Whatever happened to – LIMAWS


Post the 1998 SDR, when the UK was caught in the grip of the go fast, go hard, go home RMA craze a couple of C130 deployable artillery weapons got very close to coming into service.


Lightweight Mobile Artillery Weapon System – Rocket (LIMAWS-R)used the same MLRS launching system as found on the the US HIMARS truck mounted system, basically, an MLRS system cut in half, 6 MLRS/GMLRS rockets or one ATACMS rocket.

The UK version swapped out the US FMTV truck for a Supacat designed chassis, the same underlying HMT 600 high mobility chassis as now used on the Coyote.


The Lightweight Mobile Artillery Weapon System – Rocket used the larger SPV 800 chassis and the BAE M777 155mm howitzer.


Iraq and Afghanistan put paid to LIMAWS, Rocket and Gun, but both were interesting concepts.

C130 portability is now somewhat like tits on a fish, in the medium term, the UK will only have the C17 and A400.

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118 Responses

  1. Both cancelled years ago to save money as were ammo projects such as the 155mm SmArt death to tanks shell. LIMAWS (G) was actually a competition, eventually between the portee M777 and the French Ceasar, I don’t think a winner was ever announced.

  2. Perfect bit of kit for a rapid deployment force- If they could do a 6×6, or 8×8 IFV and tank destroyer, as well as a slightly more protected 4×4 for RT’s snurgling….

    Ideal for 16 Air Mobile Brigade.

    …..shame the SPG looks as if the springs are knackered.

  3. It rightfully died. The whole concept was pointless, it involved spending a bunch of money to create a marginally more tactically mobile version of a capability we already had. And that marginal additional tactical mobility came at the cost of protection which we have since rediscovered actually reduces mobility substantially (by increasing areas in which one will be unwilling to use ones silly light vehicles).

    Don’t get me started on strategic mobility- this falls into the category of something that if it is being deployed will be deployed with such a substantial force as to make airlift impractical (not to mention costly) and we don’t have the airlift capability anyway. If Afghanistan and Iraq had a silver lining it’s that they put a stop to nonsense like this.

  4. Lack of money and Afgan/Iraq killed them off sadly. I seem to remember reading something about their cross-country performance not being quite what was hoped, but maybe that was just a mumbled excuse.

    Could the same chasis been used for Extractor?

    DH – I think the chassis fall under the classification of protected truck rather than wheeled APC. Not the think for a IFY or Tank destroyer.

  5. I like the look of the ST Kinetics Pegasus as a good compromise between the M777 and Ceaser type systems.

    NB. If the HIMARS is C130 transportable why did we try and invent our own version rather than purchasing that?

  6. Quite agreed, what was wrong with HIMARS? The automotive parts commonality, including that with the (not so good) patrol vehicle may have been a plus, but it was the arty piece that was too much for the axels/ x-country performance.

    Even today:
    Buy the Volvo dumper truck, protected cabin Archer, and change the towed pieces to 777s… now you’ve covered all possible mobilities, and with ordnance commonality

    Buy a few Himars and move all the tracked platforms to reserve rgmnts
    – the Dutch thought that the logistics parts of the batteries were not that survivable anyway, having to make the to and fro trips at the lumbering tracked speed, in a high-intensity conflict environment.

  7. Tom,

    You only need to look at the gun version to see that mobility is not going to be great.

    EXACTOR, Spike NLOS, has been shown on a myriad of platforms all the way down to Sandcat- it just depends what you want to achieve.


    Pegasus is only really a towed howitzer whose on-board propulsion is slightly improved over that of ordinary towed-howitzers. It is not really self-propelled in the true sense of the term.

  8. DN – ref why not HIMARS – the answer is the fifth image down. CH-47 underslung load limit is about 10.5t* and the armoured HIMARS truck is heavier than that – in the end LIMAWS(R) was under 9t which allows modest underslung range. The six-pack launcher was a complete redesign for LIMAWS to reduce weight; the truck was 6×4 not 6×6, had a 4 cylinder engine instead of the normal 6 cylinder, and even had smaller wheels/tyres all to get weight down. A lot of effort put in on both sides of the pond to meet the requirement.

    *I understand CH-47 is permitted to lift over 11t, but only if the aircraft is stripped out to minimum fit, and then the range on minimum fuel is stones-throw…

  9. Yeah, the APUs on other gun/ howitzer models normally just help go move them in and out of concealed positions (IR camo nets etc.)
    – that makes for about 3 km/h and the Pegasus can do 12 (while awaiting for the towing units to arrive)

  10. Chris,

    Which underscores another issue, the ability of a Chinook to lift a system like this in the Balkans is not the same as its ability to lift it in Afghanistan.

  11. I never understood with LIMAWS-G why they carried the M777 complete with gun trails and chassis, and not just the gun itself like most other Truck-based SPG’s?

    The new Isralei-developed ATMOS variant but Thai-to-be-built 155mm SPG looks very similar to a Supacat chassis, but a true 6×6 and not a 6×4.


    The HIMARS could still be procured but on a MAN chassis not the FMTV…………..

  12. ACC – Archer is e-nor-mous. Over 14m long, 4m high with all the options, 3m wide and 32t. Just within A400 max logistic payload limits (with cab-top option removed) but over the tactical payload weight limit (higher G level)

  13. Chris

    ‘DN – ref why not HIMARS – the answer is the fifth image down. CH-47 underslung load limit is about 10.5t* and the armoured HIMARS truck is heavier than that’

    But why ask for that sort of mobility with a system that has a range of 70km? The HIMARS is already strategically mobile and with an armoured cab would still be able to be lifted by A400/C17. It would not have been too hard to specify our own engine and transmission for commonality even a new wiring harness etc but just items like that I would not have touched the chassis and axles etc ( how many times do you need to change a seat or door in a cab?)

    The Pegasus gives you a shoot and scoot capability and local maneuverability plus the advantage over a system like Ceaser of using any prime mover capable of pulling it within your inventory.

  14. IS the question, why do you need 155mm at all to support a lightweight fast reaction force with limited tactical mobility.

    I would have thought the 105mm light gun was much more appropriate so the money would have been better spent there, maybe a portee style system, or at a push, some of the low recoil designs. Then you get into discussions about 105mm v 120mm mortar.

    For rockets, same applies, why a 70km system, would perhaps be better to go for some of the lower calibre rocket systems if you want a rocket based system.

  15. While the logic around cancelling both appears sound, given priorities and leasons learned there is an obvious issue that this whole thing has left us with. Where is M777 purchase to replace the increasingly long in the tooth 105mm gun? I’ve not heard anything about a 105mm replacement for years and yet every other major user of the 105mm is transitioning over to the M777…. Surely if there was a priority for the artillery, that would be it (as opposed to the ill conceived Fire Shadow for example)….

  16. DN – ref ‘why ask for that’ – I don’t know. LIMAWS(R) met a requirement set by MOD; CH-47 lift was part of it. Had the requirement been for C-130 lift only then the HIMARS pod could have been fitted to a standard 6×6 Supacat/HMT chassis, or indeed if preferred the HIMARS could have been bought complete instead. I guess you need to put your question to Main Building…

  17. The 105 is still good enough for the role, but if you wanted to replace it tomorrow would you go for 155 over 105 for commonality?

    Why do light forces such as 16 AS require rockets? would it not have bee more cost effective to have developed PGM and other rounds for the 105?

    I would keep tube artillery over a 120 mortar just for the range advantage, they are too similar in every other aspect.

  18. If we’re talking about commonality how about an adaptable light 120mm gun?

    Using the same ammunition as as our MBT and able to fire either direct as a Tank-Destroyer or indirect as an artillary piece.

    More punchy than 105mm but not as chunky as a 155mm would have to be?

  19. Why replace the 105mm? It is still perfectly serviceable and has been fitted with LINAPS (a far more significant upgrade than the heavier shell 155mm would provide)- replacing it would result in the expenditure of a pile of cash for a not especially significant capability increase.

