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18 octobre 2013 5 18 /10 /octobre /2013 16:50
The M777 howitzer is manufactured in Barrow, England. (BAE)

The M777 howitzer is manufactured in Barrow, England. (BAE)


Oct. 17, 2013 - By ANDREW CHUTER – Defense News


LONDON — BAE Systems will suspend production of the M777 howitzer unless it can quickly secure a long-talked about order from India for the lightweight 155mm weapon.


The company said in a statement on Thursday that it had begun consulting staff and unions ahead of the suspension of production at its Barrow, England, facility because of continuing delays in negotiations with the Indian government over the sale of 145 guns.


Up to 200 jobs are at risk at the Barrow site, where BAE also builds nuclear submarines and supports other artillery programs. Its Hattiesburg, Miss., site in the US, which undertakes final assembly and testing of the gun, is not immediately impacted, the BAE statement said.


“The [Barrow] move comes about because of ongoing delays in the US government foreign military sale of M777 howitzers to India,” the company said.


A letter of agreement (LoA) between the US and Indian governments for the sale of the towed 155mm weapons expired on Tuesday, triggering a rise in the ceiling price of the package of guns, training and support from US $647 million to $885 million. That price, though, is likely subject to some flexibility if the deal can be finalized quickly.


Nobody is holding their breath for a quick deal. The major price escalation from the US government and BAE is likely to lead to further delay. In addition, India is gearing up for a general election.


India hasn’t managed to buy any new howitzers since the 1980s’ purchase of weapons from Bofors — a deal that became embroiled in a huge corruption scandal involving financial kickbacks.


A letter of request for the M777s was received from India in late 2012, and all trials and evaluations completed in January this year. The LoA has been in place since February.


BAE ceased producing assemblies for new gun orders this year and has been investing its own cash, keeping the line alive with work on spares and various inventory items.


But the company said that after months of its own investment, it can no longer maintain staffing levels. The artillery side of the Barrow facility employs around 350 people, the majority on the M777.


The British-based defense contractor has been building the weapon since 2004, predominantly for the US Marines and Army. Over 1,000 guns have been ordered and the last of those weapons, destined for the Australian military, are being assembled at the company’s Hattiesburg.


Barrow is responsible for the welding, machining and fabrication of specialized titanium items, such as the howitzer’s saddle and cradle. Final assembly and test of the M777 is undertaken by around 50 employees at Hattiesburg.


BAE said the Hattiesburg facility is completing assembly of guns destined for the Australians and also resetting some weapons supplied to the US military.


That work is expected to take the US side of the M777 operation through to around April next year.


The announcement of the potential closure of the UK howitzer production site comes just 24 hours after BAE’s US arm said it was closing its Sealy, Texas, wheeled armored vehicle facility, with the loss of up to 325 jobs.

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16 octobre 2013 3 16 /10 /octobre /2013 11:35
Indian Bofors gun's barrel bursts during trials



15th October 2013 newindianexpress.com (PTI)


NEW DELHI - A barrel of the indigenous - version of the Bofors howitzers burst during their trials in the Pokharan range, delaying plans to induct these artillery guns into the Army.


The Defence Acquisition Council had recently approved the procurement of 144 such guns by the Army which are being manufactured by the Ordnance Factory Board, Jabalpur.


During the recent trials of the gun in Pokharan, the barrel of the gun burst when the Army was conducting the user trials for approving the gun for induction in the Army, sources said here.


The OFB has now been asked to carry out a defect identification inquiry (DII) by the Defence Ministry to ascertain the reasons behind the bursting of the barrel during the crucial trials, they said.


The user trials are carried out by the Services for approving the product being tested for induction.


The gun has been performing very well so far but the mishap will delay the user trials for another three to four months, they said.


Defence Minister AK Antony has been taking personal interest in the development of this programme and has asked both the Department of Defence Production and the Army to cooperate fully for making it successful.


The gun design, provided as part of technology transfer, has been gathering dust due to the taint associated with Bofors in the light of the payoffs scam.


If successful, the project would save the country millions of rupees and give the Indian Army much needed firepower.


The Army has failed to procure even a single piece of artillery after the Bofors scandal erupted in 1980s. All attempts to procure howitzers have had to be cancelled due to one reason or another.

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16 octobre 2013 3 16 /10 /octobre /2013 07:35
Bharat Forge Makes a Play To Expand

On the Move: India's Bharat Forge has purchased the gun manufacturing facility from Ruag of Switzerland.


Oct. 15, 2013 - By VIVEK RAGHUVANSHI – Defense News


Private Indian Firm Pursuing Overseas Tie-ups


NEW DELHI — A little known name in India’s defense sector — privately owned Bharat Forge — plans to become a major player, especially in the artillery and specialized vehicles segment.


The company, which belongs to the Kalyani Group, has acquired the gun manufacturing facility from Switzerland’s Ruag and has been given permission by the government to set up a joint venture with Elbit Systems of Israel.


The joint venture will be called BF Elbit Advanced. It will develop, assemble and manufacture defense systems, particularly artillery guns, mortar gun systems and ammunition.


Until 2011, private companies in India could not enter the defense sector.


Rajinder Bhatia, CEO of Bharat Forge, said the company has received requests for information (RFIs) for several high-tech projects in the past year, including the low-level quick-reaction missile system; medium-range, surface-to-air missile system; and long-range, surface-to-air missile system. Bhatia said Bharat Forge will concentrate mainly on the gun projects and will not participate in the RFIs offered.


“Kalyani Group has a very focused approach, and we intend participating in certain chosen segments which are aligned to our core competence,” Bhatia said. “Our competence is towards weapon systems which require high-tech manufacturing and in-depth knowledge of metallurgy and materials.”


The company has developed a 155mm/52-caliber gun and has teamed with Elbit Systems to co-develop and co-produce the mountain version of the gun.


The Indian Army has a requirement for a variety of 155mm/52-caliber guns worth more than US $3 billion. Yet, the Army has failed to acquire a single gun from the overseas market.


With Elbit, Bhatia said he sees an opportunity.


“Elbit is a very strong company with a wide ranging portfolio,” Bhatia said. “There are a number of segments like artillery systems, protected vehicles, precision ammunition and other high-end products where we can collaborate with each other.”


Overseas Tie-up


To tap into the $100 billion defense market — and encouraged by the government’s initiative to boost domestic defense companies — Bharat Forge plans several tie-ups with overseas companies, but isn’t ready to name them yet.


