcher platform, the ammo handling is done primarily by the ammo train personnel at a rearming point. While much of the handling is done by machine because it is too heavy to manhandle, it still requires manpower to truck and operate the machinery. In effect three folks handle the laying and control of either a gun or a launcher - everyone else is an ammo humper - whether trucker or loader or fuze setter or whatever.

Stipulated

Note that guns with autoloaders fall very much into the same category as rocket launchers when it comes to ammo handling. The gun detachment itself is reduced but the ammo handling burden of the ammo train is increased so that the overall manning generally equalizes.

I question your assumption on the shift of the ammo burden based on my observation of the ammo handling for the Archer system. Most ammo appears to be handled by the sea can with two truckers shifting ammo from sea can to gun while two gun numbers replenish the magazine. All other handling is automated. or well behind the lines and not a battery responsibility.

Note as well that all artillery has to be capable of 24/7 operations. Manoeuvre forces need to pause for rest every once in a while - artillery works on shifts and cat naps. That too effects manning.

Agreed. But.

Lockheed Martin’s universal fire control system (UFCS), a further evolutionary upgrade of the fire control system, has completed development and qualification. From mid-2008, it is being fitted to full-rate production HIMARS. Successful HIMARS test firings of the ATACMS missile (in March 2008) and GMLRS rockets (in May 2008) took place using the new GPS-guided UFCS.
The high-mobility artillery rocket system is operated by a crew of three: the driver, gunner and section chief. However, the computer-based fire control system enables a crew of two or a single soldier to load and unload the system. The fire control system includes video, keyboard control, a gigabyte of programme storage and global positioning system (GPS). The fire control computer allows firing missions to be carried out in automatic or manual mode.

In a typical mission, a command and control post would transmit the selected target data via a secure data link to the HIMARS on-board launch computer. The computer then aims the launcher and provides prompt signals to the crew to arm and fire a pre-selected number of rounds. The launcher can aim at a target in just 16 seconds. It is possible for the crew to select pre-programmed multiple mission sequences, which have been stored in the computer.

With that degree of automation and netting how many gunners per troop do you really need on watch to launch a fire mission?

And HIMARS can be delivered to the vicinity of a FOB by C130. And the ammunition delivered by helicopter.

The M777's primary niche is airmobile operations. This is why it is well suited as the primary close support platform for a light brigade. It is in fact an excellent, high tech gun with a high degree of accuracy and the ability to fire almost all modern precision munitions as well as the old dumb stuff. The issue for tube artillery is range which equates to propelling charges or various projectile enhancements. Larger propelling charges need stronger chambers which effects overall gun mass to handle and in time you work yourself out of air mobility. It's a balancing act.

The M777's weakness is lack of protection and ground mobility. It is a poor option for both a mech brigade and an armoured brigade. Notwithstanding this it is currently the primary gun for the US Stryker BCTs but there is an advanced program in place to replace it with a wheeled SP in the not to distant future.

🍻

My analysis is based purely on the number of gun/launcher attendants. I assume that BC/FDC/Spt/FOO requirements would be similar regardless of the tubes involved, especially given the reliance on gps positioning and on board computers receiving fire missions wirelessly.

I would still trade M777s for any automated fire system - even 120mm Mortar Wiesels (again - 3 gun numbers per tube).
 

Kirkhill

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I did find this on the HIMARS

How many HIMARS does a battery have?

The Marine Corps also intends to buy 40 launchers and field two HIMARS battalions. Each HIMARS system consists of a launcher, two resupply vehicles, and two resupply trailers. Each HIMARS battalion will contain three firing batteries, each equipped with six launchers and their associated resupply vehicles and trailers.

1 Battalion
3 Batteries
3x 6 HIMARS
3x 12 Resupply Vehicles
3x 12 Resupply Trailers

So the question I have is would the HIMARS necessarily travel with its Resupply if it is engaged in Shoot and Scoot tactics? Or is it more likely that the HIMARS would relocate to a cache or a transfer point for resupply?
 

