105 to 155

mm that is

Merlin Helicopter Light Gun Royal Artillery
Merlin Helicopter Light Gun Royal Artillery

Merlin Helicopter Carrying 105mm Light Gun

A RAF Merlin helicopter carries a 105mm Light Gun during a training exercise for reservists.

Royal Air Force Benson 606 (Chiltern) Reserve Squadron instructors delivered training to British Army students during an Underslung Load Course at Benson airfield on 21st March 2013.

Students were assessed on their capability to perform drills associated with rigging a 105mm weapon system to a Royal Air Force Merlin helicopter.

AS90 155mm Self Propelled Gun
AS90 155mm Self Propelled Gun

An AS90 Self-Propelled Gun is pictured during an exercise in the North of England.

The AS90 is a 155mm self-propelled gun that equips six field regiments of the Royal Horse Artillery and Royal Artillery.

The AS90 is fitted with a 155mm, 39 or 52-calibre gun barrel. In trials, two AS90 guns were able to deliver a total payload of 261kg on to a single target in less than ten seconds.

An automated loading system enables the gun to fire with a burst rate of three rounds in fewer than ten seconds, an intense rate of six rounds a minute for three minutes and a sustained rate of two rounds a minute.

The gun is equipped with a recoil and hydrogas suspension system, which allows the turret to traverse and fire through a full 360°.

The range is 24.7km using conventional ammunition. The AS90 also fires assisted rounds, which provide an extended range to 30km. Fitting a 52-calibre barrel instead of the standard 39 calibre extends the range beyond 40km.

Love the last sentence

 

 

99 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Obsvr
Obsvr
August 2, 2013 10:27 am

And we all know why the 52 cal barrel hasn’t been adopted. The low barrel wear propelling charge didn’t meet IM requirements. Of course given the barrel heating issues that have emerged with 39 cal barrels at high charges, then it’s an interesting question as to how many rounds a 52 cal barrel can fire with a more powerful top charge before temperature limits are met. It’s useful to remember that in WW2 even 25-pr was restricted as to how many rounds could be fired at a time with Chg Super, although the propellant used was much hotter burning than modern ones, this reduced the depth of a covering fire barrage. Not forgetting that above 20-25 km dispersion is getting high and needs a course correcting fze to reduce Probable Error.

Chris
Chris
August 2, 2013 11:00 am

Engineer to the fore! Ref barrel overheat and more powerful charges. Obviously the bigger charges are used to create high propelling pressures and to provide enough volume at pressure to fill the longer barrel. If all the push runs out at 40 calibres and there’s still another 12 to go, you’d have a partial vacuum behind the projectile by the time it popped out the muzzle. Not helpful. However, I have a solution (literally). For many years water injection was used in high performance car engines to both cool the combustion and to increase the power – ever noticed how much better a car performs on a cool damp day? The same would work here – injecting water at high pressure into the barrel behind the shell would result in instant vaporization into super-heated steam – the transition uses energy which cools the combustion products, and the change in volume between ‘water’ and ‘steam’ is huge. More push, lower temperatures. You read it first here – just put the knighthood in the post…

Observer
Observer
August 2, 2013 11:19 am

In terms of energy usage, the energy needed to change the state of water from liquid to steam is energy taken away from propulsion of the shell. There is no “energy lack” to propel the round from the barrel, the fact that there is a muzzle flash and firing shock is proof of excess energy.

True on the last sentence TD, they make it sound like all you have to do is unscrew the barrel and screw the other one in. :)

Chris
Chris
August 2, 2013 11:37 am

Obs – I don’t think experience falls in line with your energy equation view – if your statement were true (it might well be but I question it) how come water injection into internal combustion engines doesn’t just steal energy from the piston and reduce power? In any case, if as you say there is significant surplus energy behind the shell then water injection to cool the barrel at bare minimum won’t scupper flight of the shell. Have you posted that knighthood yet?

Frenchie
Frenchie
August 2, 2013 12:14 pm

I prefer our CAESAR, more practical of a logistical point of view.

Rocket Banana
August 2, 2013 12:23 pm

Please, please, please do not replace the L118. It’s about the only bit of common sense left in the equipment list :-)

HurstLlama
HurstLlama
August 2, 2013 12:27 pm

M777 or light gun, logistic communality? Stuff all that. When, and if, we next play against a real army I’d want AS90s for when the counter-battery fire comes in. At least that way some of my artillery might survive even if they haven’t got out of the way before their position can be plotted.

By all means let us keep a couple of batteries of heliborne stuff for playing against non-state enemies or fifth-rate clown countries, but for war fighting only the AS90 (or its like) will do.

Frenchie
Frenchie
August 2, 2013 12:29 pm

Yes, it’s right for the rapid reaction forces.

Observer
Observer
August 2, 2013 12:35 pm

Chris, because pistons do not work to the maximum energy usage.

Physics plays no favourites. Took me years to get away from the intuitive method to the physics calculation method, because sometimes, “intuitive” is just wrong. If you want to pass physics, you simply can’t fire from the hip. :(

TD, whatever works. It is handier with a higher ammo capacity, but the M-777 has a longer range and more ammo commonality, so it’s pros and cons.

Counterbattery? Maybe a Spike NLOS/Exactor might be a better choice, much more mobile, capable of firing on the move. Breaks the cycle of fire, counter fire, counter counter fire etc. Tracking radar has to be stationary, but the firing units can be mobile.

Frenchie, CAESAR is 52 cal, AS90 is 39. The difference is that the AS90 is a lot more mobile.

Rocket Banana
August 2, 2013 12:49 pm

Chris,

I don’t think the explosion “runs out”. The pressure obviously falls off as the volume increases. Putting water into the mix would cool the explosion and we all know that cooling reduces the pressure or volume yet further (PV=nRT).

Water injection into engines allows for a more aggressive ignition timing by cooling the gasses therefore increasing performance. Water injection into turbines increases the density of the jet “fluid” so increases the rate of change of momentum (force). It also allows the engine to run at a higher speed because it’s being actively cooled.

Frenchie
Frenchie
August 2, 2013 12:49 pm

Observer, CAESAR is a truck with a gun on, it is more mobile than a tracked vehicle.

Observer
Observer
August 2, 2013 12:56 pm

“Observer, CAESAR is a truck with a gun on, it is more mobile than a tracked vehicle.”

Right… why don’t you take your truck through rough terrain and test out that theory? Average loaded wheeled vehicles can compete with tracked vehicles for mobility, but when you put something as heavy as a 155mm 52 cal + 18 rounds? on it, forget about going cross country at speed unless you want to break an axle.

Don’t mistake speed for mobility. 2 different things.

Chris
Chris
August 2, 2013 1:00 pm

Obs, Simon – No doubts you are correct in ruining my fine idea but it still feels right to me. Intuition rules. Ref Simon’s PV/T equation I remember that from Physics at school – the difference is in the case of water the transition from liquid to gassy stuff (never too sure if water boils to gas or to vapour) involves a huge increase in volume way beyond the volume change in a substance that remains gas throughout the temperature range. Hence we had steam engines, not air engines.

Anyway I like the idea of steam-powered guns. We should make some.

Observer
Observer
August 2, 2013 1:12 pm

Anyway, back to 105 vs 155 39/52, all of these come with advantages and disadvantages, there is no perfect artillery piece, so looking for the “God of the Battlefield” is a futile effort.

Anyone would want an artillery piece with the range and firepower of the 155mm/52 but the weight of the 105mm in a universal round the size of the 105mm shell, but what are the chances of that happening?

wf
wf
August 2, 2013 1:21 pm

: roll on hydrogen peroxide as an artillery propellant. Lots of bang with steam included, mostly at the right times ;-)

Chris
Chris
August 2, 2013 1:33 pm

wf – All the Artillery would have white hair! As indeed did all the ground crews for the Luftwaffe’s Me163 Komet.