Analysts say domestic defense companies will need to partner with overseas companies aggressively to compete in several defense tenders being offered first to domestic firms as part of an unwritten Defence Ministry policy to boost the domestic industry.


“Without a doubt, [Bharat Forge] will need to collaborate with overseas companies for system-level know-how and will most likely get to start a build-to-print facility should they win the contract,” said Rajesh Narayan, a Mumbai-based investment banker. “However, should they aspire for the partnership to evolve into local system integration, they need to forge alliances and partnerships with Indian small manufacturing enterprises.”


Gun Facility


Bharat Forge’s acquisition of Ruag allows it to build self-propelled artillery guns and vehicles at Pune in India.


The facility has been manufacturing artillery systems, including M109 self-propelled tracked systems. The line was upgraded in 2004 to tackle artillery systems for 155mm/52-caliber guns. In addition, the line has also been used to upgrade tank systems from 105mm to 120mm artillery gun systems.


Another Bharat Forge executive claimed the company can manufacture a variety of guns, including 105mm, 130mm and 155mm/52-caliber naval guns. The facility can also upgrade armored systems, the executive added.


Some of Bharat Forge’s ongoing projects include upgrade programs for light multipurpose reconnaissance vehicles, light bulletproof vehicles and light strike vehicles.

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13 octobre 2013 7 13 /10 /octobre /2013 09:55
photo EMA

photo EMA

12.10.2013 par Philippe Chapleau - Lignes de Défense


Nexter Systems va assurer le soutien en service du "Camion Equipé d'un Système d'Artillerie" (Caesar) dans le cadre d'un contrat de 97,826 millions d'euros attribué par la SIMMT fin août (cliquer ici pour voir l'avis d'attribution publié le 10 octobre).


Sont concernés les 77 Caesar en parc dans l'armée française. On notera que la seconde tranche de 64 Caesar inscrite dans l’actuelle LPM (2009-2014) pour la période 2014-2019 n’apparaît effectivement plus dans le projet de loi). Signe que l'artillerie va faire les frais de la LPM à venir?


Exportations. Lors de son audition, fin septembre, devant la commission de la Défense, le PDG de Nexter Philippe Burtin, a déclaré que "le Danemark est sur le point de formaliser sa consultation pour 21 systèmes Caesar ; nous attendons le versement de l’acompte pour la confirmation de 37 systèmes par l’Indonésie, sans parler de l’Inde pour laquelle un projet est lancé pour 814 machines. Nos discussions se poursuivent avec d’autres pays. Ce système d’artillerie est efficace et son emploi par l’armée française dans le cadre de l’opération Serval est pour nous un argument majeur." Cliquer ici pour lire le texte intégral de son audition.

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30 septembre 2013 1 30 /09 /septembre /2013 17:50
First ARCHER systems delivered in Sweden

Sep 27, 2013 BAE Systems PLC


BAE Systems delivered the first four ARCHER artillery systems to the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration, FMV, during a handover ceremony at the company’s Karlskoga, Sweden facility Sept. 23.


BAE Systems employees and representatives from FMV and the Norwegian Defence Logistics Organisation, FLO, attended the ceremony where FMV’s Director General Lena Erixon received the four systems from Lena Gillström managing director at BAE Systems’ Weapon Systems business in Sweden.


“ARCHER is an important program, for both the Swedish and Norwegian Armed Forces. Today is an important milestone in our partnership and it is very encouraging for us deliver the first systems to our Swedish customer,” said Gillström.  It’s an immensely proud moment for everyone at BAE Systems and we now look forward to continuing our partnership with the Swedish and Norwegian customer in working on the delivery of all systems,” added Gillström.


In total, 48 systems will be delivered to the Swedish and Norwegian Armed Forces.


The ARCHER system is one of the world’s most advanced artillery systems with high mobility and precision.  It’s based on proven subsystems and has an extensive ammunition portfolio.

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28 septembre 2013 6 28 /09 /septembre /2013 15:55

Canjuers 28 septembre 2013. 1er RA.

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25 septembre 2013 3 25 /09 /septembre /2013 17:50
FMV receives delivery of the first Archer pieces

25.09.2013 FMV army-guide.com


BAE Systems Bofors delivered the first pieces of the Archer artillery system to FMV Monday, September 23. The acquisition of Archer is a joint Nordic project in collaboration with Norway and a total of 24 pieces was commissioned for the Swedish Armed Forces from BAE Systems Bofors.


    This is a project that delivers one of the best artillery systems. We have had both successes and setbacks in the project, but now the first four pieces of the Archer artillery system could finally be delivered, says Lena Erixon, FMV Director General.


    The fact that we could receive the first pieces now is a result of our Norwegian partners at FLO, the supplier BAE Systems Bofors – and of course FMV who in the situation acted flexible and powerfully. All have helped to get the pieces to the Artillery regiment. They will now be transported to Boden where FMV, FLO and the artillery regiment will continue with both tests and training, says Lena Erixon.


Delivery of the first Archer pieces from Lena Gillström BAE Systems Bofors to FMV's Director General Lena Erixon took place in Karlskoga, Monday, 23 September at 16.00 pm. Thereafter delivery inspection and transportation to the artillery regiment occurred.

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23 septembre 2013 1 23 /09 /septembre /2013 16:50
Sweden Receives First Archer SP Guns

September 23, 2013 defense-aerospace.com

(Source: Swedish Defence Matériel Agency, FMV; issued Sept. 20, 2013)

(Issued in Swedish only; unofficial translation by defense-aerospace.com)


FMV Takes Delivery of the First Archer SP Gun


BAE Systems Bofors will deliver the first example of the Archer artillery system to FMV on Monday, September 23. The acquisition of Archer is a joint Nordic project together with Norway, and a total of 24 guns have been ordered for the Swedish Armed Forces from BAE Systems Bofors.


“This is a project that delivers one of the best artillery systems. We have met with both successes and setbacks in the project, but now finally delivered the first four vehicles,” says Lena Erixon, Director General FMV.


“The fact that we can now take delivery of the first units is the result of the efforts of our Norwegian partners at FLO, of supplier BAE Systems Bofors - and for that matter also of FMV -- all have helped to get the pieces delivered to the Artillery. They will now be transported to Boden where FMV, FLO and the artillery will continue with trials and training,” says Lena Erixon.


