The high level of automation allowed to reduce the calculation of self-propelled howitzers Archer to three people who, during the shooting process, remain protected by an armored cockpit
Four armies (Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish, represented by the Scandinavian Defense Cooperation Organization) operate the same CV90 infantry fighting vehicle and the Leopard 2 main battle tank, albeit acquired through separate procurement programs. At the same time, despite Sweden’s support for the selection of a single platform, these four countries have chosen different solutions to meet their needs for self-propelled 155-mm artillery systems with 52-caliber barrels.
The Swedish Archer wheeled howitzer, caliber 155 mm and with a barrel length of 52 calibers (hereinafter referred to as 155/52) was launched in the mid-90s when Bofors Defense (now BAE Systems Bofors) signed a contract with the Defense Procurement Office to implement a technology demonstration program for the Swedish army. The prototype was a combination of the 155/45 artillery unit from the towed Bofors FH-77B howitzer and the modified Volvo VME A25C 6x6 all-terrain vehicle with a fully armored cabin to protect the crew and engine compartment. After conducting extensive tests in 1996, the Swedish army put forward a requirement for security calculations: the execution of the fire mission and removal from position should occur without leaving the cockpit. The modified prototype was equipped with a 24-shot magazine, after which in 1999 it was returned to the artillery school for a new test cycle. In parallel with these demonstrations, the army also conducted extensive tests of two 155 mm tracked vehicles - the PrgN 2000 from Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and the AS90 Braveheart from BAE Systems - before deciding that the wheeled solution is more economical.
BAE Systems Bofors manufactured 48 Archer self-propelled howitzers for the Swedish Ministry of Defense, although 12 of these are offered to overseas customers.
At the end of 2003, Bofors received a contract from the Office for the production of two prototypes of the Archer Artillery System 08, the first of which began testing in June 2005. Denmark, which became Sweden's first partner in the Archer project (the two countries planned to order 36 systems each), subsequently withdrew from it. A new participant was found in Norway, which in November 2008 signed a cooperation agreement with Sweden on the development of Archer, and in March 2010, BAE Systems Bofors received a contract to manufacture 24 units for each country. The Swedish army received its first pre-production platforms in September 2013. However, in December of the same year, Norway refused to buy Archer SG, citing delays in the development schedule and expressing concern about the platform's cross-country ability on difficult rough terrain. In September 2016, the Swedish government announced that it would buy the 24 Archer howitzers originally planned for Norway for a total of SEK 900 million and transfer 12 units to the Swedish army, and 12 more to be offered to foreign customers.
In order to revive export sales, the International Archer 155 52 self-propelled howitzer is proposed for installation on different chassis trucks, for example, in this case, on the RMMV HX2 chassis
The crew (crew) includes a driver and three operators, who are placed in an armored cockpit that provides protection in accordance with the requirements of “at least level 3 of the NATO STANAG 4569 standard”, as well as when a mine weighing 6 kg under one of the wheels is detonated. Automated workstations are all the same, although the driver’s workplace is naturally optimized for driving. In emergency situations, the task is provided by the driver and one member of the Archer team. An automated magazine with 20 shots can handle all 155-mm shells, not exceeding a length of 1000 mm and a mass of 50 kg. Another 20 shots are transported by car in a stack for manual replenishment of the store. SG Archer can shoot 20 rounds in 2,5 minutes, which corresponds to a rate of fire of 9 rounds per minute.
The Archer howitzer can fire extended-caliber projectiles with a bottom gas generator (type ERFB-BB) for a range of about 40 km and a high-precision M892 Excalibur active-reactive projectile for a range of about 60 km. For short-range defense, Archer howitzers of the Swedish army are equipped with a Lemur remotely-controlled combat module armed with a 12,7-mm machine gun, which is also designed and manufactured at the BAE Systems Bofors factory in the Swedish city of Karlskuga. Volvo Construction Equipment's A30E articulated chassis has speeds of up to 70 km / h and has a range of about 500 km. With a mass of about 30 tons, the Archer platform can be transported by an Airbus Military A400M military transport aircraft. Each Archer installation is accompanied by an Ammunition Resupply Vehicle (ARV) ammunition replenishment machine, which is a modified standard container equipped with a lifting mechanism and mounted on an 8x8 armored truck of the German company Rheinmetall Man Military Vehicles (RMMV). Replenishment of ammunition takes about 10 minutes and this is the only process when members of the crew leave the cabin.