Its a nasty chemical – reacts angrily when in contact with oils and greases, and with almost every other substance, even copper & brass. Such a reaction was determined the most likely cause of the initial explosion that ended up sinking the Russian SSGN Kursk. There comes a point where there’s more likelihood of damaging your own side than the opposition’s…

Rocket Banana
August 2, 2013 1:53 pm

Chris,

Not 100% but I think the water expansion thing comes from the tightly bound molecules in its liquid state arising from hydrogen bonds formed by the electronegative oxygen atom. When in a gaseous state a single mole of water will occupy 22.4 liters, and a single mole is only 18 grams (.018 litres) so an increase of 1244 times.

Even gunpowder (I’m sure we use something better) has a volumetric increase of 4000 times. So although water is good, it’s not a patch on a self oxygenating explosive.

All this from memory, so could be way off ;-)

wf
wf
August 2, 2013 1:55 pm

: ah yes, Kursk and HMS Exploder :-)

Under controlled and limited conditions, very useful however. Black Arrow used kerosene / HPX and worked very well launching our only satellite. The things you learn visiting The Needles….

as
as
August 2, 2013 2:03 pm

as
as
August 2, 2013 2:05 pm

tweckyspat
August 2, 2013 2:08 pm

Steam Power ? Brilliant idea, artillery IMHO another area where the Brits have lost their edge of ingenuity and innovation, where is the Blacker Bombard and Land Mattress de nos jours ? Nver understood our national bias against rockets, you’d have thought the HERRICK guys would have seen enough Chinese 107mm incoming to have changed their minds a bit in the last few years ?

Can’t help but think on this thread as on the Colt G8 infantry comments that half of our strongly held feelings are about weapon sexiness rather than effectiveness. See Leo Murray’s Brains and Bullets for a more scientific description of weapon pull and weapon porn.

S O
S O
August 2, 2013 2:08 pm

“On the vague subject, am I the only person in the world not to swoon when looking at the M777?”

I criticised it for being unable to train 360° quickly (as a D-30 can do). You need to lift the set-in spades, turn using 6+ personnel power and then set the spades in again 8unless you only fire high angle) and determine the new orientation. It is unsuitable for very quick all-round response fires as SPGs and D-30-like guns are capable of.
WW2 experiences led to a preference for a 360°x70° gun, and field howitzers which don’t offer this are simply a poor design even by such ancient standards.

jed
jed
August 2, 2013 2:22 pm

Ahhh TD – how about replace the 105, good as it is for bush war / COIN with 120mm mortar ? Even lighter than 105 LG, can have wheels, can be fitted to back of a Husky / Foxhound or a trailer with a hydraulic assist to get into and out of action faster. Precision guided munitions available and in development, more HE in the standard HE round………….

OK, yes, less range, but then we have 155 and GMLRS, oh and those not-so-secret, “do we have them or not” Israeli missiles…….

Armoured close support fires for Reaction Brigade Battlegroups, take the turret of an AS90, put on the AMOS twin 120mm mortar turret and convert every third AS90 into a ammo carrier….. :-)

as
as
August 2, 2013 2:43 pm

as
as
August 2, 2013 2:53 pm

Jeremy M H
August 2, 2013 3:00 pm

@TD

I don’t think it is the M777 in particular that is that interesting but I do think that differences in ammunition types that one can get for the two guns makes a world of difference. In an ideal world I would like to have both around but put a gun to my head for expeditionary operations I would rather have the M777 mostly because I can get GPS guided shells and shells that can use anti-armor sub-munitions. For a light force that might get stuck trying to cope with a motorized or armored force or that might get held up by a specific defensive position those things are huge force multipliers that you can’t get with the 105.

Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
August 2, 2013 3:14 pm

I’m a fan of the 105mm – its a proven reliable system – but I think we have to look at other options. Perhaps mounting it on a light, airmobile chassis, perhaps portee? Equipping with smart 105mm rounds?

Or replacing with another system – what about MBRLs?

Exceeds range and is mobile – even have a trailer version for airborne/SOF although it has a reduced range:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valkiri

Original 122mm Grad can now reach 40km with new missiles:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BM-21_Grad

Rockets are easier to make guided, eithier GPS or Laser homming.

Talking about guided; RAND did a number of simulations of light forces vs Armoured forces. The most effective system for the light forces was the E-FOGM, with a range of 15km.

http://www.army-technology.com/projects/efogm/

Worked with a ISTAR unit forward, what RAND called a “Hunter-Stand off Killer” system. It never made it in to service but the Exactor system offers similar with even better range. I’ve seen Spike NLOS (which we believe it is) mounted on HMMWV and Sandcat so is relatively airmobile.

Jeremy M H
August 2, 2013 3:30 pm

@SO

I think holding a 155 to the standards of a 122 is a bit unrealistic. A 155 fires shells that has more than twice the mass significantly further than the 122. The 105 actually has performance a lot closer to the 122 than the 122 does to the 155.

Are there any towed 155’s that offer 360 degree traverse?

as
as
August 2, 2013 4:22 pm

http://www.military-today.com/artillery/limaws_r.htm
LIMAWS (R) or Lightweight Mobile Artillery Weapon System – Rocket

Phil
August 2, 2013 5:25 pm

Ain’t it just weird seeing green armoured vehicles against a green background these days? Feels like 1995.

Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
August 2, 2013 5:54 pm
Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
August 2, 2013 6:27 pm

@ TD – The US army created an experimental motorised force – 9th Infantry (Motorised) – for rapid deployment to the Middle east in the 1980’s. It was mounted on HMMWVs and was supposed to have M8 105mm gun light tanks but theywere cancelled. The main ATGMs for the force was supposed to be TOW and a ground launched HELLFIRE. Amd, as you have said, anything that can launch Hellfire can launch Brimstone.

Here’s something from Jordan:

http://img89.imageshack.us/img89/4750/1156014flmhp.jpg

@ Tweckyspat – 107mm very versitile (and cheap) system. Light enough to be mounted on LSVs and ATVs:

http://www.armyrecognition.com/images/stories/middle_east/jordan/wheeled_vehicle/desert_iris/pictures/Desert_Iris_4x4_KADDB_light_multi_role_utility_vehicle_Jordan_Jordanian_army_004.jpg

http://www.worldaffairsboard.com/attachments/staff-college/5577d1158765913-pla-155th-light-mechanized-regiment-lmr009.jpg

Range is a bit short…

Observer
Observer
August 2, 2013 7:58 pm

God help the person reloading those MLRS :)

tweckyspat
August 2, 2013 8:40 pm

Dear Trunks, All

I wasn´t suggesting 107mm rockets on wheels didn´t exist, likewise big mortars in vehicles, just don´t understand why the UK can always find 1000 reasons not procure them and instead buys big gunner tanks. I sort of get the idea of high mobility shoot and scoot but why of why so much protection … ? seems to me we are stuck in 1944 counter-battery mindset. it’s just a means of delivering indirect fire and as everyone has already said, terminal guidance on any gun round is soooo much more difficult, and surely we can’t imagine dumb artillery for much longer ?

S O
S O
August 2, 2013 10:59 pm

@Jeremy M H:

There were German 155 mm heavy field howitzer designs with 360×70° capability in WW2, but they arrived too late, as development only commenced in ’42/’43. A 360°-capable design of a 128 mm cannon existed as well.
A towed 155 mm 360×70° field howitzer is certainly possible, even without expensive materials as used by the M777. It would need to be low-powered if it had to meet the M777 weight limit (and then you might also look at Finnish or Israeli 160 mm mortars instead).
Then again, M777 is range-challenged itself, being a 39cal system.

Observer
Observer
August 2, 2013 11:09 pm

Well, if you had to shoot 180 degrees from your original setup orientation, your gunlayer is either an incompetent map reader or it is way past high time you left the area. Even firing 90 degrees off facing the battlefield means that the enemy has already broken pass your defence lines and penetrated deep into your support areas. Aka you are overrun and about to die.

See nothing wrong with having only a 90-180 degree cone of fire. Anything more is wastage for a capability that is rarely used.

S O
S O
August 3, 2013 12:35 am

There aren’t any defence lines to be expected, at most a picket line.

Americans experienced the problem even in Korea, where both North Korean and Chinese troops (not only infantry) were able to infiltrate offroad and get behind American combat troops.

