Gunners from the 1st Regiment Royal Australian Artillery (1 REGT) have made a return to live-fire field training at the Wide Bay Training Area, near Gympie in Queensland.
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The artillery soldiers spent a week in mid-June on Exercise Barce II, executing numerous fire missions with three M777A1 155mm Howitzers.
Live ammunition training had been put on pause over the course of 2020 – accordingly, the soldiers said that they appreciated the opportunity to hone skills on their weapon system.
While virtual training has been embraced across Army, Navy and Air Force in recent months, soldiers said that it can be difficult to replicate in-person training.
Bombardier Lachlan Toppenberg was enthusiastic to start training after working from home over the past few months.
“It’s good to get back on the tools,” BDR Toppenberg said.
Despite being apart from his team while working from home, BDR Toppenberg said team cohesiveness on a gun line was important.
The M777 is the latest artillery piece to be employed by the Australian Army. The M777 replaces the L119 105mm light gun and the M198 155mm medium gun in Royal Australian Artillery units.
“Teamwork is so important on a gun because it’s a crew-served weapon,” added BDR Toppenberg. “If the team is not working together, the gun’s not going to work.”
The M777 can link with Australian and coalition networks providing accurate and timely responses as required to support ground forces in all weather conditions, day or night.
Having spent a few days conducting fire missions, BDR Toppenberg said his crew’s skills were already looking sharper and the team was happy to be training again.
“The team really enjoys sending bombs down range and getting effects at the other end. It’s definitely my favourite part of the job.”
This new equipment is a significant advance in Army’s capabilities as the gun has a much higher level of digital connectivity, allowing more rapid, safe and accurate application of effects across the battlespace.
The M777 provides direct support to combat troops through offensive and defensive fires with conventional and precision-guided projectiles. It can also employ illuminating and smoke projectiles.
The M777 will be towed behind the Mack gun tractor and the Mack replacement procured under Project LAND 121. It can also be lifted by the Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter and carried in the Air Force C-17A Globemaster III and C-130J Hercules aircraft. The M777 is deployable by Navy watercraft and amphibious vessels.