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What Is Artillery Today?

More than ever, artillery is a complex ensemble. Indeed, delivering an explosive payload over a target at the right time and
synchronising the fire action with all the other elements present on the battlefield involves more than just a gun. This begins with
logistic and technical support, effective surveillance and target acquisition assets and procedures, followed by command, control and
communication systems able to coordinate a firing action with the complex environment the ammunition will be travelling through
before reaching its target, and finally by effective, reliable and accurate weapon systems.
This being said, it is impossible to incorporate all the above elements into a single Compendium without turning it into something
akin to a thick multiple-volume encyclopaedia. Quite apart from the fact that logistic and technical support are functions that
are an integral part of the military and industrial system, target acquisition is entrusted to vehicles that are for the most part
equipped with sensors that allow them to pinpoint a target and send coordinate grids up the command chain, not to mention
drones, aircraft and, not to be overlooked, satellites!
In this Compendium, and as far as target handling is concerned, we shall thus limit ourselves to handheld target acquisition
binoculars and handheld laser designators (and there are many), although artillery-specific radars are worthy of attention.
The command and control chain is mostly made up of multiple systems that are tightly interfaced, so here too we shall mostly provide
a general description of what is nowadays required to clear a fire mission in a joint-combined environment.
Weapon systems and their ammunition, on the other hand, constitute the core of this Compendium. They include self-propelled
guns and howitzers (both wheeled and tracked), towed guns and howitzers, self-propelled heavy mortars as well as towed rifled
mortars. The latter are now often ushered into artillery unit service as alternative systems. Rocket launchers close the march.

Greater Range and Accuracy

What armies have always required for their artillery is greater range and increased accuracybut today those two important
elements that allow indirect fire to maintain its importance have to do so in scenarios where collateral damage has become a key issue
of concern and where defining the whole area of responsibility is not always clear-cut. Time on target is another issue and, as volatile
objectives have become the norm, the sensor-to-shooter cycle needs to be shortened as much as possible. In other words, the whole
chain, from target designation to shell or warhead terminal effect, has tightened.
Although western armies have ended up reducing their artillery arsenals compared to what they had in inventory during the Cold
War era, other armies are contemplating massive investments. A main potential customer for artillery manufacturers in the coming
years is definitely Indiaif and when, it must be emphasised, this nation finally manages to complete its long-awaited acquisition
process. In November 2014, following years of requests for proposals and cancellations, the Indian Ministry of Defence approved the
procurement of one of the elements of the Field Artillery Rationalisation Plan (a plan that dates back to 1999). This included 100 selfpropelled tracked howitzers, 180 self-propelled wheeled howitzers (with an option for 120 more), 814 truck-mounted guns, 1,580
towed howitzers and 145 light gunsall in 155 mm calibre.
The first category to have won acquisition clearance is the truck-mounted 155/52. Because national production is a sine qua non,
numerous international contenders have clinched deals with local companies as part of their bids.
India, however, is not the only nation looking at investments in the field of indirect fire capability. Poland is looking
at truck-mounted and self-propelled howitzers, new multiple rocket launchers, and even self-propelled heavy mortars.
Asia and Latin America are also areas of interest for artillery salesmen.
In addition to new systems being thrown on the market, it must not be forgotten that as a result of the above-mentioned
downsizing of western forces, a considerable amount of hardware, including still state-of-the-art items, is hitting the second-hand
systems list. Moreover, as said initially, artillery science grows well beyond the length of its barrels. Indeed new effectors will also
mean new ammunition, new targeting systems, and a whole new string of rules and procedures.

Technical data of main artillery systems are given in this Compendiums centre foldout tables in pure
Armada tradition. For ease of reference, this Compendium has also been divided into eight main sections:
Target Location and or Designation
Command and Control
Howitzer Ammunition
On Wheels
On Tracks
Mortars and their Munitions

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Compendium Artillery 2015


Finding the Target

To generate the grid of a target, an acquisition system must first know its own position.
From there it can establish the range of the target and the latters angle relative to the
north. A sighting system, (preferably a day and night type), an accurate locating
system, a laser rangefinder and a digital magnetic compass are the usual component
of such a device. Its ability to identify a coded laser beam is also useful to confirm the
target to the pilot and thereby increase safety and reduce communication traffic; this is
the role of spot trackers. Markers, on the other hand, are not sufficiently powerful to
guide weapons, but allow to mark the target for ground or airborne designators that
in the end guide the munitions semi-active laser seeker spot on target. Finally, artillery
location radars allow to pinpoint enemy artillery positions even if, as often is the
case, they are not in direct view. As indicated in the introduction, only hand-held
systems are examined in this Compendium

ust to give an idea of what the services

are after, lets consider the draft
requirements published by the US Army
in January 2014 for its Laser Target Location
Module II, which should in due time replace
the LTLM currently in service. The Army is
contemplating a 1.8 kg locator (but ultimately
1.6 kg), although the overall system,
including base system, cables, tripod, and


Compendium Artillery 2015

Here seen in the hands of Italian Army 185th Target Acquisition Regiment operators,
the Elbit PLDR II is in service with many customers, including the US Marine Corps where
it is known as AN/PEQ-17. (Armada/Paolo Valpolini)

lens cleaning kit would tip the scales at 4.8

kg, possibly 3.85 kg. In comparison the
current LTLM has a 2.5 kg base weight and
5.4 kg system weight. Threshold target error
location requirement is 45 metres at 5 km,

the same as the LTLM, objective

performance being 10 metres CEP at 10 km.
For day operations the LTLM II will have
both a direct view optic with a x7 minimum
magnification, a 6x3.5 minimum field of

view, a hard reticle with 10 artillery mil

increments, as well as a colour day imager.
The latter will provide a streaming video
and in wide field of view mode, more than
6x4.5, ensuring a 70% probability of
recognition at 3.1 km and of identification
at 1.9 km in fair weather. Narrow field of
view should be at least 3x2.25, better
2.5x1.87, with respective recognition
ranges of 4.2 or 5 km and identification
ranges of 2.6 or 3.2 km. The thermal channel
would have the same objective fields of view,
with 70% probability of recognition of 0.9
and 2 km, and identification at 0.45 and 1
km. Target data will be provided in
UTM/UPS units, data and images being
exported via a RS-232 or a USB 2.0 ports.
Power will be provided by L91 lithium AA
batteries. Minimum connectivity must be
ensured with the Precision Lightweight GPS
Receiver and the Defense Advanced GPS
Receiver, as well as developmental GPS
systems. The Army would however prefer a
system that can also be interfaced with
the Pocket Sized Forward Entry Device, the
Forward Observer Software/System, the
Force XXI Battle Command, Brigade-andBelow, and the Net Warrior.
BAE Systems offers two target acquisition
items. The UTB X-LRF is a derivative of the
UTB X, to which a 5.2 km range Class 1 laser
rangefinder has been added. Based on an
uncooled thermal sensor with a 640 x 480
pixels focal plane array at 17 m pitch, it can
be fitted with a 40, 75 and 120 mm focal
length optics, providing respectively x2.1,
x3.7 and x6.6 magnification, and 19, 10.5
and 6.5 diagonal fields of view, a x2
electronic zoom allowing to double the
performance. According to BAE Systems
80% positive detection ranges on a 0.75 m2

Known in the US Army as Laser Target Locator Module, BAE Systems Trigr includes an uncooled
thermal channel and weighs less than 2.5 kg. (BAE Systems)

Nato target are respectively 1,010, 2,220 and

2,660 metres. The UTB X-LRF is fitted with a
2.5 metre-accurate GPS and a digital
magnetic compass. It also includes a visible
and an infrared Class 3B laser pointer. Up to
100 images can be stored in uncompressed
BMP format. Power is provided by four L91
lithium batteries, ensuring five hours of
operational time, though USB port allows
external power feed. The UTB X-LRF is 206
mm long, 140 mm wide and 74 mm high, and
weighs 1.38 kg without batteries.
Another BAE Systems product is the Trigr
(for Target Reconnaissance Infrared GeoLocating Rangefinder). Developed in cooperation with Vectronix, BAE Systems
provides the uncooled thermal channel base
and the selective availability anti-spoofing
module GPS with a government-provided
Ground-Based GPS Receiver Application
Module, while Vectronix provides the x7
direct view optic, the 5-km range fibre-based
laser rangefinder, and the digital magnetic
compass. According to the company the Trigr
ensures a 45 metres CEP target location error
at 5 km. Day recognition range is 4.2 km, or
over 900 metres at night. It weighs less than

A derivative of the UTB X, the UTB X-LRF adds a laser rangefinder that allows it to become a full
targeting location system. (BAE Systems)

2.5 kg, two sets of batteries ensuring a 24-hour

mission endurance. The overall system,
including the tripod, batteries and cables,
weighs 5.5 kg. It is in use with the US Army as
the Laser Target Locator Module; in 2009 a
indefinite-delivery/indefinitequantity contract was signed, the two latest
orders being dated August 2012 and January
2013, respectively worth $23.5 and $7 million.
Northrop Grumman Mark VII hand-held
laser target locator was superseded by the
Mark VIIE, the latter having a thermal
imaging channel in place of the image
intensified channel of the previous model.
The uncooled sensor considerably improves
vision at night and in difficult conditions, and
features an 11.1x8.3 field of view, the day
channel being based on an x8.2 magnification
direct view optic providing a 7x5 field of
view. A digital magnetic compass provides a
8 mill accuracy, the electronic clinometer
having a 4 mill accuracy, position being
provided by an embedded GPS/SAASM. The
Nd-Yag laser rangefinder with optical
parametric oscillation ensures a maximum
range of 20 km with a 3 metre accuracy. The
Mark VIIE weighs 2.5 kg with nine CR123
commercial batteries, and is fitted with an RS232/422 data interface.
The latest addition to Northrop
Grummans portfolio is the HHPTD, for
Hand Held Precision Targeting Device,
which in less than 2.26 kg packs the typical
sensors of such systems. Compared to its
predecessors it has a colour daytime channel
as well as a non-magnetic celestial navigation
module that considerably increases accuracy,
at the level needed by todays GPS precision
guided munitions. The development contract
worth $9.2 million was awarded in January
2013, work having been conducted in
cooperation with Flir, General Dynamics and
Wilcox. Developmental testing was
completed at the White Sands missile range
in October 2014.