    There is a major discussion to be had over the future of artillery and precision fires in the light of PGMs such as GMLRS, 120mm guided mortars, EXACTOR etc, but a minor upgrade of the light-guns to M777 really shouldn’t be part of it.

  20. Derek

    Agree – only reason to do it is if there were a big logistical saving from eliminating an ammunition type.

  21. Hi Chris, it fits… What’s the problem.

    Dealing with very nasty types of opponents, it is a definitive advantage for the first-entry echelon to be supported by artillery that
    – is tactically mobile, after having landed
    – is compatible with the rounds used by likely allies (joint logistics)
    – does not get eliminated by a mere mention of NBC… You can be more orderly during reloading cycle than when you need to get into position, fire… Maybe even scoot

  22. Derek is right in the sense that the Pegasus is not self propelled by any means, the APU was meant to cut down manpower from having to lug it from drop zone to firing positions.

    It’s due to the strategic doctrine. With improvements in artillery, any deep striking force is at a disadvantage unless they have artillery to counter and match. The Pegasus was never meant to be a front line piece, that is left to its’ larger cousin the FH-2000 (52-calibre vs 39). It was meant to give a heli-borne raiding force greater firepower and not leave it at the mercy of enemy artillery.


    Its’ bigger cousin. Speed off tow is about the same for the Peggy, so it really isn’t that slow, about as fast as a man can run.

    The real advantage to the APUs are manpower reduction due to powered deployment.

    Right tool for right job. Front line? 52-cal 155mm. Deep raiding? 39-cal light weight 155mm.

    But despite all these, it all comes down to the men and doctrine. You can have all the latest toys and gadgets, but if you have no idea how to use them properly, even an old 105mm can kick you off the battlefield.

    PS: I hate ads.

    Heli-borne 227mm? Nice idea, but you have a bit of a problem when it comes to logistics. One pack only carries 6 rounds. Awesome punch if you have it, but you end up with the problem of once you use it, that is usually it. Not to mention without the autoloading system, which you will NOT have if you heli-drop, trying to manhandle 227mm into the tube is an exercise in how to get muscle pulls.

    Love it if 227mm would become practical for a raiding force, but right about now, it’s still difficult to implement.

  23. Observer,

    I agree. LIMAWS seems to have been an expensive exercise in finding out what we already knew- that moving big pieces of artillery round on lightweight platforms does not really work- for a variety of reasons.

    My own view is that we are probably on the last generation of classic tube artillery. The cost of precision is now falling rapidly and the reliability of that precision is improving rapidly. Fireshadow seems not to have been the solution but things such as GMLRS, the Israeli Romach and EXACTOR appear to be showing the way forward. Musing out loud, I wonder if a solid rocket booster could be put on a SPEAR-3 to produce an interesting land-based container launched long range precision strike weapon.

  24. Derek, I don’t see those 2 (rocket vs tube) as contradictory or competitive though, they have their own fields to excel in. The rockets excel in a huge massive BOOM!! and a long reload time while the tubes are famous for their ability to do a long duration beat down.

    On a further point of note, GMLRS is a GPS guided system, which means that it kills locations and works on probability hit while 155mm BONUS, SMART and Copperhead rounds attack specific targets (though the function overlaps with the Spike NLOS these days).

    So I think that there are still areas where they each have their ability to shine.

    What worries me more is that the UK and the US will end up with a main artillery weapon (M-777) that we classify as raiding artillery rather than front line artillery. Oh well. If you can get it to work with your strategic framework, it doesn’t matter. As they say, success excuses everything. Failure gets blamed for everything.

  25. @TD: “IS the question, why do you need 155mm at all to support a lightweight fast reaction force with limited tactical mobility.”

    I’m sure I heard that 155 is the minimum calibre for breaking up an armoured attack, although where I heard it is lost in the mists of time…

  26. RE: 120mm and light guns. The Russians still use (?) 100mm and 125mm anti tank guns. Due to their high velocity they can have good range:

    “We can gain some impression of how the 105mm L7 might perform by looking at its closest equivalent, the D-10 rifled 100mm gun used on the T-55. The same ammunition is used by the Russian M1944 (BS-3) and Czech M53 100mm guns. Firing the 15.6 kg Frag-HE round at 900 m/s at a maximum elevation of 18º a T-55 has an indirect fire range of 14,600m. The M53 and M1944 have a elevation of 42-45º and have a maximum range of 21,000m with the same round at the same muzzle velocity.
    Several nations produce HE rounds for the L7 gun. These range in weight from 16.6-27 kg and are fired at muzzle velocities of up to 850 m/s. It seems reasonable to assume that mounted on a towed carriage capable of high elevations the L7 gun should have a range of at least 20,000m. For comparison the 105mm M119 gun fires the 14.97 kg M760 HE round at 633m/s to 14,500m.”


    RAND did a study about future rapid deployable forces including a 105mm Smart round, HIMARS using smart munitions and E-FOGM. The 105mm round was based on a suggested concept of an IR homing round; I couldn’t find any more info so don’t think it went past concept stage. In the simulation however it rivialed the E-FOGM the best vehicle killer. The HIMARS was reserved for counter battery fire with the Damocles (?) smart submunitions so its vehicle killing properities were not fully explored.


  27. I am aware that Pegasus is not a true self propelled system, that is why I suggested it being a good compromise between the M777 and a truck mounted system. The APU allows local mobility so relocation is quicker than with the M777, along with the capability to move in and out of fire pits etc. Basically an airmobile FH 70 which we used to use.

    ‘What worries me more is that the UK and the US will end up with a main artillery weapon (M-777) that we classify as raiding artillery rather than front line artillery’

    I agree, we need to retain some MLRS and AS90, perhaps look at replacing some with medium systems such as HIMARS and DONAR to supplement them with more strategic mobility coupled with a bit more fightyness. EXACTOR is a good all rounder that is worth spreading to all units if possible (if we do not do that already).

  28. Observer,

    For the time being. The technology trend is clearly for multi-mode guidance systems and ever smaller weapons. We are not there yet, tube artillery will not vanish over night, but I can’t imagine that there will be much investment in new howitzer types going forwards- there have not been many western countries invest in 52 cal artillery modernisation and new SPH procurements appear relatively low down the priorities list. I have no doubt that AS90 and the 105mm will still be around for years to come but AS90 has an OSD of 2023 at the moment and it will be interesting to see what happens then.

  29. TD,

    For sake of accuracy, the ground-launched SDB is not DoD funded- it is a Boeing private venture. It is however exactly the sort of thing I have in mind. The Raytheon built SDB-II would be even more interesting.

  30. The problem with using 155 and 227 for “lightweight” or “mobile” forces is that the logs burden in terms of the ammunition (standfast guided munitions) tends to increase. 3Cdo trialled FH70 in Norway in the late 80s (or possibly early 90s) and while the gun itself was just about manageable, ammo resupply hit a whole new level of demand in terms of weight. Might be less of an issue now Chinook is “regularly” deployed, but was a lot harder for poor old SK4.

    Suppression and harrassment are still valid artillery missions and they tend to need volume of fire as well as terminal effect.

  31. TD, good for them if they do.

    Think the AS90 uses a 39-cal system? Though I heard of rumours that they tested a 52-cal system on it too, think they called it a Braveheart(?) (Love to see someone name these things with a bit of reality though. Cowardheart-I hide behind MBTs and shoot you from far far away. :P ) Not that it matters much for highly mobile systems, the 10km shortage is just a 10 min drive.

    I just had an evil, evil thought thinking through TD’s articles. Exactor mounted on a toughened Humdinga. Think there was a precedent for it with the rocket DUKWs in WWII. High mobility firepower on call available for use even in areas with water boundaries, extreme flexibility in usage, as a FAC or mobile artillery or riverine patrol craft. (Hate to see the inter-service fights over who gets the rights to this though).

