The Spanish Army will deploy heavy artillery on a foreign mission for the first time. As detailed the portal Infodefense, the chosen model is the self-propelled howitzer M109 A5 and his destination will be Latvia, in the context of the mission Reinforced Advanced Presence of NATO. This shipment is part of the reinforcement announced by the Ministry of Defense “to preserve peace and security” after the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.
will unfold an artillery unit with 6 M109 howitzers belonging to the 11th Field Artillery Regiment, based in the Burgos town of Castrillo del Val. This artillery unit will be accompanied by an engineer unit made up of sappers and supports and additional logistical support capabilities. To the 350 troops already deployed since 2017 at the Adazi base in Latvia – 120 kilometers from Russia -, 156 troops are added.
The contingent they join already has 6 tanks Leopard 2E15 infantry fighting vehicles VCI Pizarro, Armored Tracked Transports (TOA) – personal transport and mortar carriers – and vehicles Vamtac with mounts to launch anti-tank missiles spike. Although the first country in number of troops in Latvia is Canada, the Spanish Army would provide the most cutting-edge means.
Characteristics of this howitzer
This self-propelled howitzer has ample mobility thanks to its chains and also has a long range: with conventional ammunition, it reaches 18 kilometers, and, with extended range ammunition, it reaches up to 30 kilometers.
Infodefensa specifies that this shipment represents “an important qualitative leap in terms of capabilities.” this artillery allows you to attack from a long distance, both to enemy forces located in the vanguard and those located in the rear. Its mission is to support armored brigade-type units with fire actions. In addition, it is the most powerful artillery that the Spanish Army has and there is nothing that has a caliber higher than the 155 millimeters of the M109 A5. Only the 155/52 SIAC (Integrated Field Artillery System) howitzer has the same caliber.
Apart from the caliber and firing range, other features of the M109 A5 are a 6-meter-long tube, a rate of 6 shots per minute, 200-millimeter armor plating, a weight of 24 and a half tons, a maximum speed of 56 kilometers per hour and a range of 345 kilometers. It also has a 12.7-millimeter caliber Browning M2 machine gun.
The crew of the M109 consists of a platoon leader, the driver, three gunners who prepare the ammunition, load and fire the gun, and two other gunners who aim the cannon. One of the gunners points left or right and the other points up or down.
History of the M109
The M109 is an American-made howitzer and came into use in the 1960sbeing used since then in conflicts such as the Vietnam War, the Yom Kippur War, the Iran-Iraq War and the Gulf War.
To Spain these howitzers arrived in 1978 and, after numerous updates, the Spanish Army still has 90 M109 A5 units. The Marine Corps, meanwhile, has six units on loan. There are no plans to replace the M109 A5 at the moment, but an update is underway it would imply the substitution of the tubes by other second-hand American ones with the chrome bore.
The M284 tube, currently in service, is being replaced by the M284 A2 tube which, apart from having the bore chromed, has implemented a solution that prevents the erosion of the bushing evacuator holes.
The Army would be considering replacing the M109 fleet, but it would not be a priority. The United States Army has an even more modern version, the M109 A7 Paladin, although at the moment it seems that other solutions would be chosen, such as the digitization of the equipment of the M109 A5 howitzer or the possible use of ammunition Excalibur. This type of ammunition has a range of between 40 and 55 kilometers, but would be used by the 155/52 SIAC howitzer.