Guns a blast from past
IT'S NOT the kind of thing military hardware enthusiasts will be allowed to install in their front gardens, but the Federal Government is looking for new homes for 39 of its obsolete Vietnam-era Howitzers.
Defence Materiel Minister Jason Clare has announced the guns will be offered to RSL clubs and historical organisations willing to cough up $16,000 to cover transport and installation costs – and just to disappoint those keen for a little 105mm target practice in the backyard – to render them inoperative.
“The M2A2 Howitzer gun has provided outstanding service to Australia, and making them available will help to preserve this important part of our military history,” Mr Clare said.
“The Howitzers have been a vital component of Australia's arsenal. They were critical in providing close artillery fire support to the Australian Army in Vietnam.”
Lismore RSL Sub-branch honorary secretary Wilson McClelland cautiously welcomed the idea, but warned the cost could make it prohibitive to acquire one of the guns.
“We're interested if someone's got a lazy $16,000,” he said.
“It's the same situation as the Leopard tank last year – there would have to be a lot of discussions with council about how we site it.”
With a range of 11,200 metres, the Howitzer was introduced into Australian service in 1967 to replace the famous 25-Pounder Field Gun – like the one currently on display at the Lismore Cenotaph.
Australian and New Zealand troops using 24 Howitzers in Vietnam succeeded in re-taking a region held by enemy forces for seven years.
“During the six years they were in Vietnam, the Howitzers fired thousands of 105mm rounds,” Mr Clare said.
“In July 1967, they provided invaluable artillery support to the biggest allied offensive in the Phuoc Tuy Province.”
The Howitzers have not been deployed since Vietnam, but have remained in service.
The tender for their disposal is expected to be released next month.