With US ammunition stocks depleted by deliveries to Ukraine, the US military is looking for new manufacturers of 155mm howitzers.
The military recently issued a market research to identify US and Canadian companies capable of manufacturing up to 12,000 M795 155mm high-explosive rounds per month.
The M795 is the standard round for Army and Navy 155mm howitzers and would be the primary ammunition for all US-designed 155mm howitzers sent to Ukraine, which already uses M777 towed 155mm guns sent by the United States and Canada.
The United States sent 126 M777 guns and more than 800,000 strokes of 155 mm ammunition to Ukraine from the beginning of September. Today, the Pentagon fears that US ammunition stocks are reaching dangerously low levels.
Meanwhile, as the Russian-Ukrainian war becomes a rival artillery struggle which has become the dominant weapon of destruction on the Ukrainian Kyiv battlefield will certainly demand more shells. Ukrainian forces were already firing 6,000 shells per day in June, Ukrainian officials said at the time.
This is a good reason for the US Army to increase its production of 155mm ammunition.
The Army Combat Ammunition Systems Project Manager is currently conducting market research “to identify potential sources in the United States and Canada that can Load, Assemble, and Package (LAP) and deliver the High Explosive Projectile (HE ) M795 155mm”.
Among the requirements for potential manufacturers is to demonstrate “existing production capacity, planned monthly production and delivery capacity of 12,000 projectiles per month, maximum monthly production capacity and whether they have manufactured this item or similar items in the past,” according to the Army investigation. .
The government would provide “metal projectile parts, rotary band covers, wooden pallets, lifting plugs, additional charges of IMX-101 explosives and TNT/PBXN-9”. However, the entrepreneur should obtain “TNT in bulk” himself.
It is unclear how many shells the Pentagon aims to produce.
In 2021, the Army wanted to cut funding for the production of 155 mm shells which had been approved by Congress. Lawmakers recently approved $600 million in defense production emergency law expenditures to expand the United States’ shell and missile production capability, including “modernized and expanded large-caliber shell forging capabilities”. However, expanding ammunition production capacity can take a year or more.
The Army’s Joint Ordnance Command would not say whether the market survey was aimed at increasing shell production or simply identifying new manufacturers.
“Market research is used to identify potential sources for the identified item and may be used to fulfill a number of service requirements,” spokeswoman Justine Barati told Insider.
The M795 is an unguided shell first deployed in 1999. It weighs 103 pounds and is 33 inches long and has an attached fuze.
The high-fragmentation steel projectile is armed with 23.8 pounds of TNT or IMX-101, an explosive less prone to accidental detonation.
The M795 has a kill radius of approximately 55 meters, although fragments can inflict damage beyond this distance. It can be “employed against personnel, trucks, electronic surveillance and target acquisition devices, supply points, command and control and communications (C3) facilities, and mechanized and armored forces “, according to the American defense firm. General dynamics.
The M795 has a range of around 14 miles, longer than the 1950s M107 rounds it replaced, but still considerably shorter than Russian weapons such as the BM-30 Multiple Rocket Launcherwhich has a range of 45 miles.
The range disparity is especially important in the Ukrainian War, where the side with the longer-range artillery can destroy enemy guns while remaining safely out of range of retaliatory fire.
The United States also sent GPS-guided 155mm M982 Excalibur rounds to Ukraine. Excalibur shells have a range of 25 miles and can strike a few meters from their targets.
GPS-guided shells are much more expensive, each costing around $100,000, making the M795 much cheaper more economical for the rate at which Ukraine fires its artillery. (The Pentagon also plans to spend nearly $100 million to replenish its stocks of Excalibur.)
The United States is not alone in having an ammunition problem. Canada shipped 155mm shells to Ukraine and is now ask south korea to replenish their stocks.