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M777 155mm Howitzer  –  MERX  –  CF Procurement  –  January  2008

Light Weight Towed Howitzer  (LWTH)   155mm M777A1 — MERX LOI Notice
Update: On 17 June 2008, a US Foreign Military Sales Notice was published for a proposed sale of an additional  37  M777 howitzers to Canada (not 34 as per LOI ).

A request for Letters of  Interest  has been issued  for the planned procurement of 34  new 155mm howitzers. The new artillery pieces would not be ordered until after the current Afghan deployment.  Deliveries of  the new guns would not commence until 2012. As expected, this LOI was written around the in-service M777 howitzer.

Despite mentioning the in-service M777, the LOI does not specifically require that the winning bid be for that BAE Systems gun.  However, the winning LWTH must closely match the M777' characteristics, accept its targeting system, and match its portability. The winning gun must also be an off-the-shelf  piece in Allied  service.

Since the M777 is already in CF service, an ACAN for additional howitzers of  the same type would be the logical approach. Presenting the LWTH procurement as a competition seems to be opening us up to yet another round of supplier lawsuits.

The LOI, itself, is also presented in an odd fashion. Much of Annex A consists of a primer of artillery techniques (details which one hopes potential suppliers would already be well aware).  Elsewhere,  the many virtues of  modern light howitzers are extolled. Again, potential suppliers are supposed to be making the 'pitch'. We are left to wonder, who exactly is this LOI meant to sell the proposed procurement to?

The LOI Notice's text  (as published on the MERX website)  is reproduced below. Inserts and  typographical  emphasis  have been made as attempts at clarification: ________________________________________

Light Weight Towed Howitzer  –  LOI Notice
[Additional M777 Letters-of-Interest Notice]

Reference Number                PW-$$RA-002-16420
Solicitation Number              W8476-08PM01/A
Organization Name               Public Works and Government Services Canada
                                      Travaux publics et Services gouvernementaux Canada
Source ID                               FD.DP.QC.10077.C2
Associated Components     No


Published     2008-01-09
Revised         —
Closing         2008-02-18  02:00 PM  Eastern Standard Time  EST


Category                          Armament
GSINS                               N1025: GUNS, OVER 150 MM THROUGH 200 MM
Region of Delivery         National Capital Region
Region of Opportunity   —
Agreement Type             Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT)
Tender Type                    Letter  of  Interest  ( LOI )
Estimated Value               —
Solicitation Method        —

Notice Description

Light Weight Towed Howitzer

Trade Agreement:                         Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT)
Tendering Procedures:
Attachment:                                   None
Competitive Procurement Strategy:  N/A - P&A/LOI Only
Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement:   No

Letter Letter [sic] of  Interest
Lightweight Towed Howitzer


The  Canadian Forces  ( CF )  intends to procure a  fleet of  [155mm]  Lightweight Towed Howitzers (LWTH) to institutionalize this capability within the land forces. The purpose of  this  Letter of  Interest ( LOI ) is to communicate CF requirements and solicit information from Industry regarding the proposed solution. This infor- mation will be used to support the Crown's decision-making process.


The CF has 12  M777  LWTH  howitzers  currently  in-service. Ongoing operations have reinforced  the flexibility and  effectiveness of  the 155mm towed  howitzer on the modern battlefield.  When coupled  with modern munitions, digital  technology and  lightweight  materials  the resulting weapons system is highly mobile, capable of engaging targets at long range and with great precision.


The aim of the LWTH Project is to procure up to 34 155mm towed artillery systems The project scope will include, but is not limited to, the provision of:


ILS [Integrated Logistic Support] necessary to introduce the system and support it during the first two years of service (including training and ammunition);

Project management; and

Provision of engineering services to support introduction.


The primary role of the LWTH is to provide indirect fire support for the land force. The key tactical functions to be performed by the LWTH are close support, attrit- ion, interdiction and counter-battery fire.


The project will only consider off-the-shelf technology in order to minimize customization and reduce costs. Therefore, the proposed solution must be a developed product and in use with an Allied armed force at bid response time.


The LWTH project is predicated on a set of high level functional and performance requirements. The complete list of draft critical requirements that a proposed system must meet is contained within Annex A.


