Wednesday Weapons – Mobile Artillery

Artillery is often thought of as a blunt weapon, but with the development of smart rounds like Excalibur true pinpoint accuracy is becoming available, changing artillery from an area weapon to a surgical weapon.

One of the biggest problems with artillery though is its sheer size and general lack of mobility. In modern warfare it is important to be highly mobile for a number of reasons. One is survivability, counter battery radar and  fire systems mean getting a round off may well be your last if you are fixed to one position. For this reason there are now some very interesting developments in mobile artillery, and not all of these develops are Western in origin.

Out of the box thinking is making some pretty devastating weapons systems. Here in NZ it is generally thought that 105mm howitzers are all we can realistically deploy, yet we haven’t deployed an artillery battery in combat since the Vietnam war. With some of these systems i am going to highlight mobility allows the thinking around deployable artillery to expand considerably. All weapons systems shows are NATO 155mm compatible.

First up the ZUZANA – 155 mm Self-propelled Gun Howitzer is a modern Slovak artillery system and automatic loader for loading of both, a projectile and charge. It is based on the DANA 152mm self-propelled howitzer. The system features long range, high accuracy and rate of fire, prompt preparation for firing and high level of mobility ensured by a modified TATRA 8×8 chassis. Design of the gun enables to use any NATO standard 155mm ammunition available on the market. The Fire Control System enables for a Multiple Round Simultaneous Impact (MRSI) mode. One of the unique features of ZUZANA is that the gun is mounted externally in between two totally separated compartments of the turret. This makes the system extremely safe for its crew that is completely out of reach of any potentially dangerous mechanics of the gun and autoloader plus the crew is protected from the gases generated during firing.

The Israeli ATMOS 2000 (Autonomous Truck MOunted howitzer System) is a 155 mm self-propelled (SP) artillery system manufactured by Soltam Systems.

The system is long range, fast moving, truck mounted with a High firepower and mobility, rapid deployment, short response time, operable in all terrain areas. The system is Integrated with a fully computerized systems, providing an automatic control, accurate navigation and target acquisition, the system is offered with various gun calibers, in order to meet different customer requirements.

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. The ATMOS 2000 carries a total of 32 155 mm projectiles and associated charges and can be operated by a 4 man crew, consisting of two loaders positioned one either side at the rear. The system provides a rate of fire of between 4 and 9 rds/min. (please forgive the gay music in the video)

The Panzerhaubitze 2000 (“Armoured howitzer 2000”), abbreviated PzH 2000, is a German 155 mm self-propelled howitzer developed by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) and Rheinmetall for the German Army. The PzH 2000 is one of the most powerful conventional artillery systems currently deployed. It is particularly notable for a very high rate of fire; in burst mode it can fire three rounds in 9 seconds, ten rounds in 56 seconds, and can fire between 10 and 13 rounds per minute continuously, depending on barrel heating. The PzH 2000 has automatic support for Multiple Rounds Simultaneous Impact (MRSI) for up to 5 rounds. The replenishment of shells is automated. Two operators can load 60 shells and propelling charges in less than 12 minutes. PzH 2000 has also been selected by the armies of Italy, Netherlands and Greece, and more orders are probable as many NATO forces replace their M109 howitzers.

Those are all awesome weapon systems. Obviously too the prices vary on all, with the German system being the Mercedes Benz system. However mobility is valuable and coupled with the lethal 155mm round the system becomes a devastating fire support tool. MRSI too is a force multiplier, anyone who has been a gunner or in need of the services of a gunner is going to love the MRSI system. The soldiers on the receiving end are certainly going to be calling for mercy after a strike from a battery of howitzers equipped with MRSI capable guns.

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