IDF to replace outdated howitzers after decades of service

American M109 howitzers have undergone a series of upgrades since they debuted in the Yom Kippur War.

July 17, 2011 03:09
1 minute read.
An IDF exercise in the South

An IDF exercise in the South tanks helicopters 311 (R). (photo credit: Reuters)

The IDF is looking to replace its aging M109 155 mm. self-propelled howitzers, after decades of service and participation in a number of wars.

Israel received the American M109 howitzers in the 1970s and they debuted in the Yom Kippur War.

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They have since undergone a series of upgrades and today are fitted with air purification systems so crews can continue operating in the event of a chemical or biological attack, and have a range of just under 30 kilometers.

The howitzers are fitted with digital command-and-control systems that link the crews to the rest of the IDF’s ground forces and transmit their location as well as the positions of enemy forces.

The advancement in technology is part of the Artillery Corps’ way of adapting itself to maintain relevance on the modern battlefield.

During the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006, for example, the Artillery Corps fired 177,000 shells into Lebanon without having an affect on the rate of rocket attacks against northern Israel.

The decision to buy new cannons for the Artillery Corps is part of a larger plan to upgrade its offensive capabilities that includes the procurement of new precision rocket and missile systems.

The two frontrunners to replace the M109s are Soltam System’s Autonomous Truck Mounted Howitzer Systems and the Artillery Gun Module, developed by Germany’s Krauss-Maffei Wegmann.

Both systems are truck-mounted, meaning that they have high mobility and can move between different areas of operations quicker than the M109s.

They also have greater ranges of over 40 km., and possibly most crucial is the smaller crews that they require, down from 6 crew members in the M109 to just two or three.

A senior IDF officer said the smaller crew size would allow the Artillery Corps to transfer soldiers from its battalions to new units within the corps such as the Sky Rider Unit that operates unmanned aerial vehicles for the ground forces.

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