Elbit Systems Delivered New Batch ATMOS Self Propelled Howitzer
Elbit Systems ATMOS Self Propelled Howitzer

Colombian Ministry of Defence Picks Israeli ATMOS Howitzers Over French CAESAR Howitzers

Colombian Ministry of National Defence has ordered 18 units of the ATMOS 155mm self-propelled howitzer from Israel’s Elbit Systems in a deal worth $101.7 million. Defense News reported that The decision came as a surprise for some observers who expected the contract to go to the Colombian Army’s preferred choice, the CAESAR six-wheel self-propelled made by French company Nexter. During final negotiations, Nexter informed Colombia that the value of the potential deal would be $114 million. That price was deemed too high compared to funding allocated to the acquisition program. Colombia ultimately turned its attention to the Atmos, and the parties reached an agreement within budget. Nexter did not respond to a request for comment.

Elbit Systems ATMOS 8x8 and 6x6 155mm self-propelled howitzer.
Elbit Systems ATMOS 8×8 and 6×6 155mm self-propelled howitzer. (Photo by Elbit Systems)

The Colombian Army uses its artillery in real fire missions mainly attacking positions of Colombian drug cartels or ongoing battles between FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army) guerrillas and the government. The FARC is a Marxist–Leninist guerrilla group involved in the continuing Colombian conflict starting in 1964. About 2,000 to 2,500 FARC dissidents still take on FARC’s original doctrine and continue with drug trafficking, though far smaller than the group at its peak. A small faction of FARC leaders announced a return to armed activity on 29 August 2019. The Colombian government responded with preemptive strikes, killing FARC members planning to lead rearmament activities. The FARC lost 1,500 members in 2020. The number includes deaths, capture, and desertions. He said the FARC still had 2,500 armed members.

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Elbit Systems ATMOS 8x8 155mm self-propelled howitzer
Elbit Systems ATMOS 8×8 155mm self-propelled howitzer. (Photo by Elbit Systems)

The ATMOS(Autonomous Truck MOunted howitzer System) self-propelled gun-howitzer was developed by Soltam (Elbit Systems) as a private venture. The ATMOS uses Tatra T815 VVN 6×6 truck chassis. The ATMOS has been demonstrated implemented on 8×8 trucks. However this version received no production orders so far. Vehicle is powered by a diesel engine, developing 315 hp. The system is long range, fast moving, truck mounted with high firepower and mobility, rapid deployment, short response time, operable in all terrain areas. The system is integrated with a fully computerized system, providing an automatic control, accurate navigation and target acquisition, the system is offered with various gun barrel lengths, ranging from 39 to 52 calibre, in order to meet different customer requirements. Howitzer can be operated manually in case of emergency. This artillery system can be airlifted with a C-130 Hercules tactical transport aircraft.

Elbit Systems ATMOS 6x6 155mm self-propelled howitzer
Elbit Systems ATMOS 6×6 155mm self-propelled howitzer. (Photo by Elbit Systems)

The ATMOS is fitted with a 155 mm/52 calibre ordnance which conforms to NATO Joint Ballistic Memorandum of Understanding (JBMoU), and is mounted on a 6 × 6 cross-country truck chassis. The breech mechanism is horizontal sliding which automatically opens to the right with a self-sealing metal obturating ring. The buffer is a hydraulic cylinder with a hydro-pneumatic recuperator. Recoil length is variable from 850 to 1,100 mm with two pneumatic equilibrators. Weapon elevation and traverse are all hydraulic and computer controlled. The gun’s aiming gears, load assist systems and spades are operated by a hydraulic power pack. With a 155 mm/52 barrel, a 41 km maximum range can be achieved, using Extended Range Full-Bore – Base Bleed (ERFB-BB) projectile, 30 km firing the NATO L15 High Explosive (HE) projectile and 24.5 km firing the older M107 HE projectile.

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