Formal delivery of the first units by BAE Systems Bofors’ Lena Gillström to FMV's Director General Lena Erixon will take place in Karlskoga on Monday, 23 September at 16.00. It will be followed by a delivery inspection and transportation to the artillery base.

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11 septembre 2013 3 11 /09 /septembre /2013 07:20
US Army Awards Raytheon $54 M for Excalibur Ib

Sep 10, 2013 ASDNews Source : Raytheon Corporation


    New variant will provide increased precision, greater range


The U.S. Army awarded Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) a $54 million contract for the procurement of the second lot of the Excalibur Ib artillery round.


The Excalibur Ib is a precision-guided artillery projectile based on Raytheon's combat-proven Excalibur Ia-1 and Ia-2, a 155mm precision-guided, extended-range projectile that uses GPS precision guidance to provide accurate, first round, fire-for-effect capability in any environment.


"No other artillery round comes close to doing what Excalibur does for the warfighter," said Kevin Matthies, Raytheon Missile Systems' Excalibur program director. "The Excalibur Ib will not only provide industry-leading precision for the warfighter, it will also improve reliability and lower the unit cost."


With more than 690 rounds fired in theater to date, Excalibur is the revolutionary precision projectile for the U.S. Army and Marines. By using Excalibur's level of precision, there is a major reduction in the time, cost and logistical burden traditionally associated with using artillery munitions. Analyses have shown that on average it takes 10 to 50 conventional munitions to accomplish what one Excalibur can.

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30 août 2013 5 30 /08 /août /2013 07:40
Russian Paratrooper Artillery in 1st Intl. Drills in 20 Years

Russian Paratrooper Artillery. (Archive)


MOSCOW, August 29 (RIA Novosti)


Artillery units of Russia’s Airborne Assault Forces will participate in an international exercise for the first time in two decades, the Defense Ministry said Thursday.


The exercise, codenamed Interaction-2013, will take place in Belarus in September, Defense Ministry spokeswoman Irina Kruglova said. Russia will send an artillery battery from the Ulyanovsk Special Airborne Assault Brigade, she said.


As part of the exercise, Nona self-propelled guns, artillery fire control vehicles and D-30 howitzers will be airdropped and employed in a simulated combat operation, the spokeswoman said.


The exercise is organized under the umbrella of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a Russia-led security group that includes the former Soviet states of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

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28 août 2013 3 28 /08 /août /2013 11:20
Fire Support



8/24/2013 Strategy Page


U.S. Soldiers prepare a round for a fire support mission using an M119 105mm howitzer on Combat Outpost Wilderness, Paktya province, Afghanistan, Aug. 15, 2013. U.S. Army photo by Maj. Kamil Sztalkoper

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11 juillet 2013 4 11 /07 /juillet /2013 19:35
India To Tap Domestic Companies for Acoustic Artillery Locator Systems

Sources said the Indian Army is reconsidering the purchase of the Israeli Iron Dome air defense system — similar to this battery positioned near Haifa, Israel — because Israel may transfer technology for the project.


Jul. 10, 2013 - By VIVEK RAGHUVANSHI  - Defense News


NEW DELHI — After failing to buy sound ranging systems (SRS) from the global market, India’s Defence Ministry will send a fresh tender next month to domestic companies only.


The indigenous firms include state-owned Bharat Electronics Ltd. (BEL) and Electronics Corporation of India (ECIL), which in turn will tie up with overseas companies to supply 34 of the systems at a cost of more than US $120 million, said Defence Ministry sources.


The first tender was canceled in 2008 because none of the bidders could meet requirements.


The Army would use the acoustic capabilities of the SRSs to locate enemy artillery to supplement the US-made AN/TPQ-37 weapon-locating radars bought in 2001. But maintenance on these radars has become costly because of a lack of spare parts, said Army sources.


The Army wants the SRS to be able to locate mortars at a distance of 10 kilometers, 105mm artillery at a distance of 15 kilometers and 130mm artillery at a distance of 20 kilometers. Under normal weather conditions, the system should be able to locate 60 percent of enemy artillery, said an Army official.


The SRS locates enemy weapons by the sound of their gunfire. It is designed for plains and desert terrain. The sound signals are then directed to surveillance and target acquisition units to direct return fire, explained the Army official.


The tender to be sent to BEL and ECIL stipulates that the SRS should be compact, man-portable, able to be rapidly deployed and function under rugged conditions.


The tender will specify that the SRS should be computer controlled, based on advanced microprocessors and able to be loaded with digital map data in field conditions.


Iron Dome


In addition to using sound ranging and weapon-locating radars, the Indian Army is reconsidering the purchase of the Israeli Iron Dome air defense system, said Defence Ministry sources. The revisit on Iron Dome was prompted by the possibility that Israel would transfer technology for the project, said a source.


In February, Indian Air Force Chief Air Marshal Norman Anil Kumar Browne told reporters at the Aero India air show in Bangalore that the Iron Dome is not suitable for the service.


India and Israel have been discussing the purchase of Iron Dome and the David’s Sling air defense system for more than two years.


David’s Sling is jointly produced by Raytheon of the US and Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems; Iron Dome is manufactured by Rafael.


The Indian Army official said Iron Dome can detect and engage the Nasr, Pakistan’s tactical nuclear missile with a range of 60 kilometers.

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11 juillet 2013 4 11 /07 /juillet /2013 16:20
M982 Excalibur round photo USMC

M982 Excalibur round photo USMC

July 11, 2013: Strategy Page


The U.S. Army has found that GPS guided shells were more successful, but less frequently used, than anticipated. So they reduced orders for these weapons, which entered service in 2007. The GPS guided 155mm Excalibur shells were used less frequently largely because other precision munitions often take out targets before Excalibur gets a chance to. There’s a growing number of other GPS (or laser) guided weapons available.  The GPS guided MLRS (GMLRS) rocket has been especially popular. And the army uses a lot of laser guided Hellfire missiles, fired from AH-64 helicopter gunships. In addition to the reduction in Excalibur production, the army cut orders for GPS guided 120mm mortar shells (introduced in 2011) after a year of use.


