The changing world of artillery (Part 1)

The changing world of artillery (Part 1)

The current emphasis on operations in difficult terrain has led to a growing interest in light 155-mm howitzers transported by helicopters, such as BAE Systems M777 photo. It is worth noting in this regard that the Marine Corps ordered more M777A1 / A2 (380 howitzers) than the US Army (273 howitzers)

The available material part is rapidly becoming obsolete, at the same time many armies have gone through a radical process of reduction in numbers and in some cases have been completely transferred to a professional basis. As part of multinational operations, an increased emphasis is placed on the deployment of missions abroad. Gradual standardization of weapons based on a single caliber (155 mm), plus several 105-mm models for special applications and remnants of 152-mm systems in the former Warsaw Pact countries and Russian / Soviet customers. The emergence of new standards (in particular 155 mm / 52 caliber artillery) and new concepts (self-propelled howitzers mounted on truck chassis). The introduction of new types of "intellectual" long-range ammunition, along with highly effective command and control systems. All of these factors speak of a large-scale process of upgrading cannon artillery, including material and operational doctrines. This process is already underway; it is planned to speed it up in the coming years due to the consistent implementation of a number of important programs.

At the end of 80, the global artillery fleet was estimated at over 122000 guns and howitzers, but this total was divided into two parts: 78% of towed systems (mostly 105 mm, 122 mm, 130 mm, 152 mm and 155 mm) and the remaining 22% - self-propelled systems (122 mm, 152 mm, 155 mm and 203 mm, as well as several "strange" models of smaller or larger caliber). Twenty years later, the total number was reduced by more than 20%, to about 96000 pieces, many of which were delivered for long-term storage.

However, it is interesting to note that this reduction process was not symmetrical. The towed vehicles took a full blow, their number decreased from 95000 units from the fall of the Berlin Wall to less than 67000 units today, while the number of self-propelled systems actually increased by 8% (from 27000 to more than 29000 units).

Operational, technological and commercial trends

At present, there are three main classes of cannon artillery systems on the world market and weapons of the world’s armies, and each of them is accompanied by its own operational doctrine: towed systems, self-propelled tracked systems and self-propelled wheeled systems. The respective advantages and disadvantages of the first two classes are very well known and recognized, and, thus, these classes are not in direct competition with each other, neither in commercial nor in operational sense. Towed systems are less expensive and easier to use, they are usually deployed to provide fire support for light units (motorized infantry, mountain units, parachute troops, marines, etc.), while self-propelled tracked howitzers (SG) are usually a component heavy mechanized and armored troops. However, the Dutch systems PzH-2000 showed excellent results in Afghanistan when performing counter-insurgency operations, which are completely different from the traditional battlefield for which these howitzers were created. At the same time, wheel SS are in the heart of the promised (but mostly still not begun) revolution. On the one hand, these systems are offered as a win-win replacement for towed systems (except for a few special cases when ultralight howitzers are needed), and on the other hand, they gradually “eat off” the market share of their tracked counterparts, using their best strategic mobility to advantage and, thus, , suitability for deployment abroad.

Although the vast majority of artillery systems in the current inventories are still tracked, in less than 10 years the number of 155-mm wheel systems actually increased fourfold. A confirmation of such a pronounced global trend is the fact that more and more orders come to the wheeled artillery while reducing orders for heavy towed systems. The latter’s share seems to be declining more and more in the global market, especially if they do not have an APU (auxiliary power unit) that would allow at least short autonomous movements.

The second important global trend is the above-mentioned gradual restriction in the market for a set of standard calibers. Although outdated calibers (75 mm, 76 mm, 85 mm, 88 mm) still have some share in world reserves, a certain number of 170-mm and 240-mm guns remain, the modern fleet is mainly based on six different calibers for towed artillery and seven calibers for self-propelled howitzers. In addition, even within each caliber there are several different standards regarding the size of the chamber and the length of the barrel, which leads to numerous configurations and models (no less than 36 for 155-mm artillery!).

This rather chaotic variety is gradually changing, at least throughout the world, new orders include two or three (maximum four) main calibres. In particular, the NATO standard 155 mm / 52 cal quickly becomes the preferred standard of artillery. By the way, even Chinese and Russian manufacturers currently offer artillery guns that meet this standard.

