British Army Receives First Archer 8x8 Howitzer to Replace AS90s Donated to Ukraine

The British Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced on October 6, 2023, that the Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) has successfully delivered the first Archer 8x8 155m wheeled self-propelled howitzers to the British Army. This marks a significant milestone in the UK's artillery defense capabilities.
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The Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) has successfully delivered the first Archer 8x8 155m wheeled self-propelled howitzers to the British Army. (Picture source British MoD)

The delivery comes precisely six months after the contract was signed. This Archer 6x6 howitzer is the first of 14 guns procured for the Royal Artillery. As part of the agreement, DE&S will also provide an Ammunition Resupply System, an initial ammunition suite, a comprehensive training package, and an initial support package.

This advanced platform, which introduces innovative combat methods, will be deployed by the 1 Deep Recce Strike (DRS) Brigade. The 19 Regiment Royal Artillery (The Scottish Gunners) based in Larkhill, Wiltshire, will be the first to receive the howitzer. Here, the unit will undergo capability integration activities and safety trials, aiming to achieve Initial Operating Capability by 2024.

The acquisition of the Archer system aligns with the UK's recent decision to donate 32 AS90 self-propelled guns to Ukraine. The Archer systems were purchased under a Government-to-Government agreement with the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV). Notably, these systems have been enhanced to meet UK specifications by BAE Bofors.

Earlier this year, on March 16, the British MoD had confirmed that the British Army would be receiving 14 Archer artillery systems to replace the AS90 guns given to Ukraine. This collaboration with Sweden not only strengthens the UK's artillery capabilities but also introduces the technical prowess and advanced combat features of the Archer 8x8 howitzer.

The Archer 155mm self-propelled howitzer is manufactured by BAE Systems Bofors, a Swedish subsidiary of BAE Systems Platforms & Services. This fully autonomous system is tailored for both traditional warfare fire support and contemporary international peacekeeping and peace enforcement missions. One of its notable mobility features is its ability to reach a maximum road speed of 70 km/h. The vehicle's platform is based on the Volvo A30D 6×6 articulated all-terrain hauler. Both its cabin and engine compartment are fully armored, providing enhanced protection for the crew.

The 155mm 52-calibre gun of the Archer has a maximum firing range of 40 km with standard ammunition and can extend up to 60 km when using the M982 Excalibur rounds. Additionally, it has the capability to fire the Bonus top attack rounds developed by Bofors and Nexter, now KNDS. It incorporates the design of the cradle and recoil system from the FH 77B towed field howitzer. The gun is also equipped with a target acquisition or designation sight feature, granting it a direct fire capability.

The standard combat equipment of the Archer includes a fire control system, a laying system, inertial navigation, and a muzzle velocity radar. Data from this radar is integrated into the onboard computerized fire control system. The second armament includes a remote weapon system, which includes a day and night sight along with a 7.62mm general-purpose machine gun, is mounted on the cab's roof. This machine gun can be aimed and fired from within the armor-protected cabin.

Defense News October 2023