The arrival of the first Archer 6×6 howitzer on UK soil comes almost six months to the day it was contracted and is the first of 14 guns which have been purchased for the Royal Artillery. The UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DE&S) will also deliver Ammunition Resupply System, an initial ammunition suite, a training package and an initial support package as part of the contract. The platform, which enables new ways to fight will be fielded by 1 Deep Recce Strike (DRS) Brigade, and initially held by 19 Regiment Royal Artillery (The Scottish Gunners), Larkhill, Wiltshire, where capability integration activity and safety trials will be carried out to meet Initial Operating Capability in 2024. The rapid procurement of Archer comes following the UK’s commitment to granting-in-kind 32 AS90 self-propelled guns to Ukraine. The systems have been bought under a Government to Government agreement with the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (Försvarets materielverk, FMV) and have been upgraded to a UK specification by BAE Bofors.
Minister for Defence Procurement, James Cartlidge said:“It’s vital we protect our Service Personnel, and this cutting-edge technology is so important to reduce the threat posed by toxic chemicals across a range of environments globally. Not only is it an impressive piece of equipment designed and manufactured here in the UK, but the ability for it to be continually developed and improved is exactly how we want Defence procurement to be – deliverable, effective and ambitious.”
Colonel Rob Hollinrake, DE&S Team Leader responsible for the Interim 155mm project, said:“The delivery of the first Archer gun system to the British Army so quickly after the initial contract agreement is testament to the hard work and diligence of all those involved in the project. We are totally committed to equipping the UK Armed Forces and soon as possible and supporting them, whilst meeting our obligations to operational commitments.”
The Archer Artillery System, or Artillerisystem 08, is a Swedish self-propelled howitzer system. The main piece of the system is a fully automated 155 mm L52 (52-calibre-long) gun-howitzer and a M151 Protector remote-controlled weapon station mounted on a modified 6×6 chassis of the Volvo A30D all-terrain articulated hauler. The crew and engine compartment is armoured and the cab is fitted with bullet and fragmentation-resistant windows. The system also includes an ammunition resupply vehicle, a support vehicle, BONUS submunitions and M982 Excalibur guided projectiles. The vehicle platform is a modification of the Volvo A30D 6×6 articulated all-terrain hauler vehicle. Operators control the entire gun system in any weather from the safety of the armored vehicle cabin which is fitted with bullet and fragmentation-proof windows. The system also includes a munition carrier consisting of a removable, modified standard container mounted on a ballistic-proofed all-terrain lorry.
The Archer system is also one of the contenders for the British Army’s future artillery, as it is participating in the Mobile Fires Platform (MFP) programme to replace the AS-90 tracked self-propelled gun-howitzer. On 16 March 2023, the Swedish Government asked for permission from the Riksdag to sell 14 Archer Artillery Systems to the British Army as an interim replacement for 32 AS-90 gifted to Ukraine. Ownership of the systems was transferred in March 2023, and they would be fully operational by the following April. The government-to-government sale is being negotiated by Defence Equipment & Support – the UK MOD’s procurement arm – and the final contract will be signed with their Swedish counterparts, FMV, shortly. Recognising the need to sustain Ukraine’s fighting and support capabilities, the UK and Sweden have also agreed to collaborate on bringing together efforts for repair and maintenance of vehicles granted in kind to Ukraine