In June 2007, the Dutch SG PzH 2000 shoots at Taliban positions in Afghanistan. Since that time PzH 2000 has received the nickname “the long arm of the international security assistance forces in Afghanistan”

One of the main operational advantages of the SG mounted on the cargo chassis is light air transport. The photo shows the first three CAESAR systems arrived in Kabul 1 August 2009 of the year to support the French contingent

The gauges in service
Towed artillery

In the world, this type of main armament includes 105 mm calibers (in service with 83 countries), 122 mm (69 countries), 130 mm (39 countries), 152 mm (36 countries) and 155 mm (59 countries), whereas half a dozen countries to 203-mm systems are still available.

Thus, the 105-mm model remains the most common artillery caliber in the world, although its share in the world order book is greatly reduced due to the appearance of ultra-light 155-mm howitzers, and more importantly, due to competition from modern mortars (in particular, 120- mm rifled samples). The two most common 105-mm howitzers, the Italian M56 and the American M101, were created more than half a century ago and are no longer produced. More modern models with better performance, such as the British L118 Light Gun (with the Indian Clone of Light Gun and the American version of M119) and the French Nexter 105 LG1, remain in production for light weapons, but there is a tendency by replacing them with ultralight 155-mm models. The South African Denel G7 is in its own class and rather a competitor to the 155 mm / 39 caliber gun, designed for both towed and wheeled systems, with respect to the equivalent range (about 30 km with a projectile with a bottom gas generator).

SG ARCHER 155-mm / 52 caliber from BAE Systems Bofors. The self-propelled howitzer on a wheeled articulated chassis is equipped with an advanced automatic loader, allowing you to shoot 20 shells without leaving the crew protected cockpit. The Swedish and Norwegian armies have ordered 24 such systems

Caterpillar ordnance

Global stocks of self-propelled tracked artillery include the following systems: 105 mm (in 7 countries), 122 mm (33 countries), 130 mm (2 countries, but this is temporary), 152 mm (23 countries), 155 mm (46 countries), 175 mm mm (6 countries) and 203 mm (19 countries). It is pretty obvious that 105 mm, 130 mm and 175 mm systems will disappear in the near future, while 203 mm systems can remain in service until the expiration date of ammunition. A large number of 122-mm systems (most of the 2C1 Carnation) remain in operation in the former Warsaw Pact countries and among Soviet / Russian customers; they are increasingly viewed as obsolete and thus of interest only to countries with limited financial resources and modest operational requirements. Today, the struggle is only between two calibers and two military concepts, between Russia and China with 152 mm on the one hand and the West with 155 mm on the other, the latter caliber is becoming more and more common (155-mm systems currently represent more than a third of the world’s tracked SG). As for specific models, the M109 family still holds the lion’s share of the existing fleet, until the end of the 80-i years it completely dominated its sector. Currently, more and more howitzers of this family are successfully replaced by more modern and effective models.

Wheeled self-propelled artillery

The concept of wheeled self-propelled artillery was initially viewed as some form of quaintness (when the first systems were presented, for example, the Czechoslovak DANA (152 mm) and later the South African G6 (155 mm / 45 cal)) but over time it was a formidable and credible competition towed and tracked SG, albeit for different reasons. The advantages over towed guns consist in better survivability (personnel under cover of armor, at least in motion, less time to move from a traveling position to shooting position and vice versa), higher tactical mobility and simplified logistics (one truck transports gun, , the initial ammunition and control system), whereas the advantages over the track systems consist in a lower detection probability, reduced operating costs, simplified maintenance requirements and better strategic mobility.

The systems in service are divided between 152-mm (4 countries) and 155-mm (9 countries) models, although there are also industry proposals for wheeled self-propelled systems of 105 mm or 122 mm. So far, only ten countries have ordered about 1000 systems and the potential market for wheel systems can be assessed in 1000 units over the next 10 years.

Video presentation of Korean wheeled self-propelled howitzer EVO-105 with my subtitles

The Soltam ATHOS towed howitzer can be equipped with an APU in order to be able to move independently.

