Ukraine’s self-repair: M777 howitzer video sparks DIY weapon fix

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In a strategic move to enhance its artillery firepower, the Ukrainian Armed Forces‘ Logistics Forces have embarked on the repair of M777 155mm towed howitzers. 

Photo by Gleb Garanich

This significant news was announced by the Command of the Logistics Forces. Leading these restoration efforts are repair specialists who are utilizing advanced technologies like titanium surface welding to repair damages in the artillery systems

The Ukrainian military released a video that provides a glimpse into the intricate process of howitzer repairs, demonstrating the meticulous tasks involved in servicing these formidable weapons. 

Priority repair

This focus on developing restoration capabilities highlights the strategic value assigned to the preservation of the M777 155mm towed howitzers. These artillery systems have gained prominence on the battlefield. 

While progress in the repair process is evident, details remain scant. Ukrainian authorities have chosen to maintain a level of secrecy surrounding the specifics of the repair actions, including their location and the actual number of howitzers that have been restored. 

Before this announcement, information regarding the Ukrainian Armed Forces engaging in M777 howitzer repairs was minimal. 

One of the first weapons in Ukraine

Within two months of Russia’s invasion, Ukraine received its first batch of M777 howitzers. These artillery systems, boasting a range of up to 30 kilometers, were eagerly welcomed by the Ukrainian soldiers

Ukrainian soldiers have lavished praise on the systems’ precision and efficacy, which aided them in taking down enemy targets from considerable distances. 

Photo credit: Reuters/Stringer

However, maintaining and repairing the M777 howitzers presented a significant challenge. The Ukrainian military lacked the required proficiency. In early 2023, it emerged that the US Army was offering remote consultations to help Ukraine. 

Remote maintenance support

The US military initiated remote system maintenance support, virtually instructing Ukrainian personnel on how to maintain and service the weapon system. 

Photo: Australian MoD

Unwilling to send their artillery overseas for repairs, Ukrainian forces decided to undertake maintenance work domestically. This strategy allowed them to avoid the lengthy procedures associated with exporting such devices abroad for servicing. 

As the war has dragged on for nearly two years, Ukraine—with the support of its allies—has started to develop its domestic capabilities for conducting repair works on various weapon systems.

M777 Howitzers

Photo credit: Airlive

Introducing the M777 howitzer, a 155mm artillery piece that can launch up to five rounds per minute, covering a distance of 24 to 30 kilometers. The distance covered varies based on the type of ammunition used. 

This mobile weapon, renowned for its long range, has demonstrated significant effectiveness in combat situations against Russian forces. It shares the battlefield with Germany’s Panzerhaubitze 2000 and France’s Caesar Howitzer, both of which have also seen action in Ukraine. 

The M777 has the strategic advantage of being half as heavy as its counterparts. This allows for faster repositioning, an effective measure for avoiding enemy detection—an essential survival tactic on the Ukrainian front. 

BAE Systems resumed production

The makers of the M777 assert that it is easy to transport by road, sea, or air thanks to its minimalistic logistical footprint. Its high reliability allows for frequent relocations and re-deployments, thus reducing the risk of encountering improvised explosive devices [IEDs] common with self-propelled systems. 

Responding to the growing demand for this artillery piece, the manufacturer, BAE Systems, is set to resume its production. 

Photo: US DoD

As stated by John Borton, the Vice President and General Manager of BAE Systems Weapons Systems UK, “The M777 is expected to maintain its technical edge within the realm of artillery technology, courtesy of advancements in long-range precision-guided munition and versatile mobility options.” 

Escalating demand

The impetus for resuming production has been driven by the escalating demand from the Armed Forces of Ukraine, as well as the U.S. Army and Marine Corps, who routinely use the M777 howitzer. 

BAE Systems plans to work with suppliers from the UK and the U.S. to produce the essential titanium structures of the M777, with the delivery of initial parts slated for 2025. At present, the U.S. remains the largest operator of this howitzer, commanding over 1,200 units.

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