It has been revealed that “work is underway” to replace the AS-90 155mm self-propelled gun.

Mark Francois, Member of Parliament for Wickford, asked via a written Parliamentary question:

“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what is the expected out-of-service dates of AS-90s; and if he will make a statement on its replacement.”

Jeremy Quin, Minister of State at the Ministry of Defence, responded:

“The expected out-of-service date for the AS-90 is 2030. Work is underway to identify a replacement to respond to the threats we will face out to the 2050s.”

What is the AS-90?

Artillery, basically. The AS-90 is a 155mm self-propelled gun that entered service with the British Army in 1992. It was designed and built by the Armaments division of Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering , whose parent company became BAE Systems in 1999.

179 have been built for the British Army. Notably, the AS-90 was deployed in Iraq in March 2003.

The gun remains in UK service and will support armoured infantry brigades for the foreseeable future. 134 were in service in 2008, reduced to 117 in 2015. The AS-90 underwent a capability enhancement program in 2008 and 2009, primarily relating to upgrades of the AS-90’s electronic system.

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Nigel Collins
DaveyB

Its a shame hat the AS90 upgrade with the 52 cal gun was cancelled as this would have provided the same range capabilities as the Pz2000.

From their website the Archer gun system is a modular package and in theory allows it to married to a number of vehicle platforms. As the price for the Boxer with the artillery gun module is likely to be too much. How about fitting Archer to Boxer? This would give it significantly better mobility, but also protection for the crew.

Nigel Collins

Just found this which is very interesting.

“Counter-mass armour concept: Computer-generated image of a cassette of MBDA Brimstone surface-to-surface variant missiles mounted on a British Army Ares tracked reconnaissance support platform. Source: MBDA”

https://www.janes.com/article/94844/mbda-leverages-complex-weapons-portfolio-in-support-of-british-army-cf-l-35-initiative

Lee1

They will just buy US equipment and in far fewer numbers than we currently have.

Watcherzero

US isn’t buying new but having the old ones upgraded by BAE.

peter

Perhaps we should have upgraded are M109’s, the Americans seem to have done this successfully and saved a load of money?

James Fennell

Its likely to be a straight fight between the Rheinmettal Boxer module (based on PZ2000 gun system), the BAe Bofors Archer system and the Nexter Ceasar system (which the army tested a couple of years back). All are wheeled. All three systems have automatic loading and can be operated by only 3 gunners if required.

Chris

Is this separate to the Mobile Fires Platform that was announced last year or is it a different programme?

maurice10

179 guns were produced, then defence cut after defence cut saw the numbers dwindle. An upgraded gun was demonstrated but alas nothing happened? I doubt anything like the AS90’s numbers will be purchased, as the RA’s fleet always appears to be woefully low? Artillery is still a critically important component of battle, however, the new gun may need to be highly mobile and able to uproot and quickly reposition?

CliveH

Last year at DSEI, Janes reported that a British Army requirement for 135 guns was making the rounds amongst the delegates.

https://www.janes.com/article/91220/mobile-fires-platform-clarification-dsei19d4

Initial gate 2021, Main gate 2022, IOC 2026.

This was all 2019 BC (before Cummings). who knows how its all going to play out. Could not find any further info since then.

CliveH

Sorry Main gate 2024

James Fennell

They will need more than we have AS90 as it will also replace the towed light guns currently used by the strike brigade.

ChariotRider

Hi Maurice,

The article that Nigel links to above suggests that the MFP programme will acquire a maximum of 98 systems to equipment 5 regiments – so another cut in capability I’m afraid.

In and out times is said to be less that 30 seconds, with a rate of fire between 6 – 8 rpm depending on charge. Also the system can apparently operate independently of a battery C2 system so is highly flexible and capable.

BV Buster

98 systems between 5 regiments? (let me get my fingers out) 19 per reg? how embarrassing. That is the equivalent of 2 Russian regiments of 2S19s, how bad is the situation where we don’t have artillery? whats next, an Infantry capability gap?

