In March, Sweden officially confirmed the transfer of 8 advanced Archer self-propelled artillery systems to Kyiv.
Currently, Ukrainian crews are completing intensive training for the use of these self-propelled howitzers with one aim in particular – the swift and efficient destruction of Russian self-propelled artillery systems on the battlefield.
The sniper of artillery
In the mid-1990s, the Swedish army decided to develop a home-grown self-propelled artillery system, using the existing FH77 field howitzer as its basis.
The challenge for the engineers at the Swedish company Bofors (now part of BAE Systems) was to improve the characteristics of the FH77 and put it on a wheeled chassis.
The requirements for the new artillery system were to quickly take up a position, accurately shoot from a long distance at the target and disappear.
The Swedish military eagerly awaited the improved system, since many of their legacy artillery was decommissioned in 2011 due to barrel wear and tear. In 2014, Sweden received the first FH77BW L52, aka Archer.
Currently, Sweden has 48 Archer self-propelled artillery systems in service. Half are now serving the Swedish army, with the other half are in storage. Eight of these stored systems will now be delivered to Ukraine.
Self-propelled artillery systems role in the Ukrainian army is already established. They won’t be used for continuous shelling of advanced enemy positions because Archers have another mission.
This specialized system can quickly and accurately hit specific enemy heavy weapons from a long distance. It’s ideal for conducting counter-battery combat and eliminating enemy artillery troops.
Archers will enable swift and efficient destruction of Russian self-propelled artillery systems on the battlefield. PHOTO: Wikipedia
FH77BW L52: impressive accuracy and speed
Archer is an advanced artillery system on a wheeled chassis. It is this formula that allows conducting effective counter-battery battles, destroying heavy enemy armament and quickly changing the location, remaining practically invulnerable.
A high level of maneuverability and an automatic loading system allows this self-propelled howitzer to fire the entire ammunition load of 21 shells in 3 minutes. The Archer works fully automatically: when arriving in firing position, the crew only inputs the coordinates into the on-board computer, while all subsequent stages, including reloading and firing, are performed by the Archer.
A crew of 3-4 people handles the ammunition only once, when loading it into its magazine compartment. Then with its auto-loading device, the Archer can fire the first 6 rounds in just 30 seconds. The total rate of fire of this self-propelled gun is about 8-9 rounds per minute.
The transition to the combat position and the first shot takes about 23 seconds. After shooting its salvo, the Archer is ready to move after only 25 seconds.
This impressive speed of leaving the combat position, together with a high rate of fire and a wheeled chassis, allow shots to be taken at the target coordinates and have time to change the position even before the shells hit the target.
The Archer is more of a precision sniper rifle in the world of artillery, and not just a brute force weapon used to constantly pound enemy field positions.
Check out the video to see just how fast they are...
⚡️According to documents on the Swedish government's website, on Thursday the government will order the armed forces to send the Swedish "Archer" artillery system to Ukraine. - Expressen reports. 🇭🇺❤️🇺🇦 https://t.co/HwbBjoM9pe pic.twitter.com/xEwATHtqEe— Dénes Törteli 🇪🇺🇭🇺🇺🇦 (@DenesTorteli) January 18, 2023
Archer is unique precisely because of its ability to destroy enemy artillery systems even deep in the rear. While Russian systems are designed for a large number of volleys, the Archer – with their quality, high accuracy, extraordinary maneuverability, speed of fire and movement – are surgical in their ability to hit targets efficiently.
As the Western weapons show, mobility and speed are sometimes decisive factors. Similar to the HIMARS, after shooting the Archer instantly disappears from its position without waiting for a "response” from the enemy.
Conventional 155-mm shells provide a fire range of up to 30 km, active and reactive ones reach 40 km. According to the latest tests, the use of Excalibur guided shells will allow the destruction of targets at distances of up to 70 km.
This gives an undeniable advantage in the range of fire over all Russian artillery systems. According to statistics, the use of Excalibur allows to destroy a Russian tank with a probability of 93.7 percent.
The Archer uses a Volvo A30D quarry truck-mounted platform with a 6x6 wheel chassis. Thanks to its powerful diesel engine and wheeled chassis, this system can reach a maximum speed of 75 kph on a highway and has a range of up to 500 km.
During the firing process, the entire Archer crew is in an armored cabin, from where the system is fully controlled. The Archer armor provides reliable protection of the crew against fire from small arms and projectile fragments. In addition, the chassis can withstand the blast of a high-explosive mine weighing up to 6 kg.
A special vehicle is provided for each Archer system transporting additional ammunition. The loading of ammunition consisting of 21 shells takes about 8 minutes, after which the Archer is again ready to execute its mission.
The transfer of such advanced weapons to Ukraine reflects the high level of mutual trust between the two countries. The Swedes understand all the risks, but they also understand our need for systems of this class.
This war shows how technology can be a decisive factor in winning. Having such weapons will be extremely useful for Ukrainian artillery gunners in snuffing out Russian artillery, tanks and troop concentrations.
The Ukrainian army has now mastered various types of weapons systems of NATO countries, which makes it compatible with and comparable to NATO ground forces.
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