AUSA 2020: BAE Systems M109A7 enhances combat capabilities of M109A6 155mm self-propelled howitzer

The latest generation of 155mm tracked self-propelled howitzer M109A7 produced by BAE Systems enhances the reliability, maintainability, performance, responsiveness, and lethality of the combat-proven M109A6.

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BAE Systems M109A7 155mm self-propelled howitzer. (Picture source BAE Systems)

In October 2013, US Army awarded a $688m contract to BAE Systems for the production of Paladin M109A7 155mm self-propelled howitzer, with an option to procure a total of 66 vehicle sets, including M109A7 howitzers and an M992A3 ammunition resupply vehicle. The artillery system was inducted into low-rate initial production (LRIP) in May 2014. The first vehicles were delivered to the U.S. Army in April 2015.

In March 2020, U.S. Army has awarded BAE Systems a $339 million contract modification for the production of 48 vehicle sets of M109A7 Self-propelled Howitzer (SPH) and its companion, the M992A3 Carrier, Ammunition, Tracked (CAT) vehicle, and includes post-delivery support and spare parts.U.S. Soldiers from Battery A, 1st Battalion, 5th Field Artillery Brigade at Fort Riley, Kansas tested the weapon system's reliability under the most stressful firing conditions. Nearly 1,000 high-explosive projectiles were fired from a single M109A7 at Modular Artillery Charge System (MACS) 5, the highest allowable charge.

The M109A7 SPH (Self-Propelled Howitzer) is a tracked, self-propelled 155 mm howitzer designed to improve sustainability over the legacy M109A6 howitzer fleet. The production howitzers have a modified M109A6 turret with a high-voltage electrical system and a modified Bradley Fighting Vehicle chassis, power train, and suspension. The M109A7 does not include upgrades to the cannon. A crew of four soldiers operates the SPH and can use it to engage targets at ranges of 22 km using standard projectiles and 30 km using rocket-assisted projectiles.

The M109A7 is armed with a 155mm M284 cannon with an M182A1 gun mount and an automated loader. The 155mm artillery system can fire at a sustained rate of one round a minute whereas the maximum rate of fire is four rounds a minute. The system has a range of 22km with standard projectiles and 30km with rocket-assisted projectiles.

The layout of the M109A7 SPH 155mm self-propelled howitzer is similar to to the M109 howitzers family with the driver at the front of the hull on the left, the power pack is to his right and the turret is at the rear. It has a crew of four including a commander, driver, gunner, and loader. 

The M109A7 offers increased crew survivability by way of applique, mission tailorable armor package which complements the crew’s operation under armor. Along with the “shoot and scoot” capability, the M109A7 features an Automatic Fire Extinguishing System (AFES), and can host Common Remotely Operated Weapons System (CROWS).

The M109A7 is powered by an upgraded, 675 HP electronically controlled version of the BFV standard V903 engine, coupled with an improved HMPT- 800 transmission, the M109A7 has faster acceleration for rapid displacement, and the ability to keep pace with the maneuver forces it supports. It can run at a maximum road speed of 61 km/h with a maximum cruising range of 300 km.