The Japan Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF) fired its FH-70 Howitzers out to 25 kilometres for the very first time while on Exercise Southern Jackaroo with the Australian Army at Shoalwater Bay Training Area in May 2019. The JGSDF conducted the long range shoot in Australia as there isn’t a military range large enough to shoot to that distance in Japan. Australian Army soldiers from 7th Brigade helped facilitate the live fire activity and were honoured to be part of this historic moment for the JGSDF.
The exercise also saw integration opportunities between Japanese artillery soldiers and 1st Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery during live fire practices. Exercise Southern Jackaroo is a trilateral field training activity between the Australian Army’s 7th Brigade, Japan Ground Self Defense Force and the United States Marine Rotation Force – Darwin, which aims to enhance interoperability, increase rapport and improve joint tactical, administrative and logistical operations.
The FH70 (field howitzer for the 1970s) is a towed howitzer in use with several nations. The barrel was 39 calibres long, giving 827 m/s standard maximum muzzle velocity. It had a muzzle brake giving 32% efficiency. The shell with the same shape and dimensions as the US M549 rocket-assisted projectile. The standard HE shell is a thin wall design weighing 43.5 kg and containing 11.3 kg of HE. The propellant system comprises three different bagged cartridges with triple-base propellant. The Japan Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF) FH-70 Howitzers Built under license with the ordnance by Japan Steel Works, also used in a Japanese SPG design.