The Latvian Ministry of Defense (Latvijas Republikas AizsardzÄ«bas ministrija) has signed an agreement with Austria to purchase another batch of 18 second-hand M109A5 155mm tracked self-propelled howitzers to boost national and regional defences. These self-propelled howitzers were sold on to Austria following introduction of the AS90 before being upgraded to M109A5 standard; in Austrian service they were then reclassified M109A5Ã– (the suffix standing for Ã–sterreich or Austria).
Latvia is to purchase used self-propelled howitzers from Austria as part of its ongoing equipment purchase program, the Latvian Ministry of Defense announced in February 2017. In total 47 units of military hardward purchased from Austria, including not only M109 155mm self-propelled howitzers but also driver training platforms and a mobile tactical control center. Costs will vary from â‚¬60,000 to â‚¬140,000 per unit according to the precise specification and the level of upgrade each unit has.
The howitzers Latvia plans to buy were bought by Austria from the UK and handed over at Mansergh Barracks, GÃ¼tersloh in 1994. The UK had previously bought the guns from the US, which first introduced the M109 in the early 1960s. 35 are self-propelled howitzers, ten are turreted command and control vehicles (Austrian designation Rechenstellenpanzer M109) with main armament removed, and two are driving school vehicles. They were upgraded and have been kept in storage since around 2007.
The M109 is an American 155 mm turreted self-propelled howitzer, first introduced in the early 1960s to replace the M44. In A5 configuration the M109 has the M284 39-calibre 155mm cannon as its primary armament and a roof-mounted 12.7mm heavy machine gun on a pintle mount for close and air defence. Firing range with rocket assisted projectile (RAP) rounds is 30,000 metres and with unassisted projectiles it is 23,500 metres.