BAE Systems said it has received additional orders from the Defense Department of Defense for 43 M777 lightweight towed howitzers, worth a total of $85.6 million, not including DoD-supplied components.

The M777 is the world’s first artillery system to incorporate the large-scale use of titanium and aluminum alloys in gun design, resulting in a howitzer that is half the weight of conventional 155mm systems, the company said Aug. 14.This contract raises the total value of M777 orders in 2008 to $294 million. The contract, signed in July, brings the total number of orders for the gun to more than 700.

BAE Systems has delivered more than 400 M777s to the Army and Marines. The M777 is currently in service in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

Canada also has 12 M777 howitzers in service, with potential requirements for an additional 25 howitzers. The Canadian Royal Horse Artillery has a number of M777s operational in Afghanistan where local insurgents know the gun as the "Desert Dragon."

Weighing less than 4,200kg, M777 is the world’s lightest 155mm howitzer. With its low profile, high survivability, and quick deployment and stowage capabilities, the M777 can be positioned rapidly in the most challenging theaters of operation, including by medium-lift helicopters.

The Light Weight 155mm Joint Program office at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J, manages the M777 effort.

BAE’s facilities at Barrow-in-Furness, U.K., and Hattiesburg, Miss., manufacture, integrate and test the guns. BAE also provides support, training, maintenance and spares for the guns currently in service all around the world.