I’m always amazed at how enticing this “line” thinking is. Think of an armoured spearhead of WW2, with leap-frogging arty. All comm was by radio. Scenario: Call for help comes from rear of the spearhead column, not from the tip. 54° traverse means 1-2 minutes more delay till artillery can intervene.
Or assume a contact of the security screen to the left of the spearhead, followed by a similar contact to the right.

Or think of a fire base outpost in an occupied country.

52-60° traverse is fine for best case scenarios, for ‘as intended’ scenarios. Fine for preparatory barrages.
It’s been understood by veterans for 70 years that 360° traverse is of great utility and importance. This is even more important now as technology sped up fire control, and it is now possible to react much quicker with a SPG turret gun than with a towed gun (other than D-30).

Finally; the difference between mediocre and awe-inspiring armies is largely in their ability to master crisis situations.

Obsvr
Obsvr
August 3, 2013 1:22 am

Course correcting fzes that reduce PEr to a few metres (no to be confused with real precision) will make longer range shells, RAP, BB, whatever else, into a practical proposition, – they might even make naval gunfire useful. Of course adding RAP/BB also reduces the useful payload. CCFs will also reduce the number of shells required for a particular lethal/damaging effect, and will enable suppressive fire closer to own troops with less risk.

FFRs (multi or single) are even worse than guns when it comes to dispersion, that and short range is why landmattress didn’t survive 1945, and why UK did not adopt MRLs until MLRS. There does seem to be a possible new MLRS warhead that combines a few large sub-munitions with a CCF type non precision accuracy .

There’s an old(ish) saying about artillery that I think originated from a senior RA offr in WW2 “in peace its about mobility, in war its weight of shell”. I always think of this when people start blethering about putting guns on trucks. That said the UK portee version of M777 was at least sensible unlike fixing the gun on the truck.

For heliborne mobility 105 is currently unavoidable for UK, not least due to ammo logistics, but a lightweight 120-130mm could be interesting. Other than that a proper 155 armd SP is the way to go. AS90 also carries 48 rds (about twice the M109 load) ie about 1 rd per tonne AUW which is about the normal ratio and has the essential rear hull door that is missing from some SPs, those on tank hulls.

It’s also notable that in 2002 UK was the first artillery where all guns and lnchrs were fully autonomous (ie self-surveying, self-orientating). The US is currently embarking on a program to get their M119s to this state so they join the fully autonomous club.

S O
S O
August 3, 2013 12:03 pm

Well, that’s just his opinion, man.

And it doesn’t fit well to the fact that WW2 spawned lots of self-propelled artillery.
I remember a report from a Wespe battery, and how delighted the artillery troops were about their de facto invulnerability to counterbattery fire, while their manoeuvre commander was delighted about their ability to support his formation reliably while it’s moving. SP arty is several times as useful as towed arty when you face a longish campaign and capable opposition.

Towed arty is nowadays only acceptable for cheap MRL trailers and Third World field arty. Airborne troops can fool themselves into believing they have arty by adding some towed arty, but in face of capable opposition they could not rely on it. Wiesel 2 mortar ain’t optimal, but even airborne troops should make use of some SP light arty or rather a SP heavy mortar.

Phil
August 3, 2013 12:40 pm

I think the question of the artillery platform is not as important as having the right level of logistical support. It is no good having mobile SPGs if the ammunition train cannot keep pace and cannot keep the guns fed – in other words there’s no point having a gun that is more mobile than the ammunition trucks so towed artillery doesn’t seem to be at a disadvantage in that context.

So it appears to me that the only real advantage of SPGs is the possibility of them rapidly dodging counter-battery fire. But then experience tells me that the way you use artillery is going to be the real deciding issue on how fast you can move the guns. In reality, on the ground – is it quicker to move the guns after every fire mission with a SPG or a towed gun? Looking at it solely from the unit of equipment perspective it seems quicker to simply take the handbreak off and drive off in an SPG than limber the gun back up on a truck. But in reality you’re moving a battery or so, not a single gun and that battery needs somewhere to go, a way of getting there and their trucks and kit have to follow them. So are SPGs in reality moved all that much?

HurstLlama
HurstLlama
August 3, 2013 1:04 pm

“So are SPGs in reality moved all that much?”

Well, there hasn’t (thank God) been a war pitting two modern armies against each other, so the answer to your question is, probably, “No” as far as recent operations are concerned. However, if such a war comes the side using WWI style towed artillery will probably find itself without artillery very quickly. The ability to fire off a dozen rounds and then get out of dodge before the retaliation arrives is rather important when playing with the big boys, which is why the RA are equipped and train for it.

Not only that but any surviving gunner will sue the arse of HMG for failing in their duty of care if he is deployed in a towed battery (‘Uman rights and all that). :P

Phil
August 3, 2013 1:19 pm

“The ability to fire off a dozen rounds and then get out of dodge before the retaliation arrives is rather important when playing with the big boys, which is why the RA are equipped and train for it.”

The theoretical ability is yes, but I am wondering if the practise matches the theory. Towed artillery isn’t rooted to the spot – it can be moved pretty easily in a physical sense. But I imagine moving an SPG battery and a towed artillery battery on the ground actually involves a far bit of planning and friction which will be the same for towed and SPGs so does that real friction actually mean that artillery batteries of all types actually have a similar level of tactical speed?

And SPGs might be better at cross country driving but their ammunition trucks are no better than the trucks towing artillery so are SPGs really that much more mobile at the Operational Level either?

Chris
Chris
August 3, 2013 1:43 pm

Interesting to note the first SP guns were essentially ‘portee’ systems: http://www.thefewgoodmen.com/thefgmforum/threads/gun-carrier-mk-i.16273/

I read somewhere (may have been something at Tank Museum) that most of these stopped carrying guns because there wasn’t enough advantage in that, and then were used as high mobility resupply carriers. Evidently even in 1917 it had been determined the real value was in high mobility protected resupply for the dug-in artillery batteries, not in SP guns.

HurstLlama
HurstLlama
August 3, 2013 1:56 pm

“… so does that real friction actually mean that artillery batteries of all types actually have a similar level of tactical speed?”

In short, no. As you said yourself in a earlier post, it’s quicker to let off the handbrake and drive away rather than prepare the gun for movement, get the prime mover into position etc. etc.. The tail for SPGs does not need to be “on-site” (the AS90 carries 48 rounds internally) so is not a factor any more than the resupply convoy is for a tank squadron. On a modern battlefield against quality opposition an artillery unit that is still in position five minutes after firing is on borrowed time – fire and f**k off is the rule.

HurstLlama
HurstLlama
August 3, 2013 2:03 pm

“… even in 1917 it had been determined the real value was in high mobility protected resupply for the dug-in artillery batteries, not in SP guns.”

In 1917 there were not location tracking radars that could pin-point the origin of a shell within seconds and predictive fire to the accuracy necessary for counter battery work was in its infancy. Also moving an artillery battery and getting it prepared to fire was a laborious business involving surveying to pin point the guns’ position.

Phil
August 3, 2013 2:13 pm

“As you said yourself in a earlier post, it’s quicker to let off the handbrake and drive away rather than prepare the gun for movement,”

No I said in theory it is. But the reality is a gun battery is a big organisation that needs to be under control. And the ammunition resupply absolutely has to be near the guns – 48 rnds (especially as it will be mixed natures I imagine) is not going to last very long at all in a high intensity fight. Both the US and UK forces have traditionally expended a lot of effort on artillery ammunition resupply and whole regiments were dedicated to it in BAOR and the now defunct General Support Regiments of the RLC were primarily there to transport artillery ammunition. The gun battery isn’t floating about the battle-space willy nilly – moving it requires a good degree of co-ordination and planning and the movement of more than just 6 guns. It hardly takes long to hitch a gun with a decent crew either.

wf
wf
August 3, 2013 2:21 pm

@HurstLama: wrong spelling. Graundiad readers only recognise “yuman rites” :-)

Regarding artillery, I daresay the BC is planning 2-3 sites ahead for an AS90 battery anyway, which are going to be considerably less constrained, since the towed variety will have to plan for either rotating the gun orientation before connecting the prime movers or verifying there’s plenty of room behind to tow the guns off backwards. Trying to reverse towing an L118 while hurrying to escape counter battery doesn’t sound like much fun :-(

Chris.B
Chris.B
August 3, 2013 2:50 pm

Are we not in danger here of doing the same thing that happened in the FRES thread, e.g. focusing on one mission/set of circumstances without the wider context?

