UK Seeks Ukraine-Bound AS90 Artillery Replacement Within 12 Months

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) seeks to deliver a medium-range land fires capability to the British Army within 12 months to plug the gap from supplying 155mm AS90 self-propelled guns to Ukraine.

The UK promised to send 24 of its 80-90 remaining AS90s to Ukraine in January, including M270 multiple launch rocket systems and 14 Challenger 2 main battle tanks.

Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace mentioned the “interim artillery capability” while outlining the provisioning for Ukraine. 

Deputy Chief of Defence Staff at the MoD, Lt Gen Robert Andrew Magowan, revealed last week’s time frame while addressing the UK Defence Committee.

“Therefore, we are working with partners to deliver an interim capability within 12 months,” Army Technology quoted Magowan as saying.

“So, a fully capable, medium indirect fires is the target we are setting ourselves to meet the gap between what we have done with AS90 and what is going to appear towards the end of the decade.”

Capability Gap

The UK had been planning to replace the Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering-manufactured gun before the Ukraine war under the Mobile Fires Platform (MFP) program.

However, the war exposed the British Army’s lack of deep-strike capability, forcing an acceleration of the MFP program from the 2030s to the end of this decade.

Inducted in the early 1990s, the AS90’s range of 20 to 25 kilometers (12 to 15.5 miles) pales compared to the French Caesar and the Swedish Archer, both capable of striking at ranges over 50 kilometers (31 miles).

Mobile Fires Platform

Although the formal MFP procurement has not yet begun, the expected bidders will likely be the BAE Systems Archer and Nexter with the Caesar truck-mounted system.  

Moreover, Hanwha Defense will pitch its tracked K9 self-propelled artillery system, and Krauss Maffei Wegman will offer its RCH155 howitzer turret mounted on an 8×8 wheeled Boxer.

The MFP is part of a broader artillery modernization effort, including upgrading and expanding the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) fleet.

The British Army plans to nearly double its fleet of around 40 M270 MLRS and improve its armored cabin and automotive and launch mechanism components.

The upgrades will allow the system to fire the Extended-Range Guided MLRS and the Precision Strike Missile, with ranges of 150 kilometers (93 miles) and 499 kilometers (310 miles), respectively. The system can currently fire at a distance of up to 80 kilometers (50 miles).

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