The first-ever 155mm artillery gun fitted to an 8×8 armoured vehicle could become a reality following proposals from BAE Systems at the IDEX exhibition.
At the show, BAE Systems is displaying a model of its M777 155mm howitzer fitted to the top and rear of the Enigma 8×8 vehicle from Emirates Technology Company (ETC).
A spokesperson from BAE said that most 155mm guns are too heavy to consider putting on a wheeled armoured vehicle and the largest calibre commonly found is 105mm.
He said that because the M777 was already much lighter, by about half at just over 4t, than other 155mm systems – due to its titanium construction – this made the design experiment feasible. The base of the M777 would be removed, reducing the weight further to 3t allowing its integration.
According to the model the gun would be carried on top of the Enigma 8×8 but connected at the rear to be mechanically manoeuvred to the ground, with the barrel facing the opposite direction to where the vehicle is pointing.
The fact that the gun is resting on the ground also aids the system’s integration on an 8×8 because the recoil forces from the gun would not damage the vehicle.
The spokesman said that some existing 155mm guns that are carried on the back of trucks can only turn the gun a few degrees each way, limiting the scope of the gun to hit targets to the far left or right whilst the M777 can traverse to 25° either side of the centre gun line.
Whilst the existing towed M777 system requires a team of 8-10 men, the 8×8 mounted system would halve this number because there would be more automation with a system to feed the shells from the inside of the vehicle out to the loader. Then a soldier would be required to physically put the shell into the feeder system that will push the round and charge into the breech.
Most crews of guns are there to physically load the shells and charges into the feeder from their storage locations. When this demanding task is reduced, its operation requires fewer crew members.
The point is that whilst there are other 155mm gun solutions on the market, the integration of the M777 gun onto the 8×8 means that the 155mm capability can now be offered as a variant that is part of a family of vehicles solution to a wheeled armoured capability solution.
The spokesperson did not say whether the UAE Army had an indirect fire requirement or whether this could be a 155mm system or even if it could be mounted on a 8×8, only that BAE was there to demonstrate this could be a future option, which had attracted interest from the military and vehicle manufacturers alike.