Excalibur had other problems, mainly in the form of PGK (Projectile Guidance Kit) shells. PGK is actually a large fuze, that screws into the front of a 155mm or 105mm shell. This longer fuze contains a GPS and small fins to guide the shell to a precision hit. It is less precise than Excalibur. That is, the PGK will ensure that the shell lands within 50 meters of the target. If it does not hit within 150 meters, PGK deactivates and the shell does not explode. An unguided shell will normally land within 250-300 meters of where it is aimed. An Excalibur shell lands within four meters of the target, but costs more than twice as much as PGK. The army recently sent the first PGKs to Afghanistan, after successful testing in the United States. The big question is how important will the troops find the accuracy differences of Excalibur and PGK.


Another factor that hurt the popularity of Excalibur, and the 120mm guided mortar shell, is cost. Excalibur was supposed to cost about $50,000 each. Eventually. After all the debugging, and after more of the shells were produced. But the cost is still about $100,000 per shell. The 120mm GPS (using the same tech as PGK) guided shell is also pricey, but not as much as Excalibur. GMLRS cost about $100,000 each, and have a much longer range, and a bigger bang.


Another edge GMLRS has is the HIMARS rocket launcher. Only costing about $3 million each, these smaller, truck mounted MLRS (HIMARS) rocket launcher systems have become very popular. HIMARS carries only one, six MLRS rocket, container (instead of two in the original MLRS vehicle). But the 12 ton truck can fit into a C-130 transport (unlike the 22 ton tracked MLRS) and is much cheaper to operate. The first HIMARS entered service in 2005, about a year after GPS guided rockets did.


The 309 kg (680 pound) GMLRS (guided multiple launch rocket system) missile is a GPS guided 227mm rocket. It was designed to have a range of 70 kilometers and the ability to land within meters of its intended target, at any range. This is possible because it uses GPS (plus a back-up inertial guidance system) to find its target. In 2008 the army tested GMLRS at max range (about 85 kilometers) and found that it worked fine. This enabled one HIMARS vehicle to provide support over a frontage of 170 kilometers, or, in places like Afghanistan, where the fighting can be anywhere, an area of over 20,000 square kilometers. This is a huge footprint for a single weapon (an individual HIMARS vehicle), and fundamentally changes the way you deploy artillery in combat. Excalibur has a max range of 37 kilometers, and 120mm mortars about 7.5 kilometers.


The U.S. Army is buying over 800 HIMARS vehicles along with 100,000 GMLRS rockets, most of them fitted with an 89 kg (196 pound) high explosive warhead. About half of that is actual explosives. These have been used with great success in Iraq and Afghanistan, where nearly two thousand have been fired so far. The guided rocket is much more effective than the older, unguided, version, and is replacing it in most cases. No more of the unguided rockets are being purchased by the U.S.. The accuracy of GMLRS means that one rocket does the job that previously required a dozen or more of the unguided ones. That's why HIMARS is so popular. While it only carries six rockets, that's often enough to last for days, even when there's a lot of combat.


The 120mm mortar round has about 2.2 kg (five pounds) of explosives, compared to 6.6 kg (15) pounds in a 155mm shell. The smaller explosive charges limits collateral damage to civilians. But in Afghanistan, it is more common to need a large bang (which GMLRS can deliver). Excalibur was more suited to Iraq, but the American troops have left there, and all the action is in Afghanistan. Moreover, there are a lot of precision weapons readily available to the infantry that have small warheads. The Javelin missile has a 4 kg (nine pound) warhead, and the larger TOW has a 5.9 kg (13 pound one.) The Hellfire missile has a 9 kg/20 pound warhead. The air force also has its SDB (114 kg/250 pound small diameter bomb, carrying 23 kg/51 pounds of explosives.).


Meanwhile, there is still demand for unguided 155mm and 120mm shells. There are times when you need firepower over a large area (several hundred meters by several hundred meters), and for this, unguided shells do the job best, and cheapest.


In response to this competition the Excalibur manufacturer has created a model that can be used in 127mm naval guns. These are found in hundreds of warships and enable these ships to use their 127mm guns to accurately hit targets over 40 kilometers inland.

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9 juillet 2013 2 09 /07 /juillet /2013 14:55
Nexter participe à l’inauguration du nouveau musée de l’Artillerie de Draguignan

03.07.2013 Nexter Group

A l’occasion des journées Wagram, et après plusieurs mois de travaux de réaménagement et de modernisation, le nouveau musée de l’Artillerie de Draguignan a été inauguré ce mercredi 3 juillet en présence notamment du Général Ract-Madoux, Chef d’Etat-Major de l’armée de Terre, et d’Olivier Audibert-Troin, Député du Var et membre de la Commission de Défense de l’Assemblée Nationale. Le Groupe Nexter, partenaire historique du musée et principal acteur de l’artillerie, était bien entendu présent à l’évènement, représenté par Philippe Burtin, Président Directeur Général, et du Général Jacques Grenier, conseiller militaire du Groupe.


Grâce à une surface portée à plus de 2 500 mètres carrés, contre 1 800 auparavant, et une muséographie retravaillée, le nouveau site pourra exposer une collection plus importante et valorisée. L’accès est également facilité, notamment pour les personnes à mobilité réduite. En effet, une passerelle de 100m de long assurera une entrée directe depuis l’avenue de la Grande Armée.


Ce soutien confirme l’engagement de Nexter auprès de la communauté des artilleurs et de son patrimoine historique, et plus globalement du domaine terrestre.

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15 juin 2013 6 15 /06 /juin /2013 10:39
photo Nexter

photo Nexter

June 15, 2013: Strategy Page


Nexter Systems that builds the French Caesar truck mounted 155mm artillery system is developing, at its own expense, a more heavily armored cab for the vehicle. Although a Caesar vehicle has not get come under fire (in Afghanistan and Mali) troops have reported some close calls and that means there might be an urgent demand for such a heavily protected cab if some troops are wounded by enemy fire while riding in the current cab. The new cab increases the weight of Caesar 400 kg (880 pounds) and ups the price 4-5 percent. The additional armor also protects against many roadside bombs, anti-vehicle mines and 155mm shells landing as close as five meters (16 feet) away. The new armor can be added to current Caesars.  Caesar is getting quite a workout in Mali, supplying most of the artillery support for French forces and African peacekeepers. Four Caesar vehicles were flown to Mali last January.


Last year France placed a multi-year contract for Caesar ammunition. At that time Caesar was only serving in Afghanistan. The new ammo contract ensured that reserve stocks of 155mm ammo will be quickly replenished if there is a sudden surge in ammo consumption in the future, as it is currently in Mali. This recognizes that Caesar has become a key 155mm artillery system in the French army. Not bad for a weapon the army generals were not interested in at first.


