Artillery types

Blonde bombs: Ukraine targets Swedish archers’ field artillery systems

It’s not just the United States providing Ukraine with deadly aid in its six-month war against Russia.

Here in the United States, when we think of Sweden, we think of… well, I think of the Volvos and the snow and the mythical Swedish Bikini Team beer advertisements from another era. Ukrainians, however, have more pressing issues on their minds these days. From the land of ice and snow, red candy fish and non-Italian meatballs come some of the best artillery systems in the world.

Discover the Archer Artillery system, aka Archer-FH77BW, aka Artillerisystem 08.

Tire chains and all, the Swedish Archer 155mm self-propelled artillery system. Screenshot from YouTube via Daily aviation

According to the Ukrainian military website Defense Express, last Monday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Mr. Dmytro Kuleba, was in the capital of Sweden to meet Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ann Linde. Their discussions focused on continued military aid from the Swedes. Kuleba didn’t mince words; he said to the pair, “As long as the war continues, we will ask for more weapons. Every euro, every bullet, every shell counts.

Politics reports that the agreed aid package will contain 500 million Swedish krona (SEK), or about US$46.8 million, in lethal aid and an equal amount to rebuild a war-torn Ukraine. Foreign Minister Linde said: “We don’t know how long Russia’s war will last, but Sweden is ready to provide long-term support to Ukraine.” The Prime Minister echoed that sentiment and said, “Sweden will continue to be a close friend and support to Ukraine. We cannot let Russia win this unjust war.

Documents of the Government offices of Sweden tell us that just three days after the start of the war, on February 27, they pledged SEK 100 million in humanitarian aid. On April 22, they donated a large amount of equipment to repair Ukraine’s damaged power grid. The Swedes donated an additional SEK 100 million on June 2 through their Swedish Civil Contingency Agency.

From left to right: Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson in Stockholm. Image Credit: Jessica Gow/TT News Agency

In the military aid department, the Swedes provided thousands of AT4 anti-tank small arms, an undetermined number of Barrett M82 rifles and ammunition, an undetermined number of Robot 17 anti-ship missiles, an undetermined type and quantity of mine clearance equipment, thousands of bulletproof vests and two rotations of 60 troops each have been sent to the UK to help provide civilians with basic military and self-defense training.

Requirement

Ukrinform reports that, during his visit to Stockholm, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kuleba was quite direct in articulating what his country needs to continue the battle. During a meeting with the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, he said: “The best thing that Sweden can do in the field of defense in the coming weeks is to supply Ukraine with its famous Archer artillery systems, its RBS-70 air defense systems and more shells for our artillery systems.” He continued, “Because, strange as it may seem, the best way to save human lives, including civilian lives, and to save more Ukrainian villages and towns from destruction, is to give Ukraine more arms so that we can repel Russian aggression and the Russian Army.” Kuleba also thanked the Swedes for all the help they have provided to Ukraine so far.

Following the request, Foreign Secretary Linde took to Twitter to tell the world that her government was considering sending in the heavy artillery.

Why the Archer?

Winter is coming. In a country like Ukraine, that can mean snow and lots of snow. According to BAE Systems, the company that manufactures it, the Archer 155mm self-propelled artillery gun was designed for mobility in such environments. The firing platform is the highly mobile Volvo A30D 6X6 off-road vehicle. It is powered by a Volvo diesel engine with a power of 340 horsepower. All three axles are configured as an independent suspension system and were designed for cross-country travel. The axles are solid but not rigidly attached to the vehicle frame.

It can travel on solid surface roads at speeds of up to 56 mph and cut through snow up to three feet deep.

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The Archer in action. Video courtesy of YouTube and Extreme World.

The unit can be operated by a crew of three or four gunners – the fully enclosed cabin with bullet and fragmentation resistant windows can accommodate four. The cost of each unit is approximately $4.5 million.

The Archer system includes a fully automatic magazine capable of holding up to 21 155mm artillery rounds. Initial deployment time is less than 30 seconds; it is a fast system capable of a continuous rate of fire of up to 75 rounds per hour and a burst rate of fire of twenty rounds in just two and a half minutes. That’s an entire magazine in the time it takes to listen to the average Ramones song.

As the cold weather approaches and Ukraine continues to beat its enemy, I sincerely hope the Swedes find a way to send a few of these capable units to Kyiv.