According to information published on the website of the Belgian National Television “RTBF” on June 1, 2022, the Belgian private company Flanders Technical Supply (FTS) delivered to Ukraine a stock of 64 M109A4 howitzers which had been purchased by the company from the Belgian army in 2015.
In 2008, the Belgian army withdrew from active service 64 M109A4BE 155mm tracked self-propelled howitzers which were used in several artillery battalions. In 2015, at least some of them were sold to the Belgian private company Flanders Technical Supply (FTS) located at Tisselt-Willebroek, which specialized in the purchase of military surpluses all over the world, for the amount of 1.75 million Euros including spare parts.
According to the Belgian Minister of Defense (MoD), the howitzers would have gone to Ukraine. The Belgian MoD had started discussions with FTS which apparently had already sold them.
When retired in 2008, the Belgian M109A2/A3 155mm self-propelled howitzers have just been modernized to M109A4 BE standard through an “MLU M109 program” (Mid-life Update). So we can say that the Ukrainians will have the latest generation of M109 155mm howitzers.
The M109 is an American-made 155 mm self-propelled howitzer based on a tracked armored chassis, first introduced in the early 1960s. It has been upgraded a number of times, most recently to the M109A7.
The M109A4BE has many improvements including a semi-automatic loader (SAL), installation of 1,2 Kw diesel generator (APU), new storage racks, improved hydraulic system (MHS) for traversing mechanism, improved NBC/RAM kits with air filter, new 180 amp generator 180 amp, improved Ballistic Turret (IBC) and the new gun mount M178.
The M109A4BE has a similar layout to the original M109A2/A3 and it keeps the 155 mm/39 caliber cannon with gun mount 178. It has a firing range from 18.5 to 23.5 km. It is fitted with the SAL (Semi-Automatic Loader) with Breech Activating Device (BAD) and Temperature Measurement System (TMS) that increases the firing rate to 3 rounds within the first 20 seconds and a total of 6 rounds within the first minute. The turret has a traverse of 360° with an elevation from -5° to +75°.
The M109A4BE is operated by a crew of six including 2 loaders, 1 gunner, 1 assistant gunner, 1 commander, and one driver. It has a combat weight of 24,948 kg with a length of 9.12 m, a width of 3.15 m, and a height of 3.28 m. The howitzer is powered by a Detroit 8V-71 Turbo Diesel engine coupled to an Allison XTG411-series transmission. It can run at a maximum road speed of 64 km/h with a maximum cruising range of 350 km.
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