YUMA, Ariz. – The deafening sound of an artillery weapon is all in a day’s work at Yuma Proving Ground. On Tuesday, test officer Jered Ford and his crew blasted what is called an M-777 howitzer.
“It’s exciting. There’s a lot of variation from day to day,” Ford explained.
The deadly weapon is actually referred to as lightweight.
“It replaces an old heavier howitzer because it’s 9800 lbs. versus 16,000 lbs,” he said.
Roughly 1000 of these exist worldwide. The U.S. Army and Marine Corps use them, as well as Canadian and Australian troops. The civilian workers fired four of them Tuesday.
Steve Flores oversees the artillery and mines branch at YPG.
“It’s a test in preparation for a bigger event that we’ve got scheduled later in the month. Those howitzers are going to be used by soldiers,” Flores said.
He said the howitzers are undergoing extensive testing and explained for what.
“We call it a shakedown test. It’s a test to put the four howitzers through a series eight tests to verify the primary feed mechanisms are operating, that the digital fire controls are operating.”
The team must check the M-777’s for accuracy and precision. Firing one of them takes about 10 people. Crews shot ammunition more than 15 miles away during Tuesday’s tests.
“In this case, it’s a piece of steel with high explosives inside of it,” Ford stated.
It’s so loud that workers stand behind a concrete wall and pull a lever to set it off.
Army soldiers will be using the M-777’s later this month. They will be testing a fuse to explosives that uses GPS technology.