U.S. Marines with 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division perform basic maintenance on m777 A2 Howitzer during Artillery Relocation Training Program 18-1, on Combined Arms Training Complex, Camp Fuji, Japan. ARTP 18-1 is a Japan-funded, routine training exercise that allows Marines with 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, based out of Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan, to conduct live-fire training in Japan.
The M777 howitzer is a towed 155 mm artillery piece. It succeeded the M198 howitzer in the United States Marine Corps and United States Army in 2005. The M777 is also used by the ground forces of Australia, Canada, India and Saudi Arabia. It made its combat debut in the War in Afghanistan.
The M777 is manufactured by BAE Systems’ Global Combat Systems division. Prime contract management is based in Barrow-in-Furness in the United Kingdom as well as manufacture and assembly of the titanium structures and associated recoil components. Final integration and testing of the weapon is undertaken at BAE’s facility in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
In May 2005, 3rd Battalion, 11th Marines, based at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, became the first Marine unit to begin fielding the new M777. Five hundred and eighty systems will be supplied to the Marines, and 421 to the U.S. Army and National Guard. In March 2016, 200 Marines and four M777A2 howitzers from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit set up Firebase Bell, officially the Karasoar Counterfire Complex, near the Iraqi town of Makhmour, supporting the Iraqi Army’s Mosul offensive. The firebase is only 15 miles (24 km) from ISIL-controlled territory, and one Marine was killed in a rocket attack on 19 March, just days after arriving; direct attacks on the base dropped off in the following weeks as the Iraqis captured surrounding villages. The Marine howitzers fire every day in support of Iraqi maneuvers, using high explosive, smoke, and illumination rounds. They were relieved by Army soldiers after roughly 60 days, after firing more than 2,000 rounds in 486 fire missions.
In March 2017, the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit was deployed to Syria to provide artillery support with their M777s for forces seeking to eject ISIL forces from Raqqa.