Thirteen years ago the French Army agreed to buy a single battery of the novel new Caesar vehicles. Developed by GIAT (now Nexter) as a private venture in the 1990s, Caesar is a 155mm howitzer mounted on the back of a heavy truck. Before being fired the gun is backed off the rear of the truck onto the ground. This takes less than a minute. It was a marvelous system but Caesar was having a difficult time attracting export customers. It was believed that having even one battery in service with the French Army would help attract export sales. Once they got to use it the French army liked Caesar so much that they eventually bought 72 of them and plan to eventually have 141 of them. Caesar has become the primary artillery weapon for the French army. This led to export sales to Thailand, Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia. Caesar vehicles cost about $5.5 million each.


Caesar uses a 52 caliber 155mm howitzer mounted on the back of a 6x6 ten ton truck. While it is self-propelled it currently only has light armor in the driver/crew cab up front. Caesar (gun and truck) only weighs 18 tons and will fit into a C-130 transport, something that traditional tracked self-propelled artillery cannot do. Caesar's long barrel enables it to fire shells up to 42 kilometers. With on-board GPS it can be ready to fire in minutes. The truck carries the crew of six in an air-conditioned compartment. A 12.7mm machine-gun can be mounted, in a ring turret, on top of the cab.


Four years ago France sent eight of its Caesar howitzers to Afghanistan. The roads in Afghanistan are pretty bad and wheeled combat vehicles have a hard time of it. But Caesar was built to handle cross country operations. Afghanistan was the first time Caesar has served in combat. Two years ago Thailand used its Caesars against Cambodian rocket launchers and claimed to have destroyed two of them.

photo US Army

photo US Army

Caesar is no longer unique, it now has competition. Sweden and Norway have each bought 24 Archer truck mounted artillery systems. Both nations funded a $150 million, 14 year, development effort to create Archer. Archer is an FH77 155mm/L52 howitzer mounted on a modified Volvo 6x6 dump truck. The vehicle, with the howitzer on board, weighs 30 tons. L52 means the barrel is 52 times the caliber (8 meters/25 feet). The crew compartment is armored and has chemical warfare protection. The truck is articulated, making it easier for such a heavy vehicle to move cross country. The gun has an auto-loader, which is why it has such a small crew (four men). Archer also has a remote controlled gun turret (for a machine-gun) on the top of the cab.


When the vehicle halts the four man crew can extend the metal braces in the rear, raise the barrel, and begin firing within minutes. After firing the vehicle can be moving in less than a minute. Archer uses the Excalibur GPS guided round, which means Archer and an ammo vehicle can supply lots of effective firepower without the need for constant resupply.

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14 juin 2013 5 14 /06 /juin /2013 13:55
L’avantage technologique assure en général un avantage qui permet de positionner et de répartir les pièces sur plusieurs niveaux de profondeur. ©Marine corps / Cpl. Ryan Carpenter

L’avantage technologique assure en général un avantage qui permet de positionner et de répartir les pièces sur plusieurs niveaux de profondeur. ©Marine corps / Cpl. Ryan Carpenter

14 juin 2013 par Julien Derouetteau - ActuDéfense


Les raisonnements stratégiques modernes amènent à penser que la destruction n’est pas toujours génératrice d’effets positifs sur le long terme. Dans cette logique, l’artillerie peut être utilisée pour contraindre plutôt que pour détruire.


    Suite de la première partie, publiée ici : L’artillerie pour dissuader plutôt que pour détruire (1/2)


Contraindre l’ennemi requiert notamment de faire peser sur lui une menace de cloisonnement tout en contrant sa capacité à créer la surprise. Dans ce cadre, le rôle de l’artillerie doit être de restreindre la liberté d’action de l’adversaire en créant une menace diffuse dans la profondeur de son dispositif.


A cet effet, l’artillerie doit en premier lieu réduire la réactivité des unités de l’adversaire en influant sur l’échelonnement de son dispositif avant même l’ouverture du feu. L’objectif à atteindre est de faire reculer la réserve d’intervention ennemie en profitant au maximum de la portée des vecteurs déployés. Du fait du haut degré de perfectionnement technique nécessaire à l’efficacité des tirs de contre batterie, la supériorité technologique des interventions actuelles garantit une faible vulnérabilité face à ces menaces. Ainsi au cours de l’engagement russe en Ossétie, l’artillerie géorgienne a subi de très faibles pertes par des tirs de contrebatterie en raison des délais trop importants entre l’acquisition du renseignement et le traitement par les feux d’artillerie. Dès lors, dans un contexte de supériorité aérienne, le déploiement des pièces amies au plus près de la ligne de contact, sans s’exposer au tir direct, présente un risque très limité. Ce principe de déploiement au plus près se traduit par des délais supplémentaires pour l’intervention des renforts ennemis ainsi que des opportunités nouvelles pour générer de l’attrition sur les unités en réaction.


En outre, les moyens de l’artillerie contribuent à limiter la liberté d’action de l’ennemi par la connaissance de son dispositif. En effet, la capacité à délivrer des feux sur le deuxième échelon et au delà précédemment évoquée implique que la force dispose d’une capacité à observer dans la profondeur. De ce fait, après un premier déploiement en arrière des positions amies, un redéploiement des effecteurs au plus près de la ligne de contact sera interprété par les services de renseignement adverses comme le signe de la mise en place d’équipes infiltrées en profondeur dans son dispositif. Ceci signifie pour l’ennemi une incapacité à créer la surprise tactique, à protéger son axe d’effort ou à dissimuler certains de ses moyens à moins de redéployer plus en arrière ces unités. Un autre effet induit est l’augmentation du volume des forces consacrées à la sécurisation de la zone de déploiement, donc une consommation et une usure accrue du potentiel ennemi. Dans ce contexte, la mise en service du lance roquette unitaire constituera une plus value importante à condition de disposer des moyens et des équipes pour observer dans la profondeur.


Enfin, dans le cadre de la manœuvre défensive, la contrainte pour l’adversaire peut être créée par une plus grande dispersion des pièces d’artillerie. Cette «dilution» des pièces est rendue possible par un emploi optimisé des nouvelles capacités de mobilité et des portées accrues des effecteurs. Ces nouvelles caractéristiques des vecteurs d’artillerie permettent de conserver la capacité à concentrer des feux, donc les efforts, pour faire basculer un rapport de force local tout en rendant plus difficile la neutralisation de l’unité en appliquant le principe d’une «dispersion justement calculée» prôné par le lieutenant général Bourcet.


