Self-Propelled Wheeled Howitzer for Marine Corps Use: Capability-Based Assessment
Naval Postgraduate School Monterey United States
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The U.S. Marine Corps artillery community faces a growing capability gap in relation to peer adversaries, such as China and Russia, threatening its effectiveness and survivability in future conflicts. The Marine Corps primary artillery system, the M777 towed howitzer, fails to provide the necessary firepower, mobility, and transportability required in future engagements. Wheeled artillery platforms present an opportunity to close these capability gaps, offering improved mobility and firepower, while remaining transportable enough for expeditionary operations. This study compares the M777 against various wheeled howitzer systems and concepts using a capabilities-based assessment approach. The wheeled howitzers outperformed the M777 in every metric, regardless of system requirement importance, challenging the effectiveness of towed artillery systems. The analysis identifies the Hawkeye, a truck-mounted 105 mm cannon, as the overwhelming favorite among the systems, despite its shorter range and smaller caliber. Hawkeyes lightweight design, high rate of fire, and ability to rapidly emplace and displace make it well suited for the expeditionary nature of the Marine Corps. Incorporating the Hawkeye, or another wheeled artillery system, into the artillery arsenal provides the Marine Corps with an improved artillery capability needed for future conflicts.