As stated, the Singapore PEGASUS light howitzer is the world's first self-propelled and helicopter-transported light 155-mm gun

BAE Systems showed the first upgraded 155-mm SG M-109 PIM (PALADIN Integrated Management), the ceremony was held at the New York plant 20 January 2010. The company was awarded a contract worth 63,9 million in August 2009 for the manufacture of seven PIM prototypes (five SGs and two ammunition loading machines). The PIM uses the existing main armament and the M-109A6 PALADIN cab design, replacing the outdated chassis components with new ones from the M2 / M3 BRADLEY. Modernization of PIM, in addition, includes a modern "digital architecture", reliable power generation capabilities, electric drives of horizontal and vertical targeting, electric rammer and digital SLA. PALADIN will be upgraded with Anniston Army Depot in Alabama and BAE Systems

152 mm vs. 155 mm

The fact that once was a very energetic technological and commercial competition between the Russian 152 caliber mm and the western 155 mm has since made a noticeable turn in favor of the latter, especially with the advent of the NATO standard 155 mm / 52 caliber, which has no ballistic characteristics can match.

Around 40, countries around the world have already ordered or formulated requirements for modern 155-mm towed or self-propelled systems with an increasing standardization process for 52 caliber. The total number of systems already delivered, existing reliable orders and options on the world market is approximately 4500 units, with an estimate that at least the same amount will be added in the next 10-15 years.

China, despite being the leading operator, manufacturer and exporter of 152-mm artillery systems, quickly responded to the changing trends and Norinco currently offers 155-mm models, both tracked PLZ45 and wheeled SH1 systems. Russian manufacturers claim they have 155-mm / 45 caliber implements for the export version of the 2-19M1 tracked system.

Israel and South Africa are following rather intriguing commercial policies, offering a choice of several different solutions for their 155-mm wheeled howitzers. The new version of the Denel G6 is available with both the 45 barrel and the 52 caliber (the latter can also have two combustion chambers of different sizes), while the Soltam ATMOS 2000 may have an 39, 45 or 52 barrel.

Tracked self-propelled systems

The 155-mm self-propelled tracked systems line currently available on the market can be roughly divided into two main classes of heavy (40 - 60 tons) and medium (25 - 40 tons) machines. Heavy systems include:

KMW / Rheinmetall PzH 2000 (Germany). It is the heaviest (55,3 tons) and the most expensive self-propelled howitzer currently available, but also of course the most advanced and effective in terms of automatic operation, fire power and survivability. So far, it has been adopted by Germany (185 systems), Italy (2 x 68 systems manufactured under license by OTO Melara), the Netherlands (57 systems, subsequently reduced to 24) and Greece (24).

While the potential market for systems with such capabilities and cost is inevitably limited, the PzH 2000 will definitely receive future orders from those armies that want (and can afford) to support their heavy armored units with the highest-capacity 155 mm / 52 system.

K9 THUNDER from Samsung Techwin (South Korea). It weighs 47 tons in combat configuration, the K9 howitzer is also built under license in Turkey under the designation T155 FIRTINA. These two countries ordered in aggregate 850 machines, that is, approximately 20% of the total current volume of SG orders, which most likely will grow in the near future due to additional orders from other export customers.

And at present, light 105-mm artillery is needed for light units, such as airborne troops. In the photo, British soldiers serving in G Battery, 7 of the paratroopers' paratroop division, firing their 105-mm Light Gun at direct fire.

BAE Systems AS90 (UK). A total of 179 AS90 howitzers were delivered to the British Army and 96 of them were subsequently upgraded by installing a 52 caliber gun, replacing the original 39 caliber model (weight increased to 45 tons). The same BRAVEHEART turret with a 155 mm / 52 caliber gun was to be installed by Huta Stalows Wola and XB Electronics on a 52-ton Polish KRAB concept. It is a modified chassis of the main combat tank (MBT) T-72 with AZALIA command and control system.