La déconcentration des sections de tir rend beaucoup plus incertaine la conquête de la supériorité des feux par l’adversaire ce qui affaiblit son effort artillerie. De plus, l’acquisition de cet avantage ne réduit en rien la menace qui pèse sur l’adversaire puisque le système ATLAS (Automatisation des tirs et des liaisons de l’artillerie sol-sol) et les compétences acquises en trajectographie permettent de frapper un objectif à un instant donné à partir d’effecteurs de différents types et appartenant à différentes unités. Outre la sécurité accrue des moyens amis, la dispersion des effecteurs rend les rapports de force locaux beaucoup plus difficiles à estimer. L’ubiquité de la menace crée un brouillard supplémentaire pour le commandement adverse contraint de gérer davantage d’imprévisibilité et donc d’augmenter ses réserves.


Par une prise de risque modérée dans les dispositifs d’artillerie, il est donc possible de contraindre l’adversaire par des effets immatériels ciblés sur le commandement ennemi. Outre cette gestion de l’incertitude par le risque, l’appui artillerie contribue à la prise d’ascendant non seulement par l’usure mais aussi par la manœuvre.


Accroître la liberté d’action amie


Les moyens de l'artillerie, ici une équipe sur Martha, peuvent permettre d'augmenter la connaissance du terrain, notamment dans la troisième dimension. ©Commandement des forces terrestres.

Les moyens de l’artillerie, ici une équipe sur Martha, peuvent permettre d’augmenter la connaissance du terrain, notamment dans la troisième dimension. ©Commandement des forces terrestres.


Sans attendre de délivrer des feux, l’artillerie peut faciliter la conception et la conduite de la manœuvre interarmes, voire interarmées. En effet, ses systèmes de commandement numérisé et la mobilité accrue des «effecteurs» facilitent l’initiative et la saisie d’opportunités par l’ensemble de la force.


Tout d’abord, l’artillerie peut apporter une meilleure connaissance de la situation tactique dans le cadre de la protection de la force. Le déploiement d’un CMD3D5 en appui d’un poste de commandement interarmes permet à ce PC de disposer d’une situation aérienne en temps réel. Ainsi, le chef interarmes dispose d’une capacité unique à appréhender l’ensemble de ses zones de responsabilité et d’intérêt en visualisant les détections de l’ensemble des capteurs interarmées de défense aérienne. Dès lors, les forces terrestres disposent en premier lieu des délais suffisants pour diffuser les alertes aériennes, ce qui réduit d’autant les effets des raids ennemis. En second lieu, cette visualisation de l’activité aérienne facilite le travail de la cellule renseignement puisque la concentration des vecteurs aériens sur une zone ou une direction révèle l’effort adverse. La mise en œuvre d’un CMD3D permet donc une véritable lecture en trois dimensions de la manœuvre aéroterrestre adverse. Le PC interarmes dispose ainsi d’une capacité unique pour conserver ou reprendre au plus vite l‘ascendant.


L’artillerie est aussi en mesure de renforcer la liberté d’action amie en contribuant à l’autonomie de décision du chef interarmes. En effet, une structure comme le détachement de liaison d’observation et de coordination et des équipements de la chaîne MARTHA apporte de nouvelles connaissances et de nouvelles compétences au sein du poste de commandement «terre» pour optimiser l’emploi de la 3e dimension.


Il en résulte tout d’abord pour le PC «terre» la possibilité de réorienter rapidement ses moyens évoluant dans la 3e dimension face à l’action ennemie, soit par délégation de gestion de l’espace aérien local, soit par les liaisons avec les organismes de contrôle aérien ainsi mises en œuvre. Par ailleurs, ces capacités améliorent la réactivité dans l’emploi des intervenants dans la troisième dimension en permettant le déclenchement de missions inopinées en réaction à la surprise ennemie, tout en préservant la sûreté des aéronefs et drones en vol dans la zone de responsabilité. Cette meilleure gestion de la 3e dimension associée à la numérisation de l’artillerie améliore la capacité à produire un effort et délivrer des feux indirects ou air-sol rapidement et sans compromettre la sécurité des unités amies.


Enfin, les futurs moyens de l’artillerie vont contribuer à faire basculer un rapport de force par la saisie d’opportunités, tant au contact qu’en profondeur du champ de bataille ou de la zone de responsabilité. En premier lieu, l’acquisition de moyens particulièrement mobiles tels que le MEPAC permet de créer une réserve d’intervention particulièrement rapide. Cette réserve de feux mobiles et protégée peut également avantageusement appuyer une manœuvre d’exploitation, tel qu’un raid, en lui apportant un outil pour compenser un rapport de force défavorable par des feux indirects. Cette capacité est également utile dans les engagements en contre rébellion par la grande réactivité et la protection des équipages face aux actions d’insurgés. D’autre part, la bascule du rapport de force pourra être atteinte par la paralysie du système de commandement. En effet, la mise en service du lance roquette unitaire offrira la possibilité de détruire un objectif jusqu’à 70 kilomètres et de percer jusqu’à 30 centimètres de béton. Dès lors, dans un contexte d’intervention, il sera possible de détruire des postes de commandement de niveau opératif pour annihiler toute capacité de coordination des actions ennemies.




Si l’artillerie est caractérisée par la puissance et la précision des feux, elle doit désormais adapter ses déploiements et sa manœuvre afin de créer davantage de brouillard et de friction contre le commandement adverse. La complémentarité des effets cinétiques et non cinétiques doit être une préoccupation permanente en exploitant au maximum le binôme concentration des feux et dispersion des feux pour produire une dissociation matérielle et morale. Cette transformation sera facilitée par la mise en service de nouveaux matériels et de nouvelles munitions.


Pour autant, les équipements actuels permettent d’ores et déjà d’obtenir un réel effet dissuasif et de contraindre la manœuvre ennemie par une prise de risque mesurée. La crédibilité de ces dispositifs repose cependant sur une ferme volonté politique et un effort de communication sur les capacités des équipements en dotation dès le temps de paix. Le rapprochement stratégique franco-britannique devrait d’ailleurs ouvrir de nouvelles pistes de réflexion du fait des études menées actuellement outre-manche sur des concepts tel que la munition planante.


Article initialement publié dans la revue Doctrine tactique du CDEF.

