Kyiv has received ‘unfit’ M777 howitzers from the US Army stock

The Armed Forces of Ukraine [AFU] have received non-mission-ready M777 towed howitzers from the US Army stockpile in Kuwait, Middle East. This revelation was made after an audit by the Pentagon.

Kyiv has received 'unfit' M777 howitzers from the US Army stock
Photo credit: Reuters/Stringer

Six M777 howitzers were supposed to be repaired before they ended up in Poland and from there in Ukraine. The new revelation comes after Ukrainian soldier Ruslan Olefirenko, who was captured by the Russian armed forces, told TASS that after a salvo, US M777 howitzers ruptured and killed Ukrainian soldiers operating the howitzer on the battlefield.

It also turns out that the rupture of the M777 barrel is not the only problem that the Ukrainian soldiers have to deal with. According to Orifilenko, the ground weapon platform often overheats. Sometimes, he says, the reloading mechanism jams and the howitzer effectively becomes unusable. “Some mechanisms stop working,” says the Ukrainian captured by the Russians.

His claims have already been officially confirmed by Washington. The Pentagon audit found that six M777 howitzers that were deployed in Kuwait and subsequently delivered to Ukraine were not maintained.

Proven issues found

Kyiv has received 'unfit' M777 howitzers from the US Army stock
Photo by Gleb Garanich

Old hydraulic fluids were found in the six howitzers. This is a problem due to the specifics of the chemical composition of the hydraulic fluid, which degrades them over time. Four of the six howitzers were found to have closed blocks that were not properly aligned with the gears. That’s why the breech didn’t lock properly, Pentagon experts say.

The 401st Army Battalion, which is stationed in the Middle Eastern kingdom, is responsible for field support of the weapons platforms. The battalion’s work is reduced to maintenance supervision. The maintenance itself is handled by an American company based in Chantilly, Virginia. This is the company Amentum.

However, the six howitzers left Kuwait in 2022 and were transported to Poland. There, the U.S. Ground Support and Oversight Battalion determined that the six M777s could not be sent to Ukraine because they did not meet the requirements.

See pictures of 40km range 155mm M777 howitzers traveling to Ukraine
Photo credit: US DoD

In addition to the already established problems in Kuwait, in Poland, they found more deficiencies in the howitzers. For example, says the Pentagon audit report, worn firing pins and issues with the firing mechanism were found. A repair was made to fix the identified problems with the howitzers.

Other issues

As has reported over the past 14 months of the war in Ukraine, there are problems with towed or self-propelled howitzers, not just among American-supplied or manufactured ones.

The M109, Caesar, FH70, PzH 2000, and Krab are howitzers that have had problems reported since last year. From misrecognition of the ammunition and errors in the fire control systems to the rupture of the barrels due to the high intensity of the fire.

Howitzer loading reduced to the intensity of the fire is a common problem. There are even quite interesting cases from the war in Ukraine with the American M777 towed howitzer. 6,000 artillery rounds were fired with one particular M777, resulting in the ruptured barrel being replaced four times.

PzH 2000
Photo: Wikipedia

One of the last revelations about artillery systems in the war was by the French activist Xavier Moreau. He claimed in a televised interview with Russian media that the Caesar self-propelled howitzers delivered to Ukraine did not work with the correct ammunition.

According to him, France supplied ammunition with a very short range, not the original ones used by the French in Caesar’s shooting. Moreau says that the originals are expensive and France clearly cannot afford to supply ammunition with a range of 40 km.


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