The British MOD in a March 16, 2023 release that the Army will receive fourteen Archer 155mm wheeled self-propelled howitzers. These will partially replace the thirty-two AS90 tracked howitzers gifted to the Ukraine in 2022.
The MOD stated that it “will have ownership transferred to the British Army this month and be fully operational by next April.” The Swedish government as already requested approval of the sales from its Riksdag (legislature). It is understood that negotiation of this transfer has been underway since early January. Officials indicate that consideration of the purchase of additional Archers could be possible.
These systems are currently being viewed as interims until the Mobile Fires Platform (MFP) program selection which is scheduled for delivery sometime after 2030. Archer is, in fact, one of the projected candidates for the MFP alone with Hanwha’s Thunder, Nexter’s Caesar, and KMW’s RCH 155mm.
The BAE Archer offers the Army significantly increased capability. It is currently fielded by the Swedish Army which in 2022 committed to an additional twenty-four systems. It utilizes a modified articulated all-terrain hauler with a magazine feed 155mm/L52 howitzer and crew in an armored cab.
The loading, computerized laying, aiming, and firing. The process is fully automated providing the ability to deploy and fire as well as displace within 20 seconds. The crew does not need to leave the cab to execute a fire-mission. A rate of fire of 8-9 rounds per minute including four round multiple round simultaneous impact (MRSI) engagement. The range is 30 km with standard NATO rounds, 40 km with base bleed, and over 50 km using Excalibur guided projectiles.
The howitzer vehicle is typically accompanied by an ammunition reloading vehicle, also using an all-terrain chassis. The Archer is specifically optimized to “shoot-and-scoot” employment of targets with high precision engagement at maximum ranges.
The Archer is a mature proven design which first entered operational service in 2016. The original design used the Volvo A30D 6 X 6 chassis. It has subsequently been adapted to the Rheinmetall MAN HX2 8 X 8 which was unveiled in 2019. The MAN HX truck is used by the British Army. BAE has also confirmed its compatibility with the Oshkosh 10 X 10 used by the US Army. In addition to Sweden, Archer has been provided to Ukraine (by Sweden) and is short listed in the Swiss Future Artillery System competition (using the HX2 chassis).
by Stephen W. Miller