Medium systems include:

SSPH1 PRIMUS (Singapore). This 28,3 tonne tonnage system with 155-mm / 39 caliber gun was developed by Singapore Defense Science and Technology Agency and SI Kinetics based on the specific requirements of the Singapore army, which determined the total mass less than 30 tons and the maximum width less than 3 m to maintain compatibility with local road infrastructure (especially bridges) and terrain.

PRIMUS is in service with the Singapore Army (54 system), and production for local needs is apparently complete. Export orders are not reported.

Norinco PLZ45 (Type 88) (China). In 1997, PLZ45 caused a slight sensation by defeating American and European models in the competition of the Kuwaiti army (51 system). The winning bid of Norinco was based on the existing 152-mm model, however, it was modified to accept the same 155-mm / 45 barrel of a caliber installed in the Type 89 towed gun (PLL01). The system has since been sold in Bangladesh (number unknown) with supplies for the 2011 year, while rumors of a possible sale to Saudi Arabia have not been confirmed.

BAN Systems M109 PIM (formerly United Defense) (USA). M109 PIM (PALADIN Integrated Management) is the latest (at the moment) version of the “eternal” M109 series, whose original design is currently over 60 years old. BAE Systems was awarded a contract worth 63,9 million dollars in August for the production of seven prototype PIM machines in August 2009, the first one made in January 2010.

PRIMUS was created to meet the stringent requirements of the Singapore Army’s road maneuverability. This was mainly the reason for choosing an 39 caliber gun, rather than a more modern and high-performance 52 caliber gun

The Denel G6-52 howitzer has an 155-mm / 52 caliber gun and is available with a fire chamber with a volume of 25 liters, which makes it possible to reach a range of 67 km with a VLAP projectile (Velocity-enhanced Long-range Artillery Projectile - a long-range artillery projectile with an increased distance

PIM has installed the existing main armament and turret from M109A6 PALADIN (rather a radical reconstruction / modernization of existing machines than a new product), the outdated chassis components in it are replaced by modern ones from the BMN MXX / M2 BRADLEY. PIM integrates modern “digital architecture”, improves the reliability of power generation, installs vertical and horizontal targeting drives, an electric rammer and digital MSA. Modernization of PIM ensures maximum unification with existing systems in the HBCT (Heavy Brigade Combat Team) armored brigade, reduces logistic load and maintenance costs by replacing outdated components in the chassis. PIM is also the first production machine equipped with an improved power management system from BAE Systems, which is the first implementation of the American Army’s requirements for the Common Modular Power System (CMPS) modular energy system.

The modernization of the PALADIN fleet is carried out in collaboration with the Anniston Army Depot and BAE Systems plants.

With the cancellation of the 155-mm / 38 program for the XM1203 howitzer (NLOS Cannon), the PIM is currently the only self-propelled artillery system in the USA.

KMW Artillery Gun Model (AGM) / DONAR (Germany). AGM is in a class of its own, as it is an industrial offer for an autonomous 155-mm / 52 caliber turret, which can be installed on various tracked and wheeled chassis in order to get middle-class SGs compatible with air transportation in the A400M aircraft. The system retains the same barrel, mass of sliding parts and hydraulic rammer as are available on the PzH 2000. The system has a modified version of the automatic loader; for howitzers, shells and modular propelling charges are used according to the specifications of the joint memorandum on ballistics. The demonstration model was implemented on the basis of a modified MLRS chassis (MLRS).