    Derek, what you say may make sense in the future in a military sense, but MoDs also work on budget. :P 155mm dumb rounds are still cheaper than smart 227mm.

  32. Observer,

    Correct, AS90 in British service is only 39 cal. That fact partly inspired my comment about tube artillery modernisation (beyond things like LINAPS) seemingly not being a priority. Dumb 155 may be cheap, but smart is getting cheaper all the time and the desire to avoid dead babies just gets stronger. We have seen dumb munitions all but vanish from the air domain and I see no reason why that trend won’t make its way into artillery. In fact we are seeing that start to happen now.

  33. Derek – Re AS90 OSD – I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they received some form of life extension. At the moment they are still perfectly serviceable until they really start getting outclassed.

    When we do replace them, the question is with what? Realistically we can’t afford to have more than 2 types of tube artillery: a light weight heli-mobile platform and a protected heavier platform.

    I can see an eventual purchase of M777 (or son-of-M777) to replace the Light Gun, not because it is better in all respects (which it isn’t) but because there won’t be a areal market for a new 105mm gun and it will simplify ammo porucment.

    Question is, do we want a another tracked SPG, or could we get away with a medium weight wheeled platform that offers advantages in terms of deployability and cost, at the expense of inbuilt protection and conventional cross-country mobility?

  34. Again I’m going to shamelessly cheerlead for the IAI Jumper here. http://www.iai.co.il/Sip_Storage//FILES/7/39427.pdf

    The requirement is for support fires in depth ahead of the frontline and it needs to be deployable. That is without the huge logistics tail following specialised heavy vehicles like those underneath Archer or HiMARS.

    Somewhat ironically, perhaps, I was watching the latest buffoonery from the Top Gear travelling roadshow last night. This is one where, in the middle of Burma, three blokes who, between them, scarcely make a full halfwit have secured a number of suitably operable flatbed trucks from the local small ads. One even with a pretty serviceable crane mounting. It dawned on me, painfully slowly, that these vehicles are usually fairly universally available at Honest Abdul/Istvan/Nguyen’s Hauliers in almost any country you’ll find yourself in. DAF, MAN, Hyundai, Isuzu 4×2 and 4×4 flatbed trucks have commercial support infrastructure everywhere as well.

    With a rapid deployment system like Jumper requiring no external vehicle integration why take the engine, drivetrain, wheels and all the associated metalworkery of the transport around with you?. Its right there in theatre complete with, in many cases, local commercial logistics in country or, at very least, in a neighbouring one with far cheaper and easier access than a supply line heading back to UK.

    What you get is a 50km range 150mm GPS/laser guided rocket thats useful from the boat before you land. Can be dumped ashore with the beachead while thats being established and expanded and, ultimately, when you are ashore and looking to mobilise it you nip down to the local Isuzu dealership and buy a dozen 7.5ton 4×4 flatbeds. Or you confiscate Honest Abdul/Istvan/etc’s fleet with an offer of a big wedge of notes, a possibly lucrative haulage contract and a promise to return any of his trucks that survive when things have finally settled down. You then mount the VLS packs on the flatbeds 2 to a truck.

    OK its not steel rain in terms of firepower, but, its more sustainable in theatre than hefting 227mm rocket packs and you could even chopper out replacement packs to the trucks for quick reload prior to advance at a pinch.

    …and on that bombshell I’ll say goodnight!!.

  35. Jonesey,

    Good call on Jumper, I had completely forgotten about that particular offering, did it ever fly? That is exactly the direction fires is going in.

  36. The Jumper went nowhere because the role it performed was already covered by the Spike NLOS, so you got 2 products doing more or less the exact same thing. Jumper had a much longer range though, but it’s one of those things where “just enough” was enough to work with.

  37. This discussion reminds me of the need to break Viking/Warthog into two units for lift
    – maybe that was the driver for the undisclosed Exactor (trailer?) Unit: simple and light enough to be underslung togetfher with the manned unit to move/ operate it?

  38. ACC, yeah but you guys have never used it operationally as a heli-drop and neither have we, so it’s really a moot point.

    And ironically, with so much of our stuff heli-transportable, the Warthog was NOT one of them in theory. The next Warthog you deploy by helicopter would be the first. We probably won’t be doing so though. It’s a transport, not an assault vehicle. You guys are using it as a IFV because the opposition is weak, face anything tougher and it should never be on the front lines.

  39. Still being pretty aggressively marketed by IAI up to last year Derek. This is from 2010 but you get the idea:


    Its a complimentary system to Spike-NLOS and Nimrod, to some extent, with a bit of a different mission optimisation to both. You wouldnt select Spike-NLOS as a natural replacement for HiMARS or for naval fire support..wheras Jumper you might well do. Jumper is more of an artillery weapon and can be salvo fired on GPS coords or with laser designation as such, with the longer range, its the more suited to the support fires sort of role.

    Spike is a more single-shot precision hit weapon and, with the EO seeker, presents different engagement options. No question that those features have helped it achieve very good success in the marketplace, but, I’m not sure its the reason Jumper hasnt had international take-up yet.

  40. @Derek

    Are you 100% right when you assert the following?

    “Dumb 155 may be cheap, but smart is getting cheaper all the time and the desire to avoid dead babies just gets stronger. We have seen dumb munitions all but vanish from the air domain and I see no reason why that trend won’t make its way into artillery. In fact we are seeing that start to happen now.”

    Read the article in “Defense News” ((March 9th) entitled:

    “Israeli Armor, Artillery Corps Shifting Emphasis”

    Apparently only a year ago, Israel’s Artillery Corps was forming a new doctrine to move from its traditional role of fire support to standoff attack. Its Fire2025 plan aimed for one-shot, one-target accuracy at progressively long ranges, with saturation fire relegated to second place.

    For a long time, artillery advocates had envisaged network-enabled, ground-based systems as an alternative to airpower for a range of scenarios demanding precision standoff attack. However, they have now reached the conclusion that they need to view themselves first and foremost as a supporting organization to enable the Army to achieve its objectives (although they will also build capabilities to allow accurate means of standoff attack). In other words, they are returning to traditional support priorities.

    However, I suppose Israel is rather special in that it has had to engage in numerous conventional high intensity campaigns involving heavy armour. We in the West, since Gulf War 2, seem to have studiously avoided that kind of warfare.

  41. jonsey, the Jumper isn’t that much of an area effect weapon too, it really is more like the Spike in that the warhead is small. I.E it isn’t a replacement for MLRS too. As mentioned earlier, it shares too many similar characteristics to the NLOS, which makes it a hard sell for people that already have a system in place or have other systems to cover the 50km role. Like tube artillery.

    Example in point, the Naval Jumper. No take ups at all because the Israeli Navy is using, guess what? Spike ER.

  42. Observer, Derek,

    braveheart was taking part in the Indian artillery trials.

    What happened then, as it was not selected, is that the turret is in production in Poland, but that is the turret. The artillery piece they fit into it is a 155 from Nexter.

  43. Observer, I had to put that slash/ Viking in there as I had a faint recollection of Wrthog being too heavy.

    I agree, an IFV it is not. But nor are most SPGs, as they do not fight in the line and are armouded to withstand splinters and assault rifles ( perhaps not even AP rounds, but infantry does not fire AP rounds as a std and an encounter would be by chance).

  44. I still miss the 175mm (deep sigh). Oh & I still think we should keep the 10 short body RAF C-130J. Perhaps six converted to US Coastguard HC-130J standard for ocean patrol/SAR/transport roles & 4 to USAF confusingly also HC-130J for special forces transport & helicopter AAR.

  45. @ACC

    And do you heli lift a self propelled gun? :)
    If that capability is never used, then it is the same as not having it, right? So it just becomes meaningless information not relevant to usage.

    ST, the guy himself admitted that he was speculating on “rumors”. And he missed a very very big point that we brought up earlier. 155mm can be supplied by air, though NaB pointed out that it was impractical then. We have improved enough that 155mm IS currently able to be supplied in the field, though that is pushing the limits. Air dropping huge 227mm rockets isn’t a good idea IMO. Especially when they come in packs of 6. And reload by crane IIRC.