For the purposes of this LOI, the following items are considered out of scope:

Ammunition development;
Digitization of the CF in-service howitzer fleet;
Command, control and communications systems; and
Development and procurement of  the howitzer prime mover.


In providing responses the following schedule should be utilized as a baseline:

LOI complete  –  February 2008;
Statement of  Interest and Qualification (SOIQ) complete  –  December 2008.
Request for Proposal complete  –  spring 2009;
Contract Award (CA)  –  fall 2009;
First delivery  –  as soon as possible following CA; and
Project Closeout  –  2012.


Contractors are requested to indicate their ability, and that of any subcontractors, to accommodate personnel and facility security requirements, together with controlled goods restrictions (e.g. International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR)), export licenses and 3rd party release requirements. Contractors are to clearly identify any implications that may affect delivery of the proposed solution in accordance with the Industrial Security Program of Public Works and Govern- ment Services Canada (PWGSC) requirements.


The contractor will be required to provide high-quality Industrial and Regional Benefits (IRB) equivalent to 100% of the contracted value. All IRB requirements will be negotiated and accepted by Industry Canada (IC) and the regional devel- opment agencies prior to Contract Award.


This LOI is the first step in engaging industry to refine the LWTH requirements and support concepts, as well as defining budget, schedule and risk elements associated with a best-value approach. Industry is encouraged to be innovative in their proposed method(s) of capability delivery and support options. Based on the requirements detailed in this document, the LOI seeks vendors to provide the following information:

The unit cost and technical description of the LWTH. The description must specifically address the LOI requirements listed in Annex A  [below];

A statement of the delivery capability. Indicate whether or not the LOI delivery milestones can be achieved, if not ... provide the best possible delivery schedule;

The cost for maintenance support including special tools and test equipment. Assume the CF will conduct all 1st and 2nd line maintenance in-house at seven separate geographical locations. 3rd line or repair and overhaul functions would be performed commercially.

The cost for spare parts. Assume two years consumption under normal training and operational use;

The cost for training. This is to include both operator and maintenance training. Assume the contractor will deliver Initial Cadre Training (ICT) for approximately 100 personnel during the first year of delivery. The CF will purchase training aids and material and then deliver steady state training to its personnel in two separate geographical locations. The training estimate is to include separate estimates for ICT and steady state;

The cost for operator and technical manuals. Assume the LWTH fleet is located at seven separate geographical locations. Information on any controlled goods restrictions (e.g. ITAR, Controlled Goods Regulations), export licences, security and 3rd party release implications that may affect delivery of the solution, and

Constraints and assumptions associated with the proposed solution.


This is not a bid solicitation and a contract will not result from it.

Requirements are subject to change, based on the evolution of the Statement of Operational Requirement (SOR), which may be as a result of information provided in response to this LOI.  Potential respondents are advised that any information submitted  to Canada  in response to this LOI  may be used  by Canada in the development of a subsequent competitive RFP.

The issuance of this LOI does not create an obligation for Canada to issue a sub- sequent RFP, and does not bind Canada legally or otherwise, to enter into any agreement or to accept or reject any suggestions. Canada assumes no respons- ibility or obligation with respect to the cost of preparing a response to this LOI.

Participation in this LOI is not a condition or prerequisite for participation in any RFP. As a result of this LOI there will be no short listing of firms for the purposes of undertaking future work

Companies responding to this LOI should identify whether or not any submitted information must be considered as confidential, proprietary or if the response contains controlled goods. No information or statements pertaining to this project shall be released to the media without written permission from the Department of National Defence (DND).


All inquiries and other communications related to this LOI shall be directed exclusively to the PWGSC  Contracting Authority.  Interested parties that intend to respond to this LOI are requested to advise PWGSC so that changes may be promulgated if required.


Responses to this LOI are to be submitted to the PWGSC Contracting Authority identified below, on or before the close of business on February 18th, 2008. You are requested to submit two (2) copies of your response to the Contracting Authority.


All communications concerning this LOI must be directed to the Contracting Authority,

Contact (s)

Name        Mr. Phil McGrath at:
Public Works and Government Services Canada
Land, Aerospace and Marine Systems & Major Projects Sector
Electronics, Munitions and Tactical Systems Procurement Directorate
Place du Portage, Phase III, Floor 8C2
11 Laurier Street
Gatineau, Quebec
K1A 0S5

Telephone: 819-956-0486
Fax: 819-956-0767


Annex A   Draft Requirements ...