– How do you find the incoming rounds? With radar. So if you leave the radar switched on 24/7, it can be detected. That’s probably going to be the first thing that gets flattened then.

– How effective is counter battery radar against a formation that’s on the move? So you might have towed units assigned to a mobile formation, once the ball gets rolling, who may find themselves shooting at deeper targets that have no radar coverage. Lovely.

– What happens when your radar picks up the incoming rounds, you build a plot…. and realise that the firing units are well deep in the enemies rear, beyond the range of your counter battery fire?

x
x
August 3, 2013 2:55 pm

I think there is need, or at least a good sized niche, for 120mm self propelled mortars. As UAV etc. become more common there should be less opportunity within the terrain; dead ground to an armoured formation shouldn’t be just defined by the tank’s gun. Armoured encounters should start to encompass indirect fire more

S O
S O
August 3, 2013 3:14 pm

“Towed artillery isn’t rooted to the spot – it can be moved pretty easily in a physical sense. ”
It takes about two minutes to leave the site, modern counter-battery capabilities are quick enough to catch it in this time. moreover, counterbattery could be coupled with aerial radar tech, so even a just barely escaped firing unit might be much worse off than one which left just a few seconds earlier, as it might be tracked by radar while on the move.

“And SPGs might be better at cross country driving but their ammunition trucks(…)”
Ever since Wespe and Hummel, many SPGs had dedicated tracked ammunition resupply vehicles. The latter pick up what trucks delivered.

“Interesting to note the first SP guns were essentially ‘portee’ systems”
Those weren’t the first SP guns. The first SP guns appeared in 1906 (and some were even armoured prior to WWI!
They were anti-balloon SP guns. http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-A0jMfxLFUtI/UNu4Lxf0-ZI/AAAAAAAACG4/oxOWXmQZbm4/s1600/Ehrhardt-Rheinmetall-77mm-BAK-Model-1911.jpg

“In 1917 there were not location tracking radars that could pin-point the origin of a shell within seconds and predictive fire to the accuracy necessary for counter battery work was in its infancy.”
Sound and flash ranging were almost as well developed as in WW2, though. There was also aerial photography which spotted many prepared battery sites.
The high degree of arty field fortification made shooting them as inefficient as shooting infantry, though. Major losses of actual arty ordnance only occurred on withdrawals, in part due to a lack of horses and tractors after years of sitting.

Chris
Chris
August 3, 2013 3:22 pm

SO – those tricky Germans! I didn’t know there was truck mounted ordnance that early – I have been educated…

Phil
August 3, 2013 3:37 pm

“It takes about two minutes to leave the site, modern counter-battery capabilities are quick enough to catch it in this time.”

Maybe. In theoretical isolation the technology is good enough. But how long does it actually take for a gun unit to fire a counter-battery mission? Enquiring minds want to know how long it takes for the location to be known, for the decision to made to fire back (it might not be worth unmasking), for an appropriate gun unit to be found that is ready to fire back, for that decision and the location to get to the gun unit and for the gun unit to lay on the target and be ready to fire (the latest counter battery mission might be way down on their list of things to shoot at), deconflict with any fast air and then drop the rounds.

Lots of links, lot of comms nodes and a lot of data to be processed.

I’d wager it takes a hell of a lot more than 2 minutes to get this done even if the gun unit was sitting idle waiting to fire when I suspect in reality it will have a list to work through.

Shit takes a lot longer to get done in reality on operations. Shit takes even longer to get done when the enemy doesn’t want you to do it and is otherwise keeping you occupied.

x
x
August 3, 2013 3:57 pm

Train to do it 2 minutes so IRL you can do it in 5.

Phil
August 3, 2013 4:04 pm

Dare I say it, a bit of systems thinking is in order.

Counter-battery fire takes place in a context that is full of friction and calls on artillery rounds. Also, the guns are likely to be chopped around a lot to where they are needed at the time which means the batteries are not going to be working with the same people (not least because some of them will be dead). It’s no good training isolated components of the system to do something in 5 minutes out of context.

In a real scenario the counter battery mission you get at the Battery CP or whatever they call it might be the 4th mission you’ve had in as many minutes and you have to move too or you could get some love back. The reality is times are going to get MUCH slower in a peer conflict and a lot of counter battery missions just won’t get fired as too much time will have passed for it to be worth throwing ever scarcer HE shells at empty land – it doesn’t cut the mustard in my mind to talk about theoretical flash to bang times.

S O
S O
August 3, 2013 4:37 pm

Phil, even much lesser counterarty fires (ain’t counter”battery” any more, old terminology dies slowly) than 2-5 minute averages responses are still troublesome. An arty team which dies only on the 20th attempt to catch it is still not survivable enough.
Friction also works against the target, not only against the threat.

It may in a so-called peer vs peer conflict be as bad as guns and mortars not daring to shoot except in most severe crisis for the first days. Maybe longer-ranged MRL will reign supreme, as shorter-ranged systems aren’t merely in range, but also disadvantaged by rather short flight time of incoming munitions.

Any way – towed arty has been understood to be not survivable enough against a modern adversary since the 1970’s. The noise about the M777 is deeply embarrassing, as it implies that marines and airborne will only fight poor quality opposition. The M777 is useless against a capable opponent, and it’s a slow reaction gun for 360° tasks such as airhead security. And it’s out-ranged by most modern arty.

HurstLlama
HurstLlama
August 3, 2013 4:56 pm

The listed time to move for an AS90 from the last shell fired to being under way is 1 minute. I don’t believe any towed gun can do the same as quickly. The AS90 carries 48 rounds internally and in a high intensity action against quality opposition would not be expected to expend even that number of rounds before moving to an alternate position and would, if needed, move into a resupply laager en route. Artillery doctrine and the need for SPGs has been worked out carefully over about 50 years, when the Sovs were thought to be the most likely opponent (for all their faults the Sovs were rather good at the artillery end of the business)

However, you seem stuck in the idea that time to move is exaggerated and or irrelevant because towed guns can in effect move as quickly because of “friction” involving ammo supply trucks etc., which won’t actually need to be within a mile of the SPG battery’s firing position but do need to be “on site” for towed guns.

Clearly, nothing I can say is going to shift your view. Let us hope that we never find out who is right because then will have entered a war against a well equipped opposition and that is likely to be messy.

Rocket Banana
August 3, 2013 5:06 pm

Dumb question here:

Is the intention of artillery to actually hit a target? Is it not a probability game where you’re actually trying to induce higher risk of movement for the enemy such that they have to change their route/tactics?

My question is because if the above is true then the size of the artillery round should be selected wholly on the expected target unit whose movement we are trying to undermine. I say “wholly” based on the fact that range is similar for most of the 100+mm guns.

So if you’re trying to stall a tank squadron you’ll need AS-90. If however, the enemy has not yet mobilised his tanks then an L118 would be able to make life difficult for almost all other forms of armour. My premise here is that we should be first in with L118s to interdict movement of rapidly deployable defending assets and bring the AS-90 (155mm) in later.

Surely then we need both? We do not need to “up gun” the L118 to anything much larger.

Phil
August 3, 2013 5:21 pm

“However, you seem stuck in the idea that time to move is exaggerated and or irrelevant because towed guns can in effect move as quickly because of “friction” involving ammo supply trucks etc., which won’t actually need to be within a mile of the SPG battery’s firing position but do need to be “on site” for towed guns.”

No read what I write – I ask questions. I ask if in reality a towed artillery piece is just as useful and mobile as a SPG because of the nature of the system of which it is a part.

“Artillery doctrine and the need for SPGs has been worked out carefully over about 50 years, when the Sovs were thought to be the most likely opponent (for all their faults the Sovs were rather good at the artillery end of the business)”

Indeed – and they had absolutely thousands of towed artillery pieces…

Chris.B
Chris.B
August 3, 2013 5:29 pm

I’m not an artillery expert by any means, but it’s fairly clear that the powers of counter-battery fire are being over rated here. If it was that one shot supreme then nobody would bother keeping artillery, except in the counter battery role. A whole host of pertinent issues appear to have been waved away.

x
x
August 3, 2013 5:42 pm

Soviets had more manpower and were also less “casualty shy”.

