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British Army receives first Archer howitzer

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The British Army has received its first Swedish-made 155mm Archer artillery system, according to a recent service news release.

The new Archer howitzer arrived by ship at the Marchwood Military Port in Hampshire.

The British Army is buying Swedish-made 155mm artillery systems to plug a gap left by the supply of weapons donated to Ukraine.

Colonel Stuart Nasse, Assistant Head of Military Capability Delivery, said:

“It is one of the fastest procurements of a complex system that’s ever been conducted through necessity.”

“We had an intolerable gap which needed to be closed, and we were fortunate our Swedish Allies had an opportunity for us to purchase some of the Archer artillery system. That meant we could move quickly, to seize the opportunity and buy the new capability.”

“In February I was given orders by the Army Headquarters to go after Archer and 48 days later we were on contract, thanks to a joint team that was established with Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S), our delivery agent.

“We worked collaboratively at some significant pace to achieve this acquisition in record time.”

The arrival of the first Archer on UK soil was almost six months to the day it was contracted and is the first to arrive of 14 guns which have been purchased for the Royal Artillery.

The purchase includes logistic support containers, an initial ammunition suite, a training package, and an initial support package.

DE&S which negotiates and manages defence contracts on behalf of the UK Armed Forces, will run tests and trials with the ARCHER Project Team. This is to ensure it is fully compliant with UK legislation and provide a smooth start into the Field Army.

The platform which offers new ways to fight will be fielded by 1 Deep Recce Strike (DRS) Brigade Combat Team. It will initially be housed within 19 Regiment Royal Artillery (The Scottish Gunners), at Larkhill, in Wiltshire, as a reference gun to facilitate the trial.

Designed and built by BAE Systems Bofors in Sweden, a further four will arrive in the UK by the end of the year and the balance by spring 2024.

Colonel Nasse explained:

“These will be undergoing trials and evaluation for approximately the next six months; artillery soldiers will start training on them from next spring and we will be firing them in the UK next summer.”

“They will be with the Field Army immediately after that first firing, so by next autumn they will be with the Field Army and used on operations as soon as possible.”

“As the project matures and the doctrine for operating develops, the systems may be reallocated elsewhere to maximise their effect on the battlefield.”

“We’ve procured 14 Archers because that was what was available at the time, we have an aspiration to buy another ten which will bring us up to a full regiment of capability.”

Colonel Nasse, concluded:

“The Archer is an interim solution until the delivery of Mobile Fires Platform Project at the end of the decade, a separate programme which is the replacement programme for the heavy artillery, this is not the replacement for the AS90.”

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