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Civvy question. Towed vs. Self Propelled Artillery

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b00161400

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What are the advantages of each?  Is self propelled generally just better?

How is this new gun were acquiring for Afghanistan, the M triple 7 or the M577, not sure what its' called?
 

Armymatters

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Self-propelled artillery offers the advantage of tactical maneuverability;  i.e. the ability to keep up with armoured units, and to fire on the go. Also, self-propelled artillery offers a defensive advantage to the artillery units as the crew are now under armour and are protected from counter-fire. The flip side of that is however the artillery piece is a bigger target that is easier to destroy. However, self-propelled artillery is subject to the whims of the reliability of the engine, as a thrown crankshaft or a dead spark plug can render the vehicle immobile, and they can be subject to running out of fuel and being immobilized by that. Towed artillery can be dragged from location to location (if the truck breaks, get another truck and continue moving), and towed artillery are almost indestructible and mobile so long as its wheels turn. Towed artillery however offers the advantage of being cheap to build, maintain, and operate, so greater numbers of these guns can be made available. Also, towed artillery is more portable, as you can sling it under a helicopter or in a light airlifter. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, so one is not inherently better than the other. Infact, a case for both in a modern army can be made.
 

Michael OLeary

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Armymatters said:
.....  i.e. the ability to keep up with armoured units, and to fire on the go. ....

Not to be confused with firing while moving.

SP guns will come into action faster from the line of march than towed guns, but both SP and towed guns will require some time to establish the necessary location and orientation data for accurate first rounds.
 

3rd Horseman

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There are huge differences between them. Where they are similar is the the projectile kill capability both 155mm that is were the similarity ends. Several of the differences have been detailed above so I wont repeat them but I will comment on the ones that were not mentioned and are from my perspective the key differences.

  Manning ; M109 the minimum manning for basic capabilities is 3  soldiers.
                 M777 the minimum is 5 (4 of the really big guys)

Time into action from moving to firing : M109 is about 30 secs with old version new version can fire in less than 15 sec with higher orientation
                                                          : M777 is about 1 min with no orientation
Rounds per min:  M109 under normal sustained rate 2 rounds per min with modern gun 4 -6 rounds is not unheard of.
                          M777 1 per min insert edit 1 round per min manual mode I have added this correction for the comparative rates of fire with the M109 "The M777A1 is able to deliver up to five rounds per minute under intense firing conditions and is able to provide a sustained rate of fire of two rounds per minute." On he rates of fire I stand corrected



   On the maintenace issue self propelled guns can and are towed into action I would suggest that an M777 would have the same difficulty getting into action as a M109 if it had a prime mover breakdown.
  The only issue that would make the M777 a better gun is the cheaper cost to buy it. As for mobility the need for air mobile guns has diminished thus the portability capability is not as big a bonus as was years ago.

In a nut shell the M777 is a good gun but it is a poor substitute for a mech gun. In a perfect world the Arty would have a combination of both M109 and a few M777s for the light capability when needed.     
 

48Highlander

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"Not only can the M777 float like a butterfly, it can also sting like a train wreck. The UFH boasts a barrel length of 39 calibers and requires a crew of seven to operate at full capacity. It can even fire with a reduced crew of five if necessary. Muzzle velocity (at Charge 8 Super) is 827 m/s, and the barrel life goes up to 2,650 firings. With rocket-assisted projectiles (RAP), the M777 maximum range is 30km. Unassisted, its maximum range is 24.7km. It can pump out 5 rounds per minute, with a sustained rate of 2 rounds per minute.

In the dead of night or the thick of a storm, the M777 can fire its massive artillery with accurate precision - directly or indirectly - thanks to its optical fire control system, which is digitally compatible. A killer feature is its compatibility with the new Raytheon XM982 Excalibur GPS/Inertial Navigation-guided extended range 155mm projectiles. These babies have a maximum range of 40km and a circular error probability (CEP) of 10m. Now that's precision. Initial testing of the Excalibur was in August of 2003, and initial fielding is expected for 2006.

Also in on the action is General Dynamics, which has developed the towed artillery digitization system especially for the M777. This digital fire control system matches the fire control capabilities on many modern self-propelled artillery pieces. An example is the M109A6 Paladin, which features automatic gun positioning, automotive improvements and driver night vision equipment. Similarly, the M777's TAD provides onboard ballistic computation, navigation, pointing and self-location, making for greater accuracy. Electric drives, elevation gears, and a powered projectile rammer are also loaded on the TAD, to reduce crew fatigue and increase reaction times. Last but not least, General Dynamics has given the TAD a laser ignition system to power this massive force."
 

3rd Horseman

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I am all ears as to how my post is inaccurate.

I have edited the rates of fire to show the full up rate with electrics and ramer operating so I stand corrected on the rate of fire. With that said in the basic mode the rate drops to 1 rd per min same as the M109. Cant seem to find any other area of my view that appears to be inaccurate, not wanting to spread bad info your view on this would be helpfull.
 

Gunner

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There are huge differences between them. Where they are similar is the the projectile kill capability both 155mm that is were the similarity ends. Several of the differences have been detailed above so I wont repeat them but I will comment on the ones that were not mentioned and are from my perspective the key differences.

Although you correctly state that the projectile and weapon effects are the same, you go about comparing a self propelled howitzer with a towed howitzer.  The M109 was designed for a high intensity mechanized battle whereas the M777 was designed with a focus on light weight mobility.  Two different weapons systems and it is difficult to compare them unless you are referring to the operating environment they will be used in.  Each brings a different capability although they both can do the same thing (provision of indirect fire).

  Manning ; M109 the minimum manning for basic capabilities is 3  soldiers.