Observer
Observer
August 3, 2013 5:44 pm

Phil, one advantage of SPHs is that they are much much more mobile than towed artillery, so the logistics actually works in reverse compared to field guns. What I mean is that with field guns, they are rather static, so logistics vehicles go to them. SPHs on the other hand, fires off their load, then moves to the rearming area. This ensures that the logistics tail does not compromise the mobility of the vehicle.

How SPHs are assigned also affects their logistics. Field guns tend to be placed defensively to cover specific areas of the front, while SPHs are assigned to armoured units that are consolidated into attacking battlegroups/combat teams, which means that they tend to sit in the staging areas until it is time for the “big push” where they hit the enemy along with the rest of the armour, so it is actually easier to resupply SPHs than field howitzers.

This is also in addition to the fact that as an “attack” asset, SPHs don’t do as much counterfire as field guns which are used more defensively.

All about tactics and doctrine.

And if you are really really worried about counterfire, why don’t you just park your battery at 30km? TOF is long yes, but that allows you pound a static target with impunity. And if someone wants to counterbattery you, he either has to park right on the FEBA or 10km behind if using a 52 cal vs 39. Close enough to put it his piece at serious risk of opportunistic raiding.

BTW arty don’t do moving tanks, tanks are too fast and mobile to effectively interdict. Aircraft, tanks and ATGM infantry do moving tanks. Artillery do stationary targets, like infantry, fortified areas and tanks dug in for defence.

“Indeed – and they had absolutely thousands of towed artillery pieces…”

:) Field Marshal Zhukov and the surrender of Berlin comes to mind.

Phil
August 3, 2013 5:47 pm

Soviets had more manpower and were also less “casualty shy”.

Because they had the right paradigm and the freedom to put it into place. Which to my mind rather throws the SPG and towed artillery debate into the air on a far more fundamental level.

The Soviets effectively countered NATO counter-battery capabilities by having saturating levels of cheap, towed, and thus in the context of their paradigm, superior artillery pieces.

Observer
Observer
August 3, 2013 6:04 pm

No argument there, numbers work.

Pity we can’t afford to play the numbers game right back at them. :(

as
as
August 3, 2013 6:05 pm

as
as
August 3, 2013 6:08 pm

Observer
Observer
August 3, 2013 6:11 pm

as, that is a mortar, think it was a 240mm. Range is about 9km. 10 crew per piece. Bit too manpower intensive for western sensibilities.

as
as
August 3, 2013 6:12 pm

x
x
August 3, 2013 6:15 pm

@ Observer

You do have the numbers. :)

Off the top of my head if the British Army was in the same proportion to the UK’s population as the SIngaporean army is to Singapore’s population we would have an army of 750,000 give or take………

as
as
August 3, 2013 6:20 pm

I know its a mortar. its a 2S4 Tyulpan.
the Russians and the soviets before them really like there self propelled artillery. They have produced it in loads of different calibres for specific jobs. also they are really in to there rocket systems.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Self-propelled_artillery_of_the_Soviet_Union
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Self-propelled_artillery_of_Russia

x
x
August 3, 2013 6:22 pm

@ Observer

You haven’t mentioned this……….

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SLWH_Pegasus

as
as
August 3, 2013 6:23 pm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_artillery_by_country

The List of artillery by country contains all artillery systems organized primarily by their country of origin

Observer
Observer
August 3, 2013 6:38 pm

x, no point in mentioning that, does the same damn thing as the M-777, so it really isn’t any different. It’s more specialised for our heliborne forces though, our normal artillery still use towed and the armour use SPHs, so it is more “right tool for your job” kind of thing.

And before SO whines about it, think it through, would our heliborne be better with NO artillery and get pounded with impunity? The choice is not 52 cal or 39 cal or 360 degrees etc. It is either a piece that does not have all the bells and whistles or no piece at all.

And against the Soviets, you fire one round, they fire tens to hundreds back at you. Still equally dead. :)

as, the Russians do have a nice lineup. Hate to see the state of their warehouses though. :P Advantages and disadvantages to commonality.

as
as
August 3, 2013 7:19 pm

The Russians seem to use artillery in place of air support.
So in Afgan when they came up against a hard point the would bring in heavy mortars to destroy it where as the Americans called in B52s.

S O
S O
August 3, 2013 7:50 pm

.B, ground forces of the 80’s feared for a reason that artillery would be consumed by negating each other, not being available as actual support. Counter-battery fires was the primary reason for developing and procuring MLRS in the first place.
Counter-gun/mortar fires depend on some order and on effective radio comm, though. One wouldn’t encounter counter-arty fires throughout mobile warfare, but under certain conditions. Mostly when encountering a still intact and sufficiently trained and technically maintained formation. This happens to be the same situation you need your arty the most.

@Observer; D-30 is dirt cheap and (even updated slightly with a muzzle velocity radar) it would still weigh less than a M777.
The D-30 carriage mated with Denel’s G7 howitzer (32 km with BB under SA desert conditions) would weigh about as much as the M777. The D-30 carriage was already tested mated with a 100 mm AT gun in Yugoslavia. It might at most need a moderate reinforcement. Anyways; developing a proper carriage with 360° traverse should be no issue given the work that was already done. It’s a graduate-level engineering challenge with modern engineering tools.

In case you think 360° + 105 mm is a crazy idea: Check page 36 of this:
http://www.dtic.mil/ndia/2006garm/tuesday/peck.pdf

Also check the M777’s specs/requirements:
“Minimum Range: 3.7-2.7 km high angle” (globalsecurity.org)
They need mortars to cover the short range needs since airborne and marine forces are unlikely to make use of multiple, 3-4 km spaced firing sites. They’re stretched beyond breaking point providing 360/24/7 security as is. (Same problem with 105 mm indirect fires, though. 120 mm mortars have ~400 m minimum range.)

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
August 3, 2013 9:25 pm

@Observer & x “You do have the numbers” – I think that a bit excessive – I favour aiming for an American Model – giving us half a million in uniform, about 60% in the Army – with our much smaller and more densely populated land-mass we could afford less Soldiers, more Sailors and Airmen…

An hallucinating GNB!

x
x
August 3, 2013 9:43 pm

@ GNB

You could have even more fun and compare the TA AR with numbers in the Heimevernet, the Norwegian Home Guard. You would come up with another 750,000 personnel, that would be a total 1.5 million men and women in uniform.

I wouldn’t stress about it too much. It was just a joke.

The important thing to Observer is their forces match those of a Malayasia.

Also you mustn’t say anything about the UK having fewer soldiers **. They got all upset in that RN Global Force thread about me suggesting they were the most important.

** http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fewer_vs._less
If you wanted to use the word less you should have said less soldiery. :) ;)

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
August 3, 2013 10:16 pm

There’s an element missing to this conversation – the Gunners themselves. Having been to war while supported by both a Royal Horse Artillery Regiment, and a bog standard Royal Artillery regiment, I know which I’d choose again. The RHA are the professional end of the RA. Quite simple. There’s a snap and pizzazle from the RHA that you just don’t get from the other lot, and don’t ever give an RA officer an 8 figure grid reference. CPU not good enough for the job.

(But the RHA officers really need to sort out the completely Ruritanian headgear which they wear on the QBP. Makes them look somewhat continental from about 1850)

Alex
Alex
August 3, 2013 10:39 pm

Was LIMAWS-R actually the worst decision of Geoff Hoon’s? With time it looks like such a missed opportunity.

Chris.B
Chris.B
August 3, 2013 10:53 pm

@ SO

You might encounter counter-battery fire during mobile warfare. Depends which units have radars. Though as I said earlier, I think it’s a lot less likely that someone will have one up and operating in a deep area.

You are massively over simplifying the problem though. No account of radio comms jamming, damaged wire communications etc. No account of placement of the artillery. No account of the difficulty that might be had trying to track, identify and then select one of many, many incoming arcs. No account of counter-counter battery fire. Towed artillery has its place. Not everything need be self-propelled.