In 2008, KMW and General Dynamics Europe Land Systems (GDELS) joined forces and announced the creation of DONAR, a new self-propelled tracked system, obtained by installing the AGM tower on the modified ASCOD 2 BMP chassis. With a combat mass of 35 tons (including ammunition with 30 shells and 145 charges), in DONAR all operations are automated (including loading shells and charges), the crew is only two people, the tower is controlled by an operator located remotely in the hull. On the basis of these characteristics and capabilities, it was stated that DONAR "turned the current idea of ​​artillery upside down." To date, no orders for either AGM or DONAR have been reported.
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  1. +1
    29 July 2014 10: 33
    Since ours are lagging behind, it would be nice to start developing a new barrel-projectile system. and the caliber can be taken even more, somewhere around 160 or so. Or very much to modernize 152. But something needs to be done. But only in time?
    1. +5
      29 July 2014 10: 44
      There is an excellent 26mm S-180 gun. The current must be well modernized - to reduce the weight of the carriage and more effective anti-recoil devices.
      1. +4
        29 July 2014 10: 49
        180 mm S-23 gun. Maybe this was meant?
        1. +1
          29 July 2014 10: 52
          Yes, she herself, was a bit wrong
          1. +3
            29 July 2014 12: 20
            I don’t think that ours are lagging behind, all that is presented above is modernization, but ours immediately want to create a new generation, I think how the "Armata" will be presented and a new howitzer will appear.
      2. +2
        29 July 2014 20: 49
        180 mm will be too much, like fortresses are no longer being built. 152 or 155 with a direct hit can destroy any target. But I think the corrected long-range corrected caliber will not hurt.
        1. +1
          29 July 2014 20: 56
          For some reason towed guns nobody thought of creating a light collapsible room that would completely cover the gun and at the same time allow firing. It would be more comfortable for the crew to fire in inclement weather.
          1. 0
            31 July 2014 14: 50
            Correctable subcaliber shell for howitzers? Mixed up nothing?
            A lightweight collapsible will most likely fly apart after the first shot. Plus gas contamination may be.
            A tent with several walls is more suitable, but here you can adapt any large one.
        2. +1
          29 July 2014 23: 39
          The heavier the projectile, the less susceptible it is to external forces and the more accurately it goes. I think if you improve the ballistics (shells with the best ballistic coefficient, the initial speed is more painful), the gun will not even be able to hit 35-40 km with a projectile. It’s just that the gun itself is very outdated, yet its roots are pre-war.
        3. 0
          28 March 2015 21: 52
          At least read what a projectile is ...
  2. +4
    29 July 2014 10: 51
    A strange article, I do not consider myself a URA-patriot, but the specifics are zero.
    Can anyone say why such a wonderful 155/52 system is better than our Hyacinth? Why is our MSTA howitzer worse than its NATO counterparts?
    1. Poroh
      29 July 2014 12: 25
      Firing range above all ... Our lag behind systems with a barrel length of 52 caliber, described in the article. There, after all, in addition to barrel length and propelling charges, new ones and the size of the chamber ... Old is only the diameter of the projectile.
  3. 0
    29 July 2014 11: 10
    Our time to catch up and overtake. The backlog of death is like!
  4. +6
    29 July 2014 11: 42
    Our problem is not in caliber, but the problem in charge and gunpowder is to increase the barrel length and charge volume and, accordingly, learn to make normal gunpowder.
    1. +1
      29 July 2014 12: 15
      Namely, in our country the production of gunpowders has traditionally always been delayed, had a low quality and dispersion in characteristics, which prevented accurate shooting over long distances. Trunk trimming is less of a problem. By the way, it makes sense to consider an alternative to large-caliber rifled mortars, which is a good start, with modular charges. Perhaps, in terms of efficiency, this is better than traditional guns and howitzers, especially for mobile troops.
    2. +2
      29 July 2014 13: 51
      MCTA has a long barrel. Where is even longer. When there is a feeling along the intersection that it is about to fall off.
  5. +4
    29 July 2014 12: 13
    on a cannon on an articulated chassis, the wheels are back to front - to see, too, everything is not going smoothly (photo)
    1. ICT
      29 July 2014 21: 52
      once we were told that patency on soft soils is improved this way (although this is purely in theory in practice I have never encountered such)
  6. padonok.71
    29 July 2014 12: 19
    Why didn't the author mention MSTA M? Or is it considered that the PzH 2000 (which is not a "long arm", but a "goodbye hand") is the pinnacle of the SSAU evolution?
    I think MSTA is higher in its indicators. Only ammunition ....
    1. +1
      29 July 2014 13: 54
      Range lame. And so it seems to be peeling normally. And giving a shell (charge) to the tower is generally a fairy tale.
      1. padonok.71
        29 July 2014 16: 30
        The "M" has 41 km, is it LOW?
  7. +3
    29 July 2014 12: 26
    The introduction of new types of "intelligent" long-range ammunition along with highly effective command and control systems.