FJAG

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My analysis is based purely on the number of gun/launcher attendants. I assume that BC/FDC/Spt/FOO requirements would be similar regardless of the tubes involved, especially given the reliance on gps positioning and on board computers receiving fire missions wirelessly.
The BC and Battery First sergeant thing is pretty much set regardless of the battery.

FDCs can vary depending on the role of the system and its automation. For example, from 2007 on a battery would have three two-gun troops. Each troop had an M577 CP, an M113 for the troop commander, an M113 for the Troop Sergeant Major, an M113 for the meteorological det, two m113s and two HLVWs for the two gun detachments.

So three troops instead of two platoons. While automation can cut those numbers always remember that artillery tries to maintain proficiency in manual backup procedures going right back to hard copy maps, plotting devices and paper firing tables when the Gucci stuff breaks down.

While data automation can get pretty efficient, there are still safety concerns both for own troops and noncombatants which during most operations require a process of checks and double checks. There are certain minimums that you can't drop below.

When it comes to gun handling and ammo handling I would not rely on glossy brochures and manufacturer's videos.

Every system needs to have processes mapped out and trialed to see if they are sustainable 24/7 for lengthy periods of time. Everybody ... and I mean everybody ... underestimates the complexity of ammunition resupply. We had serious ammo resupply problems numerous times in Afghanistan because the "system" failed at several levels to predict, manage and deliver ammunition. The trouble is that in peacetime we do not handle serious amounts. 4 CMBG used to trial doing outloads with basic and maintenance loads but that's far behind us. To top it off while there were heavy expenditures they were relatively light considering what will be needed in a peer context.

I would still trade M777s for any automated fire system - even 120mm Mortar Wiesels (again - 3 gun numbers per tube).
You know my position. Mortars and guns are complementary and not either or. If you swap M777s out for an automated system you will guarantee that you will not be able to have artillery support an airmobile operation and various other scenarios where light troops go. Each has a role.

1 Battalion
3 Batteries
3x 6 HIMARS
3x 12 Resupply Vehicles
3x 12 Resupply Trailers

So the question I have is would the HIMARS necessarily travel with its Resupply if it is engaged in Shoot and Scoot tactics? Or is it more likely that the HIMARS would relocate to a cache or a transfer point for resupply?
What you have to remember is that launcher battalions are not part of either CMBGs or BCTs. They are generally part and parcel to a Field Artillery Brigade which, like a BCT has its own brigade support battalion which details forward support companies to each of the attached artillery battalions and which has its own transport company. Generally a launcher battalion carries its basic load and is configured with enough vehicles and handlers to do so.

I'm not familiar with HIMARS procedures but I presume they are not far different about what I was taught about MLRS years ago. Basically these munitions travel a separate route from Corps storage areas tp Ammo Supply Points in the corps and division admin or to an Ammo Transfer Point. Generally there are four ATPs in a division, three (one each per brigade in the BAA) to supply each brigade's close support regiments. The fourth supplies divisional level battalions such as the MLRS battalion and is usually some 40 to 50 kms behind the front lines. At this ATP, launch pods are left loaded on trailers.

The MLRS battalion coordinates reload draws using the transport resources of its battalion FSC as well as the battalion and battery ammo vehicles. At the ATP launch pods are transferred from the corps trailers to the unit's ammo vehicles using the cranes etc on their vehicles to load their vehicles and trailers.

MLRS unit ammo vehicles move to the MLRS battalion's Ammunition Holding Areas which can be set up at the battalion, battery and sometimes even the platoon level as appropriate to the situation.

Platoons are usually widely dispersed and will have a large platoon operations area to manoeuvre in. Somewhere with in the platoon's op area a location or two will be designated as Reload Points. When a launcher requires a reload it is directed to a designated RP while an ammo vehicle also moves to or has been prepositioned at the RP. The launcher downloads expended pods and uploads a new launch pod. Other resupply such as food, rations, water, fuel may also take place at this time. The empty ammo vehicle departs for another reload cycle while the launcher moves to a new firing position or hide.