  46. Does anybody know how our enemies are getting along with a cheap version of the Iron Dome System? If Russia/China/Brazil make a cheaper (maybe not as effective ) version of this system and finds it way by after sales to many other parties the mix of weapons deployed could be influenced .A mix of missiles / artillery / mortar may be needed . If such a system is present a rain of relatively small and cheap dumb 105mm artillery/120mm mortar rounds would prompt the using up of the expensive missile shield . After which the more expensive missiles/ smart artillery / smart mortar rounds could be used for selective/area target destruction.
    The mix of weapons you deploy depends on the intell gathered as all ways ,with this defensive shield capability being a significant factor if present . No point going in all ‘missiled’ up to find your $100k+ rounds being blasted out of the sky.

  47. If we were to go down the lightweight missile platform route again wouldn’t hurt to look at the Brazilian ASTROS system which they are upgrading as we speak (type). Before I get slated about no need to buy a different system to what we have now, note I said look at not purchase!!

    the neat part is it comes as a complete system on one chassis ie launcher, command and control, repair lab, reloader and the armament ranges from short range (9-15km) 127mm in pods of 32 up to the big stuff ie 300mm 90km, I believe the upgrade is looking at ranges in the hundreds of km’s. Again I am not suggesting buying a complete new artillery system when we already have one, but if we did buy/design it would be a good benchmark.
    Oh forgot to add only weighs 10,000KG as well .


    PS the system they developing at the moment will fire cruise missiles and anti tank anti helicopter rounds, I’m starting to like it!!!

  48. Deployable artillery that can be used in support of rapid deployable forces em use an ac130 gunship and in stead of the missiles I’ll take an apache then we can save on the studies and the 1/2 billion pound prototypes what’s not to like.

  49. bollocks to writing out all that comment again!! Yes I’ve joined the “my comment has been eaten” club.

    Sum up in bullet points, Brazilian ASTROS, all vehicles (cmmd & control, launcher, repair,reload) same chassis, 10Kg. 127mm smaller ordnance in packs of 32 up to 300mm. new system will include cruise missile 300km and also anti tank/anti slow moving air. Not saying buy it as it would be silly but would be a good design study for a future lighter system

  50. @ Observer – well I think it was intended to be resupplied by helicopter and according to this link it is self loading.


    Also the lightened pod weighs 2.5t so in theory could be underslung a Merlin or other helicopter (4 per Chinook?).

    Another idea I have come across is light GMLRS pods on trailers. The original concept called for unmanned trailer/launchers which could be dispersed and controlled/fired remotely. The unmanned launcher was intended to be cheap one shot affairs and expendable to counter fire.

    Even if that is not possible or desirable a helimobile and towed trailer-launcher might be useful?

  51. Mike W,

    Yes I am 100% correct, if you read the article you will see the upcoming Israeli adoption of guided MLRS rounds.


    Correct, though I understand that the next Polish Krabs will use a Rheinmetall gun in a British origin turret on a Turkish chassis (containing German drive-chain)- just for variety.

  52. I do suspect that it wasn’t just a lack of funds that saw LIMAWS killed off; they look like they’d have terrible mobility problems.

    The LIMAWS gun in particular looks like it would struggle to manage speed bumps, and having all those wheels on such a little but well laden truck must act like a keel on soft or rutted ground.

    These things, along with FRES, appear to come from an era when the MoD had no real understanding of gravity. Anything could be made light enough to fulfil any air-transport requirement that could be dreamt up, but reality seems not to have lived up to the concepts.

    The light gun may have limitations, but it is still a very convenient little package to have. Even to the extent that it can be lugged about by a group of bodies if necessary.

    If these were revisited today, a Viking tractor and flatbed trailer unit could provide a very good base for a number of rocket or missile systems. Chinook portable when separated if push comes to shove, but a comfortable load for Atlas and high off-road performance are more relevant.

    Perhaps a Terrier derived platform could mount a 155mm gun, in the style of the old 8inch SPG, but smaller. You’d obviously not undersling that, but I’d guess you could come up with something lighter than the digger for chucking in the back of a plane, and it would surely go places that the LIMAWS gun would not.

  53. Swimming Trunks,

    Towed systems would seem to be well suited to helicopter-borne operations as they can be split into two loads or potentially even carried internally.
    For example, a Coyote with ammunition stowage towing a M777 or L118 or GMLRS pod launcher/trailer.
    It would be very much simpler to design rather than try to pack it all in to one helicopter load, especially such large weapons as a 155mm howitzer or a 227mm rocket launcher.

  54. “Quite agreed, what was wrong with HIMARS?”
    Wrong was that it didn’t appear in the 80’s. We’re in a new century now, and the environment is different.

    Country Signature Ratification/Accession Entry into force date
    United Kingdom 03-Dec-08 4-May-10 1-Nov-10

    The principal MLRS munition (DPICM) is de facto useless now for the UK.

  55. BB, “Perhaps a Terrier derived platform could mount a 155mm gun, in the style of the old 8inch SPG, but smaller.”

    Wouldn’t it be better to cut to the chase and have a Bulldog derived Abbot FV433?

  56. Yeah, since the early 10’s or so. (Nails were already dropped from aircraft in 1914 or 1915.)

    It’s always a good idea to be sceptical about ideas which keep failing to achieve a breakthrough for decades.


    Imperfect substitute or not; the rationale for MRLs – particularly large calibre MRLs – has to be re-evaluated due to the cluster munitions ban and other changes. Don’t stick to what worked decades ago slavishly. It’s not self-evident that MLRS in today’s form (including GUMRLS) is a good idea for the 2020’s.

  57. Derek, been there done that on the all guided 227mm. But that is a factor of our environment, the Israelis don’t have that big an urban area to need all guided, so I suspect they’ll really end up with an economical mix.

    SO, think the treaty allows for 10 or less sub-bomblets, so you still have some dispersion. And with things like shaped penetrators, you still get pretty decent anti-armour capability. Anti-infantry, HE/frag is more than enough.
    OTOH… treaty? Wot treaty? Don’t remember signing no treaty. :)

    monkey, if your enemy wants to waste artillery shelling non-essential housing estates, I’d say let them. They’ll run out soon if they were that wasteful in their usage. You should check up the 70s ABM systems, they were really interesting. Especially the nuclear tipped anti-missile missiles. And Iron Dome isn’t really all that impressive in reality. Lots of systems can match up to it, like the French SAMP-T or the US Patriot can match the performance. And no, it can’t intercept mortar rounds just missiles and rockets. Mortar interception is the job of the proposed Iron Beam laser backup system.

  58. banned: submunitions of less than 20 kg
    exception: smart submunitions (less than 10, each more than 4 kg)
    exception: non-lethals (smoke, illum, EMP et cetera)

    20 kg – that’s about 122 mm shell size. The original M26 DPICM rocket’s bomblets weighed less than a pound.
    DPICM isn’t really practical under the ban any more.

  59. Hi Mark,

    Your AC130 would put an end to the gun or mortat discussion. They did get good results using mortar rounds on a modified 105 mm piece. The real reason was decreasing recoil stress on the airframe.
    – but what about persistence with an all-air solution?

  60. SO, was thinking of the basic ASTER, not the block 2 variants. That one isn’t BM capable. Arrow is designed from the start to be BM capable followed by David’s Sling (>70km) then Iron Dome, then Iron Beam in a stacked defence.

    In a vague comparison as there isn’t really a like for like classification, I’d say that the Arrow is roughly analogous to the THAADS, the SAMP covers both David’s Sling and Iron Dome depending on the Block of the missile and Iron Beam covers the same territory as the C-RAM. More or less.

