Oklahoma National Guard makes preparations for a new weapons system
FORT SILL, Okla. – Artillerymen from the Oklahoma Army National Guard had the opportunity to fire their current weapon system earlier this month, just one last time before they transition to a new system later this year.
In September, they will transition to a new weapons system, known as the Alpha Three. Soldiers assigned to Bravo Battery, 1st Battalion, 160th Field Artillery, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, conducted a live fire exercise with their M119A2, known as Alpha Two, 105mm Howitzers during their monthly drill weekend at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
“The Alpha Three utilizes a specialized electronic system that allows the gun to know exactly where it is with GPS,” explained Capt. Cliff Holeman, commander of Bravo Battery. “It’s pretty much the same gun, just a different way to aim it that provides a simpler and quicker way to get rounds down range.
This transition to the M119A3, or Alpha Three, will equip the Battalion with the same weapons systems as that of Active Duty artillery battalions, helping supplement the needs of the Army. Both the Alpha two and Alpha three models are towed systems capable of firing a 105mm round.
“We’re all about shoot, move and communicate and it’s better if we’re faster at it,” said Staff Sgt. Justin Hewitt, a member of Bravo Battery. He went on to explain that the transformation gives the Battalion more capabilities to bear in a conventional fight, by improving accuracy and allowing crews to put the guns into action faster.
Alpha Battery based out of Shawnee and Bravo Battery based out of Holdenville, were issued the Alpha Two Howitzers in 2010 and have enjoyed conducting fire missions. Although the Soldiers look forward to receiving the new systems, several expressed a nostalgic sentiment about the transition to the new weapons system.
“The A2 is the system that I kind of grew up with,” said 1st Lt. James Patrick who serves as 2nd Platoon Leader for Bravo Battery.
“It’s bittersweet that it’s our last time firing it, but it’s exciting getting to know a new weapons system in field artillery,” said Cpl. Lynda Steele, a member of Alpha Battery. “A lot of the older guys will talk about some of the older weapons they have had the opportunity to crew, but I’m new and this is the only weapons system I’ve ever known, but to have the chance to learn as new one is very exciting.”