EUROSATORY 2022: Sweden has signed a contract with BAE Systems Bofors for a further 24 Archer truck-mounted howitzer systems to equip the additional artillery battalion to be fielded in line with Sweden’s Total Defense Strategy 2021-25.
Mikael Frisell, Head of Sweden’s Defense Materiel Administration FMV, and Lena Gillström, Managing Director, BAE Systems Bofors, signed the letter of intent here at Eurosatory in Paris. “We look forward to participating in the development of increased artillery capability for the nation,” Gillström said at the signing ceremony on June 15.
The supply is “part of the commitment for improved artillery capability,” Bofors program manager Mikael Take told Breaking Defence, adding that in Sweden “there is great concern about what is happening. goes to Ukraine”.
Sweden has already fielded 48 of these systems since the first was delivered in September 2015. Each is mounted on a Volvo A30 6×6 articulated hauler “chosen at the time for its off-road capability,” Take explained. The next 24, however, will be mounted on a Rheinmetall MAN Military (RMMV) HX2 8×8 chassis “which is a faster vehicle for on-road mobility,” Take said. The vehicle has a top speed of 56 mph and a range of 500 miles.
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The truck’s air-conditioned cab is lightly armoured, providing ballistic protection against fragments, bullets and anti-tank mines, but is constructed so that additional armor kits can be bolted on for added protection. The cabin is over-pressurized to provide CBRN protection. Other Swedish Armed Forces fleets also operate the RMMV, so this choice simplifies repairs and maintenance. But Bofors points out that other nations could choose another carrier for the howitzer.
The fully automatic 155mm 52 caliber Archer cannon can fire eight rounds per minute and is typically operated by a crew of three (including the driver) who never have to leave the protection of the cabin. But if necessary, it can be driven by a single driver. One of the pilots at the show told Breaking Defense he could start firing “20 seconds from the time I hit the brakes and in less than two minutes he can have fired all 21 rounds and be gone long before an enemy riposte could reach us”.
The system can be accompanied by any type of container carrier support vehicle that would carry a modified standard ISO container that can hold up to 100 rounds. The Archer can be reloaded in five minutes.
The howitzer has a range of over 31 miles with conventional artillery shells and 37 miles with precision-guided munitions, including the Excalibur. It has a rotation capability of +85° to -85°, according to the company.
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The autoloading mechanism was inspired by the Bofors Naval Gun Division which had developed a modified F77 artillery system for Swedish maritime defense that featured such a system, the company said. Take Explain on the Bofors website that “the big step was to introduce a magazine capable of automatically handling projectiles and charges”. He adds that “we could take all the calculations normally done remotely and manually in a fire direction center and put them in the barrel. Suddenly, the gun could work more or less on its own.
Earlier this month, the Archer was shortlisted by the Swiss government to enter the final round of competition for its future artillery system. The Swiss Federal Office for Defense Procurement, Armasuisse, received several proposals submitted by several companies for the competition. Armasuisse’s director of communications told Breaking Defense in a telephone interview that two other companies making artillery systems for wheeled trucks had been selected, but their names would not be made public until the start of the next week.
The Archer is a strong contender for the UK Mobile fires Platform program which is currently in the pre-competition phase with a contract expected to be announced in 2026 for initial entry into service in 2029. It has also participated in testing and barrage firing of the US Army Mobile Howitzer which were held last fall.