Essentially there are two loops - the launcher moves solely between the RP and firing point/hide while battery and battalion ammo vehicles circulate between RP to AHA to ATP to AHA to RP with transfers happening at the ATP and RP. Transfers can also happen at the AHA as an empty battery ammo vehicle may take pods from a full battalion one. There is some flexibility in how the battalion S4 organizes the use of the various ammo detachments and vehicles all of which depends on the usage rate of individual launchers and platoons and casualties amongst the detachments.

There's a lot more to planning expenditures and resupply than I'm summarizing here. But that in a nutshell is the process which is a bit different then how it is handled for close support artillery that is integral to a BCT and conducts its operations a bit closer to front lines.

🍻
 

quadrapiper

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The M777's primary niche is airmobile operations. This is why it is well suited as the primary close support platform for a light brigade. It is in fact an excellent, high tech gun with a high degree of accuracy and the ability to fire almost all modern precision munitions as well as the old dumb stuff. The issue for tube artillery is range which equates to propelling charges or various projectile enhancements. Larger propelling charges need stronger chambers which effects overall gun mass to handle and in time you work yourself out of air mobility. It's a balancing act.

The M777's weakness is lack of protection and ground mobility. It is a poor option for both a mech brigade and an armoured brigade. Notwithstanding this it is currently the primary gun for the US Stryker BCTs but there is an advanced program in place to replace it with a wheeled SP in the not to distant future.

🍻
Thanks! Would the US 155s (M777, SPs, etc.) all fire the same staple ammunition natures? Or are you dealing with an entirely different collection of projectiles and charges for each gun?
 

FJAG

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Thanks! Would the US 155s (M777, SPs, etc.) all fire the same staple ammunition natures? Or are you dealing with an entirely different collection of projectiles and charges for each gun?
Yes and no. Older M109s (like the M109A4+ that we had were not capable of firing some of the newer series of ammunition. That's one of the reasons we went to the M777 in 2006 because only it and the M198 and the newer Paladins could fire Excalibur which we wanted to use.

There's quite a bit of variety in 155mm right now in projectiles, fuzes and propelling charges. As the push goes on for ever longer ranges and autoloading there is an ever greater variety coming out some of which will not be backward compatible with older guns whose chambers have lower pressure capabilities or cannot handle certain modular or bagged charges or any number of other technical issues.

My understanding is that the M777 and the current M109A6 and A7 versions of Paladin are compatible. That may change a bit with the M1299 ERCA. I'm a bit dated when it comes to this because my experience ended with the M109A4+ and my only experience with the M777 is that I saw one once. This stuff changes rapidly.

🍻
 

Colin Parkinson

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True, that said with NATO asking Canada for a heavy Brigade, is the M777 the right gun for us? Or do we need to look at other options?

We finally have companies making new C3 parts for us, including carriages and barrels, so that fleet in theory could be torn down to the bolts and fully replaced with new parts now. So if we need a light gun, can we apply the digital gun management system if the m777 to the C3, and once again use it?
Glad to hear that, but we only have about 1/4 of the original number of guns to work with. With all our other problems, I be happy with a buy of M119 and 120mm mortars to help us in the short term while we explore which SPG and MRLS to get.
 

FJAG

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I'm a bit dated when it comes to this because my experience ended with the M109A4+
Need to correct myself there. The M109A4+ was the last version of the gun that Canada hused in 2004/5. My experience ended with the versions we had prior to them being upgraded to A4+ which if memory serves me correctly was a mixture of both the A2 and the A3 (the A2 was newly manufactured to that version while the A3 was an A1 that had been upgraded to the A2 standard)

🍻
 

daftandbarmy

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Need to correct myself there. The M109A4+ was the last version of the gun that Canada hused in 2004/5. My experience ended with the versions we had prior to them being upgraded to A4+ which if memory serves me correctly was a mixture of both the A2 and the A3 (the A2 was newly manufactured to that version while the A3 was an A1 that had been upgraded to the A2 standard)

🍻

Meanwhile, Infantry be like:

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