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Land Platforms

Italian Army starts FH-70 howitzer upgrade evaluation

25 October 2016
An FH-70 155mm field howitzer of the Italian Army which has been fitted with a prototype digitization upgrade package. Source: ARIS

The Italian Army has placed a contract with UK-based company Leonardo MW for five more sets of its LINAPS (artillery pointing system) on-gun artillery digitisation system.

These systems are intended to supplement the initial three sets delivered to Italy earlier in 2016 as part of a planned programme to update the Italian Army's FH-70 155 mm/39-calibre towed howitzer inventory.

Another significant part of the Italian Army's FH-70 upgrade requirement is a new ARIS-developed 40 kW diesel auxiliary power unit (APU), which replaces the original 1,800 cc Volkswagen petrol engine-based APU.

As set out by its then artillery commander Major General Giovanni Domenico Pintus in March 2015, the Italian Army's aspiration was to upgrade those FH-70s still in its inventory (with an original order of 164) after prototype validation. At the time his hope was embark on trials in early 2016, but the first howitzer was not fitted with LINAPS until July.

The expectation now is that live-firing tests will begin in November 2016. In the interim, the prototype upgrade packages will be assessed for mobility and electromagnetic compatibility, and proving the digital integration of LINAPS with the Italian Army's overarching SIF (Sistema Informatico Fuoco) joint fires integration system. All being well, the full-rate upgrade programme is expected to begin implementation from 2017 onward.

The on-gun elements of the LINAPS system that Leonardo is providing include a FIN3110 inertial navigation unit with an integral GPS receiver, and a colour layer's display and control unit (LDCU), common to those provided by Leonardo for the British Army's earlier LINAPS Mk2 105 mm light gun upgrade programme.

A prototype digitised FH-70 howitzer hooked up behind its Iveco-ASTRA M250.40WM gun tractor vehicle. (ARIS)A prototype digitised FH-70 howitzer hooked up behind its Iveco-ASTRA M250.40WM gun tractor vehicle. (ARIS)

Supplementing these is a customised tripod-mounted detachment commander's display terminal (DCDT), comparable to the initial model introduced at the behest of the Canadian Army for its LINAPS-equipped M777 155 mm lightweight howitzers deployed on operations in Afghanistan in 2007.

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