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U.S., Australia order BAE howitzers

July 20, 2010 at 10:17 AM

FARNBOROUGH, England, July 20 (UPI) -- The United States and Australia have ordered 93 howitzers from BAE Systems, bringing total sales for the M777 gun program to more than $1.5 billion.

Fifty-eight of the howitzers are for the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps, while Australia is acquiring 35 through the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program, a news release said Monday.

The order makes Australia the third customer for the M777 system after the United States and Canada.

"The purchase of additional howitzers is further endorsement of M777 as the most effective howitzer system of its kind," said Mike Smith, managing director for BAE Systems' European Weapons business. "Its proven combat effectiveness means we expect more orders through 2011 as we continue to promote the system globally.

"The U.S. government is currently discussing the provision of 145 systems to India as well as several other countries. In parallel, BAE Systems is responding to requests for information from a large number of countries wishing to expand their indirect fire capability."

Weighing less than 9,240 pounds, the M777 is the world's first artillery weapon to make widespread use of titanium and aluminum alloys, resulting in a howitzer that is half the weight of conventional 155mm systems. The gun can fire the "smart" Excalibur round, co-developed by BAE Systems, up to 25 miles accurately, the company said.

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