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Guard soldiers end association with weapon system with live fire

Artillerymen from the Oklahoma Army National Guard had the opportunity to fire their current weapon system one last time before they transition to a new system later this year.

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 earlier this month. In September, they will transition to a new weapons system, known as the "Alpha Three."

"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 weapon system as that of active duty artillery battalions, helping supplement the needs of the Army. Both the A2 and A3 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 A2 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.

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