Observer
Observer
August 3, 2013 11:42 pm

Chris, I have long since concluded that having a discussion with SO is something best not done with either logic or consistency. :)

Note that he complained about the range of a 39 cal 155 vs a 52 cal, then recommends something with even less range (66% of a 39 cal, 50% of a 52 cal).

RT, out of curiosity, what WILL he do with an 8 digit grid reference?

x, Malaysia and Indonesia. We were taught by the Israelis, and they had a few lessons from something called the Yom Kippur War. Which is also why aircraft numbers are set at an approximate level of the 2 neighbours combined.

All this talk about toys is a bit useless in my opinion, RT is right, a good gunner can plant a round where the sun doesn’t shine, a rotten one can’t hit a barn at minimum range. Skill beats equipment. All the stats comparing is but simplistic “top trumps” childish POV.

S O
S O
August 3, 2013 11:48 pm

“No account of radio comms jamming, damaged wire communications etc. No account of placement of the artillery. (…) No account of counter-counter battery fire.”
You may want to check on this claim, for it’s counter-factual.

“No account of the difficulty that might be had trying to track, identify and then select one of many, many incoming arcs.”
This is largely handled by electronics and software these days. ADLER/COBRA is insanely quick, for example.
ComInt coupled with aerial sensors coupled with dedicated counter-arty sensors (radar, acoustical, optical) and Blue Force Trackers can contribute to a situation picture, but the few-seconds decisions are being supported by software.

You seem to ignore what I wrote before: It is simply not a one-event question. A battery may fire, lots of friction happens, and return fire doesn’t happen within 10 minutes. This happens. Yet it might also be that return fire arrives in two or three minutes.
A unit which depends on the adversaries’ failure to exploit its potential for its survival is not going to last long. Such an arty unit may be gone after two days, for example.
You need to have innate strengths which raise your survival. Being among the slowest in evacuating a firing position is not a recipe for survival against competent OPFOR.
An ancient BM-21 with 20 second ripple fire of 40 rockets and two minutes till moving again (much quicker with unofficial SOP) puts towed 155 mm pieces to shame.
________________

These horrible small wars and the cruise missile diplomacy with all that bullying, beating up and occupying military inept small powers have really worn out way too many people’s standards. Few people tend to assume a symmetrically competent adversary any more. This is a general trend, not just you or here or today.

S O
S O
August 3, 2013 11:58 pm

@observer
“Note that he complained about the range of a 39 cal 155 vs a 52 cal, then recommends something with even less range (66% of a 39 cal, 50% of a 52 cal).”

You seem to be challenged by logic, among other things.
The D-30 addresses the 360° issue I wrote about so much here. That’s a substantial advantage. Its carriage design coupled with the G7 offers about the the same range as a M777. I mentioned that.

Now very, very simple, in case you can still mobilise some logic:
Gun 1: Characteristic A at 15%, characteristic B at 60%
Gun 2: Characteristic A at 100%, characteristic B at 50%.
Both gun 1 and gun 2 may be superior – it depends. It depends on the scenario and in absence of a specific scenario it depends on what science calls “preferences”.
Now what’s your laughable interpretation?
‘Look he prefers 2 even though B is lower – illogical and inconsistent!!!!’

Your world must be very, very simple since you don’t seem to pay much attention to anything that you don’t like or that’s more complicated than a single most simple thought.

Chris.B
Chris.B
August 4, 2013 12:38 am

@ SO

The computer is just going to track the arcs. Someone (a human) has to decide which one to shoot back at.

“ComInt coupled with aerial sensors coupled with dedicated counter-arty sensors (radar, acoustical, optical) and Blue Force Trackers can contribute to a situation picture,”
— It’s fucking miraculous how the OpFor all of a sudden has perfectly working technology coming out of their arse, while presumably our boys dreamt up their offensive plan in the pub and are now off to try and implement it. All of those blue force tracker transmissions and we haven’t pinned a single one down. Can’t find the counter battery radars. Can’t spot the most likely counter battery units. And all the while our comms are being hacked. You do realise “Dads army” was a comedy show and not a documentary?

“Yet it might also be that return fire arrives in two or three minutes.”
— Then you clearly missed the point Phil was making earlier, that to achieve those sorts of timings you’re looking at everything running smooth as silk. Which seldom seems to happen in real wars.

“A unit which depends on the adversaries’ failure to exploit its potential for its survival is not going to last long”
— Worked ok for Nelson. Fight the enemy in front of you and all that.

“These horrible small wars and the cruise missile diplomacy with all that bullying, beating up and occupying military inept small powers have really worn out way too many people’s standards. Few people tend to assume a symmetrically competent adversary any more.”
— Yes, what a shame that we all ganged up and bullied those nice men. Like Saddam Hussein. And Colonel Gaddafi. And the Taliban. I mean, what did they ever do to deserve that?

Historically we haven’t fought a symmetrically competent adversary for a long while now. And yet we still have tanks with high quality protection. We have top of the range jet fighters. Top of the line Destroyers and frigates. Top of the line subs. We train our forces for facing a conventional opponent still. You’re straw-manning.

In fact worse than that, you’re assuming that the enemy is the United States and that we’ve suddenly become Iraq.

S O
S O
August 4, 2013 1:00 am

“Then you clearly missed the point Phil was making earlier, that to achieve those sorts of timings you’re looking at everything running smooth as silk. Which seldom seems to happen in real wars.”
You don’t seem to get what I told you twice already. “Seldom” is still too often. A one or five per cent probability of exitus per fire mission is ‘seldom’, but too much. Relying on the adversary’s failure for one’s survival is a horrible idea.

“Worked ok for Nelson. Fight the enemy in front of you and all that.”
Nonsense. Besides, nelson wasn’t exactly a posterchild for survivability.

“Yes, what a shame that we all ganged up and bullied those nice men. Like Saddam Hussein. And Colonel Gaddafi. And the Taliban. I mean, what did they ever do to deserve that? ”
Saddam did nothing to ‘us’, save for the Stark accident. He replaced the absolutist dictator of Kuwait with himself, though. That had been dealt with two decades ago already.
Ghaddafi did very little to ‘us’, and had been repaid for it in the 80’s already. He had behaved well for nearly two decades.
The Taliban did nothing to ‘us’. They merely provided hospitality to someone who hated us and sponsored/inspired an attack on the US. That could have been dealt with in better ways than sacrificing thousands of ‘our’ troops.
Now to the cases you ignored; a fertilizer factory in Sudan, plenty Israeli attacks on Syria and Sudan, aggression against Yugoslavia simply because we had accumulated enough aversion (there was no genocide or even only major ethnic cleaning in Kosovo), plenty bullying.
More importantly; I didn’t aim at the justification of the bullying, beating up and occupying this time, but at the effect it had on Western thinking about military affairs. Back in ’73 the Israelis faced modern SA-6s and bled badly. We didn’t have this kind of trouble in decades.

“We train our forces for facing a conventional opponent still.”
No more than the armies of 1910 did, and they failed their countries spectacularly. None of them had successfully addressed the survivability issues which had arisen with the introduction of smokeless powders.

“In fact worse than that, you’re assuming that the enemy is the United States and that we’ve suddenly become Iraq.”
And you think I’m straw-manning?

Obsvr
Obsvr
August 4, 2013 3:07 am

Battery positions depend on the threat, if its ground then a tight position is best, if its CB in some form then dispersion is the best option. UK typically disperses its guns in pairs, ie a section. The extreme is a gun manouvre area for a battery, perhaps 10sqkm, in which the pairs move around, stopping by a ammo replen point if necessary, or just pre-positioning ULCs (17 rds each) or a full flatrack (10 ULCs) at platforms. The problem with constant movement is fatigue and the need for large detachments to provide reliefs. The exta manpower being carried in the sect comd’s APC. Of course this is only possible with autonomous guns, ie no need for external orientation using a surveyed director/aiming circle. The big difference between the two GWs was that in the first only MLRS was autonomous, whereas everything was in the second, it also enabled such things as rapid and accurate firing in quick actions (where the guns get a call for fire while moving), even at night this proved simple. Of course there are also attractions in urban deployments, concealment can be better and buildings provide some protection against fragments. And yet again such deployments are easy with autonomous guns, difficult without.

