AM General is working with the U.S. Army to fine-tune its new tactical truck-mounted 155mm cannon for fast-moving Stryker Brigade Combat Teams.
The Brutus Mobile Howitzer System made its debut late last year at the Army's Maneuver Fires Integration Experiment at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, Chris Van Slager, executive vice president for U.S. Defense programs at AM General, told Military.com.
"It was our first live fire ever on the 155mm cannon and the soft recoil technology mounted to a medium tactical truck," Van Slager said, while displaying Brutus at the recent 2019 Association of the United States Army's annual meeting.
AM General developed Brutus after talking to Army Stryker BCT leaders who have experienced problems with Family of Medium Tactical Vehicle (FMTV) trucks being unable to keep up with Stryker formations when they are towing the service's standard M777 155mm howitzers, Van Slager said.
"FMTVs by themselves can keep up with the Stryker, but towing a large cannon behind it puts all of that drag on it and this does not," he said.
In 2017, AM General and Mandus Group showed off a similar capability known as Hawkeye, which consisted an Army M20 105mm cannon and a digital fire control system mounted on an M1152A1 Humvee.
Like the Hawkeye, Brutus is equipped with technology that significantly reduces recoil.
The cannon is cocked back under hydraulic pressure. Just before firing, the crew releases the cannon forward and, as it fires, the "explosion re-cocks the cannon," Van Slager said.
"So, 60% to 65% of the recoil is taken out just by using the weight of the cannon -- that's the beauty of it," he said.
"Our approach is [to] take what the government already has and enhance its capability. So, that cannon comes off of the trailer. That is an M777 cannon ... we are putting in a new recoil mechanism, and we are reusing the vehicle that tows it."
Brutus is designed to be fired from its mounted position on the truck and can be removed from the vehicle by unscrewing a series of bolts, Van Slager said.
"It's very modular, so if something happens to the vehicle, you can pull it off and put it on another vehicle," he said.
Currently, Army leaders are considering mobile howitzer systems to replace towed 155mm systems specifically in Stryker BCTs, said Van Slager, who added that the next step for AM General will be to get Brutus safety-certified so soldiers can start shooting it and experience the capability for themselves.
-- Matthew Cox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.