Sweden has opted for a wheeled, articulated solution to its indirect fire needs with the BAE Systems Bofors FH77 BW L52 Archer 155mm self-propelled artillery system. The completion of the feasibility stage earlier this year validated the concept, begun in 1995 with prototypes of a 33.5tonne vehicle based on the Volvo Construction A30D 6 x 6 chassis, matched with a 52 calibre version of the FH 77/B howitzer. Loading is automated with 21 ready to use rounds, with a further 20 stored elsewhere on the vehicle, with the crew able to operate the system from inside the protected cab.
An ammunition resupply vehicle is planned to enable resupply in less than ten minutes. The first Swedish Army artillery units are expected to be equipped by 2011 beginning with a four-strong unit allocated to the Nordic Battlegroup, with an ultimate requirement for 24-30 guns. The Archer can be fired in thirty seconds and then move on in a further thirty seconds.
The most successful truck mounted design thus far has been the Nexter CAESAR (CAmion Equipe d'un Systems d'ARtillerie). Based around an 155/52 upgrade of the Nexter TRF1 gun, rounds fired from CAESAR can reach as far as 42km and is based around a 6x6 tactical vehicle.
While the advantages over towed solutions are self evident, the disadvantages in traditional self propelled designs also remain; their significant weight defies easy strategic deployment with the speed now required by many militaries and they are slow and difficult to redeploy in theatre, particularly over poor infrastructure both factors that incur high acquisition and through life costs. Militaries have sought and industry has delivered innovative ways around this.
A number of designs successfully incorporate the current benchmark in long range fires 155mm/L52 on a lightweight platform, either a flat bed truck or other tactical vehicle. Other programmes, notably the US Future
Combat Systems (FCS), achieve the same result while maintaining a tracked chassis. Requirements however, remaining for heavy designs and the capability they provide.
|FH77 BW L52|