What slows towed guns is not the basic into/out of action time (light gun is no slower than AS90 for this), it’s the need to reload gun stores, and more significantly ammo, back onto the towing vehicle.

Of course the effectiveness of CB fire has to be considered. Armour protects against bursts close by, the attaction of bomblets was a vastly increased probability of a direct hit. However, while UAS will provide an accurate target location CB radars have quite a large TLE, particularly at longer ranges, so accurate CB fire is not a certainty. The real future threat is probably sensor fuzed munitions, which will make urban deployments (barns, industrial buildings) even more attractive with the guns coming out only when they fire.

Re MRLs, rocket disperion is inherently larger than guns, their susceptability to low level wind at launch makes them less accurate (its often forgotten that with BM21 the Sov bty was supposed to take a local wind measurement shortly before firing, they had a special vertically firing gadget and measured how far from the firing point the shot), then there’s the reload time, that’s why MLRS has pods but in most MRLs each rocket has to be unboxed and hand loaded. This takes time. Of course MRLs are useless for suppression, which needs sustained fire, and is one of the primary arty tasks.

Of course the arty matter that really seperates the men from the boys are the control arrangements (ie the difference between orders and requests, who can make them, where does authority and decision making lie). This is the key to maximising the benefits of firepower mobility throughout the artillery area of influence.

Chris.B
Chris.B
August 4, 2013 3:18 am

@ SO,

Seldom was used in the light hearted sense of “when the does anything ever seem to go perfectly, smooth as silk in warfare?”. Much lost through the interwebs I suspect. For your scenario to work you’re relying on the OpFor to work like a beautifully oiled and aligned machine, with almost inhumanly perfect recognition and coordination. You also just generally seem to be adverse to the fact that in a war, some of our soldiers may very well die. You seem to be picturing this perfect scenario of peer vs peer warfare where one side inflicts maximum casualties on the enemy while suffering none in return. Unfortunately that’s a little optimistic, which is why we try not to enter into wars lightly, regardless of who the opposition is.

“Nonsense. Besides, nelson wasn’t exactly a posterchild for survivability.”
— He himself died, but his tactics (the point) worked superbly. He turned his fleet head on into the guns of the combined fleet and weathered the storm, knowing full well that their gunnery wasn’t a match for his own. He took the risk of essentially allowing the enemy to ‘cross the T’ on him, as part of a calculated gamble to bring them to a close battle which he expected to win. He was “Relying on the adversary’s failure” as you put it, for success. And it paid off handsomely (a phenomenal victory).

“Saddam did nothing to ‘us’, save for the Stark accident”
— If you were standing at a bus stop and I walked up to a woman sitting near you and slammed my fist into her face, would you just shrug and say “he didn’t do anything to me!”. Never mind the Kurds and the people of Kuwait, eh? Fuck ’em. Or the fact that he and his lot took multiple pot shots at allied planes enforcing a no-fly zone. Or all the other people that he gassed, tortured, murdered etc. Granted Blair and Bush stitched up their respective parliaments something proper in the end, but to cry a tear for Saddam and moan that we bullied him, poor little defenceless Saddam, is something else.

“Ghaddafi did very little to ‘us’”
— Lockerbie? Yvonne Fletcher? All the money, weapons and semtex (among other treats) that he delivered to the IRA and other groups over the years. Yeah, he was a right blinding neighbour was that Gaddafi. How we used to chuckle along with old Muammar, or ‘Moo, moo’ as we used to playfully call him. He loved that name. Unfortunate business though in the end, what with the people of Libya wanting to have a say in their governance and all that. Still, he nearly managed to crush the rebels and slaughter thousands of innocent people in the process. Just couldn’t quite get the job done before the evil western governments turned on him and toppled him for no reason at all, eh?

“The Taliban did nothing to ‘us’. They merely provided hospitality to someone who hated us and sponsored/inspired an attack on the US”
— Is that all? Well that’s almost nothing isn’t it? I think that US is getting out of control. I mean, if you can’t provide sanctuary and protection to someone responsible for murdering thousands of innocent people, then who can you provide it for? Next they’ll be putting people in jail for parking on double yellow lines, eh?

“Now to the cases you ignored; a fertilizer factory in Sudan”
— Oh is that all it was, just fertilizer? Silly me. See I thought, like a lot of other people who were clearly mistaken as well (and who should know better, what with them being professionals in things like intelligence and security issues), that it was an intermediate storage area for Iranian weapons that then get transported north through Egypt and across the border into the Gaza Strip. You know, like they’ve been doing for many, many years now. But if the Sudanese say it was just fertilizer then I’m sure that’s all it was.

“plenty Israeli attacks on Syria and Sudan”,
— I know, it’s terrible. The way Israel behaves anyone would think that the Syrians and the Sudanese were helping to supply weapons and explosives to terrorist groups that then conduct attacks against Israel. But of course, we both know it’s just medicine and candy bars. If only Israel knew the truth, eh?

“…. aggression against Yugoslavia simply because we had accumulated enough aversion (there was no genocide or even only major ethnic cleaning in Kosovo), plenty bullying.”
— You’re right, what a bunch of big, nasty bullies we are in the west. I mean, all those people, you know the ones I mean, the ones that were found in the mass graves with the bullet holes in them. Well that wasn’t the Serbs that did that. It turns out they’d just be been playing a massive game of russian roulette.

“Back in ’73 the Israelis faced modern SA-6s and bled badly. We didn’t have this kind of trouble in decades.”
— Funny, because I thought the yanks went through quite the humdinger somewhere in Asia. What was it called now? Erm, Viching? Vimy? Via… Vietnam! That’s it, Vietnam! Was it Vietnam? I dunno. They went somewhere and had missiles shot at them. Or something. Then we had that dust up with Argentina that one time, though I’m pretty sure we just breezed through it. I vaguely remember something about aircraft being shot down over Iraq, but I think that might have been someone else. Then there was a no-fly zone after Iraq, but I think that was someone else too.

“No more than the armies of 1910 did, and they failed their countries spectacularly. None of them had successfully addressed the survivability issues which had arisen with the introduction of smokeless powders.”
— I vaguely remember hearing something in school about the 1910’s. Some bunch of fellas in crap hats invaded Belgium or Finland, or some shit. And then some other fellas stopped them. And then there was a bunch of digging. And then a bunch of people walked through a poppy field or something. And then later they figured out that wasn’t very smart so they did something else instead. And the fellas in the crap hats lost, and Switzerland won. Did I remember that right?

I think, haven’t we fought some conventional wars fairly recently? Was that us? Didn’t we fight Iran or something? It was definitely somebody beginning with an “I”? And I think we won, like in spectatcular fashion. Or was that the Polo championships?

““In fact worse than that, you’re assuming that the enemy is the United States and that we’ve suddenly become Iraq.” – And you think I’m straw-manning?”
— Yes, because the only nation in the world that has both the combination of capabilities that you posted and that could perform in such a luxuriously free manner (total aerial and electronic superiority) would be the United States, and to be as poor as you make out we would have had to have descended to the level of Iraq.

*That was totally worth staying up for a few more beers!

Observer
Observer
August 4, 2013 3:57 am

Chris, don’t bother. You think he is strawmanning, I think he is strawmanning. He’ll just keep going on and on making up extreme scenarios to prove that he is some sort of genius visionary that if he was made Filed Marshal, could have won both Gulf Wars, and the COIN in Afganistan and Iraq without a single man getting as much as a hangnail.

On a more practical note, every single artillery piece in the army I’m serving in is powered traverse 360 degrees, but I have never found it to be significantly faster than a group of guys to yank on the trail legs and rotating it. Even powered traverse is not twitch response speed. It is an artillery piece, not a CIWS. It seems that SO has an idealised impression of powered traverse.

So from a practical aspect, yes, SO is making up problem scenarios that don’t really exist.

Edit: Meant to say Field Marshal, but Filed sounds so much funnier. And more appropriate. So I think I’ll let it stand. He’s still a hero wanna-be though.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
August 4, 2013 8:05 am

“RT, out of curiosity, what WILL he do with an 8 digit grid reference?