This annex contains draft critical requirements for the 155mm lightweight towed howitzer (LWTH). In order to receive consideration a proposed system must meet all of these mandatory elements. Critical requirements are identifiable by the verbs shall, will and must, which are synonymous.


2.1. Role and Employment

Field artillery assists in the defeat of the enemy with indirect fire and is integral to the all-arms battle. The primary role of the LWTH is to provide indirect fire support to the land force. The LWTH must be capable of performing four tactical functions, which are:

Close Support  –  is the timely and intimate fire that is provided to the supported formation or unit.
Attrition  –  is intended to cause heavy casualties to both personnel and materiel.
Interdiction  –  is intended to delay, isolate, disrupt, harass, and deny the enemy freedom of movement.
Counter-battery  –  includes the neutralization and destruction of enemy fire support elements, including their artillery.

The LWTH may be employed in a variety of missions across the spectrum of conflict – from peacetime military engagement up to major combat operations. Often times the LWTH will be employed within a coalition environment where ammunition compatibility is essential.  In any operation the LWTH's missions could include lethal and/or non-lethal means  –  oftentimes employed simultan- eously across a geographically dispersed area of operations (AO).  In order to achieve the desired effects,  the LWTH must be capable of  delivering  accurate and  long-range fires.

Requirement: the LWTH calibre must be 155mm.
Requirement: at bid response time, the LWTH must be in production.
Requirement: at bid response time, the LWTH must be in-service with an allied armed force.

2.2. Operating Environment

The LWTH could be deployed in support of land operations at home or abroad. Environmental considerations must be incorporated from conception to ensure the howitzer will function in all climatic conditions (jungle, arid, temperate and arctic). Requirement: the LWTH must be fully functional within a temperate range of -46°C to 49°C.

2.3. Range

Range is an essential characteristic of the LWTH for two reasons. First, It enables the howitzer to engage targets throughout the dispersed area of operations. Second, it enhances survivability because the LWTH will outrange threat weapons systems. Range is defined as the distance the LWTH can effectively fire a projectile.

Requirement: firing an unassisted projectile, the minimum effective range shall be at least 20 kilometres.
Requirement: firing an assisted projectile, the minimum effective range shall be at least 30 kilometres.
Requirement: firing indirectly at high angle, the minimum effective range shall not exceed four (4) kilometres.
Requirement: there must be no range gaps between the minimum and maximum ranges.

2.4. Accuracy

Accurate fire is an essential characteristic of the howitzer. Accuracy is defined as the ability of LWTH to correctly hit the assigned target.

Requirement: using unassisted munitions at low angle, [Probable Error in Range] for 1 PE(r) must be equal to or less than 0.3 percent of range.
Requirement: using unassisted munitions at high angle, the [Probable Error in Range] for 1 PE(r) must be equal to or less than 0.35 percent of range.
Requirement: using unassisted munitions at low angle, [Probable Error in Deflect- ion] for 1 PE(d) must not exceed one mil.*
Requirement: using unassisted munitions at high angle, the deflection probable error for 1 PE(d) must not exceed two mils.

[* Artillery mils are rounded-off milli-radians. One mil equals 3.375 minutes of arc.]

2.5. Lethality

Lethality is largely derived from the type of ammunition employed and its terminal effects. However, commonality and interoperability are also important considera- tions.

Requirement: the LWTH must be qualified to fire in-service Canadian Forces (CF) 155mm munitions and propellants, including the M982 EXCALIBUR [a precision- guided round] and the [ M231/M232 ] Modular Artillery Charge System (MACS).

2.6. Responsiveness

Agile fire support is essential to an effective fire support plan. Responsiveness is measured by the time it takes a full gun detachment to perform an assigned task.

Requirement: once stopped on level terrain in daylight, the gun shall be brought into action and ready to fire in three minutes or less.
Requirement: on receipt of fire orders, the LWTH must be ready to fire its first round within 30 seconds.
Requirement: on level terrain in daylight, the LWTH shall come out of action in less than three minutes.

