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Valpolini P, Feb-2010. Artillery Needs A1 Mobility, Armada International Issue 1/2010

Valpolini P, Feb-2010. Artillery Needs A1 Mobility, Armada International Issue 1/2010

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Published by: Foro Militar General on Sep 29, 2012
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Although current military operations are much different from those of the past,where concentrating indirect firepower on enemy formations was part of theroutine, artillery has not lost any of its importance. However, while the numberof systems involved is obviously smaller, as artillery fire missions are mostlyaimed at small targets which have to be hit with surgical precision in order tolimit collateral damage as much as possible, the mobility requirements have sky-rocketed.
Paolo Valpolini
ase of deployment, and thereforemobility in today’s context, does notonly mean to be able to move quick-ly from one point to another (not theleast to evade counter-battery fire), butalso do this ‘properly’ without unneces-sarily destroying existing infrastructures.Forces now have to deal with the con-straints of current theatres of operationwhich often feature narrow roads andbridges that are unable to withstandheavy loads. The last thing peacekeepingforces need is to be treated as destructorsby a powerless and often ‘set upon’ localpopulation.
Wheeled Artillery
The above-mentioned considerationshave certainly had an impact on thedevelopment of a series of new truck-mounted artillery systems that not onlyimprove tactical mobility on the field butalso the conveyance of such systems onboard tactical transport aircraft, some-thing that is not possible with heavytracked self-propelled howitzers which,on the other hand, ensure a much greaterprotection to their crews.Some intermediate solutions, consist-ing of turreted systems on wheeled chas-was able to speed up to 80 km/h. More-over the Dana was equipped with anautoloader which rammed round andcartridge at any elevation of the gun,something unique at that time, and there-by provided a high sustained rate of fire of three rounds per minute for 30 minutes.Its only limitation was the traverse of theturret, which was of ± 45°. The Czechoslo-vak Army deployed 408 such howitzers,which were then split following the sepa-ration of the Czech and Slovak republics,the former getting 273 Danas (164 still inservice) while the latter got 135.Following the end of the Cold War andthe subsequent access to Nato by bothcountries, Slovakia redeveloped a newversion known as the Zuzana (seeauthor’s title photograph), which is aDana equipped with a 155/45 mm gun fir-ing Nato-standard ammunition. The Slo-vak Army acquired 16 systems in 1998,and plans to increase that number to 76while phasing out the remaining 32 152-mm systems. Greece was the first exportcustomer for this model. In 2003 a new
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The Zuzana with 52-calibre gundeveloped from the 152 mm
sis, already existed during the Cold War,as evidenced by then Czechoslovakia’spioneering system first spotted in 1980.This was based on a Tatra 815 8 x 8 truck chassis equipped with a turreted152/37mm gun. Designed by Konstruktaand produced by ZTS, both companieslocated in Slovakia, it was known as theDana, from the initials of self-propelledauto-loading gun in the Czech language(D
lo Automobilní Nabíjené Automat-icky). It entered service in 1977 and had acombat weight of 29.5 tonnes. Admitted-ly not easily air transportable, it howeverprovided a high mobility on road, as it
Denel from South Africa developed the G6 family of wheeled howitzer systems, the most recent being the G6-52 with a155/52 mordnance which,with V-Lap ammunition, has a58-kilometre firing range. (Denel)
version known as Zuzana A1 was intro-duced, with a 152/52-mm gun. The Danais also fielded in the Libyan Army (120),Polish Army (111) and Georgian Army(originally 47); the latter nation is theonly one to have fired them in anger,when they were used against the Russianforces in Southern Ossetia in August2008. Some of them have supposedlybeen destroyed by Russian forces, whileothers may have been captured. Two newversions have also been developed, theModan, an upgraded Dana withincreased accuracy and rate of fire, andthe Himalaya, which mates the Zuzanaturret with the chassis of a T-72 tank.South Africa came up with a turretedSP howitzer on wheels in the 1980s. Thiswas the awesome G6, based on the 155/45ordnance of the G5 towed gun-howitzer.The gun is mounted on a 6 x 6 SParmoured chassis and is capable of a roadspeed of over 85 km/h, although its mass– 47 tonnes – is considerably higher thanits Czech counterpart. With South Africaas a first customer, 43 G6s entered serv-ice since 1987. The main