TechUkraine flaunts the world's fastest howitzer

Ukraine flaunts the world's fastest howitzer

Ukrainian crew against the backdrop of the Swedish howitzer FH77BW Archer.
Ukrainian crew against the backdrop of the Swedish howitzer FH77BW Archer.
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6:41 PM EDT, November 3, 2023

Members of the 45th Independent Artillery Brigade of Ukraine have recently been photographed with the world's fastest howitzer, a donation from Sweden. Let's take a look at what this artillery piece offers.

Sweden is among the nations that have been providing Ukraine with an array of modern equipment. These items include anti-tank weaponry such as AT4 anti-tank launchers, and guided anti-tank missiles (ATGMs) like the RBS-56B BILL 2 and RBS-70 anti-aircraft systems. Ukraine has also received heavy equipment, including heavily armored CV90 Infantry fighting vehicles and the H77BW Archer howitzers, renowned as the world's fastest howitzer. It is only now that the Ukrainians have decided to publicize these acquisitions.

Introducing the H77BW Archer - the World's Fastest Automated Howitzer

The H77BW Archer howitzers, which began production in Sweden in 2009, are the outcome of a new-generation artillery program initially shared between Sweden and Norway. The Norwegians eventually withdrew from the project and decided on the South Korean K9 Thunder, leaving the Swedes to complete the program single-handedly. The result is a highly advanced, highly automated design that requires a crew of only 3-4 soldiers and can prepare to fire in a mere 75 seconds.

Such a quick setup time allows the Archer to stop, fire a three-shot salvo, and relocate in a short period. This level of efficiency in a current-generation design is impressive, heralding a new trend in self-propelled artillery where firing on the move, similar to the RCH 155, becomes the norm.

The Swedish howitzer uses a 155 mm caliber gun with a barrel length of 52 calibers, similar to other modern competitors such as the PzH 2000, Polish Crab, and French Caesar. When used with standard munitions like DM121 or OFd MKM, targets up to 30 km (18.6 miles) can be reached. The range extends to 40 km (24.8 miles) with a gas generator projectile, and up to 60 km (37.3 miles) with M549A1 or guided M982 Excalibur shells.

With more recent projectile variants, the circular error probable (CEP) is only 4 meters (13 feet); this means that 50% of fired projectiles are expected to land within this radius. Additionally, the howitzer has a destructive firing mode called MRSI where all fired projectiles hit the target simultaneously.

The H77BW Archer comes with an automatic loading system that manages both shells and powder charges allowing an accelerated rate of fire of 8 shots/min. At this pace, the entire magazine of 20 rounds can be emptied in just 2.5 minutes.

Despite its impressive features and easy air transport with an Airbus A400M Atlas, this Swedish design has not seen much export success. High system costs, low interest due to a lack of full-scale wars, and competition from cheaper French Caesar with similar capabilities have impeded its popularity. However, the current war in Ukraine might alter this scenario.

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