Compendium Artillery 2015


The Hand Held Precision Targeting Device is one of the latest developments from Northrop
Grumman and has completed developmental tests in late 2014. (US Army)

Flir has a range of hand-held targeting

devices in its portfolio and cooperates with
other companies, providing the night vision
element of such systems. The Recon B2
features a main thermal channel operating in
the mid-wave band. Based on a 640 x 480
InSb cooled array, it provides a wide field of
view of 10x8, a narrow one of 2.5x1.8, and
is fitted with a x4 continuous e-zoom. It is
equipped with auto focus, automatic gain
control and digital data enhancement. The
secondary channel can either be fitted with a
day sensor (B2-FO) or with a long-wave
infrared channel (B2-DC). The former is
based on a colour CCD with a 794 x 494
pixel array and a x4 continuous digital zoom,
and with two fields of view, similar to the
previous. The secondary thermal channel is
based on a 640 x 480 Vox microbolometer
and provides a single 18 field of view, with a

x4 e-zoom. The B2 hosts a C/A code GPS;

however, military GPS can be plugged in to
increase accuracy, a digital magnetic
compass, and a 20 km range laser
rangefinder, as well as a Class 3B laser pointer
operating in the 852 nm band. The B2 can
store up to 1,000 jpeg images that can be
downloaded via a USB port, but an RS232/422 interface is also available, as are
NTSC/PAL and HDMI ports for video
output. Weight is less than 4 kg including the
six lithium D rechargeable cells that provide
four hours of continuous operation or over
five hours in power save mode. The Recon B2
can be fitted with a remote control kit
including a tripod, a pan and tilt assembly, a
power and communication assembly and a
control station assembly.
The Recon B9-FO is a lighter system
featuring an uncooled thermal channel with a

The lighter target acquisition option from Flir

is the Recon V, which includes a thermal
cooled sensor, a rangefinder and the other
typical sensors, packed in an 1.8 kg system.
(Armada/Paolo Valpolini)

9.3 x 7 field of view and a x4 e-zoom. The

colour camera has a continuous x10 optical
zoom and a x4 e-zoom, while the GPS, DMC
and laser pointer performances are similar to
those of the B2. What makes a major
difference is the rangefinder, which has a
maximum range of 3 km. The B9-FO is
dedicated to shorter range operations and is
also much lighter than the B2, at less than 2.5
kg with the two rechargeable D cell batteries
that provide five hours continuous operation.
Even lighter, thanks to the lack of a day
channel, the 1.8 kg Recon V (with batteries)
provides a six-hour run time with hot sap
capability. Its cooled 640 x 480 InSb seeker
operates in the medium wave infrared band,
and is equipped with a x10 optical zoom
(wide field of view being 20 x 15). Its
rangefinder has a 10 km reach while a mems
gyro adds image stabilisation.
Sagem of France proposes three binocular
solutions for day-night target acquisition, all
featuring the same visible colour channel
with a 3x2.25 field of view, an eye-safe laser
rangefinder with a 10 km range, a digital
magnetic compass with 360 azimuth range
and 40 in elevation, and a C/S-type GPS
with an accuracy of up to three metres CEP
(it can also be linked to an external GPS). The
main differences are in the thermal channel.
At the lower end is the Jim UC, which
features an uncooled 640x480 array with
The Flir Recon B2 family has a main cooled
channel, the B2-FO here pictured in the hands
of Italian special operations personnel; it is
fitted with a secondary day channel.
(Armada/Paolo Valpolini)


Compendium Artillery 2015

Sagems Jim Long Range has been supplied

to French infantrymen as part of the Felin
package; here it is here seen mounted
on Vectronix Sterna non-magnetic target
acquisition system. (Sagem)

identical night and day narrow fields of view,

while the wide field of view is of 8.6 x 6.45.
The Jim UC is fitted with a digital zoom,
image stabilisation, internal photo and video
recording; an optional image fusion between
the day and thermal channels is also offered. It
has a 0.8 m eyesafe laser pointer, plus analog
and digital ports. It weighs 2.3 kg without
battery. The rechargeable battery provides
over five hours of operational life.
Then comes the Jim LR of which,
incidentally, the UC is a derivative. It is in
service among others with the French Army,
being part of the Flin soldier modernisation
suite. The Jim LR features a cooled thermal
channel, with a 320 x 240 pixel sensor
operating in the 3-5 m band; the narrow
field of view remains the same as the UCs, the
wide one being of 9 x 6.75. A more powerful
laser pointer is offered on option, increasing
the range from 300 to 2,500 metres. The
cooling system of course increases weight,
the Jim LR standing at 2.8 kg without battery.
A cooled sensor considerably increase
detectionreconnaissance-identification ranges for a
human target being respectively of 3/1/0.5 km
for the UC and 7/2.5/1.2 km for the LR.
Closing the march is the Jim HR with
further improvements offered by a VGA 640 x
480 pixel array providing higher resolution.
Vectronix, a subsidiary of Sagem,
proposes two observation platforms that,
coupled to Vectronix and/or Sagem systems,
generate extremely accurate modular tools
for targeting.
The GonioLight is a digital observation
station the digital magnetic compass of which
provides an accuracy of 5 mil (0.28). When
fitted with the north-finding gyroscope,
accuracy increases to 1 mil (0.06). The
gyroscope is installed between the head and

the tripod adding 4.4 kg to the assembly, the

GonioLight and tripod coming at around 7
kg. If the gyroscope is not installed, similar
accuracy can be obtained using embedded
survey routines on known landmarks or
celestial bodies. An embedded GPS and a
link to an external GPS are also available. The
GonioLight is equipped with an illuminated
screen and has interfaces for computers,
communications and other external devices.
In case of failure it is fitted with auxiliary
scales that allow to determine the direction
and vertical angle. The system is designed to
host daylight or night observation and
rangefinding, such as the Vector rangefinder
family or the Sagem Jim described above.
Special mounts also allow to install two
optronic subsystyems over the GonioLight
head. Overall weight goes from 9.8 kg of the
GL V configuration including GonioLight
plus Vector, to the 18.1 kg of the GL G-TI
configuration that includes GonioLight,
Vector, Jim-LR and gyroscope. The
GonioLight was made available in the early
2000. Since then over 2,000 units have been
delivered to a score of countries, and have
been used in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Lessons learned led Vectronix to develop
the ultralight Sterna non-magnetic target
acquisition system; while GonioLite aims at
distances over 10 km, the Sterna is considered
for targets at 4-6 km. Together with the tripod
the system weighs around 2.5 kg, accuracy of
less than 1 mil (0.06) at any latitude being
obtained when working using known
reference points. This provides a target
location error of less than four metres at 1.5
km. If reference points are not available, the
Sterna is fitted with a hemispheric resonating
gyroscope, jointly developed by Sagem and
Vectronix, that provides an accuracy of 2 mil
(0.11) in north finding up to 60 latitude.

Setup and orientation time is less than 150

seconds, a 5 rough levelling being required.
The Sterna is powered by four CR123A
batteries that ensure 50 orientation
operations and 500 measurements. Like the
GonlioLight, the Sterna is designed to accept
different types of optronic systems. Still
within Vectronixs wares, the lightest option is
the less than 3 kg PLRF25C, followed by the
less than 4 kg Moskito. For more complex
missions Vector or Jim packages must be
added, but weight then increases to 6 kg. The
Sterna has a dedicated interface for pintle
installation on a vehicle although it can be
quickly removed for dismounted operations.
Numerous units have been sold for
evaluation purposes. The US Army has
ordered Vectronix hand-held systems and
Sternas as part of the Handheld Precision
Targeting Devices solicitation awarded in
July 2012. Vectronix foresees a consistent
increase of sales of its Sterna in 2015.
In June 2014 Vectronix unveiled the
Moskito TI featuring three vision channels,
an optical daylight with x6 magnification and
an optical low-light CMOS, both with a 6.25
field of view, and an uncooled thermal
channel with a 12 field of view. A 10 km
rangefinder with a 2-metre accuracy, and a
digital magnetic compass with 10 mil
(0.6) azimuth and 3 mil (0.2) elevation
accuracies are also part of the package. GPS is
optional, though a slot for a commercial or
military GPS receiver as well as Galileo or
Glonass modules is included. Connection to

Vectronix developed
the Sterna, an ultralight non-magnetic
target acquisition
system that deals with
ranges of between four
and six kilometres; it
here seen fitted with a
Sagem Jim-LR.

Compendium Artillery 2015


The last addition

to the Vectronix
range of target
devices is the
Moskito TI, which
features two
daylight and one
thermal channel.

external GPS receivers is also possible, and a

laser pointer can also be added. The Moskito
TI is provided with RS-232, USB 2.0 and
Ethernet interfaces, with Bluetooth on
option. Powered by three CR123A batteries,
it has over six hours of operational life. Last
but not least, all the above holds in a 130 x
170 x 80 mm package weighing less than 1.3
kg. This new product is an evolution of the
Moskito, which at 1.2 kg offered a day
channel and an image intensified channel, a
10-km laser rangefinder, a digital magnetic
compass, and as option a commercial GPS
or a link to an external receiver.
Thales offers a full suite of target
acquisition systems. The Sophie UF is a 3.4 kg
system that includes a x6 magnification optical
day sight with a 7 field of view. The
rangefinder reaches up to 20 km, a P(Y) code or
C/A code GPS being integrated in the Sophie
UF, which can be linked to a DAGR/PLGR
external system. A magnetoresistive digital
magnetic compass with 0.5 accuracy in
azimuth and a gravity sensor inclinometer,
with 0.1 accuracy, complete the sensor suite.
Powered by AA batteries, it has an eighthour operational life. The system features fall
of shot correction and target cueing modes,
and is fitted with RS232/422 ports for
exporting data and images. Among others,
the Sophie UF is in service with the British
Army as the Surveillance System and Range
Finder (SSARF).
Moving up, the Sophie MF features a 8-12
m band cooled thermal imager, with 8x6
wide and 3.2x2.4 narrow field of view and a
x2 electronic zoom. A 3.7x2.8 field-of-view
colour daylight channel comes on option, as
does a 839 nm laser pointer working. It comes
with a 10km range laser rangefinder, an
integrated GPS, connection for an external
GPS receiver and a magnetic compass
providing 0.5 accuracy in azimuth and 0.2
in elevation. The Sophie MF weighs 3.5 kg a
runs for over four hours on its set of batteries.


Compendium Artillery 2015

The Sophie XF is nearly identical to the MF,

the main difference being the thermal sensor
which operates in the medium 3-5 m
infrared band, with wide 15x11.2 and
narrow 2.5x1.9 fields of view, a x6 optical
zoom and a x2 electronic zoom. Analog and
HDMI outputs are available for videos, the
Sophie XF being able to store up to 1,000
photos or up to 2 Gb of videos. RS 422 and
USB ports are also available. The XF has the
same optionals and weight as the MF, although
its operational life with a single battery pack is
slightly longer at six or seven hours.
Instro Precision in Britain, specialised in
goniometers and pan-and-tilt heads,
developed the MG-TAS, for Modular Gyro
Target Acquisition System, based on a
gyroscope allowing precision north finding.
Accuracy exceeds 1 mil (being immune to
magnetic disturbances), and a digital
goniometer offers an accuracy of 9 mil
depending on magnetic environment. The
system also includes a lightweight tripod and a
rugged PDA-based targeting computer with
a full set of targeting tools. An interface allows
one or two targeting sensors to be installed.
Airbus DS Optronics proposes two
targeting systems, both from its South Africa

The Thales Sophie XF allows one to determine

target grids and features a medium-wave
infrared sensor for night vision. (Thales)

production sites, the Nestor and the TLS-40.

Originally developed for German mountain
troops the Nestor went into production in
2004/2005. This 4.5 kg biocular system
includes a day sighting channel with a x7
magnification and a 6.5 field of view, with a 5mil increment glass reticle, and a thermal
cooled channel with a 640 x 512 pixel sensor
that provides two fields of view, narrow
(2.8x2.3) and wide (11.4x9.1). Target
distance is provided by a Nd-Yag Class 1M
laser rangefinder with a 20 km range and a
5-metre accuracy, fitted with an adjustable
range gate. Target direction and elevation are
provided by a digital magnetic compass with
a 1 accuracy in azimuth and 0.5 in
elevation, measurable elevation angle being
45. A 12-channel L1 C/A GPS receiver is
included, the Nestor being also interfaceable
with an external GPS. A CCIR-PAL video