  61. @Observer: Iron Dome is indeed no better than Aster when it comes to intercepting BM21 and the like. But Aster doesn’t cost 80K per round..that’s the difference :-)

  62. Archer is a bit of a mixed bag in addition to its size, IIRC it uses Swedish QF type rounds which makes the mechanical handling of ammo simple but significantly complicates everything else, not least the inability to keep putting ammo on-board while firing.

    M777 was going to be acquired for the cdo and para regts, then in the early 2000s an adult logistician with a spreadsheet entered the picture. Basically some simple sums soon revealed that there was no prospect of UK ever having enough helis to sustain 155mm over the distances expected by UK doctrine. Given re-emerging enthusiasm for helis one hopes there are still some adult loggies around.

    The UK program to up-gun AS-90 to 52 calibre barrel also hit a problem. A key part of the deal was a new S African propellant with exceptionally low barrel wearing properties. However, it failed to met the Insensitive Ammo regulations and the whole project was canned. Based on reports of the barrel wear of PzH2000 is in Afg by NL and GE then UK probably got it right again. It’s amusing that 52 cal is actually a UK design out of Ft Halstead. It’s also useful to note that in GW2 AS-90 had the best availability of the main UK AFVs, better than Warrior and Chall.

    The 2023 out of service date is fiction, AS-90 completed its upgrade program only about 3 yrs ago, last I heard OSD was 2033/5. 105mm is something similar, it had an upgrade about 5 years ago, although cost prevented adoption of some new titanium sub-assemblies, but did fix known weaknesses. More to the point new further improved ammo has been introduced, BAe claim the HE is now as effective as the 155mm baseline M107 shell, of course UK only uses this 155 for training but for lots of countries its still the main ammo.

    Not sure that I would call 227mm a large rocket, but then I learnt my rocketry on 762mm HJ! My understanding is that a warhead with a handful of biggish sub-munitions is under development in the US, or at least was, and it certainly figures in UK thinking.

  63. May absolute favourite aspect of AS90 is that it was developed off the back of a cardinal points requirements document that, so the story goes, took up the space of two sheets of A4 paper :)

    True or not I don’t know but amazing if so

  64. TD – ref 2 page CPS – in my view exactly as it should be – a very limited list of genuine must-be-met requirements and lots of cooperation and discussion between designers and customers/Users to mould the product into just the right shape. Hence from my perspective AS90 is a good effort because of the way it was specified, not in spite of it. I wonder if it was also within budget and delivered on time?…

  65. TD, from page 42, the increment V would seem to pick up from where it was left with Brilliant, as for engaging moving armoured targets.

    Presumably still on the drawing board, but the assessment of rocket delivered Brilliant was that unit cost of 18 times of a similar munition delivered through a 155 arty piece was not sufficiently balanced by the 5 times better efficiency.
    – both engaging opposing force 2nd echelon .
    – interesting though that ATACMS and MLRS are going to merge into one family

  66. TD,

    My favourite thing about AS90 is that after 45 years of trying the British Army finally acquired a credible piece of heavy self-propelled and British designed and built artillery. All by going simple and private.


    All UK OSDs are fiction until such a time as preparations start taking place to remove said item from service. It is the fact that precision is getting ever cheaper (and has additional built in cheapness courtesy of the need for less rounds which percolates through the entire logistics chain) and the fact that precision is increasingly being used for fires, combined with the lack of development of new howitzer types, which pushes me to the conclusion that we are on the last generation of traditional tube artillery. I am not suggesting that the British Army is going to start chopping up its Howitzers tomorrow, they will be around easily for another decade and probably longer but I find it unlikely that we will see another Pzh2000, FH70 or Crusader like programme to replace them given the direction of travel.

    Re Archer, there is a reason the Norwegians cancelled, several in fact, suffice to say that its not as surprising as the Archer fetishists want it to be.

  67. APUs, not sure that the experience of FH-70 has convinced UK users that APUs are a notably good idea. It was a popular idea in the 1960s, even the 105 GSR had it as a desirable (and full pack style breakdown to loads, talk about wishful thinking), but totally unrealistic given the weight constraints. The big load for arty is the ammo, and APUs aren’t a notable help with that!

  68. @mr.fred: if the French sign a contract for 4.1 billion euro for 575 Aster15/30 plus launchers, I’d say 5 million euro each on average :-(

  69. There is the handling of the rounds and the final phase, loading.

    I agree with the genefal statement, but in the loading APU-generated power can be of great benefit?

  70. Derek – “… pushes me to the conclusion that we are on the last generation of traditional tube artillery”

    Why though? Ok so there is no major howitzer programmes at the moment, but that is largely because nobody has come up with anything significantly better than what we have. The history of (tube) artillery since WWII (and even before) has largely been a one of steady evolution rather than revolution. This is the case even more so now than during the Cold War, as our artillery has been more than (technically) sufficient in the wars we have been fighting. The real revolution has been on the profusion on guided rounds and greater integration.

    Missile Artillery will become more prevalent. Maybe tube artillery will only be present in close support artillery (incl Mortars) because that is where its ability to keep up sustained fire rates is most useful, but it ain’t dead yet.

    A new howitzer program does not require take the same planning and engineering effort that, for example, a new fighter programme does.

  71. There is the handling of the rounds and the final phase, loading.

    I agree with the general statement, but in the loading APU-generated power can be of great benefit?

  72. I thought the R in RUSI stood for realist, rather than fantasist, or was it fetisist?

    Here is a view that emphasises the artillery supporting systems, with ammunition supply in focus:
    The view is generally valid, even though the solutions for Archer specifically are in focus.

  73. Tom,

    Try reading an entire post before replying, it would save me having to repeat myself. I never said that Howitzers would be dead tomorrow, but a look 10-20 years down the line suggests a very different situation. In terms of fires we are roughly where we were with PGMs for aircraft in the 1980s/GW1. That is an ever expanding proliferation and use of guided munitions (of various sorts) and it is these that are taking the bulk of R&D investment. As the cost of precision falls the cost advantage of dumb narrows and process accelerates. Tube artillery is not going to vanish over night or in the next decade but the technology trend is clear. Even in the 1980s we were on the brink of an artillery revolution courtesy of sensor fused munitions which were to be integrated into everything from 227mm artillery rockets all the way through to stealthy cruise missiles all launched from the standard MLRS vehicle. The end of the cold war just delayed the process and changed the requirements, now the technology is catching up.

  74. Derek – not trying to start an arguement, but I did read your whole post, and replied with an alternative opinion, which I’ll repeat for you:

    1) Yes, we are shifting to a “50 km sniper” situation with artillery, and this is exactly the sort of weapon that we need for CURRENT wars that we are fighting. But what’s the adage? Preparing for the last war, not the next possible war. Maybe we will more traditional artillery fire power in the next war.

    2) In my (and others) opinion, howitzers still offer certain advantages over missile based platforms. Chiefly their ability to carry out sustained fire missions economically. They aren’t dependent on guidance technologies to achieve a reasonably accurate hit. What happens if GPS and data links are being blocked? Missiles have a comparatively large IR signature against tube artillery.

    3) I welcome the profusion of guided missiles in the Army. I hope we see more. I like the idea of Army VLS. We will see the ratio of tube to missile platforms shift. But traditional artillery isn’t going to disappear.

    4) Yes there no major howitzer programs at the moment. The current generation are still performing well, especially with the upgrade programs we have been doing; there is no need to replace them at the moment, particularly in the current budget environment.

    5) A new Howitzer program does not have the same lead time as a new fighter program, for example. Assuming that the new design still uses 105/155 mm ammunition, uses an existing vehicle platform (e.g. FRES) and that it shares the same basic technologies as the current generation (i.e. no railguns), then a 5 year RFI to trials vehicle does not seem OTT to me.

  75. You clearly haven’t read my post or you wouldn’t be ad-nausea repeating the same irrelevance you did previously when you also hadn’t read it.

    I never said conventional tube artillery would disappear tomorrow, what I said is that the technology trend is clear and the cost of precision is falling, this is already percolating into western inventories where conventional artillery holdings are falling and systems such as EXACTOR and GMLRS are coming into service. If you want to be a flat earther and deny something that is already happening then so be it.

