The Evolution of the Howitzer Leads to Forgings.
How do you take one of the worlds most advanced howitzers and make it more maneuverable, more durable and more cost effective? The answer lies within the M777 A2 from BAE Systems. Its predecessors, comprised mostly from steel, although powerful, was slow moving across the battlefield.
To keep pace with the United States armed forces, BAE designed the M777 A2 using 6AL-4V titanium forgings and castings that make the M777 A2 more lightweight allowing it to be transported more quickly and by many alternative means than before. The lightened howitzer can now be carried by helicopter, Osprey (VTOL), Transport fixed wing aircraft and ship. It can also be towed by any 4X4 vehicle weighting 2.5 tons or more.
6AL-4V Titanium although stronger, is more expensive. The Navy Metalworking Center (NMC) implemented a new manufacturing process and technologies that reduced the part count in the howitzer, this also reduced manufacturing costs and material waste.
What does this mean for the howitzers? A 42% reduction in basic system weight, a 25% reduction in size, resulting in a smaller combat profile, making it more difficult to detect, and retention of its 30km firing range.