The US Army’s active interest and potential requirements for artillery capability compatible with the Stryker’s manoeuvre saw truck mounted howitzers well represented at the 2021 Association of the US Army exposition.
Its recent completion of demonstration firings of four candidates at Yuma Proving Grounds in August 2021 further facilitated this presence since systems were in the United States. The four candidates trialled were selected from respondents to an Army Request for Information seeking systems that could address and Urgent Need Statement by the Cavalry Stryker regiment in Europe.
Their concern is that the current towed M777 155 mm Howitzers do not have sufficient mobility to keep up with and support the Strykers. In addition, these guns are particularly vulnerable to counter-battery fires anticipated in the peer-on-peer battlefield. Wheeled self-propelled has been widely adopted in other armies as a suitable solution.
Gun systems that were demonstrated at Yuma and displayed at AUSA included the YugoImports Nora, Elbit Defence ATMOS, and BAE Archer. (Nexter’s Caesar was also reportedly demonstrated ay Yuma but was not displayed at AUSA.)
Each system was mounted on a truck chassis model not in US Army service, although representatives of each indicated that it would be relatively straight forward adapting to a different truck body. A case in point was made by John Summers Director Programs of Global Ordnance representing YuroImports who explained that they had adapted Nora to the MAN 8 X 8 in under six weeks for the demonstration. The system’s operation ranged from the manually loaded ATMOS to the Archer and Nora both using automatic loading.
Each system successfully met the Army requirement for a six round per minute minimum rate of fire with the ability to also deliver multiple rounds simultaneous impact on target fire missions. Perhaps more critical is that these systems are able to set-up, fire, and displace far more rapidly than towed artillery. This sequence can be as brief as under ninety seconds compared to 4 to 5 minutes for a towed piece. Doing so assures that the gun and crew have displaced before an enemy can locate and fire on them.
The current Army effort is focused on addressing the UNS which could be eighteen-gun systems for Europe. In this case rapid fielding and an existing support structure would likely be of greatest importance. However, clearly with the emphasis on the peer-on-peer battle the benefits of a broader fielding of wheeled self-propelled artillery appears obvious not just for the US but for armies as well. In fact, France, Japan, Thailand, the PRC, and others have already done so. With this in mind Rheinmetall, Kraus-Maffei Wegmann, and General Dynamics Land Systems all presented wheeled self-propelled artillery solutions.
Rheinmetall uses the latest MAN HX3 10 X 10 truck and will begin firing trials in 2022. The KMW Remotely Controlled Howitzer (RCH) employs the Boxer 8 X 8 armoured vehicle and the 155mm Artillery Gun Module and has been demonstrated. It is not only highly automated but has the capability to deliver accurate indirect fires while moving and direct assault engagement. The General Dynamics 155 howitzer solution includes an ammunition resupply version. Both use the 8 X 8 Stryker combat vehicle assuring both equivalent mobility within the Stryker units and common maintenance and support. Although shown in models it is understood that protype hardware can be anticipated.
The presence of such a gathering of wheeled self-propelled howitzers at the premiere land military exposition in North America suggests its merits have been recognized. The question now is where this capability will fall within the many programs the US Army already has on its plate.
by Stephen W. Miller