export customerwas the United Arab Emirates, whichacquired 78 in the M1A3 version, whileOman acquired 24 units. Developed byDenel, the G6-45 (the second numberindicating the barrel length in calibres)featured a semi-automatic loading sys-tem providing a three-round per minuterate of fire and had superior ballisticquality in the late ‘80s, with a range of 30 km with standard ammunition, 39 withbase-bleed grenades and 50 km withV-Lap (Velocity-enhanced Long-rangeArtillery Projectile) ammunition.However to further improve perform-ance, the G6-52 version was developed,which provided a higher rate of fire (eightrds/min) thanks to a fully automatic load-ing system, a reduced crew – from six tothree – and an increased range, courtesy of the 52-calibre barrel. Boat trail ammo canbe fired up to 33 km, base-bleed to 42 kmand V-Lap to 58. Introduced in 2003, itabout 28 tonnes, but with similar ballisticperformance.In the late 1990s Giat of France (nowNexter) started developing a truck-mounted artillery system with a 52-cali-bre gun, aimed at expeditionary forces.The goal was to have a system that couldbe air-transportable in a C-130-class air-craft, which meant a weight of less than18 tonnes.Known as the Caesar the new systemfeatures a 155/52 mm gun and a semi-automatic loading system that allows thecrew, made of five artillerymen, to keep asustained rate of fire of two to threerds/min with a maximum rate of six. TheCaesar can be put into action in less than50 seconds from stopping, thanks to theautomatic lowering of the rear spades, theautomatic rise of the tube, which in the airtransport position is lowered into thecabin itself, and the automatic laying sys-tem. Upon completion of the firing mis-
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Denel developed for India a trucked artillery system with the same ordnance as the G6-52, but mounted on a Tatra8 x 8 chassis.(Denel)The export version of Nexter Caesar is based on aSoframe/Unimog 6 x 6 chassis, but retains the 155/52 mm ordnance of the system acquired by France. The controls of the gun laying system is visible on the rear left. (Armada/PV)Replenishment of aFrench Army Caesar; the system can be redeployed by C-130 or A400M, which makes it very flexible in terms of operational capabilities and intra-theatre redeployment.(Armada/PV)
was followed by a further improvementknown as G6-52 ER (Extended Range)with a 25-litre chamber (compared to the23 litres previously) giving a reach of upto 67 km with V-Lap rounds. Both 52 vari-ants feature the MRSI (Multiple RoundSimultaneous Impact) technology, whichallows it to drop five or six rounds at thesame time on the same target with a sin-gle gun at a maximum range of 25 km. Inthese versions the combat mass increasesto 49 tonnes. A truck-mounted version othe Denel 52 gun developed for India,known as T5-52, was unveiled in 2002;based on a 8 x 8 Tatra truck chassis with apurpose-designed under-carriage struc-ture and outriggers. Its combat mass ission the Caesar is on its way again withinabout 40 seconds. According to FrenchArmy data the circular error probable isless than 50 metres at a range of 20 km,that is with modular charges zones 3, 4and 5, of less than 60 metres at 28 km(zone 6), 115 metres at 38 km (zone 6)and 130 metres at 40 km (zone 6) – inother words, twice better than thatobtained with a 39-calibre barrel at simi-lar ranges. The French Army Caesars,which are based on a Renault TrucksSherpa 5 6 x 6 chassis, are fully integratedwith the Atlas C4I system developed byThales, and are compatible with otherNato fire control systems under theArtillery Systems Cooperation Activities,as are the American Afatds, GermanAdler, British FC Bisa and Italian Sir.
Following a first order for five pre-pro-duction guns France ordered 72 moreCaesars and a five-years logistic supportprogramme back in December 2004. Thefirst production gun was delivered to theFrench Army in mid-July 2008. TheFrench Army deployed eight Caesars toAfghanistan in summer 2009; they areorganised in four two-guns fire units, oneeach deployed in the three forward oper-ating bases and one held in reserve inKabul. Two more contracts, one with Thai-land for six guns and one for the SaudiArabian National Guard for 76 guns havealready materialised. Export Caesars are
based on a different truck, a 6 x 6Soframe/Unimog, which ironically wasthe platform originally used for the pro-totypes. These were also demonstrated inMalaysia, the United States and Brunei.Portugal, which should soon replacetwelve M114A1 towed howitzers, is also amarketing target for Nexter. Size-wise theCaesar is no more than a lorry that can bedriven without special escort. In a filmmade during its trials in Malaysia, it isseen riding at over 100 km/h on a highwayand nonchalantly stopping at a servicestation for a fill-up.