    Still need to develop drones for reconnaissance, so that the mouse does not slip.
  8. MAG
    29 July 2014 13: 07
    Lopatov’s comments are lacking (better than him there was no artillery specialist on the site) from our bell tower and with our realities.
  9. +4
    29 July 2014 13: 30
    Quote: Poroh
    Firing range above all ... Our lag behind the systems with barrel length in 52 caliber described in the article. There, in addition to the barrel length and propelling charges, new ones and the size of the chamber ..

    On Hyacinth, everything is in order with the camora. What is the reason that this system is not further developed, I do not know. In terms of ballistics, she is really good.
    1. +8
      29 July 2014 16: 40
      Quote: qwert
      What is the reason that this system is not further developed, I do not know.

      To the point, Edward.

      I'm not an artilleryman ...
      But as a TANKIST I fear only one weapon - HYACINTH. I have written more than once - why.
      Those who know me will understand.

      Why this system is not being developed is incomprehensible.
      I would like to hear the opinion of the gunners.
      It is a pity Lopatov is not on the site now ... although it was difficult to communicate with him, but on his subject he wrote great.

      Thanks Alex for the material.
      We are waiting for the next part.

      Photo: Genocide 2С5.
      1. +9
        29 July 2014 18: 42
        The problem is that Genocide is a cannon. With its own accessible cannon trajectories. Breaking the floor walls of pillboxes on the Soviet-Chinese, or delivering nuclear weapons is the very thing. But to apply, for example, in the mountains, or in a highly urbanized area, is not very good.

        And if you "teach" him to shoot with smaller charges, it will be a completely different weapon.
        1. 0
          29 July 2014 23: 49
          Quote: Spade
          The problem is that "Genocide"

          Thanks for the comments.
          Glad to hear that.
        2. 0
          28 March 2015 21: 56
          Then someone registered, they say MSTA is out of date .. hmm, my colleagues artillerymen praise this system.
          at least its accuracy and reach at the western level, if in something better, right?

          po-2013.html # comment-id-4294695
          SHORE complex, what's bad?
  10. +8
    29 July 2014 18: 50
    Good article. Thank. I hope that in the continuation we will mention the informatization of artillery, also a very important factor.

    Yes, in Russia there has long been a lag in artillery. Powerful. But I hope the "Coalition" will pull her forward. Electronic fuses will have to go to the troops 100%, modular loading is also 100%. We will not break into the leaders, but we will crawl out to the position of strong middle peasants. That, coupled with the traditionally high training of Soviet / Russian artillerymen, is quite good.
    1. 52
      1 August 2014 19: 31
      That's about the same thing - any weapon system, and even more so requiring accuracy, is useless without people who can work on it. (Captain evidence). But how many red-white-striped artillerymen held in their hands, no, not a calculator, but a slide rule (sometimes faster than an engineering calculator)? feel And read the map? (School course, in Soviet times, 6th grade, geography). And for the words geosynclines, isobars and isotherms can beat even young ones on this site! laughing
  11. 0
    30 July 2014 05: 58
    Bourgeois advertising !!

    1 the same revenge is not a bad system or its modernization.
    2 If we talk about new products, there are developments under the "Coalition" project with a new modular charging system and plasma ignition of the charge-thermoelectrochemical detonation.

    Lack of information about military operations in our country is a tradition of our country.
    Promotions for any development - a tradition of Western countries.
  12. waggish
    16 August 2014 18: 20
    M777 outstanding gun !!!!!!!!!!
  13. 0
    28 March 2015 21: 42
    It’s interesting that in the Russian army it will be replaced by the D-30 and Msta-B, because they are morally obsolete
    1. 0
      12 June 2021 20: 05
      There will be nothing.
      The D-30 will leave together with Gvozdika following the 122 mm caliber, and will be replaced by 120 and 152 mm systems. When? Yes, hell knows when, when the shells run out.
      The best in this and similar calibers has not been invented. Fights all over the world.
      2A65 in its class is also, perhaps, the best, therefore it will leave when there is an opinion that we do not need a towed gun of such power in the army. Some will be sold to the Papuans, some will be left for a rainy day.

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