No Tanks; Northeast Railroads Move Refurbished Mobile Howitzers

Photo from J.D. Irving/Train Master, Peter Peverett

Limestone, ME – 22.October – On 16.October, thirty-nine 89-foot flat cars departing the former Loring Air Force Base in Limestone, Maine, loaded with 76 refurbished M109 mobile howitzers, also known as Paladins.

The move started with Maine Northern handling the howitzers (mistakenly called tanks by observers not in the know) from Loring to Oakfield, Maine, then south for interchange to Canadian Pacific’s CMQ US.  CP continued the move on to Northern Maine Jct. in Hermon, ME.  Pan Am Railways took over the move in Northern Maine Jct. on 21.October and as of 22.October, the train had started the trek down PAR to reach CSXT in Worcester, MA.

Loring Industries reportedly has taken on refurbishing the M109s at Loring as part of program that was launched after the company began using a 40,000 sf hangar facility on the former Loring AFB.

Future work proposed at Loring Industries includes the refurbishment of more M109 howitzers to A5 standards for foreign sales. They are currently working on a four-year contract to do some 19 (plus another 10 to be cannibalized for parts) for the Malaysian Army.

Loring had previously announced a partnership with Malaysia’s Deftech as the prime contractor, targeting the refurbishment work of 29 Excess Defense Articles M109A5 155mm Self Propelled Howitzers that Malaysia has accepted from the United States.

Under the partnership with Deftech, four Deftech technicians would be part of the Loring team working on the Malaysian M109s at Loring’s facility in Maine. The refurbishment work is expected to be completed within four years of contract as the work to refurbish the M109A5 will be extensive and much of the components, including the howitzer barrels will have to be replaced.