Military Review

Wheeled SPG for the US Army. On the eve of tests


The XM1299 is the future of the US tracked self-propelled artillery. US Army Photos

The US Army has decided to purchase 155 mm self-propelled howitzers on wheeled chassis. Right now, the Pentagon is accepting and considering applications from potential contractors and identifying applicants for the contract. At the beginning of next 2021, it is planned to launch comparative tests. Vehicles of different types will show their combat capabilities, and the best example can become the subject of a major contract.

On the eve of the test

A year ago it became known that the US Army is working on the search, procurement and deployment of self-propelled guns with a 155 mm gun and wheeled chassis. It is assumed that such a technique will keep the firepower of self-propelled artillery at the required level, but will increase its mobility, and at the same time survivability. Later, the acceptance of applications from manufacturers of such equipment was opened. To speed up the work, it was decided to accept only finished samples for consideration.

By now it has become known about the filing of several applications from well-known manufacturers of equipment; basically we are talking about serial self-propelled guns, already in service with different countries. Some of the proposals have already been approved and admitted to the next stage of the program, and contracts have been signed for the supply of equipment for testing.

Experienced ACS AM General Brutus. Photo AM General

Under the terms of these contracts, during the first weeks of next 2021, the development companies will have to provide 18 self-propelled guns of their development. The equipment will be delivered to the Yuma test site (Arizona) for firing tests and comparison. The timing of these works has not yet been specified. In addition, the final Pentagon action plan has not yet been approved after the end of the comparative tests.

Applicants for the contract

At the moment, five participants in future trials from different countries have been identified. It is curious that only one sample of American design is involved in the program, and, unlike other competitors, it is not yet mass-produced and is not in service with any country.

The only American participant in future tests is the Brutus ACS from AM General. It is made on a three-axle cargo chassis and is equipped with an original artillery unit with improved recoil devices. Armament - howitzer M776 with digital fire control system and manual loading.

One of the BAE Archer SPG variants. Photo BAE Systems

BAE Systems will present Archer combat vehicles for testing. Such an ACS can be built on various types of chassis and uses an artillery system with a maximum degree of automation. Shooting preparation operations, data calculation and reloading are carried out automatically or by operator's commands.

Global Military Products, in cooperation with Serbian Yugoimport, are offering their NORA B-52 ACS. This product is made in different modifications and configurations. Later versions have advanced booking, are equipped with an automatic loader and other systems that take over the basic operations.

French Nexter will send the CAESAR self-propelled gun for testing. From a technical point of view, this ACS differs little from other competitive samples. At the same time, it is one of the oldest representatives of its class and can boast of a large number of export orders.

Recently it became known that the Israeli self-propelled gun ATMOS Iron Saber from the Israeli company Elbit Systems was admitted to the tests. It is a 155-mm howitzer on a three-axle chassis with manual loading and advanced fire controls. Depending on the wishes of the customer, certain modifications and changes are possible.

Various modifications of ACS NORA. Photo Wikimedia Commons

The specialized foreign media mentions the possibility of participation in the program of a number of other manufacturers. So, South Korea, South Africa, Slovakia, etc. have their own versions of wheeled ACS. At the same time, it is not known which of the companies submitted an application, and which of them will receive an invitation to participate in the comparative tests in the near future. It is possible that news on this account will appear as soon as possible.

Army needs

Currently, the US Army has an ambiguous situation with self-propelled artillery, and the current competition should find a way out of it. 155-mm howitzer artillery is represented by armored vehicles of the M109 family, and a new XM1299 self-propelled gun is expected in the future. These are tracked vehicles with limited mobility and rather high operating costs.

Wheeled samples are cheaper and more mobile, and so far this class is represented only by the M1128 MGS product on the Stryker platform. However, such an ACS is intended for direct support with direct fire, carries a cannon with a caliber of only 105 mm and has a lot of operational drawbacks.

Self-propelled gun CAESAR at firing. Photo by Nexter Group

The reasons for this situation are quite simple. Until recently, the Pentagon simply did not see the point in developing and adopting wheeled self-propelled guns with large-caliber guns. To combat a poorly prepared and equipped enemy in Afghanistan or Iraq, the self-propelled gun support M1128 was quite enough.

However, in recent years, doctrines and strategies have changed, and now the US army is preparing to fight a developed enemy army. Among other things, this requires improving self-propelled artillery. It is necessary, at a minimum, to maintain combat characteristics and increase mobility. In other countries, these issues have already been resolved through the development of wheeled ACS. Now their experience is fully interested in the Pentagon.

Potential Winners

The exact requirements of the US Army for a promising ACS remain unknown. Therefore, it will not yet be possible to assess which of the competitive samples more fully corresponds to the wishes of the customer and has a great chance of winning. A simple comparison of samples according to the declared characteristics is also difficult, since each of them has one or another advantage over competitors.

