MODERN ARTILLERY. One of eight units of self-propelled 155mm Autonomous Truck Mounted Howitzer System 2000 during their arrival at Makar Port, General Santos City on Thursday (Sept. 29, 2022). They will be mainly used by the Army’s 6th Infantry Division in the fight against insurgency and terrorism. (Courtesy of 6ID)

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao – Eight units of the self-propelled 155-mm Autonomous Truck Mounted Howitzer System (ATMOS) 2000 arrived here Saturday to increase the military’s capability in the fight against terrorism in Central Mindanao.

The military hardware were sent Friday afternoon from Makar Port in General Santos City.

Maj. Gen. Roy Galido, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division (6ID) based here, said the eight truck-mounted howitzers will be distributed to various units of the Joint Task Force Central (JTFC) to support counter-terrorism operations.

“This new capability will be utilized against the terrorist groups who are now on the run because of our relentless focus military operation,” Galido, concurrent JTFC commander, said in a statement during the units' arrival in General Santos City on Thursday.

The military assets sailed from Naval Base Heracleo Alano, Sangley Point, Cavite City on September 24.

Three days earlier, a sendoff ceremony led by Undersecretary Jose Faustino Jr., Department of National Defense Officer-in-Charge, was held at the Philippine Army Grandstand in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.

“ATMOS is the biggest gun in the Army arsenal to date. With automatic loading and digital fire control, it can deliver accurate fires to a range of up to 41 kilometers,” Galido said.

The ATMOS will greatly help in the suppression of insurgency and terrorism, he added.

“An advantage of ATMOS is that it offers high accuracy and shoot and scoot’ operation yet can operate on the existing road network and bridges found in the country,” he said.

The 6ID area of responsibility includes the provinces of Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato, and parts of Lanao del Sur, North Cotabato, and Sarangani.

The ATMOS artillery pieces were procured under the Horizon 2 of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Plan led by former Defense chief Delfin Lorenzana, now the Chair of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority.

They were acquired from Israel’s Elbit Systems in a USD47-million contract (about PHP2.7 billion) signed in 2020.

In April, he Philippine Army's artillery units test-fired for the first time its newly-acquired ATMOS at Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation Area in Palayan City, Nueva Ecija.

The Army received 12 howitzer units in December 2021. (PNA)