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M198

155 mm towed howitzer

M198 howitzer

One of the workhorse towed howitzers of the West, the M198 was until the mid-2010s the primary towed artillery piece of the US military

 
 
Country of origin United States
Entered service 1979
Crew 11 men
Armament
Gun bore 155 mm
Barrel length 39 calibers
Projectile weight 44 kg
Maximum range of fire 22 km
Maximum range of fire (with rocket-assisted projectile) 30 km
Maximum rate of fire 4 rpm
Sustained rate of fire 2 rpm
Elevation range - 5 to + 72 degrees
Traverse range 45 degrees
Dimensions and weight
Weight (in combat order) 7.17 t
Length (in travelling order) ?
Width (in travelling order) ?
Length (in combat order) 11 m
Width (in combat order) 8.53 m
Mobility
Towing vehicle 6x6 truck
Road towing speed 72 km/h
Cross-country towing speed 8 km/h
Emplacement 6 minutes
Displacement ~ 5 minutes

 

   The Rock Island Arsenal M198 was for almost 3 decades the primary towed artillery piece of the US military, and is still in use with several other countries. It is replaced in service with the US armed forces by the M777 howitzer.

   Development began in 1968, based upon fresh combat experience from the Vietnam War, as a replacement for the venerable M114 Howitzer first fielded in World War 2. A test rig of this weapon was completed in 1969, and firing trials began in 1970. The first 2 actual prototypes of the XM198 were delivered in April and May of 1972, respectively, followed by another 8 prototypes. By 1978, the XM198 had been standardized and type-classified "M198", and the first production run was completed in July of the same year. The M198 achieved initial operational capability in 1979, when the first M198 battalion became operational at Fort Bragg. The first US Marine unit to receive M198s was the 10th Marine Regiment, in 1982.

   The M198 was particularly notable for its service in Operation Desert Storm, where its firepower and mobility were a potent asset to the Coalition. It continues to see active service in several different armed forces in the War on Terror, in both the Iraqi and Afghan theaters.

   Its service life however, has not been without problems. Despite its decade-long development period (and even followed several years of production and service), problems with warping and stress cracking plagued the M198 through the early 1980s. The manufacturer and the US military implied that these problems had been solved before 1990, but a December 1995 Govenrment Accountability Ofice's document found that many serious problems remained --- including some supposedly solved earlier, including; premature trunnion bearing failures, rapid onset of stress cracking in the carriage tower, rapid onset of leaks in the recoil mechanism, frequent tire blowouts, due to the tires not being rated for the weight of the gun (as late as 1994, there were 30 blowouts a month). These flaws have since been compensated for (or at least lessened) in the "M198 Howitzer PIP" (Product Improvement Plan), which comprises 27 separate modifications.

   In appearance, the M198 has no unique or peculiar, conspicuous, or unique recognition features, and could be mistaken for several similar weapons (e.g., the FH-70 and TRF1). The M198 has two broad towing arms, which are bent slightly to the left at the ends, and have a prominent hitch near the end of the left arm. The barrel is long, and tapers sharply halfway between the carriage and its double-baffle muzzle brake. The gun sits atop a sliding mount, in a square-cornered, U-shaped fixture, the latter of which is hinged at the front of two towers (which the breech recoils between when fired). The breechblock is enveloped by a wide, cylindrical structure, in which the weapon's recoil-dampening mechanisms are located. The two wheels are fitted with pneumatic tires, and are placed at the front of the carriage. Three pairs of prominent pneumatic struts control the weapon's elevation and depression, and the complete mount can be rotated atop the carriage.

   A crew of 11 is required to operate the M198 normally. The crew consists of a section chief, an ammo team chief, a gunner, an assistant gunner, a prime mover driver, and 6 cannoneers. Conflicting sources also claim that the M198 has a crew of 10, or even just 9 men; it may be possible to operate the M198 with this many personnel, though this would reduce the weapon's performance. Approximately 6 minutes are required to set-up an M198 for fire missions.

   The standard prime mover for the M198 in the US military was the M939 truck. The M198 and can safely be towed cross-country at 8 km/h, over improved secondary roads at 40 km/h, or over paved roads at 72 km/h. The M198 may be delivered by parachute, or sling-loaded underneath a CH-47 Chinook or CH-53 Sea Stallion.

   The M199 155 mm cannon used on the M198 has a tube 39 calibers long, giving it an effective range of 22 km with a standard projectile, and 30 km with a rocket-assisted projectile. The rate-of-fire for the M198 is 4 rounds/min maximum, or 2 rounds/min sustained. Service life of this howitzer is 1 750 rounds at full charge.

   The M198 fires a number of different rounds, depending on the nature of the fire mission. Bursting projectiles include the M107 and M795 High-Explosive (HE) rounds, the M825 White Phosphorus (WP) smoke round, the M116-series smoke rounds, the M549A1 rocket-assisted HE round, and a number of rounds containing lethal chemical agents. Cargo-carrying/dispersing rounds include the M449 APICM (contains anti-tank grenades), the M864 DPICM (contains anti-personnel and anti-tank grenades), the M485-series illumination rounds, the M692 and M731 ADAM (contains anti-personnel mines), the M718 and M741 RAAM (contains anti-tank mines), the M483A1 FASCAM (contains anti-personnel and anti-tank mines), the M825 WP (contains WP grenades), the M1023 RADAM (contains anti-personnel and anti-tank grenades), and the XM867 (an electronic warfare munition). Guided rounds for the M198 include the M712 Copperhead (laser-guided), the M898 SADARM (scatters a cluster of parachute-suspended, infra-red homing anti-tank grenades), and the Excalibur (GPS-guided, with different types of munitions depending on the variant).

   The M198 will also fire all standard NATO 155 mm rounds.

   The production run of the M198 was from 1978 to 1992, and some 1 600-1 700 were built. Originally a total of 1 300 of these howitzers were delivered to the US armed forces, while the rest were exported. This howitzer has been used by Australia, Bahrain, Ecuador, Honduras, Iraq, Lebanon, Mexico, Morocco, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Thailand, and Tunisia. It has been retired from service in the Australian and US armed forces. At present, the largest user is Lebanon, with at least 179 examples in active service.

 The unit cost of the M198 is $527 337, though as of 2016, new M198s are no longer available.

 

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M198 howitzer

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M198 howitzer

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M198 howitzer

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M198 howitzer

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M198 howitzer

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M198 howitzer

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M198 howitzer

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M198 howitzer

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M198 howitzer

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