Israeli ACS ATMOS. Photo Elbit Systems

So, ACS Brutus from AM General differs in simplicity of design and low cost of production: it is built using a serial chassis and a howitzer, and from scratch you only need to make an original gun mount. Archer from BAE Systems has a successful automatic loader, which provides a high rate of fire, incl. in different modes. Elbit Systems offers customers to adjust the technical appearance of their ATMOS self-propelled guns in accordance with their wishes. Moreover, all samples have the same mobility provided by modern chassis.

Perhaps due to the proximity of the tactical and technical characteristics and the lack of decisive advantages in certain samples, the Pentagon has not even chosen the most interesting ones. The pending comparative tests will help to clarify the situation and determine the real characteristics of the equipment - as well as their compliance with the wishes of the customer.

Problems of choice

The start of comparative tests of several self-propelled wheeled vehicles is scheduled for early 2021. A more precise date has not yet been announced; their duration also remains unknown. Five companies, mostly foreign, have already received a contract for the supply of experimental equipment for these events. New members may be announced in the near future.

With all the current uncertainty, the long-term consequences of the current program are clear. The US Army has decided on the need for wheeled self-propelled guns and is now looking for the best example of this class from the existing ones. Accordingly, in the near future a contract for a large series will have to appear, and in a few years the army will receive fundamentally new combat capabilities. Of course, if the samples submitted for testing meet the expectations of the Pentagon.

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  1. serg.shishkov2015
    serg.shishkov2015 22 December 2020 06: 24
    History moves in a circle! The first PMV autocannons, including Russian ones, then our 29K and SU-12, KSP-76 and wheeled self-propelled guns again begin to gain popularity in many countries, the South African G-6 and the Czech DANA were previously considered a local exotic!
    1. The leader of the Redskins
      The leader of the Redskins 22 December 2020 06: 30
      Totally agree with you. But more recently, "Archer" and "Caesar" were looked at as exotic or a whim.
      1. Lexus
        Lexus 22 December 2020 06: 55
        Colleague hi ,
        "wheels" are cheaper than "caterpillars". And that's it.
        1. serg.shishkov2015
          serg.shishkov2015 22 December 2020 10: 20
          And cheaper and higher tactical flexibility! On your own on public roads, without loading on trailers! The dispute between tracks and wheels ended in a draw! Except, of course, the same MBT!
          1. Insurgent
            Insurgent 22 December 2020 11: 32
            Quote: serg.shishkov2015
            On your own on public roads, without loading on trailers!

            A colleague, when "baked", the goose without any trailers-shmeilers on its own will go along the highways, if there is an urgent need.

            In 2014, BMPs, "Nons", tanks were dangling on the asphalt for a sweet soul from Donetsk-Makeevka to Saur-Mogila and back due to an acute shortage of equipment. And this is one way from 70-80 kilometers ...

            Yes, of course, the self-propelled guns are more mobile on a hard surface than lumps, but what if things take a bad turn, and the enemy shreds the roadway with blows, turning it into a series of craters and turned out asphalt-concrete pavement?
            This is where the chicks take their toll yes

            And in general, it should probably be borne in mind that ACS in any version will move in columns, and therefore the mode of movement will be somewhat, if not very significantly different from those indicators that the platform can show based on the "tabular" performance characteristics of the chassis.
            1. monster
              monster 24 December 2020 15: 37
              Svidomites gave them a light!
    2. Vladimir_2U
      Vladimir_2U 22 December 2020 14: 06
      Quote: serg.shishkov2015
      South African G-6 and Czech DANA used to be considered a local exotic!
      We have the Bereg art complex since 1988, approximately in stock, not 152 mm, but also very impressive.
      1. serg.shishkov2015
        serg.shishkov2015 23 December 2020 06: 04
        Impressive! 4-6 self-propelled guns, 1-2 combat duty vehicles with a turret with a PKT and a self-propelled command post! A mobile heir to the good old B-13!
  2. axxmanm
    axxmanm 22 December 2020 07: 11
    If wheeled AUs do not have the ability to instantly shoot from a stop (unlike tracked ones),
    What better way to do towed AUs designed with an emphasis on the speed of deployment / folding with an autoloader and remote guidance?
    It's just that classic towed AUs were made without these options, which made them less mobile and required a very large calculation, which led to a significant loss in the situation required by modern realities "Quickly drove up, quickly fired, Quickly left."
    In addition, such an automated towed AU of rapid deployment will have more flexibility, since both a wheeled and tracked vehicle can be a tractor.
    Yes, and these will fit more on the plane during transportation.
  3. AlexVas44
    AlexVas44 22 December 2020 11: 10
    Global Military Products, in cooperation with Serbian Yugoimport, are offering their NORA B-52 ACS.