Developed for the German mountain troops,

the 4.5 kg Airbus D&S Nestor features a cooled
thermal sensor. It is in service with several
customers around the world. (Airbus D&S)

output is available. It is powered by

rechargeable Li-Ion batteries, an external
10-32 V DC external power supply being
also usable. The cooled thermal sensor
increases the system weight, but also its
night performances. It is in service with
several European forces, including the
Bundeswehr, several European border
guards as well as with undisclosed Near and
Far East customers. The company is
awaiting several major contracts for quite a
few hundred systems 2015, but the new
customers remain undisclosed.
Leveraging experience gained with the
Nestor, Airbus DS Optronics developed the
lighter Opus-H with an uncooled thermal
channel. First deliveries started in 2007. It

maintains the same day channel, while the

microbolometer 640 x 480 array provides an
8.1x6.1 field of view and a jpg snapshot
capability. The other elements remain
similar, including the single-pulse laser
rangefinder which not only increases longrange measurement without requiring
tripod stabilization but also detects and
displays up to three targets at any range. It
adds an USB 2.0 port the RS232 and RS422
serial interface ports of the previous model.
Power is here provided by eight AA batteries.
Weight saving is of about 1 kg, the Opus-H
being also smaller (300 x 215 x 110 mm
compared to the Nestors 360 x 250 x 155
mm. Opus-H military and paramilitary
customers remain undisclosed.
Due to the increasing need for lightweight
and cheaper targeting devices, Airbus DS
Optronics (Pty) developed the TLS 40 series,
which weighs less than 2 kg with batteries.
Three models are available, the TLS 40 with a
day-only capability, the image intensification
TLS 40i and the uncooled TLS 40IR. Their
laser rangefinders and GPS are similar to the
Nestors. The digital magnetic compass
covers 45 elevation angles, 30 bank
angles, and provides 10 mils accuracy in

azimuth and 4 mils in elevation. The biocular day optical channel, common to the
first two models models, has a x7
magnification and a 7 field of view with the
same reticle as the Nestor. The image
intensified version ads a monocular channel,
based on a Photonis XR5 tube, providing the
same magnification of the day channel and a
6 field of view. The TLS 40 and TLS 40i have
exactly the same physical characteristics,
their dimensions being 187x173x91 mm. The
TLS 40IR is bigger, 215x173x91 mm, albeit it
maintains the same weight. It has a
monocular day channel with the same
magnification and a slightly narrower field
of view at 6. The microbolometer 640 x 312
array channel provides a 10.4x8.3 field of
view with a x2 digital zoom. The image
appears on a black-and-white oled. All TLS
40 models can optionally be fitted with a day
camera to capture jpg snapshots with a 0.89 x
0.75 field of view, and a voice recorder with a
10-second clip per snapshot capacity in WAV
format. All are powered by three CR123
batteries or by an external 6 15 V power
source, are fitted with a USB 1.0, RS232,
RS422 and RS485 serial interfaces, can be
fitted to external GPS, and feature a

Sagems Jim Long Range has been supplied

to French infantrymen as part of the Felin
package; here it is here seen mounted on
Vectronix Sterna non-magnetic target
acquisition system. (Sagem)

composite video output in PAL and NTSC

output. The TLS 40 series has already been
introduced in service by undisclosed
customers, including African.
Jenoptik of Germany developed the Nyxus
Bird, a day-night recce and target location
system which is available in medium and long
range versions. The difference lies in the
thermal channel, which in the medium range

The Nyxus Bird Gyro adds to the Nyxus Bird

qualities a gyroscope for non-magnetic
north finding , which considerably
increases target coordination accuracy at
long ranges. (Jenoptik)

is fitted with a 11x8 field of view lens.

Detection, recognition and identification
ranges against a standard Nato target
respectively stand at 5, 2 and 1 km. The long
range version, with 7x5 optics has greater
ranges, respectively 7, 2.8 and 1.4 km. The
640x480-pixel sensor is the same. The day
channel is a x7 magnification direct view job
with a 6.75 field of view. The Class 1 laser
rangefinder has a typical range of 3.5 km, the
digital magnetic compass ensures 0.5
accuracy on 360 in azimuth and 0.2 on 65 in
elevation. The Nyxus Bird features a series of
measurement functions and can store up to
2,000 infrared images. Fitted with a GPS
module, it can nevertheless be linked to a
PLGR/DAGR system to further increase
accuracy. There is a USB 2.0 port image and
video transfer, while Bluetooth is on option.
Including the 3.0 V lithium battery it weighs
1.6 kg, and is 180 mm long without the
eyecups, 150 mm wide and 70 mm high. The
Nyxus Bird is part of the equipment of the
German Army IdZ-ES programme. The
addition of a Micro Pointer tactical mission
computer with full Geographic Information
System considerably increases target location.
Working on internal or external batteries, the
Micro Pointer is fitted with RS232, RS422,
RS485 and USB ports, and can be optionally
fitted with an Ethernet port. Small (191 x 85 x
81 mm) it weighs only 0.8 kg. Another
possible addition is a gyro system, which
includes a gyroscope for non-magnetic
northfinding, providing most precise
azimuth information and precise target
coordinates also over long ranges. The gyro
head has the same ports of the Micro Pointer,
can be linked to a PLGR/DAGR external GPS,
and its four CR123A batteries ensure 50
orientations and 500 measurements. The
head weighs 2.9 kg, and the entire unit with
tripod tips the scales at 4.5 kg.
From Finland comes the Lisa, a handheld target acquisition system developed by


Compendium Artillery 2015

Millog, which includes an uncooled thermal

imager and an optical day channel able to
detect a vehicle at 4.8 km, recognise it at 1.35
km and identify it at 1 km. It weighs 2.4 kg
with batteries and has a run-time of 10
hours. It is entering service with the Finnish
Defence Forces following receipt of a
contract in May 2014.
Developed some years ago for the Soldato
Futuro Italian Army soldier modernisation
programme by what is now Selex-ES , the
Linx multi-functional day/night hand-held
target locator has been improved and now
features a 640 x 480 uncooled array. The
thermal channel has x2.8 magnification with a
10x7.5 field of view, but also includes x2 and
x4 electronic magnification. Day viewing is
via colour TV with two magnifications (x3.65
and x11.75 with respective fields of view of
8.6x6.5 and 2.7x2.2). A programmable
electronic reticle is injected in the colour VGA
display. Ranging is available up to 3 km,
position being provided by an integrated GPS
while a digital magnetic compass provides
azimuth indications. Image export is via USB.
A further evolution of the Linx is awaited for
mid-2015, and will include miniaturised
cooled sensors and new functions.
In Israel the military are looking at
increasing their fire coordination capabilities.
To this end each battalion will be provided
with a team for coordinating air strikes as well
as ground fire support instead of the single
artillery liaison officer currently assigned at
battalion level. The national industry is
already providing tools for the task.

Elbit Systems is very active both in Israel

and in the United States. Its cooled Coral-CR
features a 640x512 InSb medium-wave
detector, fitted with a 2.5x2.0 to 12.5x10
field of view optical zoom and a x4 digital
zoom. A black-and-white CCD day camera
operating in visible and near infrared
operates between 2.5x1.9 and 10x7.5
fields of view. Images appear on a highresolution colour oled through an adjustable
binocular. An eye-safe Class 1 laser
rangefinder, an integral GPS and a digital
magnetic compass with 0.7 accuracy both in
azimuth and elevation complete the sensors
set. Target coordinates are calculated in real
time, and can be transmitted to external
devices, and up to 40 images can be stored. A
CCIR or RS170 video output is available. The
Coral-CR is 281 mm long, 248 mm wide and
95 mm high and weighs 3.4 kg including the
ELI-2800E rechargeable battery. It is in
service with numerous Nato countries (as the
Emerald-Nav in America).
Lighter and cheaper, the Mars is an
uncooled thermal imager based on a VOx
384x288 detector, but has target acquisition
capability. Besides the thermal channel, with
two fields of view, 6x4.5 and 18x13.5, it
features a colour day camera, with 3x2.5
and 12x10 fields of view, a laser
rangefinder and built-in GPS and magnetic
compass. Including the battery the 200 mm
long, 180 mm wide and 90 mm high Mars
weighs only 2 kg.
Turning to Rafael, the Haifa based
company developed two systems, the Pointer

Acquired by Finland, Millogs Lisa is fitted

with an uncooled thermal and a day channel;
at only 2.4 kg, it has a detection range just
short of 5 km. (Millog)

In Elbits full set of target location systems the

Coral-CR is the high-end item with its cooled
thermal channel. (Elbit Systems)

The Enhanced Joint Terminal Attack

Controller Laser Target Designator (E-JTAC
LTD) proposed by Elbit Systems of America
is one of the lightest laser targeting/hand-off
solutions available on the market.
(Armada/Paolo Valpolini)

and the Micro-Pointer, which provide similar

performances but at different weight. The
assembly is designed for tripod use and
features a top adaptor to install payloads such as
day/night sighting binoculars. The systems are
fitted with a digital magnetic compass, a GPS,
and a mission computer. Angular accuracy is 1
mRad on both axis, position accuracy being
3-5 metres, while north finding accuracy is 1
via digital magnetic compass and 1 mRad via
visual north finding. The computer has a fourinch colour touch-screen, a series of pushbuttons, some of them user-defined on the
right, while two handgrips are used to orient
the system and feature push-buttons for
acquisition and payload control. To avoid
detection the Pointer and Micro-Pointer use a
patented advanced digital target acquisition

Rafael developed a passive target range

measurement system based on geographical
infrastructures that is implemented in its
Pointer and Micro-Pointer target location
systems. (Rafael)

technology that does not require a laser

rangefinder, though rangefinders can be
used if required. After finding the north and
having established accurate position by GPS,
the system uses geographical infrastructures
(Digital Terrain Model and digital 3D
Models for the area) to accurately calculate
the target range optically, and thus remains
totally passive. The system uses digital
format maps for the georefercing process.
RS232 and RS422 interfaces are provided for
integration with C4I systems. The Pointer
has a weight of 4.1 kg while the MicroPointer weighs 0.85 kg, both without
batteries. They are in service in Israel and
other nations, including a Nato member.
Stelop, part of ST Electronics of Singapore,
offers its Coris-Grande. This two-kilo system
(including batteries) packs a day colour
camera, a 640 x 480-pixel uncooled thermal
sensor, a 1.55 m Class 1M eye-safe laser
rangefinder with a 2 km range, a GPS and a
digital compass. Images are generated on an
SVGA colour display, where a reticle can be
injected, the system allowing to capture the
scene and to download the picture to a PC via
a USB 2.0 port; a x2 digital zoom is available.
The Coris-Grande yields an accuracy of 0.5 in
azimuth and a CEP of five metres; the system
can provide MGRS or longitude-latitude
grids. Data provided by Stelop indicate for the
thermal channel a 90% detection probability
range of over 1 km for a man-size target and
2.3 km for a light vehicle, with respective
recognition ranges of 380 and 860 metres. The
data for the day camera are 1.2 km and 3 km
for detection and 400 and 1,000 metres for
recognition. With a startup time of less than 10
seconds, the Coris-Grande is powered by a LiIon rechargeable battery pack ensuring over
six hours of operation. It is combat proven, is in
service with the Singaporean Army and has
been exported to South Korea and Indonesia.
In order to cope with longer range
requirements Stelop developed an improved
version of its Coris-Grande target acquisition
system featuring a 5 km range laser
rangefinder as well as a 35 mm focal length
lens (instead of the original 25 mm) to
increase detection and reconnaissance ranges.
First units of the new version are already
available for demonstration and Stelop is
ready to provide them in six-eight months
time after contract signature.
Northrop Grummans catalogue contains
two items that allow the JTAC or JFO (Joint
Fires Observer) to confirm the targeted
location. Both have a weight of less than 0.9 kg
with batteries and can be used with a single

The Coris-Grande is the target acquisition

device proposed by Stelop, the optronic
company part of ST Electronics of Singapore.
(Armada/Paolo Valpolini)

hand. The main difference between the

Coded Spot Tracker (CST) and the MultiBand Laser Spot Tracker (MBLST) is that the
former thermal seeker operates in long wave
infrared while the latter operates in short
wave. The CST is fitted with an uncooled
640x480 array, offers a wide field of view
being of 25x20 while a narrow field of
12.5x10 is obtained with the x2 e-zoom. It
can track up to three marker spots at the same
time, three coloured diamond-shaped icons
showing up on the 800 x 600 SVGA display,
the red, green, blue icons corresponding to
the PRF code shown on the bottom of the
picture. The CST is powered by three CR-123
lithium batteries.
The MBLST SWIR imager benefits from
reduced atmospheric scattering and features
pixel level laser pulse detection. Its 11x8.5
wide field of view can be reduced thanks to
the x2 e-zoom, an external x2 optical zoom
being available as option. A semi-transparent
coloured overlay is used to show the laser
spot over the black and white image, with a
marker around the spot to highlight it. The
MBLST allows the JTAC to see the designator
spot at ranges of over 10 km. The system is
powered by four CR-123 or AA batteries,
with a continuous run time of two hours.
L-3 Warrior Systems produces the LA16u/PEQ Handheld Laser Marker, a pistolshaped device capable to emit Nato coded
laser beams for marking targets, the beam
being easily picked up by spot-tracker
equipped platforms, reducing target handoff
times from minutes to a few seconds. A mini
red-dot sight is mounted over the pistol for
aiming it at the target.