    By the way, you should check out programmes like SP70 and Crusader if you think new artillery projects are quick and easy.

  76. Obsvr, the central asian guys seem to love APUs though. First Turkey got their Panter Howitzer design from us, and even upsized the APU. Then Pakistan got some from Turkey, trialed them, loved them so much they tripled their initial order AND pushed for local manufacture and now even India has their own design (155/45 Dhanush) that has an APU.

    Hey, if it was up to me to push a 10 ton gun up a hill into battery in the hot sun vs an APU design that can drive itself up, I know which one I’d choose. :) It may be a minor creature comfort, but a happy gunner is a career gunner. As for the ammo, yes you have a point, but let me put it this way. Would you rather lug the ammo AND the gun up? Or just lug the ammo up? Besides, nothing says you can’t clip a hopper for some rounds or toss a 6 round pack of 155mm on the back of the gun with the trail legs in closed position.

    Derek, I think tubes still have a niche in SPGs. A SPG 155mm can carry 40-60 rounds into an armoured advance, a 227 can only fit about 12 if you used the old MLRS as a guide. That is 3-5 times the rounds you can fire. As for guided rounds, yes, you get guided rockets, but what is to say that the 155mm rounds themselves can’t be guided? For all we know, we can end up with 155s that are IR recognition guided, they already have 155mm laser guided (Copperhead) and 155mm GPS (Excalibur) rounds after all.

    Rockets still have a big weakness it has to overcome before it can replace tube artillery. Endurance in fire. As I said before, rockets give a big BOOM!, then has to stop to reload while guns just keep going and going and going.

    ACC, not only loading but also powered traverse. Instead of guys yanking up the trail legs and turning the gun in the gross direction then having the gunner adjusting the lay of the gun further, the gunner can just use the joystick and turn the gun by himself to the general bearing then do final minor corrections. In short the gunner is aiming the gun while turning like a turret instead of having to move and re-lay the gun in the traditional method.

    I suspect that the FH-70 was a gun that was ahead of its time and was not given enough time to mature. Other than the logistics, which was solved eventually, all the other problems were minor and could have been corrected easily. Looking at it, I can see where the ST Kinetics guys stole their ideas from. Pity. If it was brought to maturity, who knows, you guys might have been the ones selling to Turkey and Pakistan.

  77. Yeah, the metrics are hopeless:
    – apply the screw driver to the top and be flown around by Grizzlies
    – reposition with speeds of upto 70 km/h and be ready to fire in 30 seconds
    – operate from under cover ( NBC, splinter…) While switching between types of rounds at will
    – simultaneous impact with upto 3-6 rounds on target … i will leave the calculation with you as to what ranges would require violating the stratosphere in order to give enough time for the flattest trajectory to catch up as for total travel time
    – you can have the replenishing crew donning white suits, w/o a tie, if you run into a really nasty piece as the opponent
    – plenty of std parts as for ammo, gun and the automotive platform… Indeed there are Volvo A25s, 30s and 40s cleaning thebeach in front ofmy deck, as we speak/ type

  78. Observer,

    Absolutely, guided shells are definitely an intermediary step, but the advantage of precision is that you need less firing- you thus reach a point (eventually) where the reduced requirement for volume starts to propel more fundamental changes in the conduct of fires. You can do things with rockets that you can’t do with shells.

  79. I have to say (and I’m quite prepared to withstand derek’s melodramatic, sneering superiority and intolerant bullying), by applying simple logic tube artillery will be around as long as we fight wars.

    By now most of you will have gathered that I’m a lover of airpower, I have no experience in artillery, but applying logic tells me that rocketry and guided munitions are very useful for some fire missions- applying effect to particular targets, or targets where precise accuracy is required, or environments where ground forces require precise effect at very short notice. Command assets, comms, transport nodes etc

    But for sustained effect, or harrassing fire, tube arty is pre-eminent, reloading times being the key. If you want a shell landing every 30secs randomly over a 10 sq km area, whats the point in using smart munitions? It’s a waste of money. If you need to break up a large armoured formation, coming your way, same thing applies- weight of effect needed, not pinpoint accuracy. Personally, that’s the point at which I’d expect full effort from HM fast flying club, preferably en masse and from every direction. Add in the ‘Grid Square Removal Service’ for good measure too.

    And some of you are going to say there’s no threat that involves large armoured formations advancing on our positions, which there isn’t….right now…..probably…..

    But if you think there isn’t ever going to be, then you are a fool, and frankly need to stop living in airy-fairy land….

    The world turns, and lots of countries are building up their conventional forces, and who knows who will be a threat to whom, and when…..

    The safest way of defending a nation is to ensure that you have sufficiently sized and equipped forces that are capable of a wide variety of operations in a wide variety of environments, and are able to deliver a prize-winning leek moment to your enemies. (Not forgetting the ability to deliver buckets of instant sunshine at will either)

  80. I think that tube artillery will have a resurgence and rockets will go back to longer ranged precision and saturation uses.

    At the moment an Excalibur round costs roughly $50,000 with a CEP of 5m. The Precision Guidance Kits for 155mm cost about $3000 with a CEP of 30m. If the trend continues and the technology improves and matures it will push rockets and missiles to the right just in terms of logistics and cost.

  81. The link provixed by Monkeymade the point about everwidening frontages. While I havemade the same cost point as David Niven above, these frontages ( as quoted, 50 km for a Br BG), combined with the need for maintaining deep fires, requires much improved mobikity on the part of tube artillery to stay relevant. Obviouslly we are talking about a mix, not either – or.

  82. DH,

    I can’t be bothered to cover all of the fail in your post but the comment about tube artillery being around as long as we fight wars implies it is very much you being a fool and living in airy-fairy land, I am sure somebody said something similar about the long bow. You clearly don’t understand what precision is, what it does and why it is wanted.


    Yup, as I said, we are very much where PGM use by aircraft was in GW1 but costs will and are coming down as reliability and functionality goes up. The technology and demand drivers are clear and the impact is already being seen in cutting edge forces- US, UK and Israel for instance.

  83. The involvement of Supacat in the various stages of LIMAWS is quite interesting.

    First, as Chris has posted above, efforts to lighten LIMAWS-R so that it could be transported by Chinook led to a seriously compromised version of the HMT600 chassis.

    Secondly, LIMAWS -G relied on a unique SPV800 chassis.

    Move on a few years and, according to Battlespace, the Supacat HMT600 based Coyote is now being proposed as the 105mm gun tractor for 16AAB and 3 Cdo Brigade.

  84. “If you need to break up a large armoured formation, coming your way, same thing applies- weight of effect needed, not pinpoint accuracy.”

    Perhaps I missed a memo somewhere but I thought the whole point of Brimstone was to get away from the ‘area fire…occasional hit’ paradigm?. The idea being to forgo multiple dumb bombs or BL755s and get to ‘numbers of armour kills per airframe’ i.e 4 triple shot racks for Brimstone on your jet equals 1 dead armoured sqdn….4 strikers equals one shredded armoured regt. in a single pass. The point being to not expose ones expensive toys and highly trained and whiny drivers to the SHORADS envelope solely in order to litter the ground with small bombs that someone will have to clear up at a later date lest sheep, goats and little Johnny have their days ruined by them.

    If we need to mess up a wider geographic area of soft and crunchy things, North Korean human waves etc, we use thermobarics now dont we?. Alternately we just send over the Apaches to plink away with 30mm and rockets in a more measured and selective fashion. Bottom line of exploding a grid square, when most of the grid square wasnt occupied with something that would shoot back, was considered wasteful and in poor taste?. Better just to hit the things that would shoot back and be done with it?. Suppression out…constant surveillance and selective fire in sort of thing?.