He’ll take the first 6 figures to divide into 2 triplets, and drop the last two. And then try to issue a fire order for that, to try to hit Glasgow or somewhere 7,250 miles away and not OPFOR 3 kilometres in front of you, and you have to countermand his order. and then he gets sulky, and tries to get his Battery Commander to complain about you embarrassing him in front of the soldiers, not realising that his BC and you were at both school and Sandhurst together, and that he’s got two hopes of coming out of this not looking like a complete wally, and one of them is called Bob.

Obsvr
Obsvr
August 4, 2013 8:07 am

Re D-30. Certainly not a wonderweapon. The trails have to be spiked into the ground, and the 360 traverse is not entirely true. The Sovs never used cut-off gear, so whatever the elevation angle recoil distance was always the full length for the charge. D-30 has its trunnions as far back as possible, which keeps the breach clear of the trail arms at all elevations, despite having the recoil system above the barrel to lower the breach height. However, at elevations greater than about 20 degs the trail arms are within the recoil length, this means that for a significant percentage of the 360 degs the max elevation is limited, translated to range this max is about 12km. All in all not one of the smartest gun designs. But it is robust and very easy to maintain, making it ideal for third world armies with low literacy and technical skill.

SomewhatInvolved
SomewhatInvolved
August 4, 2013 9:37 am

A GPS fuze for the 4.5 Mod 1 exists. The RN a) cannot afford it and b) will not buy it, because to do so would re-commit us to the 4.5 inch calibre for decades to come. The RN preference is to work towards the 5 inch destined for the Type 26.

Observer
Observer
August 4, 2013 12:45 pm

RT… ow…. just.. ow.

Though that is something I can see happening, along the lines of similar mistakes like swapped digits, single digit mistakes and general oopsies.

Just a curio on “what others do”, this is what we use for towed artillery.

NZ Governor Gen taking the FH-2000 for a spin in driving mode:
http://www.mindef.gov.sg/content/imindef/press_room/official_releases/nr/2005/jun/30jun05_nr3/_jcr_content/imindefParsSub/0001/image.cuimg.278.208.png/1348642054179.jpg

The ability to move by itself isn’t that big a deal, you can’t shoot and scoot with it, too slow. You also get the problem Phil mentioned. “You motorised the gun, but anyone think of motorizing the ammo?” :) It’s more of a tool for the insecure commander who just has to keep tweaking his position but can’t get anyone to assign him a prime mover for the job. Or lazy/overworked logistics vehicles who would just dump the piece and the men somewhere close by and run off.

More of a quirk that an actual feature if you ask me. A group of men using muscle power can do the same thing with some sweat. And a lot of swearing. At least the APU helps power the flick rammer and the traverse wheels as well. Nothing wrong with arm power, if you can spare the men. Our problem is that we can’t spare the men, hence all the automation. This makes the requirements for this toy rather specific, so it really isn’t for everyone.

Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
August 4, 2013 1:07 pm

Thought this might be of interest:

“We have seen that in the case of the French system some qualities other models possess were traded for strategic and operational mobility. The U.S. Army has driven this to the extreme in its plans to modernize traditional field artillery: something that would appear rather bizarre in good ‘old’ Europe. It is as if one were attempting to combine the mobility of the mortar with the performance of modern standard artillery.

The Army is in the process of introducing its new field howitzer M777, to be towed by light, unprotected trucks. With a weight of only 4.5 metric tons, the system may claim excellent strategic mobility. And its operational mobility can be outstanding too: but only if the gun, the crew, ammunition and its navigation cum fire-management module are transported by heavy-lift helicopter. This is possible, but rather a costly undertaking. Otherwise the system has the mobility of World War II motorized artillery which was not particularly impressive.

As for the profile of tactical performance, the howitzer by no means measures up to our examples of modern mechanized artillery. The caliber is the same, namely 155 mm, but the barrel is shorter (39 cal. instead of 52) which translates into a maximum range of only 25 km. There is no ammunition carried directly at the gun. Only four rounds per minute can be fired. It takes three minutes to get ready to fire, and two to leave one’s position. (All our mechanized systems are significantly quicker.)

As many as seven soldiers are needed to operate and move the whole arrangement, which is quite problematic in times of personnel shortage. There is no armor protection whatsoever –as if one were not planning for non-linear contingencies (for missions in civil wars or those affected by insurgent resistance) characterized by threats out of the blue and from all directions leaving no relatively ‘safe rear’ for the artillery.

In other words, what this new piece of American ordnance clearly lacks is balance. If one intends to trade tactical performance for strategic mobility, one should not go further than the French Army, and not totally give up the idea of mechanization.”

Also discusses pros and cons of tube artillery vs mortars, MRLS and network centric warfare concepts.

http://www.comw.org/pda/0605unterseher.html

S O
S O
August 4, 2013 1:18 pm

@ChrisB;
we shouldn’t debate.
You misunderstand what I wrote and you claim I misunderstand what you wrote.

And don’t let yourself be influenced by Observer; he’s just full of aversion against me and stopped caring about what I actually write or mean long ago. It’s only “attack!, attack!” for him.

Observer
Observer
August 4, 2013 6:07 pm

ST, article has many, many loopholes. 4 rpm is sustained fire mode. Average standard for most armies in burst fire is 3 in 20 sec. Then compares SPHs with field guns. If he wanted to be fair, he should have compared the CAESER and PzH with the M-109 Paladin. As it is, it is an apples and oranges comparison.

SO, thanks, I learnt it from only the best.

Guess who? :)

Obsvr
Obsvr
August 5, 2013 8:50 am

“A GPS fuze for the 4.5 Mod 1 exists. The RN a) cannot afford it and b) will not buy it, because to do so would re-commit us to the 4.5 inch calibre for decades to come.
The RN preference is to work towards the 5 inch destined for the Type 26.”

Not quite sure what you mean by a GPS fze – full precision of merely CCF? Nevertheless its my understanding that even the RN uses NATO standard fze wells, threads, etc, therefore a fze used in 4.5 should be usable in 105 or 155 not to mention 5 inch. But I guess I must be wrong and the RN has been allowed to perpertuate UK WW1 standards for these matters. Not really a surprise I suppose their gunnery has always been antique.

M777 is of course a UK design, as was its only competitor for the lightweight 155. It could be improved by using a sliding block breach and flick-ramming, both availble from the UK supplier I believe. Not sure that a 52 cal barrel is runner given the issue of weight distribution.

I’m pleasantly suprised that RT knows what an 8 fig grid is, perhaps he was really BP (RTR). RA of course started using 10 figs c.1970 when FACE was issued, although surveyors had been producing full coords for many decades before that, and computations, even manual ones, had used them. Ah, the joys of 5 fig logs.

Observer
Observer
August 5, 2013 9:37 am

Obsvr, 10 fig MGR? That would give you down to 1m x 1m difference, what map scale supports that?

The lowest common map for military use I recall is the 1:25,000. You can’t even see 1m on that scale. (1m on 1:25,000 scale is 0.04mm). An 8 digit MGR is 10m x 10m, which is a barely visible 0.4mm x 0.4mm dot.

10m x 10m you can literally ask which street you want hit. 1m x 1m, it is more like asking which lamp post you want taken down.

Obsvr
Obsvr
August 6, 2013 9:46 am

Infantry and armour may be limited to maps but arty is not.

Registration Points (or datum shoots if you are old enough) were used in WW1, and to get the best data from them both ends needed coordinates, which are only produced by survey processes. Of course the quality and timeliness of meteor data means such fire missions are rarely used today.

The capability for routine use of 10 figs arrived with computers in the 60s & 70s. (8 figs was OK with plotters that were 1:12500 scale) Obviously the gun end was always fixed by coordinates once arty survey updated the recce offr’s mapspot. IIRC once they’d cracked the airphoto reading business in WW1 that too produced coords.

C. 1977 UK fielded LRF for arty observers complete with an orientation mount, then c. 1981 they fielded PADS to all observers as well as gun positions. The result was routinely using 10 figs in effect, and that’s what target reduction (converting firing data back to a grid) produced.