Compendium Artillery 2015



In 2009 the US military started looking for a

system to reduce the attack controllers
workload and simultaneously improve their
ability to acquire, locate, mark and designate
targets for GPS-guided and laser-guided
ammunition. The new system was known as
Joint Effects Targeting Systems (JETS), which
consists of two major subsystems, the Target
Location Designation System (TLDS) and
the Target Effects Coordination System
(TECS). The TLDS is a hand-held target
acquisition and designation system; draft
performances required a day-night
identification range greater than 8-4 km, a
location error less than 10 metres at 10 km,
rangefinding greater than 10 km, an infrared
marker range greater than 4 km at night, a
laser spot-tracker range greater than 8 km,
and a designator range against stationary or
moving targets greater than 8 km using Nato
standard codes. The base system had to
weigh less than 3.2 kg while the overall
system, including tripod, batteries and cables,
should not be more than 7.7 kg. The TECS
interfaces with the TLDS and provides
networked and automated communication
capabilities, allowing planning, coordination
and delivery of fire support, as well as
terminal close support guidance. The system
will be distributed to Army, Air Force and
Marine Corps JTACs. In Q2 2013 two
companies received a contract for a one-year
programme aimed at the development of a
prototype system, the choice falling upon
BAE Systems and DRS Technologies that
received respectively $15.3 and $15.6 million
contracts. The two companies are designing
and building prototypes as part of the fullscale development phase. First fielding of the
JETS is forecast for late 2016.

For the JETS programme BAE Systems

developed the Handheld Azimuth
Measuring, Marking, Electro-optic imaging
and RangingHammer in short. Not much
was unveiled, only that it includes day and
night imagers, celestial compass, gyro
compass, digital magnetic compass, SAASM
GPS receiver, an eye-safe laser range finder,
a compact laser marker and an open digital
communications interface. The JETS version
of the Hammer completed the U.S. Armys
Critical Design Review in February 2014, and
according to BAE Systems it is not only half of
the weight of current systems but it is also
much less expensive. The two companies
must deliver 20 prototypes each.
Northrop Grumman Special Operations
Forces Laser Acquisition Marker (AN/PEQ1C SOFLAM), used during operations
Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom
by US special operations forces, JTACs and
FACs, is a 5.2 kg system that includes a NdYag diode-pumped laser designator with
passive cooling, capable to mark a target at
over 10 km distance. It works on the 1.064
m wavelength with an 80 mJ pulse energy,
and is used not only for designating, with
user programmable PRF codes, but also for
ranging, its capacity in this role reaching 20
km The system input-output is RS-422
compatible. The day optic provides a x10
magnification with a 5x4.4 field of view;
three Picatinny rails allow to install a night
vision system. Powered by a single BA 5590
battery, the SOFLAM is commercially
known as the Ground Laser Target
Designator III, or GLTD III, which is an
evolution of the previous GLTD II,
improvements mainly concerning the
weight, 0.4 kg less, and power consumption,
performances remaining the same.

BAE Systems does not say much about the Hammer except it has
a celestial compass to increase accuracy. (BAE Systems)


Compendium Artillery 2015

Less portable, the Northrop Lightweight

Laser Designator Rangefinder (LLDR) has an
overall weight of 16 kg, and is made of two
major sub-assemblies, the target locator
module (TLM) weighing 5.8kg, and the Laser
Designator Module (LDM) weighing 4.85 kg.
The TLM includes a cooled thermal sight
with a 640 x 480 array, providing a wide field
of view of 8.2x6.6, and a narrow one of
3.5x2.8, the e-zoom allowing to reach a
0.9x0.7 field of view. The day sight is based
on a high resolution staring CCD and
provides a 4.5x3.8 wide field of view, a
1.2x1 narrow one, a x2 e-zoom being also
available. It also features a PLGR GPS
receiver, an electronic clinometer, and an eyesafe Class 1 laser rangefinder with a 20 km

Known as the AN/PEQ-1C Soflam, for Special

Operations Forces Laser Acquisition Marker,
this system has been intensively used in
operation both in Iraq and Afghanistan.
(Northrop Grumman)

maximum range. The LDM Yag laser emitter

can designate a target up to 5 km, using Nato
Band I and II as well as A codes. It features an
RS-485/RS-232 data interface and an RS-170
video interface. Power is provided by a BA5699 battery, a BA-5590 battery being used
for TLM-only operations.
A first evolutionary step came with the
LLDR 2 which maintained the same TLM
but added a new diode pumped laser module
(DLDM). The latter was considerably lighter,
weighing 2.7 kg, while providing the same
range. A further step led to the LLDR-2H
high accuracy targeting system which adopts
a new target location module, the TLM-2H
that weighs 6.6 kg, and a slightly modified
DLDM module, at 2.8 kg; the whole system
with tripod, battery and cables weighs 14.5
kg. The TLM-2H day channel is based on a
high resolution CCD with 4x3 wide and
1x0.8 narrow fields of view, a x2 e-zoom
being available, day recognition range being

of over 7 km. The thermal channel provides a

wide 8.5x6.3 and narrow 3.7x2.8 fields of
view, a x2 and x4 e-zoom allowing to
increase magnification, giving a vehicle
night recognition range of over 3 km. A 20
km laser rangefinder is included, as well as a
GPS/SAAMS receiver, a digital magnetic
compass and a celestial high accuracy
azimuth device. Using the latter target
location error is reduced to less than 10
metres at 2.5 km. The DLDM provides a
day/night designation range of 5/3 km
against stationary targets, and a 3 km
day/night range against moving targets; the
TLM-2H is capable of picking the designator
spot at 2 km day and night. Power is
provided by the same set of batteries for a 24hour mission.
L-3 Warrior SystemsAdvanced Laser
Systems Technologies developed the Scarab
TILD-A, a diode-pumped Nd:Yag laser target
designator capable of generating 80 to 120 mJ
of energy to illuminate targets at 5 km. It
includes the designator, backpack, tripod,
batteries and remote control. The direct view
optics module fitted on the left side has a x7
magnification and a 5 field of view with
mission data overlapped on the display.
Compliant with Band I and II Nato codes, the
Scarab ensures 60 minutes of continuous
designation with a single battery. A thermal

The Lightweight Laser Designator

Rangefinder is made of a target locator
module and a laser designator module, and
can designate a target at a range of 5 km.
(Northrop Grumman)

The L-3 Warrior Systems Scarab Tild-A is a

laser designator that can illuminate targets
at ranges of up to 5 km. (L-3 ALST)

and see-spot add-on can be fitted via the

Picatinny rail, adding less than 1 kg to the
system. Based on an uncooled 640x480 cooled
mid-wave infrared, it has a detection range of 5
km and a recognition range of 3 km against a
standard 2.3x2.3 metres target. In late 2013
Warrior Systems-ALST bagged an export
order from South Korea, for an initial value of
30 million US dollars, designators being aimed
at the Air Force and the Marine Corps.
Thales offers a less than 5 kg solution in the
form of the Tyr, which provides an over 70 mJ
output energy. Maximum ranging
performance is 20 km, no designation ranges
being available. It has a 2.5x1.9 sight with
reticle injected in the display. The Tyr is fitted
with Picatinny rails and can be easily
interfaced with other Thales observation and
targeting systems. The LF28A is a slightly
heavier solution, up to 6.5 kg, which ensures a
10 km designation range. It is fitted with an
optic sight with a x10 magnification and 3
FoV, and is powered by Lithium or NickelCadmium batteries that snap onto the system.
CILAS of France has developed a
lightweight version of its DHY 307 ground
laser target designator, the DHY 307 LW
which, at 4 kg is half the weight of the earlier
model and is more compact. Fitted with an
internal spot camera, it can be coupled to
high precision targeting goniometers as well
as to thermal imagers, its performances being
even higher than the original system,
designation range shifting from 5 to 10 km,
pulse energy remaining over 80 mJ. It can
memorize Nato, Russian and Chinese codes.
Elbits Rattler-G is a lightweight
designator, with a version known as the
Director-M in America. Aiming is done
through a direct view x5.5 optic, an OLED

A British soldier ready to designate a target

using a Thales TYR, here installed over a
GonioLight digital observation station. (Thales)

overlay showing the PRF code, battery status

marker/designator has an energy of 27 mJ
per pulse, pulse width being 15 ns and
divergence being less than 0.4 mRad, target
designation range being 3 km against a Nato
target and 5 km against a building. Coded
marking range is 6 km while pointing range is
20 km; the Rattler-G is fitted with a 0.8 W,
0.83 m band and a 3 mW, 0.63 m visible
pointer. A Picatinny rail on top of the system
allows to install other optical systems, which
can be boresighted using the laser pointers.
The Rattler-G weighs 1.7 kg including the
CR123 rechargeable battery that ensures a 30
minute operation time at standard
temperature. The Director-M maintains
most of the characteristics of the Rattler-G
but is slightly more powerful, over 30 mJ and
a 1W pointer. The system is 165 mm long,
without considering the single eyepiece, 178
mm wide and 76 mm high.
To further reduce the soldiers burden
Elbit Systems developed the Rattler-H, a
pistol-like designator with a 30 mJ energy
pulse and similar ranges as the Rattler-G.
Without any optical channel, an aiming sight
is installed on top of the Picatinny rail, while
an interface allows it to be installed on a
tripod for long range targeting. The key
advantage of the Rattler-H is its weight just
1.3 kg with the CR123 battery.
On a wholly different level comes the
Portable Lightweight Designator/Rangefinder
II, PLDR II in short. Here the head weighs 6.7
kg, designation performances increasing to 5
km against a tank-type target and 10 km
against a building, with a laser pulse energy
adjustable between 50 and 70 mJ. Aiming is
done through a direct view sight with x8

Compendium Artillery 2015


The Opus-H retains many of the Nestor

features, but is fitted with an uncooled
thermal imager and is thus around one
kilogram lighter. (Airbus D&S)

magnification and a 5.6 field of view (a 2.5

view laser spot camera is available with image
shown on a 3.5-inch display. The PLDR II has
built-in GPS, electronic compass and a
tactical computer for target location
calculations, two Picatinny rails for
additional sensors such as a thermal imager.
Designed for long-range designation, the
system includes a pan and tilt head and a light
tripod. In use in several armies, it has been
acquired in 2011 by the US Marine Corps,
where it is known as AN/PEQ-17.

The 1.3kg Elbit Rattler-H is able to

mark a target to the benefit of airborne
platforms. (Elbit Systems)


Compendium Artillery 2015

The Serpent, also from

Elbit Systems, has even
longer designating ranges,
respectively 8 km for tanks
and 11 for large targets, and a 20
km distance measurement capacity
with a 5-metre range accuracy. Its sight
characteristics are similar to those of
the PLDR II, but here the laser spot
camera is an option. The designator
head weighs 4.63 kg, a pan and tilt
head, light tripod, battery and remote
fire switch being part of the kit.
To ensure guidance to its laserguided
Rosoboronexport offers a portable
automated artillery fire control system
known as Malakhit, which is divided
in three packs containing respectively
the laser designator/rangefinder, the
commanders station and the radio
station. Output energy is not provided
but ranges are considerable, 7 km against
tank-like targets in daylight and 4 km at
night, and 15 km against large targets. The
system is all but light, in day operation the
overall weight, tripod included, being of 28.9
kg, which increase to 37.6 kg for night use,
when the thermal imager is added. For
positioning the Malakhit of course relies on
the Russian Glonass rather than GPS.