BAE Systems Bofors offers the International Archer howitzer on the RMMV HX2 8x8 chassis for the British Mobile Fire Platform project
The first 24 systems ordered by Sweden were delivered to the only remaining artillery unit Artitieriregementet 9 (artillery regiment 9) in the Swedish army in 2016-2017. Personnel are trained in the regiment for the 91st and 92nd artillery battalions, each of which is equipped with 12 Archer howitzers, organized in three batteries. The deployment of an additional 12 Archer howitzers, six of which were delivered at the end of 2019, will be announced in the defense plan for 2021-2025, scheduled for publication at the end of 2020. “As for the upcoming defense decision, which will enter into force in 2021, it is extremely gratifying to see the growth of the Swedish armed forces. Growth that we have not seen to date. Among other things, the Defense Committee suggests moving from two artillery battalions to six battalions and two artillery battle groups, ”said the commander of the A9 artillery regiment.
Finnish army reaches K9Fin Moukari tracked howitzer initial alert in 2020
In January 2020, BAE Systems Bofors began firing trials of the complete swinging part of the Archer carriage mounted on the RMMV HX2 8x8 all terrain vehicle. The Archer modular system, first shown at the London DSEI in September 2019, is designed by the developer to increase Archer's appeal to potential foreign customers, including the British Army. She plans to purchase up to 135 wheeled platforms 155/52 MFP (Mobile Fire Platform) to replace the 155/39 AS90 tracked self-propelled guns that have been in operation since 1993. The choice of International Archer on the RMMV HX chassis was obvious since the British Army was the starting customer for the HX series and operates a fleet of more than 7000 HX and SX series vehicles.
The characteristics of the artillery part of the International Archer howitzer correspond to the characteristics of the Swedish Archer system. The Archer howitzer on the HX2 chassis can reach a speed of 90 km / h, and the fuel available on board allows you to get a range of up to 650 km. The cabin provides three members of the calculation with complete protection against fragments, shells, mines, shock waves and WMD. According to a BAE Systems spokesperson, this new international Archer is easy to combine with a wide range of chassis, allowing the customer to determine the best machine for his needs. ”
Finland has ordered 48 Hanwha Defense manufactured K9 Thunder tracked SGs from South Korean Army depots
According to the British Army 2020 Refine modernization plan, announced in 2016, four short-range artillery regiments will be equipped with MFP systems to support two motorized infantry and two new Strike brigades. In January 2020, the Department of Defense issued requirements for the MFP project. The concept of Strike brigades depends on a high level of strategic and tactical mobility, so the MFP system must be able to engage in combat after a march of 520 km for 24 hours. The gun should be ready to fire 60 seconds after receiving a fire call and exceed the AS90 rate of fire: a burst of three shots in 10 seconds, intense fire of 6 rounds per minute for three minutes and a long rate of two shots per minute for an hour. When firing conventional shells, the MFP howitzer should reach a range of 30 km with a target range of 40 km. Accurate fire and increased range will be achieved by firing promising shells Tactical Guided Munition (Indirect) and High Explosive Base Bleed, developed under the program of near-fire support.
The initial decision on the MFP project is scheduled for 2021, the main decision for 2024, and the initial readiness of the equipment for combat use in 2026. A few more companies are interested in the MFP project: Nexter (offers CAESAR). Elbit UK (ATMOS), Hanwha Defense (K9) and Kraus-Maffei Wegmann (RCH155 module mounted on a Boxer 8x8 armored vehicle).