  85. I suspect tube artillery will die. Not because things like PGK are useless, but because:

    a) precision guidance reduces in cost, particularly for rockets, making the formerly unthinkable “all guided” practical.

    b) the requirement for massed depth fires falls away, since precision allows fewer shells to be more effective.

    c) the advantages of MRL’s for salvo compression

    d) reduction in manning over tube artillery

    MLRS is a long range weapon with a lot of bang: we need a cheap and cheerful 30k range version, plus some automatic mortars for the saturation fires required for FPF’s and the like.

  86. percontator,

    Which suggests that at least lessons (that should not have needed to have been learned) have been learned and the plan is to use the Coyote as a Tractor rather than trying to concoct some silly Chinook liftable combination. Whilst looking at LIMAWS it is worth remembering that the Wolfhound has been used as a tractor for the 105mm and even the MLRS vehicle has been up-armoured for Afghan.

  87. Derek,

    I don’t know it will be a close run thing I suspect, both have advantages and disadvantages. Costs are going to come down for both types of ordnance, but at the moment the rocket/missiles are cheaper on manpower, but systems like Donar and Archer have solved that problem with SP systems.

    Logistically missiles and rockets don’t carry a great advantage over rounds due to them generally bulking out before they reach the max load of vehicles.

    Why would I need to fire PGM missile to destroy a position when I can call in an Excalibur round to airburst above it for less unit cost, same with the PGK’s if I wanted to hit an area of wood the CEP of the round is good enough for me to know that they would nearly all hit first time.

    PGM missiles and rockets are good for strict ROE.

  88. Precision is great if you know exactly where the target is, and/or you want to avoid collateral damage and/or the value of the target warrants precision. There are still going to be plenty of occasions when you don’t know exactly where the target is and/or there are no friendlies/neutrals/civilians in the area and/or the target is of relatively low value or is relatively dispersed.

  89. DN,

    There is only so much you can do now to make a shell or mortar cheaper- by contrast a lot can be done to make PGMs cheaper, solid motors are getting cheaper, guidance is getting cheaper etc. I agree re-logistics though the issue here is that precision lessens the need to be carting large numbers munitions around. You can still make rockets do things shells won’t- like put them through cave entrances or get the reverse sides of slops. And there is no reason why a rocket can not airbust,

    I do agree though, we will be using tube artillery for years- possibly decades, but I suspect the end is in sight and a new big howitzer programme is unlikely.

  90. Derek

    Coyote is only being proposed as a gun tractor for 16AAB and 3Cdo Brigade.

    A different vehicle will no doubt replace the RB44 and Pinzgauers as gun tractors in other brigades.

  91. GMLRS does airburst – I think it has high or low settings.

    Guidance is getting cheaper, but you’re also seeing intermediate steps toward precision that are much cheaper and offer acceptable accuracy, reducing the amount of rounds that need to be fired to accomplish area missions – I’m thinking PGK in particular. If you can get away with PGK, you don’t need an uber expensive Excalibur, which itself is obviously going to be infinitely better for urban, reverse slope etc.

    However, if you’re taking fire from a large number of enemy insurgents dispersed and dug in along and inside a treeline in a forested area, you arguably don’t really need any guidance at all. Ditto if you know an enemy infantry company is moving through such an area, but you don’t know specifically where they are or they’ll probably have moved by the time your precision munition arrives. Then you need to saturate a wide area with fragments or kinetic energy rods.

    Having unguided, PGK level accuracy and Excalibur accuracy in a range of munitions, including 120mm mortar*, 105 and 155 howitzer, GMLRs (including kinetic rod payload) and Exactor, 155mm SMART munitions, ATACMS and army controlled armed UAVs would give us a wide range of options to cover almost all eventualities. We only have a fraction of those things at the moment, largely due to Afghanistan and budget cuts (SMART, guided 155mm, Long Range Rocket (ATACMS) and Fireshadow all cancelled).

    *And I know the 81mm vs 120mm mortar arguments are not overwhelmingly in favour of the 120.

  92. Good point ChrisW, the infantry in foliage area target is one very good example of the need for a dumb frag/blast round, though if the competition is between tube and rockets, rockets can also do the job.

    The problem with rockets as I have said again and again is logistics and sustainable fire. You get almost 2-3x the number of rounds of 155mm for 1x 227mm if not more. And sometimes, ammo counts. An infantryman not careful about his ammo can shoot himself dry easily. Same with an artillery battery. 155mm can accept a lot more fire missions before their ammo situation becomes critical vs a 227mm HIMLARS.

    Derek regarding into the cave shots, 227mm are not that maneuverable, they are not cruise missiles, their trajectory is more or less parabolic. And regarding the lack of new 155mm systems? That is a western problem, as I pointed out earlier, India, Pakistan, China and Turkey have all gotten new tube artillery. It’s the West that is lagging, not the world.

  93. @Chris Werb

    Good post but who said that Fireshadow was cancelled? It is still on trials isn’t it, unless have missed something?

  94. “Cartridge HE-Fragmentation: 2.68 m (8 ft 10 in)
    Caliber 127 mm (5 in)
    Barrels 24
    Effective firing range 36 km (22 mi)”

    “Valkiri-22 Mk 1 (original version): 24 launch tubes mounted on a Unimog light 4×4 truck.
    Bateleur (current version): 40 launch tubes mounted on an armoured Samil 100 6×6 truck.
    Valkiri-5 a shortened lighter trailer-mounted version for airborne use. It has 12 launch tubes and uses a shortened version of the 127 mm rocket that has a maximum range of 5500 metres.”


    “The weapon can fire up to 40 127mm pre-fragmented high explosive warheads to ranges of 7.5km to 36km at sea level singly or using ripple fire, firing up to 1 rocket per second. Reload can take less than 10 minutes and in/out-of-action time is one and two minutes respectively. The system is supported by a Kwêvoël 100 ammunition truck carrying 96 rockets and crew who help with the reloading.

    The systems are currently allocated to the SA Army Artillery School, Artillery Mobilisation Regiment and 4 Artillery Regiment, all of Potchefstroom, as well as the Regiment Potchefstroomse Universiteit and the Transvaalse Staatsartillerie of Pretoria.

    It is understood the system is now being modified to fire a Spanish-produced 122mm rocket as the local rocket is now too expensive to economically produce as the required production volumes are too small to warrant opening the production line at Somchem.”


  95. re APUs, not sure that you want them for powering certain gun operating tasks, SPs generally run off their batteries and periodically charge them. One of AS-90’s strengths is that it has an aux gene and doesn’t rely on the main engine for this. It’s never been UK practice to unhook a towed gun and manhandle it more than a few feet if that, APUs are not required for this. As I said getting the ammo to the gun is the real effort, hence the gun position track plan goes right past each gun so that trucks can deliver to each.

    The main AS-90 innovation is its breach, an novel design (ie not as copy of the GE one used in FH-70, etc) that combines a sliding block with a Crossley pad. At the time, 1988ish, I seem to remember being reliably told the CP spec was a single side of A4, such things and ‘155mm’ and ‘fit in the European rail gauge’, I think it was also the subject of one of the first ‘reliability growth programmes’. Of course when it was issued Vickers already had a prototype (taking a punt of SP-70 being cancelled), whereas the other offers were all brochureware, although Treasury forced Mod to look at M109! Vickers had hired an ex ‘Master Gunner, Trials’ which undoubtedly helped with a design that hit all the user hot buttons.

    Mortars, guns and rockets are complimentary to each other, they have different characteristics. It’s also important to remember that to get max benefit from long range you need appropriate target acquisition, and that means timely as well as accurate.

    You need precision indirect fire to destroy static and moving ‘point’ targets, and area fire to suppress or to cause casualties and damage among dispersed target elements. You also want to be able to bring area fire as close as possible to own troops with minimum risk of causing them casualties, this is where ‘Course Correcting Fuzes’ will come in to their own. If we’d had them in Afg a lot of infantry firefights would have ended a lot sooner with a lot more Taliban casualties. ‘Hugging the enemy’ is a tried and trusted insurgent tactic to minimise the effects of arty fire. Of course ‘low threat low risk, big threat big risk’ has always applied to arty in this sort of tactical situation, but CCF reduces the risk side of the equation.

