The British Army has taken delivery of its first Archer wheeled artillery system after just six months of signing a contract with Sweden.
The weapon, to be fielded by 1 Deep Recce Strike Brigade, will temporarily fill the capability gap created by the donation of AS90 self-propelled guns to Ukraine.
According to UK military capability official Colonel Stuart Nasse, the delivery marks one of the fastest procurements of a complex system that the country has ever witnessed.
“In February, I was given orders by the Army Headquarters to go after Archer. And 48 days later, we were on contract,” he said. “We worked collaboratively at some significant pace to achieve this acquisition in record time.”
The first Archer unit will undergo a series of field tests and evaluation on the way to achieving initial operating capability in 2024.
A total of 14 Swedish Archer 155-millimeter artillery systems will be handed over to the British Army by next spring.
In January, the office of British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that it was sending 14 main battle tanks and 30 AS90 self-propelled weapons to Kyiv.
The move has created an “intolerable gap” in the army’s 155-mm Close Support capability.
According to the army, the gap needed to be bridged “in order to meet the UK’s commitment to the NATO New Force Model,” which aims to create a larger pool of high-readiness forces across various domains.
“We were fortunate our Swedish allies had an opportunity for us to purchase some of the Archer artillery system. That meant we could move quickly, to seize the opportunity and buy the new capability,” Nasse explained.
About the Archer Howitzer
A next-generation artillery system, the Archer is a more mobile version of the Haubits FH77 howitzer featuring a longer range of fire.
It needs only 30 seconds to spring into action and fire, and only 30 more to be on its way, according to manufacturer BAE Systems Bofors.
Additionally, the weapon can fire six rounds and move 500 meters (1,640 feet) in less than two minutes, while the crew remains protected inside an armored cabin.
It can fire conventional artillery ammunition, as well as the BONUS anti-armor and Excalibur precision guided munition.
Nasse said the UK plans to procure another 10 Archers to have a full regiment of capability.
“The Archer is an interim solution until the delivery of Mobile Fires Platform Project at the end of the decade, a separate program which is the replacement program for the heavy artillery, this is not the replacement for the AS90,” he clarified.