TechThe world's fastest artillery gun makes its combat debut in Ukraine

The world's fastest artillery gun makes its combat debut in Ukraine

The H77BW Archer howitzer, gifted by Sweden, during shelling the Russians.
The H77BW Archer howitzer, gifted by Sweden, during shelling the Russians.
Images source: © X (formerly Twitter) | Ukrainian Front
1:06 PM EST, December 8, 2023

The first footage of the H77BW Archer artillery gun, imported from Sweden and currently used by Ukraine to attack Russians, is now available online. In this article, we shed light on why it is dubbed the world's fastest artillery gun.

The footage likely originated from soldiers of Ukraine's 45th Independent Artillery Brigade. Several weeks ago, soldiers from this brigade were seen with one of the H77BW Archer artillery guns.

The H77BW Archer ranks among the best of Sweden's contributions to Ukraine, along with the CV90 Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs). Stockholm has also supplied a considerable number of AT4 anti-tank grenade launchers, RBS-56B BILL 2 anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), and RBS-70 anti-aircraft missiles. In terms of efficacy, the Swedish artillery gun surpasses weaponry used by both NATO and Russia.

The H77BW Archer: Swedish artillery standout

Sweden has been producing the H77BW Archer, widely recognized as the most advanced and fastest artillery gun, since 2009. The gun's development began as part of a joint Swedish-Norwegian next-generation artillery program. However, Norway opted out of the program in favor of the South Korean K9 Thunder, but Sweden pressed on independently.

Their perseverance resulted in an exceptionally advanced, highly automated artillery gun that requires only 3–4 soldiers to operate. Impressively, it can complete a mission in just 75 seconds. All it needs is a brief pause, to fire a three-shot salvo, then make a swift departure.

The H77BW Archer, similar to modern artillery pieces like the German PzH 2000 and Polish Krab, utilizes a 155 mm caliber gun with a length of 52 calibers. Even with standard ammunition such as DM121 or OFd MKM, it can hit targets roughly 18.64 miles distant. The range extends to 24.85 miles using projectiles powered by a gas generator, and even further to around 37.28 miles with rocket-boosted projectiles such as M549A1 or guided M982 Excalibur.

Intriguingly, for new versions of the latter projectiles, the circular error probable (CEP) is a mere 4 meters, meaning that 50% of fired projectiles are expected to fall within a circle having a radius of 4 meters. Furthermore, the artillery gun possesses a destructive MRSI mode firing capability wherein all the launched projectiles hit the target simultaneously.

The H77BW Archer is fitted with an automatic loader managing both projectiles and propellant charges. This enables the artillery gun to achieve a firing rate of 8 shots per minute, allowing all 20 rounds in the magazine to be fired off in a mere 2.5 minutes under extreme conditions.

Despite its substantial advantages and ease of air transport using the Airbus A400M Atlas, the Swedish design has struggled to find a strong foothold in the export market. The prime reasons are the system's high price, limited interest owing to the infrequency of full-scale wars, and the availability of the cheaper French Caesar with comparable capabilities.

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