US Watervliet Arsenal is working on incorporating chrome plating into the manufacture of the 155mm M777A2 howitzer developed with the Marine Corps.
Recently Watervliet Arsenal has won US Army contract to manufacture more than 100 M776 Full-Bore Chrome Tubes for the lightweight 155mm towed-howitzer system, the M777A2.
The first steel-barreled M777s were fielded in 2005 as a replacement for the aging M198, but the branch’s 100 new full-bore chrome tubes is expected to boost each howitzer’s lifespan by up to 50%.
The arsenal, which is Army-owned-and-operated manufacturing facility, will begin delivery of the chrome tubes for the Army and the Marine Corps in 2019 and will complete both orders by 2020, given the long lead time to procure raw stock materiel.
These barrels are believed to be improving Soldier and Marine readiness as the chrome plating may provide a nearly 50 percent increase in the life of the howitzer tubes, while making it easier for artillery troops to perform maintenance.
The Lightweight 155mm Howitzer System provides direct, reinforcing and general artillery fire support to maneuver forces.
The M777A2 is a towed 155mm howitzer jointly developed by the Army and Marine Corps to replace the M198 Howitzer. The extensive use of titanium in all its major structures makes it 7,000 pounds lighter than the M198 with no sacrifice in range, stability, accuracy or durability.
The M777A2's maximum range is 30 km (rocket assisted round) or up to 40 km with the Excalibur precision-guided munition.
George Roach, the product manager for these orders, said, "Although chrome plating on weapon systems is not new, what is new is that full-bore chrome barrels for the M777 gun only began testing in 2013,"
"To date, we have only manufactured 15 full-bore chrome barrels and with these orders, we will now be able to go from prototype development and limited production into full-rate production." Roach said.
The Marines began testing the chrome tubes in 2016 at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in California.
According to a May 2016 press report by Lance Cpl. Levi Schultz, 11th Marine Regiment, Marine artillerymen found the chrome tubes easier to clean than steel tubes because the chrome lining tended to shed off residue much easier.