AS-90 is completely outclassed, every other modern country is upgrading their systems, where is out budget going ?

BV

Cam

And some will have to be spares and training vehicles. So less for each reg..

BV Buster

So about 16 guns per reg, that’s a battery +. So we will have 16 guns to cover a full brigade frontage, it just doesn’t work, by the time you take into counter battery fire and repositioning guns there will be none online for fire support. Why bother!

BV

Peter Feeney

We were bluffed in to AS90 in the first place. We took four guns, each with a unique role to play in the fire plan and squashed then in to ONE! The usual bollox about the gun being so capable it could do all that the four used to. So we task the guns with counter battery then call for close fires in support of the Battle Group. What do we get? The same FV432 mounted 81mm mortar we have had to rely on since the demise of Abbott. And now we are looking for a gun with the Operational… Read more »

BV Buster

Shame we only get 81mm mortar, working with the yanks with 120mm its clear its a much better system, I just wouldn’t want to carry one.

BV

Cam

Exactly, that’s why I think top brass is only hoping we don’t get into a major land war…..same goes for all our millitary, small deployments and medium scale warfare but no whole army warfare as we now hardly have the numbers. They must be praying no major war breaks out.

Andy P

“They must be praying no major war breaks out.”

I know I am Cam and I’m not even remotely religious.

Airborne

BV my bro is in 7 RHA and believe me mate the gunners (aside from ISTAR) are in absolute shit state! Regiments with only 2 gun batteries, some only able to man 3-4 Gyns. No decent ammo/fuzes, no new equipment planned, numerous promises over the last 15 years but nothing but cuts! And absolutely wafer thin AD! I could go on but would bore the pants of many on here. Needless to say my Bro hasn’t got long left and he is taking the pension and fucking off to the Oz Arty lol.

BV Buster

Cavalry, Infantry and Artillery are the cornerstones of land combat, it pains me to say but Artillery is a battle winner. Being able to fix the enemy is critical to winning the battle, the threat of artillery has a massive effect by stopping the concentration of force and disrupting/spoiling attacks. I think we have reached a critical point in our armed forces where jobs for the boys, creating pointless jobs for senior officers and prioritizing everything other than combat capability had rendered us incapable of fighting even 4th rate land powers, we will suffer massive amounts of casualties during the… Read more »

HMS Monarch

Exactly, infantry wins firefights, tanks win battles and artillery wins wars

Peter Shaw

I guess rail guns could be much cheaper and more effective on the battlefield.

peter

Have you seen the megawatt requirement for a rail gun, that’s why they are put on nuke powered ships!

Callum

Not in the indirect fire role. Even if you could miniaturise the system to the point where it’s self propelled, a rail gun just isn’t suitable to be artillery, you can’t really arc a railgun slug.

A good old fashioned long gun is likely to remain the fire support weapon of choice, paired with laser guided shells targeted by spotters or drones, would be my choice. Plus MLRS of course.

Richard

i still have a suspicion it’s going to be a Caesar SPH gun system on the MAN 8×8 chassis in a similar way to the TATRA version for Denmark.

BV Buster

That would make sense, Strike capable, can support the light brigades if needed. do we have a cost per unit?

BV

Cam

Back when we used to build our own! Shameful numbers, and I heard we barely have 70 active nowadays.

Cymbeline

Only a 3 man crew I believe and ideal for shoot and scoot deployment.

Rob

Seeing as we are buying Boxer in bulk, what about the Boxer RCH155? Have a look at:

http://www.artec-boxer.com/fileadmin/documents/DB_RCH_155_08-2017.pdf

It fits in with the Strike Brigade concept, 8 rds a minute, 40 stored rounds & fully automated lessening manning costs.

