CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. (WCCO) — Minnesota soldiers got a chance to train with the latest and greatest in new weapons on Wednesday at Camp Ripley. It’s the M-777 canon designed to hit a target with near complete accuracy up to 15 miles away.
The state of Minnesota now has 12 of the big guns and Minnesota National Guard troops had a chance to fire the weapons up.
“Two million dollars for a Howitzer, you can’t put a price on a life. It’s a small price to pay, if we can keep our soldiers alive down range,” said Minnesota National Guard Capt. Steve Hall.
The soldiers of 1st Battalion, 151st Field Artillery were at Camp Ripley to complete their new equipment training.
“The accuracy is unbelievable, before we relied on our iron sights for the most part to keep us accurate. Now it’s all digital, it’s all GPS, it’s an amazing system,” Hall said.
Another interesting thing about these canons — they’re about half the weight of older canons. That means soldiers can fit two in a cargo plane or move one at a time with a helicopter.
“Right now I’m sitting at a 10-man crew, I have a two-man ammo section that also gets included in the fire mission, so every guy here has a mission and a place, so we’re able to shoot pretty quick and accurate,” said Minnesota National Guard Sgt. Eric Brunsvold.
The soldiers not only learned how to use the weapon but how the weather can affect how the gun works.
“Every hour we get what is called a meteorological update. What that does is tells us the barometric pressure, the temperature,” said Hall. “Our rounds are in the air sometimes over a minute and while they are up in the air, the earth is spinning, so we need to account for that as well.”