One of the coolest things I’ve ever gotten to do was fire an M109 self-propelled howitzer. The rush of sending a 90-pound, high-explosive shell a couple miles down range is tough to match. Unless maybe you could take a smaller variant of that gun and attach it to the back of your SUV.
Well, in an effort to simultaneously improve the mobility and quality of field artillery support, the Army has unveiled the 105 mm Hawkeye, a Humvee-mounted howitzer.
Designed by Rock Island, Illinois-based Mandus Group, the modular weapon platform uses a specialized hydraulic system that helps reduce recoil and eliminates the need for larger firing platforms that can absorb the energy generated by the gun.
This soft recoil technology also means that carriage structures can be up to 50 percent lighter. This allows for positioning the breech, or firing chamber, in a position for easier loading and firing. Weighing less means the Hawkeye can be used by more vehicle types, including watercraft. A new suspension system also eases wear and tear on the Humvee as it looks to redefine the whole shoot and scoot strategy.
The Hawkeye can fire up to three rounds/minute via a remote control and with a crew of two to four soldiers. It also features a range of 11 miles.
In comparison, a traditional howitzer can fire twice as many rounds in that time. However, those guns require a six-person crew and come nowhere close to the maneuverability of the Hawkeye.
While field artillery guns are meant to be mobile, the Humvee-supported Hawkeye allows for repositioning field artillery pieces in a much faster manner – improving the level of support they can provide while making it more difficult to be pinpointed by enemy fire.