Maybe for the US versions of the M109 (A5/A6) but ours can't operate that way (minimum would be a 4 person detachment) for sustained periods of time.  The book states 4 and I'll stay with it.

Time into action from moving to firing : M109 is about 30 secs with old version new version can fire in less than 15 sec with higher orientation : M777 is about 1 min with no orientation

Bringing our version of a M109 from "moving to firing" in 30 secs is doubtful unless it is under controlled circumstances.  Later versions of the M109 I agree they can be brought into action much quicker (ie the A6 Paladin) but 15 secs remains questionable as well.

Rounds per min:  M109 under normal sustained rate 2 rounds per min with modern gun 4 -6 rounds is not unheard of.           M777 1 per min insert edit 1 round per min manual mode I have added this correction for the comparative rates of fire with the M109 "The M777A1 is able to deliver up to five rounds per minute under intense firing conditions and is able to provide a sustained rate of fire of two rounds per minute." On he rates of fire I stand corrected

I have never heard of a sustained rate of fire for the M109A4 as more than 1 round a minute.  If I can recall correctly they were capable of 2-3 rounds in the first minute or so and then drop to 1 a minute.  4-6 rds for a Paladin sustained is also questionable but I don't have this at hand (your source?).

On the maintenace issue self propelled guns can and are towed into action I would suggest that an M777 would have the same difficulty getting into action as a M109 if it had a prime mover breakdown.

I don't know what you are trying to prove with this statement.  I would suggest that if a M777 gun tractor broke down, you could move the gun to another truck and carry on.

The only issue that would make the M777 a better gun is the cheaper cost to buy it.

Lower cost is an advantage but its hardly the only one.  Cost, maintenance, mileage, storage (gun parks), manning, and transportability are all factors in the M777 favour.

As for mobility the need for air mobile guns has diminished thus the portability capability is not as big a bonus as was years ago.

Yes, packing an M109 up in the back of a C130 is done on a routine basis now.  I guess we don't need the M777.  Or maybe if we strip the armour off the M109 it can be transportable by the Chinooks the CDS keeps talking about.

In a nut shell the M777 is a good gun but it is a poor substitute for a mech gun.

See my comments above.  Two totally different reasons to have SP and Tow artillery.

In a perfect world the Arty would have a combination of both M109 and a few M777s for the light capability when needed.     

And on that point, I can agree with you.

 

3rd Horseman

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The original question  What are the advantages of each?  Is self propelled generally just better?

Asked and answered.

 

3rd Horseman

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The numbers are correct. The book answer you gave is correct any gunner would know the minimum crew for a M109 gun det Cdn version is 4, the book is only a guide to set basic standards the reality is that 3 is the lowest you can go down to and still fire the gun effectively.
 

Gunner

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Really?  Why not one person to fire the gun if the book is just a guide?  One person can drive, bring into action, lay, load and fire.  That one person may be a bit slower than the 4 mentioned by the book...mind you so would 3...  Let's just make something up shall we and preach it as gospel to those young uns asking the questions.
 

3rd Horseman

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Effective  is the key word. Yes one could do it all alone but not effectively, it is commonly under stood in the gunner circle that you can get away with 3 but no less. Funny you did not know that as it was common place when I was on the gun line in 3RCHA. Maybe its not about you not knowing just that you want to be right at all cost and the book is an easy way to say see I told you so. Sorry I deal in reality not in knowledge pulled off a bookshelf. On that note for all you young gunners out there who have to answer a test question on this the answer as Gunner has said is 4 but for those of you who go beyond the book and want to know what the gun can actually do then 3 is the answer.
 

RCA

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With 3, at least one double check will be missed.
 

Bruce Monkhouse

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...and any good CP wog  ;)would tell that gun it was out of action.
 

Gunner

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3rd Horseman,

Since you came to this site you have continuously stated misinformation both about yourself, the artillery and the military in general.  I have the book and its established guidelines on my side, what do you have on yours?

Cheers.
 

muskrat89

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Sorry I deal in reality
          ???

With all your exploits you talk about, not much of your career could have been spent on the gun line. My career was only 13 years, but it was all spent on the gun line. The vast majority of it as a Det Comd or TSM. You, Sir, are full of bunny stew - on this topic at least.

I'm sure some shot up detachment on some windy hill in eastern Europe, on some un-named and unknown mission, managed to get some rounds downrange for the Canadian FOO/BC of the Lithuanian Delta Battery - but 3 gun numbers firing an M109, under normal (under-manned) conditions is goofy, and would not be tolerated by any Gunner entity that I can think of.
 

3rd Horseman

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Gunner... nice slam, wholly inaccurate and your personal opinion so if that makes you feel better than fine l I will not join in the slam fest of your capabilities as a gunner or what you think you may be.

I said:
"the answer as Gunner has said is 4 but for those of you who go beyond the book and want to know what the gun can actually do then 3 is the answer." in a comparison of Gun capabilities what it can do is more vital then what it should do.

It would appear I'm telling you you are right. The point I was making is that the gun can be fired by 3.


Muskrat  is firing M109 with 3 goofy....well ya, not the point, can it be fired by three...yes, does it happen....yes.

EDIT: I can remember doing an investigation into a winger in Germany when a gun was live fireing with 2 gun numbers.....sad to say that caused a winger eventually and thats  when we found out it was a two man gun. So I guess you  could do it with two, but not effectively obviously.
 

muskrat89

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::)

I'm sure a howitzer could be fired by two 8-year old children and a big dog, but the thread was not based on hypothetical "what-ifs"

Anyway, I'm locking this up. If anyone has anything pertinent to add, let a Mod know.
 
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