Cam

Now that makes sense Rob it looks great and would fit in perfect, that’s why we won’t get it lol

Rob

Its got to be cheaper than a fully tracked variant. Need 100. 4 x 18 gun Regiments, 1 training Regiment + some test & evaluation and replacements. You say we won’t get it, well that’s down to the SDSR. If the Army is going to be a serious player against peer adversaries (which really means Russia who put a lot of emphasis into artillery) we can’t do so without a 155 Regiment per fielded Brigade. Blue Fuzz (below) makes the point that we still have GMLRS too which is a very deadly piece of kit. I feel sure the RA… Read more »

Blue Fuzz

Seconded Rob – short and medium range AD is an essential part of the mix. It not only defends against air attack, but also denies the enemy the ability to spot targets from the air for their artillery.

Paul T

Rob/Blue Fuzz – Yes looking at the footage from Turkey’s adventure into Northern Syria Air Defence is Key – extensive use of UAV’S and Drones (Armed in Turkey’s case) ,Air Strikes and Artillery ,hopefully all this is being studied.

Cam

I’ve read even more about the boxer artillery system and it’s really great, 2 crew needed and it has some amazing features, i hope we pick that boxer artillery.

Mr Bell

Rob that is an ugly mother. Really ugly design, still as a capability seems to fit the bill

Rob

Yes, they should rename it ugly, agreed. However if we are going to have Strike Brigades where the infantry deploys in Boxer it makes sense for the artillery to follow in the same vehicle. We could also maybe have the recce element in Boxer (40mm gun variant) and a light tank variant (90 to 105mm or simple equipped with lots of TOWs). That way the Strike Bde could do what it says on the tin, go fast with flexible fire power…. Doubt it will ever happen though.

IKnowNothing

Come the glorious revolution when I’m in charge of defence procurement, I will ask why we cannot consolidate every requirement that isn’t for heavy armour onto Boxer – use it for artillery, c2, ambulance, air defence, ATGm, mortar, comms, etc etc. Then use the size of the order to bid down the price per unit for base vehicles and consolidate work in the UK. Stop messing around with different base vehicles and use one common design whenever possible. Sure those specialist vehicles might be better in their niche role but the costs and service issues with so many vehicle types… Read more »

Bob2

The potential problem with the boxer variant in your link is its height (nearly 4m, which is 1.5m higher than an as90).

There must be a better design for a 155mm module for the boxer. We might need to move the boxer engine to the front like the Italians did for their 120mm 8x8s.

Ian

Rob……..it looks like something out of Thunderbirds….

Rudeboy

I know everyone looks at the RCH155 and thinks that would be great…and it does look great.

Its heart is the Rheinmetall Artillery Gun Module, in the past this was exhibited on the ASCOD 2 Chassis (i.e. AJAX) and has been proposed for the Boxer. It could be used by the British Army on an AJAX chassis as a tracked SPG for Armoured Infantry, and on Boxer for STRIKE as a wheeled SPG. As the gun turret would be the same there would be no financial difference.

But….this thing has been around since 2004.
With zero customers.

Peter Feeney

Much earlier I suggested that the UK should design and build a replacement family of SPG for export. I was told “better minds than mine”; and that there was no requirement WORLDWIDE.
To those that said that – guess the Koreans thought differently!
I do have more if anyone is interested …

Blue Fuzz

Why 5 regiments? 4 would make sense – one each for the 2 armoured and 2 strike bdes. If each had 18 guns (split into 2 or 3 batteries) that would leave 26 for training, spares, test and evaluation (assuming a buy of 98 guns). So, a deploying div of 3 bdes would have 54 guns – plus GLMRs, etc.

Daniele Mandelli

Agree with this. Maybe the 5rh regiment is 14RA, the training regiment.

I’m more concerned that the strike brigades must wait til 2030 for their guns.

Rob

Danielle, well the staff can say whatever they want, without deployable artillery they aren’t Strike Brigades are they? So they do need to get a wiggle on.