To reduce the overall error budget in a firing

action the three main factors that have to be
taken into consideration are target location
and size, weapon and ammunition
information and finally firing unit location
error. Mensuration is one of the procedures
used especially to improve accuracy in target
location and size. According to the National
Geospatial-Intelligence Agency target
coordinate mensuration is the process of
measurement of a feature or location on
Earth to determine an absolute latitude,
longitude, and height. For targeting
applications, the errors inherent in both the
source for measurement and the
measurement processes must be understood
and reported. Mensuration tools can employ
a variety of techniques to derive coordinates.
These may include, but are not limited to,
direct read from Digital Precise Point
Database (DPPDB) stereo-pairs in stereo or
geopositioning, or indirect imagery
correlation to DPPDB.
United States Special Forces use the
Precision Strike Suite as mensuration

programme at unit level, not much being

known of that system as it is classified.
Artillery firing units deployed downrange
have been provided with such a suite under
certain conditions, such as the use of a secret
internet protocol router network. This
allowed mensuration time of 15-45 minutes
of operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring
Freedom (when this capability was available
at Corps level) to be cut to around five
minutes now that battalion can do it
autonomously. Similar capabilities are also
available at higher echelons using systems
such as BAE Systems CGS (Common
Geopositioning Services) modular set of
software geopositioning services capable of
calculating accurate, three-dimensional
geographic coordinates as well as SOCET
GXP geospatial-intelligence software package
by the same company.

Finding a target might not need eyes,

especially in an artillery system context.
Counterbattery radars are essential actors,
particularly in force protection missions
where they provide warning to the troops and
allow friendly effectors to react in near-real
time. They also provide adjustment data to
friendly artillery.
In the US Army inventory the AN/TPQ36 Firefinder has been around for some
time. Originally developed by Hughes, now
part of Raytheon, the system is now
produced by Thales-Raytheon-Systems.
Installed on a trailer it is towed by a Humvee
that also carries the operation control
shelter. A second Humvee carries the
generator and tows spare generator, while a
third vehicle for reconnaissance and cargo
duties completes the detachment. The
Firefinder can locate up to 10 targets
simultaneously, with ranges of 18 km for
mortars, 14.5 km for artillery and 24 km for
rockets. The most recent version, the (V)10,
is fitted with a new radar processor that
reduces the number of cards from nine to
three and provides an unlimited growth
potential. This processor is the same as the
AN/TPQ-37s. This is a longer range trailermounted radar pulled by a 2-tonne truck.
The latest version is the (V)9 also known as
RMI featuring a wholly redesigned
transmitter, now including 12 air-cooled
power amplifier modules, a high power RF
combiner and a fully automated transmitter
control unit. A Humvee-borne new
operations central with two consoles is also
being introduced.

Initially known as the EQ-36 (E for

enhanced), the AN/TPQ-53, or Q-53 for
short, is a Lockheed Martin counterfire radar
developed in 2007 in cooperation with SRC
and quickly acquired and deployed
downrange for force protection. Eighty-four
such radars have been ordered to date by the
US Army, Singapore having required six such
systems through FMSS. The Q-53 can
operate in 360 or 90 modes, the former
providing a range detection of around 20 km
against mortar, rockets and artillery. When
used in the 90 mode it can pick firing
positions at up to 60 km for rockets, 34 km
for guns and 20 km for mortars. Mounted on
a 5-tonne FMTV (which the energy station
on tow), the Q-53 and its second truck
carrying the control station and the spare
generator, requires only four men compared
to six for the Q-36 and 12 for the Q-37.
American special forces also needed a
counterfire radar, possibly compatible with
airborne operations. Starting from the
AN/TPQ-48 Lightweight Counter-Mortar
Radar, SRCTec developed a more rugged
version, the AN/TPQ-49 which is based on a
non-rotating, electronically steered aerial
with a 1.25-metre diameter that can be
mounted on a tripod or on a tower. A
warning is sent when an incoming round is
detected, and as soon as sufficient data are
collected to establish the point of origin this is
sent to the C2 station.
Heavier and installed on an Humvee, the
AN/TPQ-50, also by SRCTec, maintains
similar ranges but considerably increases
accuracy, point of origin being located with
a 50-metre error at 10 km, compared to the
75 metres at 5 km for the Q-49. A programme
of record of the US Army, it has been
deployed as a gap filler where bigger radars
could not go.

The AN/TPQ-53 counterfire radar was

developed in the late 2000s by Lockheed
Martin and is in service with the US Army
and Singapore. (Lockheed Martin)

The company is now proposing its

AESA50 multi-mission radar with an
electronically scanned array of over a 100
transmit/receive modules. Together with
Lockheed Martin, SRC also developed the
Multi Mission Radar (MMR), which
currently is at prototype level. Capable of
45 scan in azimuth and 30 in elevation,
and with an antenna rotation rate of 30
revolutions per minute, it can be used for air
defence surveillance and air traffic control,
fire control, as well as counterfire target
acquisition. In the latter role the antenna is
static, covering 90, and can follow up to 100
projectiles simultaneously, providing a fire
source location accuracy of 30 metres or 0.3%
of the range. It can easily be installed on a
Humvee-class vehicle.
Both the Q-53 and Q-50 will be part of
Army programmes that will run in FY14-18
to improve force protection.
In late 2014 the US Marine Corps
awarded Northrop Grumman a $207 million
contract for low-rate initial production of the
AN/TPS-80 Ground/Air Task Oriented
Radar (G/ATOR). Fitted with an active
electronically scanned antenna based on
gallium nitride transmit/receive modules, the
new S-band 3D radar will provide the US
Marine Corps with multiple functions, as it
will ensure air surveillance, air defence,
ground weapon locating and air traffic
control capabilities, replacing in due time
three in-service radars and the functionality
of two retired types, namely the AN/TPQ36/37 artillery locating radar, the other
being related to air defence and air
operations. The US Marine Corps plans to
field it in three blocks, Block 1 as short-range
air defence/surveillance radar, Block 2
addressing counterfire targeting missions,
and Block 4 expeditionary airport

The AN/TPQ-49 is a counter-mortar radar

based on a non-rotating aerial developed by
SRC for US special forces units. (SRC)

An AN/TPQ-50 radar installed over a

Humvee; this radar is mainly used as a gap
filler to cover dead sectors where bigger
radars cannot be deployed. (SRC)

surveillance. Block 3 will feature technical

enhancements of the air missions. The radar
consists of three major subsystems, the
trailer-mounted radar equipment group
towed by an MTVR which hosts the power
equipment group. The communications
equipment group on the other hand is
installed on an M1151A1 Humvee. The late
2014 contract covers four systems with
deliveries expected in 2016/17. Additional
low-rate production contracts are
anticipated, followed by multiyear, full-rate
production items around 2020.
On the other side of the pond one of the
most popular counterbattery radars is the
Saab Arthur. This has scored orders from at
least a dozen customers including the Czech

Compendium Artillery 2015


Still a prototype, the Multi Mission Radar

developed by SRC and Lockheed Martin is
intended for artillery, air defence and air
traffic control applications. (SRC)

Republic, Greece, Italy, Norway, South Korea,

Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom,
with many deployed downrange. It has been
integrated on different vehicles, Sweden and
Norway deploying it on board the BV-206,
other nations having chosen a sheltered
version carried by a 5-tonne truck. Ready for
action in less than two minutes it has
demonstrated an availability of 99.9%. The
aerial is made of 48 slotted ridge waveguides,
which ensure redundancy if the antenna is
partially hit by shrapnel or rounds.
Another European system in that
category, albeit much bigger, is the Cobra
(Counter Battery Radar) developed in the
late 1990s by a consortium known as EuroArt, which includes current Airbus Defense &
Space, Lockheed Martin and Thales.
Mounted on an 8x8, the radar comes as a selfcontained system that includes the active
phased array antenna with 2780
transmitter/receiver modules, electronics,
power supply and command and control

The Saab Arthur counterbattery radar is in

service with numerous countries and
integrated on different platforms, such as
the BV206 shown in this picture.
(Armada/Paolo Valpolini)


Compendium Artillery 2015

The Arthur screen, pictured during a mortar live firing exercise, allows one to see
the impacts; in a defensive mode it is possible to track enemy incoming rounds to accurately
extrapolate the firing position. (Armada/Paolo Valpolini)

station. Aerial rotation can extend coverage

to 270, up to 240 weapons being acquirable in
less than 120 seconds. Run by a crew of only
two, it is deployable in less than 10 minutes,
can operate in stand-alone mode or
networked with other sensors and command
and control systems.
A highly mobile system from IAI Elta of
Israel comes in the form of the ELM-2138M
Green Rock pulse-doppler tactical radar. This
can be used both for C-RAM or fire location.
Its two phased-array aerials, covering 90 each
in azimuth and 90 in elevation, can be
installed even on very small platforms such as
ATVs. Declared range is 10 km.
IAI Elta also developed the ELM-2084
multi-mission radar, which can be used both
for air surveillance and artillery location.
Also equipped with a flat electronically
scanned aerial, in target location mode it
operates in a fixed position providing a 120
azimuth and a 50 elevation coverage, with a
range of around 100 km. Precision is 0.25%
of the range, the radar being able to pick 200
targets every minute.
Outside the western world, examples
include the Chinese 704-1, with a maximum
locating range of 20 km for 155 mm artillery
and an accuracy of 10 metres under 10 km
and 0.35% of range for higher distances.
Fitted with an electronic scan aerial with a

The IAI Elta ELM-2084 S-band Aesa multimission radar can be used for artillery
location, air defence, fire control and air traffic
control. (Armada/Eric H. Biass)

sector of 45 in azimuth and 6 in elevation,

the antenna also rotates 110 in azimuth
and 5/+12 in elevation. One 4x4 truck
hosts the 1.8 tonne antenna-transceiver
shelter assembly and the 1.10 tonne power
supply unit, a second similar truck carrying
the 4.56 tonnes operation control shelter.

Command and Control

Finding the appropriate target, establishing its grids with
the maximum possible accuracy, providing those grids to
the command post, elaborate firing data considering
target grids and effectors positioning as well as choosing
appropriate effectors, transmitting firing data to the
selected firing assets, and give the green light for firing,
this is in simple terms the firing cycle that an artillery
command and control system must manage.

The tactical command post of an Istar

task force. Intelligence, surveillance, target
acquisition and reconnaissance are all
functions that contribute to the artillery
targeting process. (Armada/P. Valpolini)

a certain way becomes part of the ATO, the

Air Tasking Order, used by airmen to plan
and deconflict air missions. The difference is
that usually air strikes are planned well in
advance, while artillery fire missions tend
to be carried out in support of the ground
manoeuvre, mostly to provide immediate
support to troops that came into contact
with the enemy. Also, compared to the past,
accuracy and timing are key elements given
the sensitiveness of collateral damage;
indirect fire is often called upon to
neutralise time-sensitive and even now
mobile targets.
Battle space management, dynamic
synchronisation, prioritisation, deconfliction,
coordination, and targeting cycle are all key
functions that make an artillery fire mission
much more complex than the simple
shooting of a gun. All this has an impact on
technical command and control assets as
well as on personnel training, land indirect
fire being one of the components of the Joint
Fire Support.
The complexity of the command and
control issue does not allow to deal with that
subject in this Compendium. Tools are
continuously evolving, doctrines are
adapted to new contingencies and assets,
and it would thus be impossible to properly
describe them. The aim of this short chapter
is just to remind all of us that without the
proper brain and computer work done at the
numerous joint cells that deal with the
aforementioned tasks, target acquisition
assets as well as effectors suddenly become
useless, at least among developed armies.

While they provide a considerable contribution to the targeting process, drones are also
one of the elements that considerably complicate artillery C2 procedures, flying objects
often being obstacles to timely fire. (Armada/P. Valpolini)

nce the target is hit damage

assessment will eventually provide
corrections for further firing action,
either to hit the target with greater accuracy or
to reiterate the mission as the desired effect
had not been reached.
However, what is described above is a
very simplistic scenario that applies only
when the sky is clean of the myriad of flying
objects that nowadays tend to saturate the
battlefield airspace: the presence of blimps,
drones, helicopters, aircraft must be borne
in mind before unleashing fire. This adds a
further problem to the artilleryman, who in

Compendium Artillery 2015


Guided Ammo...
Guided ammunition stepped relatively late into the
history of howitzers, because this involves electronics that
have to resist not only the crushing effect of firing, but
also the devastating twist effect imparted by the rifling. In
addition, receivers able to rapidly catch GPS signals
under such circumstances and upon exiting the muzzle
still needed to be invented.