2.7. Rate of Fire
The rate of fire determines terminal effects and is measured in the number of rounds per unit time.

Requirement: at low angle, the LWTH must have a burst rate of fire of at least four (4) rounds per minute for three minutes.
Requirement: at low angle, the LWTH must have a sustained rate of fire of at least two (2) rounds per minute.

2.8. Bearing and Elevation

The range of traverse (within which the howitzer does not need to be displaced to engage another target) and manual mechanisms (which correspond to detachment assignments) are important functional requirements.

Requirement: the weapon shall have an on-carriage traverse capability of at least 400 mils left and 400 mils right of center of arc.
Requirement: the elevation and traverse mechanisms shall be capable of manual operation.

2.9. Direct Fire

A direct fire capability is essential, which places high demands on the detachment and LWTH.

Requirement: the LWTH must be fitted with a direct fire sight.
Requirement: firing a charge seven white bag (M4A2 7W)*,  the LWTH must be capable of direct fire. [* Refering to 6 kgs of  M4A2 progressive-burn propellant.]

2.10. Mobility

The LWTH must be fully deployable by land, air and sea. Once located in the area of operations, tactical movement will be achieved by one of  two means:  towed or air [movement].  On the ground a wheeled gun tractor will tow the howitzer (such as the in service CF  Heavy Logistics Vehicle Wheeled  (HLVW) ).  Other vehicles with similar mobility may transport the [gun] crew and ammunition; this completes a gun detachment. Gun detachments normally operate in pairs (a troop), with three troops comprising a battery. Command posts within the battery and troop will normally relay fire control orders to the detachments. However, the LWTH must be employable in a myriad of structural organizations.

Requirement: the LWTH must be towable by an in service CF wheeled 6X6 or 8X8 vehicle. [The HLVW is a 6x6. It is not clear whether 8x8 refers to LAVs or AHSVS.]
Requirement:  traveling [under tow] on a primary paved road,  the LWTH must be able to sustain a minimum towed speed of at least 85 kilometres per hour (kph).
Requirement: a fully functional howitzer shall be externally transportable [ie slung] and remain aerodynamically stable, by CH47D.1 [ "CH47D.1" meaning the current US and allied version of Boeing CH-47 Chinook medium-to-heavy-lift helicopters]

2.11. Digitization

Digitization [integrated digital fire-control system] is essential to provide accurate fixation, orientation and secure communications within the Troop/Battery.

Requirement: the LWTH must be capable of full integration with the in-service CF Digital Gun Management System (DGMS) manufactured by Selex Sensors and Air- borne Systems (UK) [as LINAPS,  the Laser INertial Automatic Pointing System].

2.12. Durability

The LWTH must be a proven system with a predictable expected life expectancy (ELE). Durability is defined as the ability of the gun to resist the functional and/or performance related degradation of a characteristic.

Requirement: based on the M203A1 Charge,*  the barrel shall have a fatigue replacement life of at least 2,500 Equivalent Full Charge (EFC) rounds.
Requirement: based on the M203A1 charge, the breach and recoil mechanisms must have a fatigue replacement life of at least 5,000 EFC rounds.
Requirement: based on the M203A1 charge, the carriage and cradle shall have a fatigue replacement life of not less than 15,000 EFC rounds.

[* Extended-range M203A1 has a single-increment charge (M4A2 is 4-increment).]

2.13. Human Factors

The detachment size refers to the number of soldiers required to operate the LWTH for a sustained period.

Requirement: the LWTH shall be fully operable by a detachment not exceeding ten (10) personnel.

Delivery Date: 18/02/2008

The Crown retains the right to negotiate with suppliers on any procurement.

Documents may be submitted in either official language of Canada.

McGrath, Phil
11 Laurier St. / 11, rue Laurier
8C2, Place du Portage, Phase III
K1A 0S5
(819) 956-0486 ( )


Contracting Authority

Name        Phil McGrath
Address   11 Laurier St. / 11, rue Laurier 8C2, Place du Portage, Phase III
City           Gatineau
State / Province  Québec
Country        Canada
Postal Code K1A 0S5
Phone           (819) 956-0486 ( )
Fax                (819) 956-0767

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