With the advent of the K9 howitzer, the Norwegian army will decommission the remaining 155 mm M109A3GNM howitzers, which have served there for over 50 years
Double victory for K9
The closest neighbors of Sweden in the east and west - Finland and Norway - are currently deploying K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzers of the South Korean company Hanwha Defense, developed in the 90s to meet the needs of the Korean army in a system that would have greater range, speed and mobility for compared with the American 155 mm M109 system of local licensed production. The K9 system of caliber 155 mm and with a barrel of 52 caliber is serviced by a crew of five: a commander, a driver, an operator-gunner and two loaders. Based on the artillery unit 155/52 of local production Hyundai WIA. The rack in the tower niche holds 48 rounds of four different types. A high level of automation allows the K9 to shoot three shells in 15 seconds and from 6 to 8 shells in three minutes. The standard K9 howitzer is equipped with an MTU MT 881 Ka-500 engine with 1000 hp. (750 kW) and hydropneumatic springs, which allows you to reach speeds of 67 km / h and a power reserve of 360 km. The K9 system works in conjunction with the K10 ammunition transport vehicle, also based on the K9 chassis, which allows it to operate in the same battle formations as the K9 Thunder. This K10 machine carries 104 rounds, which at a speed of 12 rounds per minute are automatically transmitted through the conveyor to the rack in the tower niche. For 2019, the South Korean army received 1136 K9 howitzers and 179 K10 vehicles. By 2030, the army plans to upgrade its K9 fleet to the K9A1 standard.
In response to the needs of the Finnish army for the 155-mm self-propelled guns, South Korea proposed to put the K9s in operation out of their own army. Following an extended assessment of K9 howitzers in that country in November 2016, Finland signed an agreement worth $ 46 million for 48 K9 systems in February 2017. The contract also includes training, spare parts and service systems and an option to purchase additional K9 systems.
In December 2019, Norway received the first of 24 ordered K9 Vidar systems.
Finland received the first K9Fin Moukari howitzer (blacksmith hammer) for its army in 2018, and in September 2019 the Jaeger artillery regiment of the armored brigade (one of the three high-readiness brigades) began training recruits selected for work on the K9 whose service will last 347 days. “The control subsystems and the reliability of the K9 Thunder howitzer are well suited for training and recruiting. Thanks to a powerful engine, automatic transmission and steering, work on an armored howitzer is greatly simplified. This means that we can focus on safe but effective artillery preparation, ”said Jaeger artillery commander. In 2020, the Karelia regiment, part of the Karelia brigade (another of the three high-readiness brigades) will begin training personnel to work on the K9Fin howitzer.
Howitzer K9 Vidar will go into service with the Norwegian North Brigade by the end of 2027
In December 2019, the Norwegian army received its first K9 platforms, which are known there under the designation K9 Vidar (Versatile InDirect ARtillery system - a universal indirect artillery system). Norway signed a contract with the South Korean company Hanwha in December 2017 for 24 new K9 howitzers and six K10 ammunition transport vehicles with an option for 24 additional K9 platforms. This decision was followed by a three-week assessment in the harsh conditions of the Norwegian winter of four 155 mm systems from different manufacturers: K9 Thunder from Hanwha, PzH2000 from Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, CAESAR from Nexter and the upgraded platform M109 KAWEST from RUAG.
Hanwha Defense ammunition transport vehicle K10 can replenish K9 howitzer ammunition in the turret with 48 shells in less than five minutes, while the crew must leave their vehicles
The first K9 systems were delivered to the Norwegian Army Arms School, where training for commanding officers began in May 2020 and later in mid-2021, training courses for the rest of the crew will be organized for recruits. Before receiving their K9 howitzers, Norwegian instructors gained valuable experience during training in Finland.
The artillery battalion of the North Brigade (the only artillery unit in the country) is currently equipped with 18 M109A3GNM systems, but should be fully equipped with K2021 howitzers by the end of 9. “The most important thing is that we can get a great range. This means that we can put pressure on the enemy even before he enters into a direct clash with the North brigade. The K9 howitzer also has significantly better mobility compared to the previous platform, ”said the senior instructor at the Arms School at the ceremony of transferring the new K9 platforms. - These guns are characterized by a fully automated process of firing, which greatly simplifies the work of calculations. When changing position, the system calculates a new course and data for firing. This allows units to move faster than today's M109 systems. ” Finnish and Norwegian K9 howitzers are equipped with auxiliary power units.
