BAE Systems has extended an enticing offer to the Republic of China Army (RoCA), presenting its cutting-edge M109A7 155 mm tracked self-propelled howitzer (SPH) to meet Taiwan’s pressing howitzer requirements. Discussions between BAE Systems and the RoCA have gained momentum, with the Taiwanese military expressing keen interest in acquiring these advanced SPHs. Notably, the RoCA has expressed its intention to procure the M109A7, boasting a larger chassis than its predecessor, the M109A6. The recent green light from the U.S. State Department for a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States (TECRO) has added significant weight to this development. The proposed sale, valued at approximately $750 million, initially included forty (40) 155mm M109A6 Paladin Medium Self-Propelled Howitzer Systems, twenty (20) M992A2 Field Artillery Ammunition Support Vehicles (FAASV), one (1) Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System (AFATDS), five (5) M88A2 Hercules vehicles, five (5) M2 Chrysler Mount .50 caliber machine guns, and one thousand six hundred ninety-eight (1,698) multi-option Precision Guidance Kits (PGK). However, the sale was mysteriously canceled, leaving questions unanswered.
This significant development marks the first weapons sale to Taiwan approved by the Biden administration, reinforcing the U.S. commitment to the Taiwan Relations Act and the Six Assurances. BAE Systems, with prime contractor responsibilities for the Self-Propelled Howitzer Systems, will play a pivotal role in enhancing Taiwan’s defense capabilities. Anniston, AL, and Elgin, OK will be involved in the production of the M109A7, while Anniston Army Depot (ANAD), Bynum, AL, will contribute to the M992A2 FAASV, and BAE, York, PA, will be responsible for the M88A2 recovery vehicles. Taiwan’s current artillery inventory comprises aging M109A2-A5 howitzers, the M114 155 howitzer, and the M110A2 self-propelled howitzer. The M109A2-A5, the most recent addition, was acquired during the Third Taiwan Strait Crisis in 1996, delivered in 1998, and has served for 21 years. The Paladin M109A7, a next-generation artillery system manufactured by BAE Systems, represents a substantial upgrade from the combat-proven M109A6 Paladin cannon artillery system. This enhanced system is poised to provide crucial fire support for a variety of potential combat missions undertaken by the U.S. Army’s Armored Brigade Combat Teams (ABCTs) across diverse combat environments.
BAE Systems reached a significant milestone in 2021 by delivering the 300th vehicle set of the M109A7 artillery system. This included 133 low-rate initial production (LRIP) vehicle sets and 216 full-rate production (FRP) vehicle sets, with the latter delivered by the end of June 2022. The Paladin integrated management (PIM) modernization program encompasses upgrades to the hull, turret, engine, and suspension systems. These enhancements promise increased reliability, survivability, and overall performance compared to the M109A6. Equipped with digital backbone architecture and an onboard digital fire control system, the M109A7 offers precise fire mission execution and firing data computation. Additionally, it boasts a position navigation system and a diagnostic-rich computer system, enabling it to select firing positions, unlock its cannon, and take aim while in motion. The modernization efforts also focus on space, weight, and power-cooling (SWaP-C) improvements, making the M109A7 a formidable asset in any theater of operation.