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26 avril 2013 5 26 /04 /avril /2013 07:35
Domestic Firms Allowed in India Gun Contest


Apr. 25, 2013 - By VIVEK RAGHUVANSHI  - Defense News


NEW DELHI — For the first time, domestic private sector defense companies will be allowed to compete alongside foreign companies in the forthcoming 155mm/52-caliber mounted gun tender, expected to be floated in the next two to three months.


Before, only overseas original equipment manufacturers could participate in the tender, according to the categorization of the program.


The Defence Ministry allowed the participation of domestic defense firms after those companies demanded that the ministry change the categorization of the competition from “Buy and Make Global” to “Buy Global.” The designation allows domestic companies to compete.


Under “Buy and Make Global,” only overseas companies can participate, with the requirement that those companies transfer technology to the state-owned Ordnance Factories Board.


The Indian Army will now issue a global tender for 814 mounted guns, to include domestic companies Tata Power SED, Larsen & Toubro (L&T) and Bharat Forge. Overseas companies include Nexter of France, Rosoboronexport of Russia, Israel Aerospace Industries, BAE Systems of the UK and General Dynamics of the US.


An executive at Tata Power SED said they have not been told of the decision yet by the MoD, but added that his firm can manufacture all 814 in Bangalore .


In January, the private domestic companies demanded to be considered for future 155mm gun projects, estimated to be worth more than US $3 billion.


Domestic private sector companies will also be allowed to compete for the upgrade of Russian-made 130mm M-46 field artillery guns into 155mm guns, an MoD source said.


Late last year, Tata Power SED claimed that it had developed a 155mm/52-caliber mounted gun with 52 percent indigenous elements.


“Overseas Content of the gun is 48 percent and comprises technology taken for the barrel, breech and muzzle brake,” a company executive told Defense News. The indigenous content includes the 8x8 truck, platform, outrigger assembly, complete hydraulic system, fire control system, system integration and testing.


Private sector majors L&T and Bharat Forge have tied up with overseas defense companies to make the 155mm/52-caliber gun in India. State-owned Defense Research and Development Organisation is also developing its homegrown towed Howitzer gun.


A senior L&T executive said the company had tied up with Samsung for the wheeled artillery guns and with Nexter for making mounted and towed artillery guns in India

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2 avril 2013 2 02 /04 /avril /2013 16:35


A group of commercial banks has drawn up a loan to fund Indonesia’s purchase of

truck-mounted artillery from French land systems maker Nexter, sources close to the deal said.

Shown is Nexter's Caesar self-propelled guns. (photo EMA)


Mar. 31, 2013 - By PIERRE TRAN  - Defense News


PARIS — A group of commercial banks has drawn up a loan to fund Indonesia’s purchase of truck-mounted artillery from French land systems maker Nexter, sources close to the deal said.


The agreement is the latest in Jakarta’s push to “catch up” on defense procurement after what one analyst called “a long period of atrophy.” And by financing the deal through a bank loan rather than paying cash, Indonesia is part of a growing number of emerging defense markets looking to stretch their buying power as they seek to beef up militaries.


“Indonesia is a key target for everyone,” Grant Rogan, chief executive of Blenheim Capital, a specialist in defense offset deals, said March 26. “Our client base, which includes 25 large aerospace and defense companies, all, without exception, view Indonesia as a prime target.”


Jakarta’s short-term high-interest loan will pay for 34 Caesar 155mm 52-caliber guns, the sources said.


Indonesia required a buyer’s credit for 85 percent of the 108 million euro ($140 million) contract, with funding to be delivered to the Indonesian Finance Ministry in April, an executive said.


Indonesia’s request for bank financing is just one of a number of weapons deals for the Asian country, a European banker said.


The Asian market for bank loans “is concentrated in Indonesia,” as other countries such as India, Malaysia and Thailand pay cash, the banker said. Jakarta is in the midst of a procurement drive after staying out of the arms market for years, due to a lack of money and Western sanctions over human rights abuse. Now, the government is trying to “catch up,” said Richard Bitzinger, senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Singapore.


“Indonesia is in the midst of trying to upgrade its military after a long period of atrophy,” Bitzinger said. Jakarta buys weapons from a variety of suppliers, as it seeks to avoid being too dependent on a major foreign arms producer and to find the best value for money, he said.


Despite the rule of paying cash, a market for bank funding is rising, Rogan said. “Many countries are requesting financing.”


Blenheim has added a specialization in financing that complies with Islamic Sharia law, reflecting the rising demand.


Rogan was speaking from the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition, Malaysia.


Banks Pursue Deals


The pricing of loans is a sensitive issue, and the sensitivity is heightened by the unusual nature of the Indonesian artillery deal.


A source close to the deal said there are not many banks in this group of lenders, which is expected to be composed mainly of French lenders. The term of the loan is expected to be for a relatively short period, under five years.


The margin on the proposed bank loan is estimated to be below 200 basis points, the source said. Banks set the interest on loans using basis points — 1/100th of a percentage point — which are keyed to official interest rates such as the London Interbank Offered Rate.


A financial specialist said the estimated margin on the Caesar deal is relatively expensive, in view of the short loan period and the fact that the deal is backed by a sovereign guarantee from Indonesia.


The margin and loan period indicate France and the bank lenders are essentially taking a short-term view of Indonesia as a financial risk, with a loan covering production and delivery of the guns, and perhaps after-sales warranty, the specialist said.


A lower margin, on the other hand, would indicate a long-term view of Indonesia’s attractiveness as a client.


Indonesia, which sees itself as a regional power and is undergoing a procurement drive to reflect that role, moved last year to holding tenders for bank lending instead of private trade deals, attracting the attention of international and local banks.


Since then, about a dozen big banks expressed interest in arranging loan finance for eight or nine arms contracts Indonesia signed with Brazil, China, France, Russia, Spain and the United States.


The loans range from large orders to small deals of around $10 million.


For instance, Jakarta relaunched a bank tender this year to raise money to buy the Brazilian Avibras Astros B multiple rocket launcher system.


The Astros is capable of firing cluster submunitions. Western banks likely stayed away because the Oslo convention bans these weapons, forcing Indonesia to reset the tender a couple of months ago.


Indonesia reportedly used that type of munition in East Timor when the local population called for self rule in a 1999 referendum.


