BAE Systems has received inquiries for up to 500 new M777 howitzers after the gun showed its worth in Ukraine, the news outlet reported
British arms company BAE Systems is negotiating with the US about possibly resuming production of the M777 howitzer after the artillery piece has played a prominent role in the Ukraine conflict, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.
According to the company, as cited by the outlet, several nations said they might be willing to buy the howitzers, production of which is now almost shut down. The company is said to be negotiating with the US Army about restarting the program.
M777s were mainly manufactured in the UK, but often assembled in the US. Now, however, the company is winding down the production line, with the last batch of howitzers due to be delivered to India.
Meanwhile, BAE told the outlet that if inquiries from possible customers, including a number of Central European countries, turn into actual orders, it could manufacture up to 500 new M777 pieces.
However, Mark Signorelli, a vice president of business development at BAE, cautioned that interest does not always translate into new contacts. He said that the M777 could be produced at a profit only if the company gets an order for at least 150 units in total.
He also noted that the Ukraine conflict has demonstrated “the effectiveness and utility of a wide variety of artillery systems.” Since the onset of hostilities, Kiev has received at least 170 M777s, which have a range of up to 40km and can use GPS-guided shells, from such donors as the US, Australia, and Canada.
According to one Ukrainian officer interviewed by the WSJ, the weapon has scored a lot of points with Kiev’s military due to its high accuracy and ease of use, even despite having a somewhat lower fire rate than several of its European rivals.
The reported negotiations on resuming production of the M777 come as Ukraine has reportedly asked the West for state-of-the-art weaponry, including long-range missiles, Patriot air defense systems, F-16 fighter jets, and M-1 Abrams and Leopard tanks.
While Ukraine’s Western backers have so far refused to indulge these requests, they have supplied Kiev with hundreds of artillery pieces and munitions for them, as well as dozens of High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS). According to Moscow, the latter has often been used to strike civilian targets in Russia-controlled areas.
Russia has repeatedly warned the West against “pumping” Ukraine with weaponry, suggesting that such aid would only prolong the conflict and inflict more destruction and suffering on the country’s population.
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