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Infantry Weapons

Rwanda exercises new ATMOS 2000 howitzers

08 November 2016
The SOLTAM ATMOS 2000 self-propelled howitzer seen during Exercise 'Hard Punch'. Source: Paul Kagame

The Rwandan Defence Force (RDF) has acquired 155 mm/52-calibre SOLTAM ATMOS 2000 self-propelled howitzers, a photograph released by President Paul Kagame's office on 4 November confirmed.

The image showed a single SOLTAM ATMOS system during a combined-arms fire exercise that was viewed by Kagame at the RDF's Combat Training Centre in Gabiro.

Made by the Israeli company Elbit Systems, the SOLTAM ATMOS is designed for rapid deployment in difficult terrain and incorporates automatic laying and loading systems. However, the RDF's variant might be 4x6 rather than 6x6 vehicles and not fitted with all-terrain tyres.

Rwanda has previously acquired Israeli-made military equipment. Israel told the UN Register of Conventional Arms that it exported five "160 mm launchers" under the 'large calibre artillery systems' category in 2008, an apparent reference to the Israel Military Industries (IMI) Lynx multiple rocket launcher, which can fire rockets of various calibre, including the 160 mm LAR-160.

A Ti-67 Tiran - an Israeli-modified T-54/55 tank with a 105 mm L7-type gun and Blazer explosive reactive armour - has also been seen in Rwanda.

Kagame's website said that Exercise 'Hard Punch' demonstrated how the RDF is integrating various military capabilities as part of an ongoing structural transformation aimed at building an increasingly capable and professional force.

Another photograph taken during the exercise showed soldiers displaying a Narda STS IDA handheld signals direction finder. What appeared to be a vehicle-mounted signals intelligence system could be seen in the background.

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The use of what appeared to be a Chinese aerial target during the exercise suggested Rwanda may have acquired a Chinese air defence system. (Paul Kagame)The use of what appeared to be a Chinese aerial target during the exercise suggested Rwanda may have acquired a Chinese air defence system. (Paul Kagame)A Narda IDA signals direction finding system is demonstrated to Kagame. A vehicle-mounted SIGINT system might be visible in the background. (Paul Kagame)A Narda IDA signals direction finding system is demonstrated to Kagame. A vehicle-mounted SIGINT system might be visible in the background. (Paul Kagame)



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