The Danish crew conducts experimental firing of a CAESAR 8x8 self-propelled howitzer in November 2019
Caesar conquers Denmark
In January 2020, the first two self-propelled 155/52 CAESAR howitzers (CAmion Equipe d'un Systeme d'Artillerie) 8x8 of the company Nexter Systems were delivered to the Oksbol Camp, where the Danish artillery regiment was stationed. These two platforms were used for experimental firing at the Swedish Karlskoge firing range in 2019, and additional tests will be held in 2020; in addition, combat training instructors will be trained at them. The first CAESAR howitzers will be officially handed over to the regiment in mid-2020.
After Denmark left the Archer howitzer project, the search for the Danish army to replace its remaining M109A3 systems with 155/52 platforms was tortuous and not easy. In 2013, Denmark, after evaluating responses from 9 companies, invited Elbit Systems (offering its howitzer Soltam Autonomous Truck MOunted howitzer System, ATMOS), Hanwha (K9 Thunder) and Nexter (CAESAR 6x6) to submit applications for delivery from 9 to 21 platforms with a calculation that the contract will be issued before the end of 2014. Elbit was able to meet all the requirements and was selected for delivery, but the project was closed on April 30, 2015 in order to free up funds for a more urgent project. This cancellation caused considerable hype, as the Danish Social Liberal Party opposed the issuance of the contract of the Israeli company in connection with the Israeli policy towards Palestine.
The new competition was launched in December 2015, seven companies entered it, which are supposed to put 15 systems with an option for six additional howitzers. The howitzers Soltam ATMOS and CAESAR reached the final again in the second competition, although Nexter offered a new version of the CAESAR 8x8, featuring several improvements over the 6x6 configuration model that took part in the first competition. In March 2017, the Danish government announced its intention to become the first customer of the CAESAR 8x8 system and in May 2017 awarded Nexter a contract for the supply of 15 platforms with an option for six more, the delivery of which should begin in the middle of this year. In October 2019, Denmark took the option and bought four more howitzers, bringing the total to 19 units. An additional four vehicles will be delivered in 2023.
The Danish army became the first customer of the Nexter Systems CAESAR 8x6 self-propelled howitzer, which is largely based on the success of the previous 6x6 CAESAR model
Building on the success of the previous CAESAR 6x6 model, which was sold to the French army and four foreign customers, Nexter introduced the CAESAR howitzer in 8x8 configuration at Eurosatory 2016. Denmark chose the platform from Czech company Tatra, which was shown at Eurosatory. although the system can be mounted on a suitable 8x8 chassis from other manufacturers, including Iveco, Renault, RMMV and Sisu. Howitzer CAESAR 8x8 weighs from 28 to 32 tons, depending on configuration. Denmark has chosen an armored four-door cockpit providing bulletproof protection in accordance with Level 3 and mine protection in accordance with Level 2; it is also equipped with air conditioning and protection against weapons of mass destruction. The CAESAR 8x8 platform has a speed of up to 90 km / h and has a range of 600 km.
Howitzer CAESAR 8x8 is equipped with a computerized fire control system, a radar for measuring the initial velocity of the projectile and an inertial navigation system, which allows the calculation to dismount and bring the gun ready in less than one minute. The ability to shoot back and quickly leave a position reduces the likelihood of falling under counter-battery fire. In the configuration for Denmark, the CAESAR 8x8 platform has 36 unit rounds ammunition compared to the 18 shots carried with the 6x6 variant. Danish howitzers are equipped with a semi-automatic ammunition handling system that achieves a speed of six rounds per minute. Nexter also offers a fully automatic system, although ammunition is reduced to 30 rounds. A CAESAR howitzer can fire all NATO standard ammunition for barrels with a length of calibres 39/52. In a separate project, Denmark plans to purchase longer-range precision-guided munitions to take full advantage of the new CAESAR 8x8 howitzers.