US approves potential $148m FMS to Australia

A U.S. Marine with Battery I, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment stands ready to load an M795 High Explosive round into an M777 Lightweight 155mm Howitzer during the 11th Marine Regiment's Desert Fire Exercise aboard Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center 29 Palms, Calif. April 23, 2013. Image via U.S. MoD)

The US State Department has approved the potential Foreign Military Sale of M795 with Insensitive Munitions Explosive (IMX) 101 Explosive Fill 155mm HE projectiles for an estimated cost of $148 million.

The Australian government requested to buy 2,054 rounds of the M795 projectile. Also included in the request are 155mm High Explosive, Illumination and White Phosphorous munitions, point detonating fuses, electronic-timed fuses, M231 and M232/M232A1 propelling charges, percussion primers, technical publications and books, technical data for operational maintenance, technical assistance and services, and other related elements of logistics and program support.  

A notice from the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said the principal contractor, should the sale go through, will be determined at a later date and material could potentially be sourced from a combination of stock and procurement. 

DSCA said the sale will benefit both Australia and the US.

"This proposed sale will enhance the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by helping to improve the security of a strategic partner which has been, and continues to be, an important force for political stability and economic progress in the east Asia and Pacific region," a DSCA statement read.

"The proposed sale of 155mm howitzer ammunition will improve Australia’s capability to meet out-year Operational Readiness Training requirements. Australia will use this capability to strengthen its homeland defence and deter regional threats. Australia will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces." 

The M795 155mm projectile is the US Army and US Marine Corps' standard 155mm HE projectile for howitzers, with a bursting round with fragmentation and blast effects.

The M795 is designed to be a more lethal, longer range version of the M107. A welded band replaced the swaged rotating band of the M107, allowing the M795 to be fired with M119, or M203 propelling charges generating 6,000 metres more range. The explosive payload was also improved, as was the fragmentation pattern.

US approves potential $148m FMS to Australia
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