Daniele Mandelli

With 12 Light Guns each? And a mix of 2 Regiments with Tracks with the firepower and 2 Battalions on wheeled APC’s with nothing more than a self defence 7.62? And no integral air defence save a battery of Starstreak? Weak artillery, weak REME, weak everything? Spread to the four winds supposedly dominating the ground? No Rob, they are not Strike Brigades! They are a mess.

As the first strike brigade is meant to be ready 2023 or was it 2025, then 2030 is rather late.

Rob

Daniele, the point of Strike is to go fast, hard & with combined arms. If one of the equation is missing then there is no point. A small army, like ours, can’t expect to maintain the capability to do airborne, airmobile, amphibious, light infantry, protected mobility light infantry, strike, mechanised infantry & armoured with this size of force. So we need to prioritise. I’d suggest, because we are an island, making sure we can do airborne, amphibious and strike really well and then, somehow, maintain a second line of armoured capability. The present policy will just end in having everyone… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Will General Carter take heed? They are his creation, and he got promoted to CDS for it.

Airborne

Rob, correct but the concept of operations with the strike Brigades is flawed to the extreme, as they aren’t there to go in fast and hard, (and the combined arms bit is very limited) they are there to be inserted to dominate an extended area, with platoon plus formations supposedly interlinked (with no attached OS, AD, loggie support) controlling large areas of land for an indefinite period of time. Absolute shite, and if not changed prior to formation and deployment, will prove to become the biggest operational disaster and losses to a first world military by a third world technical… Read more »

Airborne

Correct, as ever, certainly on the ever increasing mess of the so called strike Brigades. Biggest cluster since Churchill thought a small beach on the Gallipoli peninsula was a good place to land to assist the Russians in the North.

Blue Fuzz

Well I suppose the strike bdes could deploy with AS90 until then. It can keep up as Ajax will be slowing Boxer down! FUBAR!!

Rob

Don’t get me started on Ajax and the Strike Bdes in general….

Daniele Mandelli

They are already in the process of removing the 3rd AS90 Regiment. Soon only 2 will remain.

The 2 Strike Brigades will, under current plans, be supported by 3 RHA and 4 RA. Each with 12 Light Guns!

Firepower to make the enemy wilt.

BV Buster

I had this chat the other day, Boxer has .50 cal, Ajax cant keep up but only has 40mm. light guns are terrible for modern warfighting and we don’t have any exotic rounds. The inf is stuck with 81mm mortar and only hand held AT, Jav has a short range.

WTF do we kill the enemy with??????

BV

Daniele Mandelli

Cyber, going by the absolute BS Strategic Command were coming out with the other day during their conference!!

BV Buster

(T-90 rolling my position, SMERCH rounds landing around me, Havoc strafing me with impunity)

“All call signs this is BV Buster, deploy the secret weapon”

(guy in Gloucestershire wearing glasses taps on a keyboard)

T-90 commander
“shit my Facebook account has just been deleted”

SMERCH commander
“my ASDA(ski) shopping has not been delivered”

Havoc pilot
“I have just got an e-mail from an African prince with too much money”

Russian Divisional commander
“My Netflix account has been locked, all units withdraw back to Russia”

Rommel would be proud!!!!!

BV

Airborne

And don’t forget, using mixed Platoon formations, 4 Boxers with maybe 2 Ajax, an Ajax can recover a boxer, but a boxer can’t recover an Ajax, and therefore the damage/loss of just one vehicle can cause an absolute cluster fuck, whereby we are either sitting around waiting for REME to drop the beers and turn up, while getting fragged by Toyota technicals and there crack headed crews, or we blow our own vehicles, into another one and fuck off. Wonder how many times we can do that before we are all on our hooves being chased back to the port… Read more »

BV Buster

We are doing the bare minimum to pretend we are capable of operating strike brigades, having a slack handful of 8×8 vehicles does not make a strike brigade. I think if we do it properly, get the kit we need ect, it will be a game changer for the army. Unfortunately, we will do the bare minimum, we will try and make do with what we have and if it comes to a war and people die, no one will be held accountable. We just don’t have the money to have a full spectrum capability, if we get rid of… Read more »

JohnHartley

Janes, 29 Nov 2019, ‘Rheinmetall develops new long-range howitzer’. It has a larger chamber & a 60 calibre barrel. Now there is a RH/BAE link up over boxer, we could licence build a 60 calibre RH 155mm gun in the UK.

