The Latvian Ministry of Defence (Latvijas Republikas Aizsardzibas Ministrija) has announced the delivery of six M109A5Oe self-propelled howitzers and related ammunition to strengthen the Ukrainian forces. Latvia is part of the Ukrainian Defence Contact Group. Latvia has committed over €200m in the form of uncrewed aerial vehicles, dry food rations, ammunition, anti-tank weapons, and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to help the Ukrainians combat Russian forces. This week, Latvia also announced the delivery of two Mi-17 and two Mi-2 helicopters to Ukraine. Six more M109 howitzers that have recently arrived in Ukraine from Latvia are already showing results on the battlefield.
The M109 is an American 155 mm turreted self-propelled howitzer, first introduced in the early 1960s to replace the M44. The M109 was developed by the Ground System Division of United Defense LP (now BAE Systems Land and Armaments).It has been upgraded a number of times, most recently to the M109A7. The M109 family is the most common Western indirect-fire support weapon of maneuver brigades of armored and mechanized infantry divisions. The M109 has a crew of four: the section chief/commander, the driver, the gunner, and the ammunition handler/loader. The chief or gunner aims the cannon left or right (deflection) and up and down (quadrant).
The M109A5Oe is an upgraded version of the earlier A2/A3 combinations with a 39-caliber barrel. Early in 1995, through the US Army Armament and Chemical Acquisition and Logistics Activity at Rock Island, Austria awarded United Defense LP a contract worth US$48.6 million for the supply of 54 155 mm M109A50e self-propelled howitzers for the Austrian Army. The Austrian M109A5 has a number of unique features that differ from the standard American M109A5, including an Austrian semi-automatic flick rammer, inertial positive navigation system, Swiss electrical system and the same 155 mm ordnance as used on the M109A6 Paladin currently in service with the US Army.
In April 2017, a bilateral agreement was signed between the Latvian and Austrian Ministries of Defense on the purchase of M109A5Oe self-propelled systems, including the purchase of fire control and training platforms. In order to improve the ability of the Latvian Armed Forces to support indirect fire, as well as improve Latvia’s ability to fully integrate into NATO operations and training, 47 military units were purchased from Austria. The cost per unit, depending on its modification (howitzer, fire control or training platform), varies between € 60,000 and € 140,000.