    I think 127mm (or given the current centenary, 60-pr, as we should perhaps call it) might by the sensible calibre for a future lightish field gun, although I actually think 122mm would be better because being a bit lighter is better human factors for sustained firing without excessive size detachments.

  96. Re MLRS lack of agility in flight- certainly true, gen 1 precision artillery is a derivation of traditional artillery and thus builds in certain limitations, but that can and will change. Again, the technology trend is clear, precision is the way forwards, especially as our ability to find and ID things continues to improve.

    Re AS90; it was a shoe in/stitch-up, AS90 was an evolution of a commercial design Vickers had been touting for years and the whole thing did nothing especially technologically challenging. After the disasters of SP70 and RS80 nobody wanted to attract too much attention. It’s unsurprising that the Treasury wanted to look at the M109- we already had two regiments of them (first ordered in 1964) and had purchased a top-up batch (69 IIRC) in the early 80s to increase the size of the BAOR batteries from six to eight guns. 179 AS90s were ordered with a two-year option for an additional 50 never exercised.

  97. I (seem to) like AS90 as it holds enough rounds to stay in action and has the x-country performance … To stay in action, by keeping up.

    When it can do that, thefact that it is relatively short ranged doesnotmatter that much.

  98. Having said that, the geometry is somethinglike this:

    Take a 50 km frontage, with a supply point 23 km back from the central point.

    Advance that line by, say 20 km, with the AS 90s in tow. Would it benice tohave a few piecesonwheels that not only havealmost twice the range when tbey fire, but also move about three times as fast… Not necessarily forward, but sortof ‘ sideways’ in this scenario. Then you perhaps have the GMLRS somewhere there, too, but with theirspeedand tightely-coupled logistics itis easier for the OpFor tokeep track of where they are.


  99. “A rocketry version of the 120mm mortar for light forces”

    There are actually single launch tubes for normal MRL rockets available – from different manufacturers. They were supposedly meant for guerilla and commando attacks, but I consider the ammunition as too inefficient for such a purpose.

    A Romanian model (looks similar to a recoilless rifle on tripod):
    122 mm, 1.927 m long rocket: 46.3 kg
    assembled launcher 59 kg
    tripod 25 kg
    2.5 m launch tube 30 kg
    sight and remote firing device with 25-35 m long cable 4 kg

    Also Yugoslavian 128 mm models (for rockets of M-77 and M-63 MRLs),
    Soviet Grad-P (9P132) 49.44 kg for 122 mm.

  100. @Derek

    Actually, lad I’ll listen to someone who knows what they’re talking about, like Observer…rather than a Wiki Wonder like you…

    I’ve already said that I’m no artillery expert, but it is increasingly obvious that you aren’t either….

  101. Actually as I previously pointed out AS-90 was technically revolutionary, its breach, which also included a primer magazine. Obviously the ammo handling system was novel. Then there was the small matter of digital sights, I don’t think anyone had ever done that before, I’d call that a tad revolutionary.

    Treasury required MoD to look at M109 because it was cheap. Fortunately the older M109s in UK service were starting to suffer from armour cracking around the turret ring. IIRC the 1981 order was for 50 (using ‘add-back’ funds – the cheque was hand carried on Concorde to reach the vendor in NY before the end of the FY) and 51 were delivered. These extra guns enabled conversion of two more regts to M109, giving 50/50 M109 and Abbot, with 8 gun btys, ie the replaced Abbots were re-distributed.

  102. US has been live fire testing ‘GMLRS Alternative Warhead’, from both HIMARS and M270 SPLL. Only warhead details are PBXN-109 HE fill and a combination of tungsten fragments and explosively formed penetrators for anti-armour and anti-materiel effects.

  103. obsvr,

    Re AS-90, I have to disagree, SP-70 was a truly revolutionary effort as was Crusader, AS90 not so much. That’s not to say that AS-90 was not innovative, it was, but it was also kept low risk compared to previous efforts. It was a very sensible programme that delivered a credible solution much earlier than the more ambitious Pzh-2000 project and the ultimately unsuccessful SP-70 and Crusader. I suppose it depends on ones definition of revolutionary.

    David Haine,

    We know that you are only capable of insults as you have nothing to offer this site but is it really necessary for you to keep displaying that?

  104. I wonder if Boeing’s ground launched SDB might be a realistic precursor to a naval version.

    They’re saying a range of 150km on existing rocket motors, and up to 200km on new rockets. Potentially long-range precision strike from a frigate, that otherwise could only be matched by a much costlier cruise missile or by bringing along the aircraft carrier.

  105. Once upon a time there was a young tank platoon leader who really needed indirect fire on ravine/gully/wadi where dismounted bad people were attempting to set up ATGM positions that would seriously inhibit freedom of movement for the young tank platoon leader’s tanks. Since the young tank platoon leader desperately needed freedom of movement, he consulted the massive tome concerning tank combat operations and read, “Thou shalt not replicate the Charge of the Light Brigade. Rather, thou shalt call upon thine FIST to provideth Immediate Suppression upon the heads of thine enemies before movement in the open.” The young tank platoon leader thereupon called his FIST and requested said Immediate Suppression.

    The FIST response was thus: “Wait, out.”

    The young tank platoon leader’s company commander was demanding to know why he was not moving, and the FIST was continuing to respond to his increasingly desperate calls for Immediate Suppression with “Wait, out.” Thereupon, the young tank platoon leader consulted the massive tome concerning tank combat operations and read, “If thou needeth to screen thine own movement, maketh thine own smoke unless the wind doth not favor the propagation of thine smoke in the direction of thine enemies.” Since the wind was not in his favor, the young tank platoon leader turned pages in the massive tome until his eyes fell on the passage, “Thou shalt not venture beyond the chain of command unless in thine extremity it is convenient.”

    The young tank platoon leader consulted his CEOI, located the Tank Battalion 4.2 inch Mortar Platoon’s frequency, and called upon the acting mortar platoon leader, a sergeant first class. “Are you busy, Joe?” asked the young tank platoon leader.

    SFC Joe advised that the mortar platoon was just driving around since the FSO had seemed to have forgotten they existed and further that the mortar platoon wanted to do more than just drive around. The young tank platoon leader provided a linear target grid location to SFC Joe and asked if he could get some Immediate Suppression on that target mo tickee. SFC Joe acknowledged that, indeed, the mortar platoon could give him Immediate Suppression on the dismounted bad guys in the ravine/gully/wadi.

    In a trice, SFC Joe called the young tank platoon leader with “Shot, over,” to which he responded, “Shot, out.” Several seconds later, SFC Joe called the young tank platoon leader with “Splash, over.” The young tank platoon leader led his tanks into the open ground as a mix of six High Explosive and six White Phosporus 4.2 inch mortar rounds landed in and around the ravine/gully/wadi where the dismounted bad guys were prepared to fire their ATGMs.

    The dismounted bad guys were thus discombobulated and unable to hinder the young tank platoon leader and his tanks which advanced unhindered until they were able to take under direct fire one of the bad guys’ divisional tactical operations center.

    After the moving, shooting, and communicating had concluded, there was an After Action Review. During the After Action Review, the young tank platoon leader was required to describe what had happened, which he did. Whereupon the FSO grew wroth and condemned him for calling directly upon the Tank Battalion 4.2 inch Mortar Platoon for Immediate Suppression. The FSO also took the opportunity to condemn SFC Joe for providing said Immediate Suppression. Now, SFC Joe had been in the Army for more than a day or two and explained how the FSO had apparently forgotten about the Tank Battalion 4.2 inch Mortar Platoon to this discomfiture of the FSO and the merriment of the Tank Battalion.

    Not everything needs to be precision-guided, especially when it needs to be there “right now.” And, not everything needs to be great big guns, rockets, and missiles. The field artillery people need to remember that.

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