    As an option, what if: this NORA B-52 on the KamAZ 63501 chassis with a modified Soviet 152mm D-20. laughing laughing
  4. eklmn
    eklmn 22 December 2020 17: 42
    For the curious ...
    The US Army announced a competition for a howitzer - 2 months tests at the Yuma test site in early 2021. Participants - Israeli company Elbit Systems, Serbian company Yugoimport and BAE (Swedish division of Bofors headquartered in the UK) have confirmed their participation in the event. American automobile company AM General in cooperation with Mandus Group will also participate. And also France and Denmark.
    (lane google)
    Israeli, Serbian, And Swedish Self-Propelled Howitzers Are Headed To A US Army Shoot-Off (
    “The Army first announced in July that it was looking for new self-propelled howitzers for its Stryker brigades, showing interest only in projects that were at least mature enough to enter production if they weren't already. The service is also striving for increased range, rate of fire and mobility over the existing M777. ”
    Elbit has unveiled the latest version of its Autonomous Truck Mounted Howitzer System (ATMOS), also known as the Iron Saber, which is a 155mm truck mounted howitzer with a 52 caliber barrel. Crew - 4 people, rate of fire - 5 shots in 30 seconds, then change of position in 110 seconds.
    “BAE Systems Bofor's is offering the Archer, another 155mm 52 caliber howitzer mounted on a truck. This weapon, which was also developed in the late 1990s, is primarily distinguished by a true automatic loader, which feeds projectiles into the gun from a 21-round magazine. It also has a separate magazine loaded with modular propelling charges.
    A computerized fire control system allows the crew, which can consist of as little as 2 people, to set the desired amount of charge and then fire the cannon at the desired target. The crew can install the howitzer in just 14 seconds, without leaving the protection of the armored cabin, which is also equipped with a remote weapon station for local self-defense, and fire the first shot in 23 seconds. The system can fire four rounds at the same target and start moving again after 74 seconds.
    The Serbian company Yugoimport, through its American partner Global Military Products (GMP), is sending a version of its wheeled self-propelled 155-mm howitzer Nora B-52 52 caliber.
    Obviously, this is becoming a trend among such weapons, the latest versions of the complete Nora B-52 system include computerized fire control capabilities. It also has an automatic loader with a magazine for 12 rounds, as well as storage for another 24 rounds on the truck. The most recent variant, also known as the Aleksander, introduced in 2017, has a completely redesigned turret with a 155mm howitzer.
    AM General and Mandus Group unveil the Brutus, a low-recoil 155mm howitzer mounted on a standard army 6x6 tactical truck (FMTV) family chassis.
    The Brutus configuration that has been seen so far does not include any automatic loading system and does not have a 52 caliber barrel. The Army also investigated a 105mm low-recoil howitzer from the Mandus Group installed in a Humvee known as a Hawkeye in the past.
    “French company Nexter has said it is interested in participating in the shootout with the latest version of its Caesar design. There are also a number of other wheeled self-propelled howitzers on the market from other US allies and partners. ”

    Well, the last news for yesterday.
    "The army's long-range cannon hits the target at 43 miles (70km)."
    (lane google)
    “The Army's Extended Range Artillery Artillery System (ERCA) under development hit a target 43 miles - or 70 km - at Yuma, Arizona, on December 19 using an Excalibur extended range guided artillery round.
    The ERCA cannon is fitted with the Paladin Integrated Management (PIM) M109A7 howitzer chassis and replaces the 39 caliber gun barrel with a 30-foot 58 caliber. Combined with Raytheon's Excalibur and XM1113 supercharged propellant ammunition, the Army was able to significantly increase the range of artillery fire. ”
    “In this test, the army fired three shots. The first shot failed due to very strong headwinds at high altitude, and the second shot had a hardware glitch, but the third shot proved the service was getting close to hitting the right balance between gunpowder, projectile design and other factors affecting the increase in distance, Rafferty said. . "
    “The first shot from the wind fell about 100 meters, which Rafferty said sounds a lot, but it's closer when you consider when the ammunition has to travel 70 meters. The army knew that the first shot would be unsuccessful due to the wind, but they still wanted to fire it to learn from it. Gibbs confirmed that in the second image, the army reconfigured its equipment and discovered a hardware failure. In particular, the army added an insulator for the inertial metering unit, which is essentially a shock absorber to counter pressure surges in the chamber. In addition, the Army has demonstrated that Excalibur, as it is currently in inventory, survivability with a higher initial velocity and pressure, allowing it to reach 000 km range and hit targets directly, Gibbs added.
  5. bars1
    bars1 23 December 2020 17: 12
    And why is Bogdan absent ?! It doesn't matter that she is not in service with the Armed Forces of Ukraine, because the American Brutus is now in the prototype stage.
    1. agond
      agond 26 January 2021 14: 07
      Looking at the experienced AM General Brutus self-propelled gun, it seems that the crane was removed from the MAZ-based truck crane and installed something 155 mm in diameter and did not change anything else, even left the native outriggers, and the self-propelled gun looks good, so you can't shoot from it.