Based on the successful FH77 Boforstowed artillery system, development of the Archer, also known as FH77 BW L52,began in the mid ‘90s (at the time Boforsand Giat had teamed for a short period inwhat was known as the Spa System, forSelf Propelled Artillery, to offer two con-cepts, one on a 6 x 6 and the other on a 8x 8 casemated gun, but the two finallysplit). Just as happened with the Caesar,the Archer concept took time to beaccepted. Following the completion of two demonstrators, two prototypes final-ly were to be built under a developmentcontract. This signature followed thatof a Memorandum of Understandingbetween Norway and Sweden the previ-ous May in which Oslo accepted to sharethe remaining development costs withStockholm if the Swedish Army acceptedto install the Protector remote controlweapon system on its vehicles.
The first prototype in the Swedish con-figuration was delivered in July 2009 withthe Norwegian configuration followingshortly thereafter. Tests are due for com-pletion in Spring 2010, and Swedenintends to be able to deploy the system by2011. Another decision taken in Fall 2009and linked to the co-operation betweenthe two countries was to not qualify BAESystems Uniflex 2 modular charges for theArcher, as Norway is already using Rhein-metall DM72/82 bi-modular charges. Thefull-rate production contract for a total of 24 vehicles per nation, which will includealso 48 re-supply vehicles, was expected tobe signed by late 2009. Compared to theprevious demonstrators, the prototypesallow ammunition loading while layingthe gun, while this was not possible before,the two operations being carried out inman crew and a further module hosts 36rounds. Known as the Nora B-52 (NovoORužje Artiljerije, meaning new artilleryweapon), the testbed was fitted with a 45-calibre barrel, but the prototype, complet-ed in Fall 2004, featured a 52-calibre bar-rel allowing a range of over 41 km withbase-bleed extended-range ammunitionand 65 km with rocket-assisted base-bleed. Thirty such systems were suppliedto Myanmar, while Serbia has received itsfirst twelve SP howitzers and ordered afurther 16. An improved version, based onthe Russian Kamaz 63501 8 x 8 chassis,has been developed and is known as theB-52K1. According to some sources,Kenya has ordered an undisclosed num-ber of the latest Nora version.In Israel, Soltam promotes its Atmos2000 autonomous truck mounted howitzersystem, a 155-mm artillery system fortrucksthat can accommodate differentguns with a variety of barrel lengths and
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The PzH 2000s acquired by the Italian Army are manufactured under license by Oto Melara. The service has acquired 70 units.(Armada/PV)China has developed two different wheeled SP systems, the SH1 with a155/52-mm guseen here in the foreground, and the SH2 with a122-mm gun seen  just behind it.(Armada/PV)
is flexible enough to fit on different truck chassis. This design flexibility was evi-denced by two programmes: one forRomania which is named Atmor andwhich consists of the 52-calibre Soltam gunmounted on the Roman 6 x 6 truck chassis,and the other for Kazakhstan known asSemser, which is based on a RussianKamaz 63502 8 x 8 with the elevating massof a D-30 122-mm towed howitzer.Norinco in China developed two truck-mounted self-propelled artillery systems,the SH1 and the SH2. The former, whichwas unveiled in 2007, is armed with a155/52-mm gun ensuring a range of 53 kmwith base-bleed rocket-assisted extended-range ammunition; the gun is fixed at therear of the 6 x 6 chassis, thus the two rearaxles are located close to each other at thetail end of the vehicle. Equipped with asemi-automatic loading system, its naviga-tion aids provide an autonomous combatcapability, while its C4I and automatedgun laying allows it to carry out shoot-and-scoot missions. The SH2 is armed witha 122-mm PL96 (the Chinese copy of theSoviet D-30), which gives it a 27-km rangewith base-bleed rocket-assisted extended-range ammo. Here the gun is located inthe middle of the 6 x 6 chassis, the centralaxle being located under the gun itself.Apparently both systems were developedmore for the export than for the nationalmarket.sequence, which reduces the firing missiontime. The Archer was being proposed toAustralia for its Land 17 artillery replace-ment programme, but Tenix Defence andAerospace, which teamed with BAE Sys-tems Bofors for offering the FH77 BWL52, decided to drop out of the contest.Denmark, Canada and India alsoexpressed interest in the system, the latterbecoming again a potential customer fol-lowing the shelving of the case againstBofors in late September 2009.Another European company, Yugoim-port, developed a 155/52 mm self-pro-pelled gun on an 8 x 8 Fap 2832 chassis.This is fitted with a module behind thecabin to accommodate the remaining six-
After a long development period the Archer, based on an articulated chassis, should become operational with Swedish and Norwegian forces in 2011. (Armada/PV)

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