Nigel Collins

It can through a shell some distance!

Rheinmetall develops new long-range howitzer

https://defence.pk/pdf/threads/rheinmetall-develops-new-long-range-howitzer.644442/

Frank62

Pity we can’t get our act together to marinise a 155mm gun for our warships. Making it AAA/AshM capable could be tricky & raising the rate of fire.

Gunbuster

Be tried and demean impracticable by the RN. There was a program that investigated putting a 155 in the Mk 8 mount. It could be done and the handling system would have worked. but manually humping 155mm shells in a sea way below decks would have been a nightmare. humping 4.5 is bad enough.

Look at the mess the USN is in with the Zumwalts 155mm AGS. Its so expensive they cannot afford to shoot the shells.

JohnHartley

Yes, but Zumwalts fire an expensive 155mm guided missile rather than a cheap shell.

DaveyB

The Zumwalt could fire a normal shell as well. The thing that killed of AGS was the cost per shell for the guided version. The cost went through the roof when the USN capped the Zumwalt buy to three vessels. The problem was that the gun’s chamber was much larger than a standard 155 field fun. Therefore it had to have specialised shells and bag charges like the Long Range Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP) shell. This made the ammunition incompatible with the standard 155 ammo. During trials of the gun system and ammo the whole package worked as advertised. It… Read more »

John

Australia is getting K9 Thunders from South Korea to be built locally. I wonder if UK could do the same. Australian BTW.

Paul T

John – That would be an easy OTS option,it has gained sales in Europe,or maybe the Polish AHS Krab that uses the AS90 Turret.

Joe16

Personally, I’d be OK with a combination of Archer for dedicated artillery sections, and Boxer-mounted 120 mm mortars for mobile elements (looking at you, Strike Brigade). It’s nice to have tracked self propelled guns, for sure, but I’d rather have a decent quantity of modern, effective artillery than tracks.

Daniele Mandelli

The Russians have not forgotten that artillery is the god of the battlefield.

Surely it must be cheaper to have well a resourced RA with numerous smart munitions and guns than fast jets for fire support?

I know Fast Jets are more flexible, but the RA has been neglected to ludicrous levels.

Joe16

Hi Daniele, I’m with you on the need for greater artillery. I would potentially (haven’t fully thought this through yet, so don’t be too critical..!) consider removing our heavy armour if we got powerful, well-rounded and provisioned artillery instead.
Also, one has to bear in mind that aircraft are only more flexible when they are able to fly / operate in the area required. That’s not necessarily a given with peer state conflict in northern Europe or even the Pacific theatre. On the flipside, organic artillery provision to fighting units is available for as long as they have ammunition!

BV Buster

Just look at some of the vids from Ukraine, the “none” Russians were smashing the Ukrainians way before they made contact. The problem with fast jets is there are so few, they worked well in Afghan, benign airspace, sporadic contacts. In a conventional conflict every JTAC in the Division will be screaming for air support. They also will be busy fighting their own battles so on day one they will not be available. The biggest problem is their inability to suppress over long periods, 155 landing on a defensive position over a long period of time has a better suppressive… Read more »

john melling

How about the Donar 155 mm self-propelled howitzer

David Nicholls

Denel G6-52 ER shown to reach 76km? One of the few battle proven options.

john melling

I think there are better options than the Denel G6-52 ER. due to its 5 man operating.
I would think we are better off with a 2-3 man option
Technology doing more of the hard work…

But we do need to modernise and expand the RA