Saturday, November 12, 2011

Russian Guns Bolster Afghan Artillery

Picatinny Arsenal is helping the Afghan National Army develop their indirect fire capability to bolster self-defense.

Picatinny, in conjunction with the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan, will support the acquisition of 194 D30, 122mm Howitzers for the Afghan National Army.

In addition to supporting the acquisition of the howitzers, the Program Executive Office Ammunition, or PEO Ammo, has also helped establish a training and mentoring program at the Central Work Shop in Kabul, Afghanistan. At the CWS, mentors/instructors are teaching an Afghan work force how to properly overhaul, repair and maintain the weapons.

To accomplish this mission, PEO Ammo has enlisted the support of the Project Manager for Towed Artillery Systems, known as PM TAS, and subject matter experts in the areas of optical fire control, canon, quality assurance and weapon systems from the Armament Research Development & Engineering Center, or ARDEC. To date, this team has successfully delivered 85 of the required 194 howitzers.

"This program supports our country's strategy of exiting Afghanistan," said Keith Gooding, program manager, Towed Artillery Systems. "Part of that exit strategy is helping the Afghans become self-sufficient so they can support and defend themselves."

"We're training the Afghan army to use the artillery properly and we're giving them the weapons to fulfill their artillery mission," Gooding said. "The idea is to leave them in a position that they're able to sustain themselves when we're gone, so they can stand on their own once American and NATO troops leave the country."

Afghans are familiar with the D30 Howitzer capability, said Ray Espinosa, the ARDEC Project Officer for the D30 Howitzer Program. The D30 was developed by the Soviets in the 1960s and is still the most widely used howitzer in the world today.

The Soviets brought the D30 to Afghanistan when they occupied the country in the 1980s. Even though the Soviet Army eventually left, their howitzers remained behind.

"The Afghans have been using them ever since, but have not had the resources or training to maintain them, so the howitzers have deteriorated through the years," Espinosa said.

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