Used in action by US forces,

Raytheons Excalibur has been
fired from M109A5 Paladins
and M777A2s. (US Army)

US Army artillerymen get ready to shoot

an Excalibur round. In production since
April 2014, the Ib version is cheaper but
more accurate. (US Army)

he first XM982 Excalibur was fired in

May 2007 by an M-109A6 Paladin
howitzer close to Baghdad; developed
by Raytheon, together with BAE Systems
Bofors and General Dynamics Ordnance and
Tactical Systems, the round has a guidance
unit just behind the fuse, followed by the
guidance section featuring four canard wings
opening forward. The rounds rear end is
equipped with a base-bleed aggregate and
rotating stabilization wings.
In the ascending part only inertial sensors
work, canard wings being deployed when the
round reaches its apogee, instants after the
GPS receiver is activated. Mid-course
trajectory is then optimised according to
target grids and time of arrival, canard wings
allowing not only to direct the round but also


Compendium Artillery 2015

providing sufficient lift from the body

ensuring shaped trajectories, increasing the
range compared to standard ammunition.
The terminal trajectory is then optimised
according to the type of warhead and target.
Increment Ia-1 rounds used in Iraq and
Afghanistan lacked the base bleed aggregate
their range being limited to 24 km. Data from
the field showed a reliability of 87% and
accuracy better than 10 metres. With the
addition of the base bleed Increment Ia-2
rounds, known as M982, could reach targets
well over 30 km. Reliability problems with
Modular Artillery Charge System (MACS)
propellant charge 5 limited however its range;
deployed to Afghanistan in late 2011, they
were fired with charges 3 and 4. These first
Excalibur rounds attracted heavy criticism

for their cost, which was also due to the

reduced acquisition of Ia-2 rounds from
30,000 to 6,246 units.
Since 2008 the US Army sought improved
reliability and lower costs, issuing two design
and maturation contracts. It selected
Raytheon in August 2010 to fully develop and
produce the Excalibur Ib, which in April 2014
replaced the Ia-2 on Raytheons
manufacturing lines, and is now in full-rate
production. According to the company the
price has been cut by 60% while capabilities
have been increased, acceptance tests having
shown 11 rounds falling at an average distance
of 1.26 metres from the target, and 30 rounds
falling at an average 0f 1.6 metres. Overall 760
combat shots have been fired between Iraq
and Afghanistan. The Excalibur features a
multi-role fuse which can be programmed as
point detonation, point detonation delayed,
or air burst. Besides the US Army and Marine
Corps, the Excalibur is in service also with
Australia, Canada and Sweden.
For the international market Raytheon
decided to develop a round, the Excalibur-S,
which also featured a laser seeker, providing
semi-active laser homing capability. First
testing was carried out in May 2014 at Yuma
Proving Ground. Following the same
guidance steps as the Excalibur, it activates its
laser seeker in the last phase to lock onto the
coded laser beam reflection. This allows to

The Multi Service-Standard Guided Projectile is a 127 mm naval ammunition which,

fitted with a sabot, can also be fired by 155 mm howitzers to reach out to a mere 120 km
with a 52 calibre gun. (BAE Systems)

Now in full production, the Excalibur IB

aims at the international market.
A laser guided version is under development.
(Armada/P. Valpolini)

guide the ammunition with utmost precision

onto its intended target, or a different target
within the seeker field of view should the
tactical situation change, or a moving target.
No in-service date has been announced for
the Excalibur-S, Raytheon awaiting a launch
customer to finalise concepts of operation
before starting the qualification process.
Raytheon leveraged the Excalibur effort to
develop a naval 127 mm guided ammunition,
known as Excalibur N5 (for Naval 5-inch)
that exploits 70% of the 155 mm round
technology and 100% of its guidance and
navigation system. According to Raytheon
the new round will more than treble the range
of the Mk45 naval gun, the company stating
that testing has provided Raytheon the data
needed to progress to a live fire guided flight
test in the near future.
BAE Systems MS-SGP (Multi ServiceStandard Guided Projectile) is part of a joint
programme aimed at providing both
shipborne and ground artillery with a long
range guided artillery ammunition. The new
round is a 5-inch (127 mm) affair which in a
land version would be known as a saboted
round. The guidance system leverages
experience acquired with the LRLAP (Long
Range Land Attack Projectile), the 155 mm
developed for the Zumwalt-class destroyers
and fired by BAE Systems 155 mm Advanced
Gun System. The guidance system is based
on GPS and inertial systems, an uplink
allowing re-targeting the round in flight
(time of flight to 70 km being three minutes

and 15 seconds). The MS-SGP rocket motor

has been tested and a round performed a
guided flight test from a naval Mk 45 gun,
reaching a target at a range of 36 km with an
error of only 1.5 metres and an angle of 86.
BAE Systems is ready to manufacture test
projectiles for ground platforms; the
challenge here is to verify the correct
functioning of the breech block with the 1.5
metre long and 50 kg round (16.3 kg of which
represent the HE warhead). According to
BAE Systems the accuracy and angle of fall
overcompensate the reduced lethality of the
under-calibre ammunition, which also allows
to reduce collateral damages. Another key
role of incoming tests is to verify the
performances of the retention device used to
keep front canard guidance wings and rear
wings closed until the round has come clear of
the muzzle brake, a problem that does not
exist on naval guns. The angle of fall, which
can reach 90 compared to the typical 62 of a
ballistic ammunition, allow the MS-SGP to
be used in urban canyons hitting relatively
small targets, which until now required to be
neutralised by much more expensive weapon
systemsthe round is said to be well below
the $45,000 mark. BAE Systems is gathering
additional test data that allowed to refine the
MS-SGP maximum range estimates. Based
on our current test data maximum range is
85 km fired from a 39 calibre gun with
Modular Artillery Charge system (MAC) 4
and 100 km with MAC 5 (which increases to
120 km from a 52 calibre gun). As for the
naval version it has a 100 km range when
fired from a 62 calibre gun (Mk 45 Mod 4)
and 80 km from a 54 calibre (Mk 45 Mod 2).
According to BAE Systems and US Army
data, 20 MS-SGPs can achieve what requires
300 current 155 mm shells on a 400x600metre target. In addition the MS-SGP should
reduce to one third the number of artillery
battalions. A spiral programme is foreseen to
give the MS-SGP increased performances,
with a low-cost EO/IR seeker being envisaged
to cope with moving targets. The US Navy
plans to initiate an acquisition programme
for the 127 mm guided round in FY2016,
while the Army should follow at a later date.
The Oto Melara Vulcano family of
ammunition was developed with a view to
increasing land and naval gun range and
accuracy. Following an agreement between

Germany and Italy, the programme is now

carried out jointly with Diehl Defence since
2012. While naval developments were carried
out with 127 mm, and later 76 mm calibres,
land variant work focussed on 155 mm. Three
versions of the Vulcano 155 mm are in the last
development stage: an unguided one known
as the BER (for Ballistic Extended Range), a
GLR (for Guided Long Range) available with
IMU/GPS terminal guidance, and an
additional variant with semi-active laser
guidance (a far-infrared seeker is also foreseen
but will be limited to naval rounds). The
guidance section is located at front with four
canards ensuring steering. Increasing range
while keeping internal ballistic, chamber
pressure and barrel length unchanged meant
improving external ballistics and therefore
reducing drag. A 155 artillery shell has a
diameter to length ratio of about 1:4.7. A subcalibre option was thus adopted, bringing the
ratio to about 1:10. A roll-decoupled tail
section was also adopted to improve the

A mock-up of Oto Melaras 155m Vulcano

round that comes in extended range and
guided versions, with respective ranges of 50
and 80 km when fired from a 155/52 mm gun.
(Armada/P. Valpolini)

aerodynamic aspect and reduce sensitivity to

lateral wind. The only downside came from
the sabots, which require a relatively wide safe
frontal area. The Vulcano BER is fitted with a
purposely developed fuse which, for the 127
mm calibre, features four modes: impact,
proximity, time, and height of burst.
For the 155 mm the proximity mode is
dropped. In the height of burst mode a
microwave sensor allows to feel the distance
from the ground, activating the exploding
chain according to the programmed height.
The fuse is programmed through electric

Compendium Artillery 2015


contacts, a portable programming device

being available when the gun system is not
fitted with an integrated programming
system. Programming is used also for time
and impact, as for the latter function a delay
can be set to optimise terminal effects. As a
safety measure, at impact the proximity fuse
will always be activated to avoid duds.
Vulcano IMU/GPS rounds feature a fuse
similar to that of the 155 mm BER, with a
slight difference in shape. As for SAL/IR
Vulcano rounds, these are obviously
equipped with an impact fuse only.
Leveraging work on those fuses, Oto Melara
developed the new 4AP (4 Action Plus) fuse to
be used with full-calibre 76, 127 and 155 mm
ammunition, and which has all four modes
described above. The 4AP is in its very final
stages of development, qualification trials
being expected in the first half of 2015. Oto
Melara expects first production batches to
be delivered in Fall 2015. Vulcano rounds
have a high-performance preformed-fragmented warhead with defined tungsten
splinters of various sizes and insensitive
munition characteristic. This, together with
the optimised fusing mode programmed
according to the target, ensures a terminal
lethality that Oto Melara declares is twice
that of a conventional grenade, even if the
warhead dimension is smaller due to the
smaller calibre.
The BER round is fired ballistically, and
can reach up to 50 km when fired from a 52
calibre barrel. The GLR Vulcano is
programmed via a fire command unit
(portable or integrated in the gun system).
After firing, its thermal battery and the GPS
receiver are activated and the munition is
initialised with pre-programmed data. Once
the apogee is reached the GPS/IMU
midcourse guidance/navigation system flies
the shell towards the target. In case of a SAL

The sub-calibre body of the Oto Melara

Vulcano ballistic extended range
ammunition, which production should start
in late 2015. (Armada/P. Valpolini)


Compendium Artillery 2015

The semi-active laser version of Oto Melaras

Vulcano ammunition is developed together
with Diehl Defence, the latter providing the
laser sensor. (Diehl Defence)

munition the semi-active laser seeker picks

the laser coded beam for the final phase. The
GPS/IMU guided GLR can reach 80 km if
fired from a 52 calibre barrel, and around 55
km from a 39 calibre, the GPS/IMU/SAL
round having a marginally shorter range
due to the least aerodynamic shape of the
laser seeker head.
The 155 mm Vulcano has been selected by
the Italian and German armies for their
PzH2000s. In July 2013 demonstrations were
carried out in South Africa, showing that the
BER version landed well within the 20 metres
CEP of the 2 x 2-metre target, while the
GPS/SAL hit the plate located at a range of 33
km. A complex test programme was started
in January 2015 and will last until mid-2016
to complete qualification. This is jointly
carried out by Germany and Italy in firing
ranges in the two countries as well as in
South Africa. Oto Melara, which remains
the main design authority for the Vulcano
programme, wants to deliver its first rounds
to the Italian Army in late 2016/early 2017.
Other countries have shown interest in the
Vulcano, with the United States particularly
looking at the naval round.
With the acquisition of ammunition
manufacturers Mecar (Belgium) and Simmel

Difesa (Italy) in Spring 2014, Nexter of France

is now able to cover 80% of all munitions
standards, from medium to heavy calibre and
from direct to indirect fire. The 155 mm
business remains the responsibility of Nexter
Munitions, whose portfolio features one
existing guided ammunition and one under
development. The former one is the Bonus
Mk II designed for anti-armour engagements
as it deploys two 6.5 kg submunitions each
fitted with an infrared seeker. After being
ejected the two submunitions descend at 45
m/s speed, spinning at 15 revolutions per
second, scanning a 32,000 m2 surface each.
Once the target is detected, an EFP is
generated at the ideal above-target height to
penetrate the vehicles top armour. In service
with France, Sweden and Norway, the Bonus
Mk II has recently been acquired in small
quantities by Finland. In addition its
compatibility with the Polish Krab SP
howitzer has already been demonstrated.
In cooperation with TDA, Nexter is now
busy with the preliminary and
feasibility studies of a laser guided munition
aiming at a CEP of less than one metre. Known
as 155 mm MPM, for Metric Precision
Munition, it will be fitted with a strapdown
semi-active laser seeker, canard controls and
an optional mid-course navigation. Without
the latter range will be limited to 28 km instead
of 40 km. The round will be shorter than one
metre and will be compliant with JBMoU 39
and 52 calibres. The MPM demonstration
programme was concluded as planned in
2013; this should have been followed by the
development phase, which has been
postponed to 2018. The French DGA has
however provided funds to pursue work on
GPS-based navigation, thus confirming a
future need for the MPM.

