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British Gunners Take Aim and Fire Swedish Archer Artillery System for the First Time

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British Gunners Take Aim and Fire Swedish Archer Artillery System for the First Time

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British Gunners Take Aim and Fire Swedish Archer Artillery System for the First Time
British Gunners Take Aim and Fire Swedish Archer Artillery System for the First Time

A clicking sound of an engine motor, the distinguishable clunk of metal and a ‘nano second’ later a fire ball and cloud of smoke explodes out of a gun muzzle, as a live shell is expelled from the barrel. This is the moment the first British troops fired the Archer Mobile Howitzer. Watching the vapour trail on its trajectory as it heads into the winter sky is Lieutenant Colonel Paddy Talbot-King, the Chief Instructor for the Training Delivery Wing, based at the Royal School of Artillery (RSA) who is “extremely pleased” with what he’s witnessed. Standing on the snowy, frozen military training area of Boden, Swedish Lapland, the Lieutenant Colonel is observing a team of gunners from Larkhill, Wiltshire who have successfully completed a training package, learning what it takes to operate the Archer. The historical moment in Sweden is the culmination of a 14-week ‘train the trainer’ course provided by The Swedish Artillery School.

Following the granting-in-kind of 32 AS90 self-propelled guns to Ukraine, Archer was procured from the Swedish Government as an interim solution for the gap created in the Army’s 155mm Close Support capability. The purchase included logistic support containers, an initial ammunition suite, initial support, and training package. But for Paddy it has been about his staff achieving the high standards required to operate the modern artillery platform. The course follows the same length and syllabus as that taught to the Swedish instructors to qualify them to teach their conscripts. This was the first time the two detachments have conducted a live fire mission and ammunition replenishment without the support of the Swedish Army, and the challenges not only included the harsh Nordic weather but also a re-education from the tracked gun they are familiar with.

This was the first time the two detachments have conducted a live fire mission and ammunition replenishment without the support of the Swedish Army, and the challenges not only included the harsh Nordic weather but also a re-education from the tracked gun they are familiar with. This was the first time the two detachments have conducted a live fire mission and ammunition replenishment without the support of the Swedish Army, and the challenges not only included the harsh Nordic weather but also a re-education from the tracked gun they are familiar with.

“The relationship with the Swedish School of Artillery has been enduring for a number of years. And has absolutely been cemented by the training here in Sweden on the Archer system. They very kindly offered to deliver this package, to be able to convert the artillery batteries in the UK onto the Archer system and have bent over backwards to support us in our training, and indeed will continue that support when we go back to Wiltshire,” LieutePaddy Talbot-King said.

Sergeant ‘Toffy’ Tovagone, currently employed as a Guns and Ammunition Instructor, is grinning from ‘ear to ear’ having stepped down from the considerable height of the cab. “Firing for the first time wasn’t much different,” he said, “It wasn’t that loud, when you fire the AS90 it shakes but this is a closed cabin, and it didn’t!”

“The need for the extensive package is that the gun is so complex. If you come from an AS90 or any other gun platform it is a lot less digital and not as much manual labour as it is on the standard older howitzers. You need much more in-depth knowledge of the computer system and fault management. The challenges of that are when you go from a physical job to pushing buttons it is ‘hard to get your head around it,’ you are used to doing it manually, and when the gun does it for you, you’re not comfortable with it,” explained Fanjunkare (Master Sergeant) Johannes Borgstedt-Faläng, one of the Swedish Gunnery Instructors who has spent the last three months working closely with British artillery soldiers.

The historical moment in Sweden is the culmination of a 14-week ‘train the trainer’ course provided by The Swedish Artillery School. The historical moment in Sweden is the culmination of a 14-week ‘train the trainer’ course provided by The Swedish Artillery School.
Soldiers from the British ArmyÕs Royal School of Artillery are learning what it takes to operate the Archer Mobile Howitzer.
On the snowy, frozen military training area of Boden, Swedish Lapland, the British Army gunners have been putting their theory into practice, firing the modern artillery platform for the first time.

The course follows the same length and syllabus as that taught to the Swedish instructors to qualify them to teach their conscripts. This was the first time the two detachments have conducted a live fire mission and ammunition replenishment without the support of the Swedish Army, and the challenges not only included the harsh Nordic weather but also a re-education from the tracked gun they are familiar with. The milestone will strengthen the international military cooperation and commitment to the Joint Expeditionary Force, the bi-lateral partnership between the UK and Sweden, and their journey towards NATO membership. Crew training will start on the next generation of wheeled artillery systems this spring, there are currently four in the UK and another eight will arrive in April.

The Archer Artillery System, or Archer – FH77BW L52, 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. 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 first Archer was delivered in October 2023.

Following the granting-in-kind of 32 AS90 self-propelled guns to Ukraine, Archer was procured from the Swedish Government as an interim solution for the gap created in the Army’s 155mm Close Support capability. (Photo by British Army)This was the first time the two detachments have conducted a live fire mission and ammunition replenishment without the support of the Swedish Army, and the challenges not only included the harsh Nordic weather but also a re-education from the tracked gun they are familiar with.

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