The British Army is buying Archer self-propelled howitzers from Ukraine as an interim replacement for the 32 AS90 artillery systems the UK will gift to Ukraine.
Sweden’s defense ministry announced in January this year it could provide Ukraine with 12 of the 48 Archer 155mm howitzers it currently has in service.
As part of the agreed deal with the UK, the number of systems Sweden would donate to Ukraine is proposed to be eight, of which two pieces are part of the maintenance system. Sweden will sell 14 Archer howitzer systems to the UK, enabling the donation of AS90 artillery systems from the UK to Ukraine.
The Archer artillery systems mounted on a Volvo chassis and originally built for the Swedish Army will have ownership transferred to the British Army this month and be fully operational by next April, according to the UK defense ministry.
Designed and built by BAE Systems Bofors in Sweden, Archer has double the maximum range of AS90, greater operational mobility, greater availability and reduced time into action. Operated by 3-4 crew, it has a lower requirement for personnel than the AS90’s five, and benefits from a higher top speed of 70kph compared to the current 53kph.
Archer 6×6 boasts a fully automated, self-propelled 155mm howitzer gun designed for rapid deployment, with a firing range of 50km using extended range ammunition – a doubling of the AS90’s 25km range.
Loading and firing of Archer is handled from inside the armored cabin, with the unit able to be deployed into action in just 20 seconds and is ready to move after firing in the same amount of time.
Archer can fire a number of types of 155mm artillery ammunition, including extended range and precision anti-armor shells. It can also fire eight rounds a minute and four rounds in a simultaneous impact-mode, meaning several shells are fired in succession with different trajectories so they hit the same target at the same time.
“While continuing to double-down on our unwavering support for Ukraine, it’s imperative we simultaneously replenish our capabilities at home,” UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said.
“Archer artillery systems are powerful, protective and can be rapidly deployed. This agreement with a close European ally will sustain the British Army’s requirements until the longer-term Mobile Fires Platform comes into service – a program we are working hard to accelerate.”
The purchase of the Archers from Sweden enables the UK to quickly replace AS90 until the long-term Mobile Fires Platform delivers later this decade as part of the Future Soldier modernization program.
The government-to-government sale is being negotiated by Defence Equipment & Support – the UK MOD’s procurement arm – and the final contract is expected to be signed with their Swedish counterparts, FMV, shortly.