The Nexter Bonus shell carries two smart

submunitions designed to attack heavy
armoured vehicles from the top. It has been
adopted by France and Scandinavian
countries. (Armada/P. Valpolini)

Nexter and TDA are working on a 155 mm

Metric Precision Munition which, as its
name indicates, should provide a CEP of less
than one meter. (Nexter)

In Russia KBP of Tula has been working

on laser-guided artillery ammunition since
the late 1970s. In the mid-1980s the Red
Army adopted the Krasnopol, a 20 km range
ammunition capable of reaching a target
moving at a maximum speed of 36 km/h with
a 70-80% hit probability. The 1,305 mm long
2K25 152 mm weighed 50 kg, with 20.5 kg
accounted for by the HE-fragmentation
warhead and its 6.4 kg of explosives.
Midcourse inertial guidance directed the
round over the target area, where the semiactive laser seeker was activated. A 155 mm
version, the KM-1, is also available, with very
similar physical characteristics. These
ammunition required not only a designator
but also radio sets and synchronisation aids,
designation being effective at ranges of 7 km
against static targets and 5 km on mobile
targets. To make things simpler, an updated
version has been developed for export, the
155 mm KM-1M. Slightly shorter at 1,200
mm and heavier at 54.3 kg with a 26.5 kg
warhead and 11 kg of explosives, it has a
maximum range of 25 km, with a hit
probability against a moving tank increased to
80-90%. It is guided by the Malakhit artillery
fire control system, which includes the laser
designator. Norinco in China has developed
its own version of the Krasnopol.

Alliant Techsystems Precision Guidance Kit

(PGK) is battle proven. Some 1,300 kits were
been delivered to Afghanistan in the Summer
of 2013 to US Army and US Marine Corps
units. This led to the first export contract,
Australia requesting over 4,000 kits, followed
by 2,000 more in FY14. Self-powered, the
PGK is screwed on the artillery shell in place
of the fuse, the kit itself acting as proximity
or point detonating fuse. Being 68.6 mm
longer than US Multi-Option Fuze, Artillery
(MOFA) the PGK is only compatible with
deep intrusion projectiles. Starting from the
back we find the MOFA booster, the M762
safe and arm device, then comes the thread

A few years ago, KBP developed a

155mm calibre version of the Krasnopol
fitted with a French laser spot seeker.
(Armada/Eric H. Biass)

ensuring the interface with the projectile. The

first external part hosts the GPS (SAASM)
aerial, followed by four canards and by the
height of burst sensor of the proxy fuse.
The gun crew screws the PGK on the shell,
keeping the cover in place as this also doubles
as the interface to the fuse setter. The Epiafs
(Enhanced Portable Inductive Artillery Fuze
Setter) is the same as the one used for the
Raytheon Excalibur and comes with the
platform integration kit that allows to plug it
into a fire control system or into a DAGR GPS
receiver. The setter is positioned above the
PGK nose and allows to switch on power and
to insert all necessary data such as gun-target
location, trajectory information, GPS crypto
keys, GPS information, exact time and fuse
setting data. The cover is then removed before
loading and ramming the shell and going
through the standard firing procedures.
The kit has a single moving part, the
canard assembly, which can only rotate along
the longitudinal axis, the wings having a fixed
cant; two couples of opposite wings have the
same direction and thus provide lift, while
the two despin wings provide counterrotation. The assembly being coupled to an
alternator, counter-rotation produces
electrical power and initiates the battery. The
system then acquires the GPS signal, and
navigation is then established, thus starting
the 2-D guidance with the GPS comparing
the shell position to the reference ballistic
trajectory. This is ensured by the despinning
of the canard assembly, which starts
producing lift; the signals coming from the
guidance unit rotate the assembly in order to
orient the lift vector for 2-D control, guidance
continuing until the impact takes place
within the required 50 metres CEP. Should
the round lose the GPS link or get off course
due to wind anomalies, the PGK would
automatically make it inert, dramatically
reducing collateral damages. ATK developed
the final version of the PGK, which works
with the new M795 round with insensitive
munition fill. This version passed the
performance and safety First Article
Acceptance Tests at Yuma Proving Ground
in January 2015; fired from M109A6 Paladin

and M777A2 howitzers, it easily passed the

30-metre CEP test, most of the rounds falling
within 10 metres of the target. The PGK is
now approved for low rate initial production
and the company is expecting a production
contract by mid-2015. To increase the
potential users base, the PGK was fitted to
German artillery shells in October 2014 and
fired from a German PzH 2000, a first from a
52 calibre barrel, with some rounds fired in
the multiple rounds simultaneous impact
mode: many shells fell within five metres
from the target, well under the forecast CEP.
BAE Systems is developing its own 155
mm kit, the Silver Bullet. Guidance is based on
GPS, the kit coming as a nose add-on with

The Norinco GP155A laser guided

ammunition is derived from the Russian
Krasnopol and has a range of between
6 and 25 km. (Armada/P. Valpolini)

ATKs Precision Guidance Kit is here seen

fitted on two different ammunition, a 105 mm
artillery shell (left) and a 120 mm mortar
round (right). (Armada/P. Valpolini)

Compendium Artillery 2015


The PGK seen here separated from

the round clearly displays its rear shape,
which is only compatible with
projectiles fitted with deep intrusion fuse
cavity. (Armada/P. Valpolini)

The Raytheon Epiafs allows numerous time

fuses to be set, like the M762/M762A1,
M767/M767A1 and M782 Multi Option Fuze,
as well as the PGK guidance kit and the M982
Excalibur guided round. (Armada/P. Valpolini)

four moving canard wings. The shell is still

unpowered when it leaves the muzzle, then
during the first five seconds the head is
stabilised; after eight seconds navigation is
activated to correct the path all the way to the
target. The declared accuracy is less than 20
metres; however BAE Systems goal is a 10metre CEP. The kit can be used in
conjunction with other additional devices
such as rocket-assisted projectile or base
bleed elements, to add accuracy to longer
ranges. The Silver Bullet is considered at TRL
6-7. It has already been demonstrated, and
the next step is environmental testing and
qualification. BAE Systems expects it to be
ready in two years from now.
Although it cannot be described as a true
guidance system, Nexters Spacido is a course
correction system that considerably reduces
range dispersion, which is usually much
greater than lateral dispersion. Developed in
co-operation with Junghans T2M, it is
installed in place of the fuse, since the
Spacido has its own fuse; when fitted on an
HE round the Spacido is equipped with a
multimode fuse working in preset time, point
detonation impact, delay time and proximity
mode, while when used for cargo
ammunition the Spacido is available with
preset time mode only fuse. When the round
is fired, the radar installed on the weapon
system tracks the round during its first 8-10
seconds of flight, establishes the round speed,
and sends out a radiofrequency coded signal
to the Spacido. This signal contains the time at
which the three Spacido discs will rotate to
increase drag and thereby ensure that the
shell will drop onto the target. The system is
currently at TRL8, Nexter seeking a firing
range where testing at maximum ranges
would be possible. Final qualification tests
should be carried out in Sweden during 2015.
A very similar system was launched by
Yugoimport in the recent past, full
development being still on hold awaiting
funding from the Serb ministry of defence.



Compendium Artillery 2015

BAE Systems is developing the Silver Bullet

precision kit, which should be available in a
couple of years time. (Armada/P. Valpolini)

New developments do not concern only

guided ammunition. The Norwegian Army
and the Norwegian Defence Logistics
Organisation contracted Nammo for the
development of a wholly new family of
insensitive 155 mm munitions. The High
Explosive Extended Range is a 100%
Nammo product and can be fitted before
loading with either base bleed or hollow base
element, respectively yielding a 40 km and 30
km range when fired from a 52 calibre barrel.
The warhead contains 10 kg of MCX6100 IM
multicast explosive provided by Chemring
Nobel, fragments being optimised for
damaging vehicles with 10 mm RHA armour.
The Norwegian Armys plan is to have a round
that can partly cover the effect of the now
forbidden bomblets. It is currently being
qualified and a pilot lot is expected by mid2016 with first deliveries planned for late 2016.

The second round is an Illuminating

Extended Range, developed with BAE
Systems Bofors. In fact two rounds are being
developed, using the Mira technology, one
producing white light and the other infrared
illumination. The round will open at a 350-400
metres height (reducing cloud and wind
problems) and flare up immediately with
constant burning intensity and followed by
abrupt cut-off. Burning time for the white
version is 60 seconds, while the lower burning
rate of the IR composition allows a 90- second
illumination. The two rounds are ballistically
very similar. Qualification should be
completed by July 2017, with a pilot lot
available in January 2018, deliveries being
expected in July 2018. The smoke round,
which also involves BAE Systems, will run six
months later. It contains three canisters,
currently filled with red phosphorus, Nammo
looking for more effective compositions.
When leaving the shell canisters open six
petal-like brakes that have different effects:

Developed by Nexter, the Spacido kit allows

to considerably reduce range dispersion,
which is one of the main causes of inaccuracy
in artillery fire. (Armada/P. Valpolini)

Still under development, the Yugoimport

course-correction system awaits national
funds to move on to production status.
(Armada/P. Valpolini)

they limit the speed at which they hit the

ground, acting as aerodynamic brakes, they
ensure that the burning surface remains on the
upper side, and they ensure that the canister
does not penetrate deeply in soft snow,
something important for a northern country.
Last but not least the Training Practice
Extended Range, mimicking HE-ER round
timing, is being developed in dumb or spotter
charge configurations. The new ammunition
family is being qualified in the M109A3, but
the company plans to fire it also with Swedish
Archer guns; Nammo is also in talks with
Finland to shoot them with the K98, and hopes
to achieve trials with the PzH 2000.
Rheinmetall Denel is close to deliver the
first production batch of its M0121 Insensitive
HE ammunition in 2015 to an undisclosed
Nato customer, the qualification of the whole
Assegai family of ammunition being expected
within 2017. The same customer will then
receive the upgraded version of the M0121,
which will feature the deep intrusion fuse

Hell on Wheels
Basically, wheeled artillery comes in two forms: bare
truck-mounted guns and turreted guns on armoured
chassis, each with their own priorities. In the first
instance, it will be mobility, although lower cost is also a
good selling argument. In the second, protection is
afforded during firing operations.
While many of the manufacturers that
had developed artillery systems in
Soviet calibres are now converting to
Nato standards, the Czech Dana M1
still retains its 152 mm calibre.
(Armada/P. Valpolini)

Nammo has developed an entirely new
family of insensitive 155 mm ammunition
for 52 calibre guns that will become
available between late 2016 and 2018.
(Armada/P. Valpolini)

cavity allowing to accommodate coursecorrecting fuses or ATKs Precision Guidance

Kit (PGK), which are longer than standard
fuses. According to Rheimetall the Assegai will
be the first complete family of 155 mm
ammunition specifically designed for 52
calibre guns to receive Nato qualification, in
IHE, visual Illumination, IR Illumination and
Red Phosphorus smoke versions, all
ballistically matched and with interchangeable
base-bleed and boat tail.

he need to improve strategic mobility

and mobility on roads is something that
acquired importance in recent
asymmetric operations. This has led to the
development of numerous systems in the two
above mentioned categories. Many are in
operational service while some developments
are still at prototype stage, the financial crisis
and consequent budget cuts being one of the
reasons behind many delays.
Truck-mounted systems currently seem
to be the most trendy types, the Indian
decision to start with this type in its artillery
rationalisation plan means that all main
manufacturers of such systems will do their
very best to chalk up the contract for 814
units. The market seems a bit cooler for true
SP wheeled howitzers due to the higher
costs involved.

