Thailand received the first six LG1 Mk III 105 mm towed howitzers from the French manufacturer NEXTER. The howitzers will be transported by Land Rover Defender 44 light off-road trucks. Because of its light weight and portability, the 105 mm calibre is extremely popular with the Ukrainian military.
In 2020, Thailand placed an order with the French company NEXTER for 12 light-towed LG1 Mk III 105 mm howitzers equipped with a digitalized fire control system (SP). United Defense Technology performs both the integrator and the supplier functions. The total budget of the deal is getting close to $22.7 million.
The same calibre LG1 Mk II howitzers are already in possession of the Thai military, which has 24 of them. Howitzers belonging to the LG1 family (Mk I, Mk II, and Mk III) have been employed successfully for three generations in Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Indonesia, and Malaysia.
In the late 1980s, GIAT Industries, now a part of NEXTER, worked on a private initiative to create the LG1 light artillery gun to sell it on the foreign market. It was risky because the French Army had little interest in 105-millimetre howitzers as a weapon system. In 1990, Singapore placed an order for 37 LG1 Mk I howitzers, the company’s first successful export.
A significant milestone was reached when the LG1 Mk II was adopted for use in the armed forces of two NATO countries: Canada (with 28 howitzers) and Belgium (14 pieces). The first use of Canadian howitzers occurred in 2002 in Bosnia and Herzegovina and then in 2003 in Afghanistan.
The howitzer LG1 has a barrel that is 30 calibres in length (3150 millimetres). The mechanism of the return brake is hydropneumatic. The barrel is designed to last for 7000 rounds regarding its structural integrity. The howitzer weighs 1,500 kilogrammes, whereas the M777A2 calibre 155 mm weighs a total of 4,200 kilogrammes. The operator of the howitzer comprises at least three and preferably five people. It has a maximum range of 17 kilometres when utilizing bottom-discharge ammunition of the French 105 HE ER G3 variety.
The ammo for the LG1 is compatible with ammunition for the American M119 but not with shell for the British L118. The maximum range of the American M1 projectile is 11,000 metres. The range of the standard French L14 HE M1 fragmentation ammo is comparable. The initial rate of fire is up to 12 rounds per minute, which is significantly greater than the 155 mm calibre’s rate of fire. The steady rate of fire is around five rounds per minute, compared to two rounds per minute for the 155mm howitzer.
A standard 155-millimetre projectile weighs 43 kilos (without powder charges). The 105mm round, which includes the bullet, cartridge, and ejector cartridge, weighs roughly 18 kilos. 105mm rounds carry 2.5kg of explosives, while 155mm rounds contain 6.9 kilograms. 105mm projectiles have a far smaller impact on the target than 155mm calibre rounds.
In contrast, the increased rate of fire of the 105mm howitzer enables it to deliver an equivalent amount of “iron and explosives” at a given distance as the 155mm.
In a few tens of seconds, a trained crew can assume and abandon the firing position. That is, under perfect conditions — solid and easily navigable terrain, favourable weather, and no hostile fire.
The LG1 is compatible with pickup trucks and light 4×4 off-road vehicles. This renders the entire tractor-howitzer combo highly transportable, user-friendly and concealed. The chassis of the howitzer allows for mobility in the field at a speed of 40 kilometres per hour and on the road at a theoretical maximum of 120 kilometres per hour, but much less.
The most recent third iteration of the LG1 Mk III has digitized barrel location, inertial and navigation systems, a ballistic computer, a computer terminal, and an optional Integrated Combat Management System.
Large numbers of howitzers M118/119 with a calibre of 105 mm are utilized by the Ukrainian Army, where they have replaced artillery systems with a calibre of 122 mm. The M118/119 is transported by Humvee all-terrain vehicles in the Ukrainian military.
In the Ukrainian Army, 105 mm howitzers are subordinate to the leadership of individual mechanized brigades and are not intended to take the place of more powerful 155 mm howitzers.
Very mobile and light howitzers of 105 mm calibre are subordinate to the command of battalions of mechanized brigades, where they supplement or extend the indirect fire capacity with 120 mm mortars with a range of 7,000 metres. The 105mm howitzers have less effect on the target than the 120mm mines, but they have a substantially longer range and engage/exit the firing position more quickly.