The light divisions of the U.S. Army are busy fielding a new howitzer that kicks the standard 105mm howitzer into the 21st century.
The cannon cockers of the U.S. Army’s 1st Battalion, 10th Field Artillery this month fielded their new M119A3 Light Towed Howitzers, and it seems like they are a game changer.
The new gun, which is an improvement on the 1990s-era M119 (which itself was an improvement of the British L118 Light Gun used to such good effect in the Falklands in 1982), first started entering service in 2013. Within months, the gun was proven in Afghanistan, rocking out fire missions to support coalition troops.
While the Army’s heavy divisions rely on larger 155mm self-propelled and towed guns, the more compact (read= walk a lot) rapid reaction units such as the 101st Airborne Division, 82nd Airborne, and the Fort Benning-based 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division to which 1-10 FA is assigned, use the smaller 105s as they are much lighter.
What makes these Alpha-3’s so neat is that they use an independent GPS system tied to a digital gunner’s display, which in turn is set up for digital communication between each gun and the Fire Direction Center. In short, instead of having to bundle all six guns in a battery in one package, a gun can be detached and sent to support a smaller unit in the field– which means a lot more firepower available for the people out in the weeds.
And don’t worry, if the 21st century tech takes a dirt nap, the gunners can switch back to the analog stuff that has been around since Napoleon’s time.
Note to those who want to go artillery: make sure you can maths.