Indonesia also has a tender out for bank loans for 25 Bell 412 utility helicopters for the Army. Jakarta is also spending $750 million to upgrade secondhand F-16 C/D fighters provided free by the U.S. government. That upgrade will be a cash deal through the Foreign Military Sales regime.


The Down Side for Lenders


A bank loan for weapons poses problems for commercial lenders, the defense specialist said.


Lending on civil programs such as a nuclear power plant or a highway is relatively simple because they can generate revenue, part of which can be placed in escrow holding accounts to act as security.


But weapons have no power to raise revenue, and what is worse, might be destroyed. If a country loses use of its arms, it might stop repaying the loan. “What security is that?” the specialist said. Banks are also concerned about how the public views lending on arms deals. One large British bank refuses to lend on arms, two sources said.


Given the size of the Indonesian economy, the 108 million euro purchase price for the Caesar guns “is peanuts,” the specialist said.


A striking aspect of the Indonesian artillery loan is what is seen as the relatively long time between the signing last summer and the financing in April.


That long lead time may signal a slowing of arms deals, perhaps delaying some until 2014. Or perhaps it reflects a lower economic growth rate, or simply a bottleneck in the finance and defense ministries as staff struggle to cope with the volume of orders.


A loan for 85 percent of purchase amount is the maximum allowed under trade rules of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, with the 15 percent paid in cash, an export credit executive based in New York said.


Trying To Catch Up


Indonesia has a robust defense and aerospace industry in place, and the government wants to co-produce and co-assemble to build the domestic base, Rogan said.


Malaysia is the leader in that drive to build the defense industrial base, and wants to take a regional approach with Indonesia. The two countries would avoid product competition, and instead, buy from each other.


That approach drew foreigners’ skepticism three years ago, yet Malaysia is buying six-wheeled vehicles from Indonesia, and Indonesia is buying vessels from Malaysia, Rogan said.


Indonesia is rated the 16th largest economy, with an estimated growth rate of 6 percent in 2012, slowing from 6.5 percent in the previous year, the CIA World Factbook said.


The Indonesian government needs to improve poor infrastructure, which impedes growth, while also dealing with labor unrest over pay and cutting a fuel subsidy amid high oil prices, the country report said. Corruption, poverty and unemployment are also big problems, the report said.


Indonesia is expected to become the sixth or seventh largest economy.


Observers see the recent purchases as an “unblocking” of Indonesian procurement after a fallow period of three or four years. The big orders before the quiet spell were mainly Russian deals, financed by Russian banks.


Russian banks have lent money for Indonesia’s purchase of Sukhoi Su-27 and Su-30 fighters, the European banker said. Russian loans have helped Venezuela buy around $4 billion of weapons. The VTB bank is active in Vietnam, and the Russian lender is understood to have funded military purchases.


U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron visited Indonesia in 2012, looking to drum up defense deals after the previous Labour administration halted arms sales on allegations BAE Systems Hawk jets were used to bomb civilians in East Timor in 1999.


BAE and AgustaWestland executives went with Cameron on the visit.


Indonesia is now seen as an attractive market after a Western moratorium because of its human rights record and brutal put-down of movements for self-determination in Aceh, Papua and East Timor.


Jakarta also has close ties with South Korea, and some of the recent deals are financed on a government-to-government basis, the banker said.


These are understood to include Jakarta’s 2012 $1 billion purchase of three attack submarines — the first built in South Korea with Indonesian engineers on site, part of the second built in Indonesia, and the third built by state company PAL in Surabaya.


Jakarta has also bought 17 of the KT-1B basic trainers.


Jakarta and Seoul share similar ambitions.


“I think the Indonesians like working with the Koreans as they are in roughly the same situation: rising, aspiring regional powers with ambitions to play larger roles in their respective regions, and to also create sophisticated arms industries by which to do so,” Bitzinger said.


“The problem is, the Koreans have a level of technological sophistication and organizational production capability that the Indonesians still lack. So any partnerships with the Koreans still leave the Indonesians in a decidedly junior role,” he said.


Indonesia has also bought Damen missile corvettes from the Netherlands, financed by Dutch banks. Some Dutch banks have a policy of no support for military sales but they are quietly funding the deals anyway.




Andrew Chuter in London and Wendell Minnick in Taipei contributed to this report.

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7 octobre 2011 5 07 /10 /octobre /2011 12:05


photo US Army


October 7, 2011: STRATEGY PAGE


Saudi Arabia is expanding its towed artillery forces by purchasing 36 M777A2 155mm towed howitzers from the United States, along with 17,136 rounds of High Explosive (HE) ammunition and 2,304 rounds of longer range Rocket Assisted Projectiles (RAPs). Also being bought are 54 M119A2 105mm towed howitzers. 


The Saudis are also buying 432 HMMWV (hummer) vehicles to tow the guns, haul ammo and carry the crews and their gear. For fire control, they are also buying six AN/TPQ-36V Fire Finder Radar Systems (for spotting the location of enemy artillery firing towards them.) Finally, the Saudis are buying 24 Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data Systems (AFATDS), which are computer-based fire control systems that can co-ordinate air strikes, mortars fire and howitzer fire.


The M777 is a British design and, at four tons, is the lightest 155mm towed howitzer ever fielded. A crew of five fires regular rounds to 24 kilometers and RAP rounds to 40 kilometers. M777 Fire control is handled by computerized system that allows faster response time and more accurate shooting. Users have found the M777 accurate and reliable. The M119A2 is another British design. Each one weighs 2.1 tons, has a crew of five and a range 13.7 kilometers (19.5 kilometers with RAP shells).


Saudi Arabia already has some older towed 105mm howitzers, which the new ones will complement, and eventually replace. These howitzers are used in batteries of six guns.


Saudi Arabia is not buying any of the new GPS guided 155mm Excalibur shell. Excalibur makes 155mm shells as accurate as smart bombs, and is considered necessary when artillery is used in proximity to civilians. Excalibur also reduces the number of shells used. The Excalibur also doubles the M777 range, to 40 kilometers, without losing any accuracy.


While the Excalibur proved useful in Iraq, it didn't increase the workload of the few 155mm howitzers that were being used there. But Afghanistan was a different story, with the troops spread over a much larger area. This was the kind of situation that the new M777 towed 155mm howitzer was made for. So the army and marine artillery battalions attached to combat brigades are again training on their howitzers, and preparing to operate as artillerymen again, in Afghanistan. Saudi Arabia is expected to be more like Afghanistan as far as the Saudis are concerned.

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