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British Army to receive Archer SPHs as interim capability

The Archers will be drawn from Swedish Army stocks and enter into service in 2024. (Marcus Olsson/Försvarsmakten)

The UK Ministry of Defence's (MoD's) announcement on 16 March that the British Army is to receive BAE Systems Bofors Archer self-propelled howitzers (SPHs) will see the army take into service a more mobile, leaner-crewed platform than the AS90, currently in its inventory.

Fourteen Archers will be transferred to the British Army from Swedish Army stocks, and these will serve as an interim replacement for the 32 AS90 SPHs gifted to the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

The Archer gun system is integrated on a Volvo 6×6 all-wheel drive (AWD) all-terrain chassis, which brings the easier maintenance and better on-road mobility associated with wheeled platforms versus tracked vehicles such as the AS90. The Archer has a maximum speed and a range of 70 km/h and 500 km, respectively, compared with the AS90's 55 km/h and 370 km. However, because of its tracks, the AS90 is better suited to operate in challenging terrains.

With regards to firepower, both feature 155 mm guns – 155 mm/52 calibre for the Archer and 155 mm/39 calibre for the AS90 – similar rates of fire, automatic ammunition loading systems, and use the same ammunition profiles. The Archer gun, however, offers a maximum range of 50 km versus the 30 km of the AS90 (both when firing extended-range base-bleed ammunition). This greater range is because of the Archer's longer barrel and represents a significant enhancement in stand-off capability. Moreover, the Archer has a six-round Multiple Round Simultaneous Impact (MRSI) capability, where six rounds fired at different trajectories arrive at a target at the same time.

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