During the past three decades, the first

country to have believed in the virtues of

wheeled medium-calibre self-propelled

artillery was probably Czechoslovakia, whose
152 mm Dana was first spotted by western
observers in 1980. Produced since 1977 and
also known as the ShKH-77, the Dana is
based on an 8x8 truck chassis fitted with an
armoured cabin. It is still in service in various
countries, Poland having deployed it to
Afghanistan in 2008. Following the split of the
country into the Czech and Slovak republics,
the defence industries of the two newly
formed nations took over the Dana design,
and used it as a starting point to develop two
quite different solutions. Although the Dana
was originally developed in the Slovak part of
the former nation, the Dana name actually
remained in the Czech side, with an upgraded
version being developed by Excalibur Army.
The Slovakian Konstrukta Defence on the
other hand developed the Zuzana.
In the Czech Republic the evolution of the
Dana did not lead to a Nato-standard system.
Indeed, the Dana-M1 CZ developed by
Excalibur Army is still equipped with the

Compendium Artillery 2015


original 152mm ordnance. This choice is

mostly explained by the need to upgrade part
of the more than 600 existing Dana M-77s
still operating in the Czech Republic, Libya,
Poland, and Georgia. Mobility, ergonomics
and command and control are the three areas
addressed by the upgrade. More power was
gained with the adoption of new
turbochargers and intercooler on the original
T3-390 engine. This in turn commanded a
new gearbox (a 430 Sachs), while a central tyre
inflation system is added to provide variable
pressure to the new 14R20 tyres. The driver
has a new armoured windscreen and a better
power assisted steering. Independent heating
and air conditioning are also now available in
the cabin. The weapon has a new fire control
system with a new navigation system to reduce
deployment time. The new commanders
computer and its smart terminal now allow
missions to be prepared in advance, further
decreasing time to shoot. Partial qualification
was expected by 2014, but no news has been
released by the company.
Konstrukta Defence developed the Zusana
2000, replacing the old 152 mm ordnance with
a new 155/45 mm manufactured by ZTS
Specil. Sixteen such systems are in service
with the Slovak Army while 12 more have
been exported to Cyprus. The Slovak
company is currently offering the latest
versions, the Zuzana A1 and Zuzana 2, the
difference between the two being the
powerpack: the A1 has a MAN D28 76 LF
supercharged 453 hp engine coupled to an
Allison HD 4560 PR transmission, while the
Zuzana 2 has a 442 hp Tatra T3B-928.70
coupled to a Tatra 10 TS 180 transmission.
Compared to the original Zuzana, the A1 and 2
models feature a 52-calibre ordnance, also

Konstrukta Defence has initially installed a

155/45 mm ordnance on its Zuzana, then a
new 155/52 one, the system being now
proposed with two different power solutions.
(Armada/P. Valpolini)


Compendium Artillery 2015

Designed according to Serbian Army requirements, Yugoimport Nora K-I is still awaiting
a first order from the national customer. (Yugoimport)

manufactured by ZTS Specil. The ordnance

fires all Nato standard ammunition. Forty of
them along with 40 charges are stored into
conveyers, which can host rounds up to 1,000
mm long. A fuse setter allows programming
electronic fuses before ramming. Up to six
rounds can be rammed and fired in the first
minute of action, or 16 rounds in the first three
minutes. A manual backup firing mode is
available, at two rounds per minute. A radar
provides muzzle speed measurement to
increase accuracy, the Zuzana A1 and 2 being
able to carry out multiple-round simultaneous
impact firing. With Extended Range Full Bore
Base Bleed shells the maximum range is over 41
km. Another major improvement is the
adoption of an auxiliary power unit to
operate the turret even when the engine is
stopped. The crew is heavily protected, the
front cabin ensuring Level 4 protection on
the frontal arc. In 2014 the Zuzana 2
completed the firing and mobility
qualification trials and is now awaiting a
first order from the national customer.
Yugoslavia had also developed a wheeled
howitzerthe M84 Nora A with the 152/45
mm gun mounted on a truck flatbed. In the
early 2000s Yugoimport decided to develop
a system aimed at the export market. The
Nora B-52 K0 was thus armed with a 155/52
mm ordnance installed in an open turret.
The K1 followed, which mainly differed in
having a Russian Kamaz 63501 8x8 chassis
(replacing the original Serbian FAP 2832), a
semi-protected turret for the crew, a full
automatic loading system with semiautomatic breech block, and a full automatic
navigation and fire control system. Twelve
rounds were kept ready to fire while further 24
were stored into a magazine behind the front
cabin. Sixty seconds were required to fire the
first round, automatic laying and electric
deployment of spades helping to reduce time.

The K1 is still part of Yugoimport portfolio

and has been exported at least in two
countries, Myanmar and Kenya, each having
ordered 30 systems.
The latest version available is the B-52 K-I,
which features a fully enclosed turret,
completing the transition from a truckmounted gun to a true self-propelled wheeled
howitzer. This third-generation Nora has
been redesigned in many features, to improve
the reliability of the artillery system itself, the
accuracy thanks to a new fire control system,
improved navigation system, and a muzzle
velocity radar. Hydraulic spades have been
equipped with shock absorbers, while the
crew has been reduced to four members. The
maximum range is of 41.2 km using ERFBBB grenades, and of 56 km range expected
with RA/BB ammunition.
Providing rapid response forces with a
self-propelled howitzer was the aim of
Yugoimport when in 2011 it proposed a
system based on the D30J 122 mm gun.
Leveraging the Nora concept the Serb
company worked on a FAP 2228 6x6 truck
chassis with level 1 front protected cabin and
artillery turret in the rear, which gave birth
to the Soko SP RR 122. The four-man crew is
split in two, with the driver and commander
in the cabin and the gunner and loader in the
turret. Maximum range is 17.3 km with HE
grenades and 21 km with HE/BB rounds, the
gun also allowing use of the laser-guided
Kitolov-2M to engage moving targets. An
electro-hydraulic resting system and semiautomatic loading mechanism with
pneumatic rammer allow quick loading of
shells and charges. Quick reaction time is
ensured thanks to the adoption of
hydraulically operated spades and of a fire
control system that can be integrated in a
battle management system.
In the late 1970s Denel of South Africa

developed the G6 SP howitzer, based on a

purpose-designed 6x6 chassis. Its turret is
armed with the same 155/45 mm ordnance as
the towed G5. Acquired by the South African
Army and exported to Oman and the UAE,
the original G6 was manually loaded. Its crew
included four artillerymen and one driver. In
2003 Denel Land Systems launched the G652, with a 52-calibre gun, which carried a
smaller amount of rounds (40 versus 50), but
contained in two carousels in the turret rear,
one with projectiles and one with charges
ensuring the autoloader a six-round-perminute firing rate, and cutting crew size to
three in the process. The G6-52 is fitted with an
INS/GPS navigation system and with the
AS2000 advanced artillery target engagement
system, allowing the gun to shoot within 60
seconds from receiving the fire mission. The
turret was installed on an upgraded version
of the original G6 chassis, but can be installed
on other chassis, mostly tracked. The G6-52,
also known as Renoster, has not yet scored any
export orders. How much New Dehlis lift of
ban on Denel will allow it to return to the
fight is anybodys guess. The system in the T6
turret configuration might also be used to
generate a tracked SP howitzer based on a
national chassis base (the Arjun-based Bhin
proposed years ago).
In the mid-1990s studies were launched to
develop the Bofors FH77 B05 52 into a
wheeled self-propelled howitzer, the Archer. A
modified Volvo A30E 6x6 rugged articulated
vehicle was chosen to ensure maximum
mobility in snow-covered northern European
countries. Key features included full system
automation (the Archer is operated by a crew
of three from inside the protected cabin),
multiple-round simultaneous impact of up to
six rounds, quick reaction time for a call-forfire while on the move (less than 30 seconds),

The G6/45 in service with the United Arab

Emirates; the 52 calibre version is in advanced
prototype stage and is currently awaiting a
launch customer. (Armada/P. Valpolini)

Although Norway decided to drop out of

the programme, BAE Systems still has
a contract for 48 systems signed with the
Swedish FMV which was the contracting
authority. (Armada/P. Valpolini)

and protection against ballistic and mine

threats. Air-transportable by A400M, its
range is of 40 km with conventional
ammunition and over 50 km with guided
projectiles such as the Excalibur. In 2007
Norway joined Sweden in the programme,
the system being officially known as the FH 77
BW L52. The first of 24 Archers ordered in
2010 was delivered to the Swedish Defence
Materiel Administration (FMV) in late
September 2013, but three months later
Norway, who had signed an order for 24,
decided to pull out of the programme. The
decision was based on undisclosed failures to
meet Norwegian requirements. This led to
the signature of an amended contract
between the FMV and BAE Systems Bofors
to modify delivery schedules solely for
Sweden. The last deliveries are now planned
for early 2016. No details about possible
cancellation penalties have been divulged to
date. The Archer is a possible contender for
the Danish M109 replacement programme.
Leveraging experience gained with the
PzH 2000 gun and its Unterl-made barrel,

Rheinmetall developed an autonomous turret

armed with the same 155/52 mm gun capable
of ranges of 42 km with improved ERFB basebleed projectiles and over 52 km with rocketassisted V-LAPs. The automatic loading
system affords a rate of fire of six rounds per
minute, or 75 rounds per hour of sustained
fire. Up to five rounds can be fired in multiple
round simultaneous impact mode. Using a
specialised re-supply vehicle the 40 rounds
and charges can loaded in five minutes. With its
ring laser gyro with GPS, and a fully automatic
laying system, command and control being
provided by the AS4000 Artillery Target
Engagement System, it can fire a first round
within 60 seconds from halt, and require only
30 seconds to get out of action. Rheinmetall
declares CEP of 0.6% of range in the lower
trajectory. The turret was clearly developed
with the Indian artillery contract in mind, and
to that end it was installed on a South African
G6 chassis, giving birth to the RGW52 (for
Rheinmetall Wheeled Gun), but like other
companies Rheinmetall was blacklisted by
India. Currently the programme is stalled, but
Rheinmetall is ready to restart it should a
customer show some interest. Being
autonomous, the turret can easily be installed
on wheeled or tracked chassis.
Initiated thanks to two research
programmes partly financed by the Italian
MoD, the development of the Oto Melara
Centauro 155/39 LW is currently on hold,
due to the scarce financial resources of the
Italian Army. Unveiled at Eurosatory 2012,
the system is based on a turret armed with a
lightweight 155/39 mm ordnance mounted
on a Centauro 8x8 chassis, although a serial
system would be installed on the Centauro 2
chassis. The barrel length was chosen in
relation with the fact that the gun would
essentially use the Vulcano ammunition
(q.V.) that will maintain a range of some 55
km with the guided ammo type. A fully
automated loading solution was adopted, 15

Using the Enigma developed by Emirates Defence Technology as the base vehicle, BAE has
studied a peculiar solution to allow an easy integration of its M777 ultralight 155/39 mm howitzer
with that 8x8. These model show the gun in travel and firing position. (Armada/P. Valpolini)

Compendium Artillery 2015


The Artillery Gun Module is a stand-alone

module that can be installed either on a wheeled
chassis, such as the Boxer in the photo, or on a
tracked chassis. The system is discussed in the SP
tracked entry. (Armada/P. Valpolini)

rounds being located in the rear of the turret

while corresponding charges are held in the
chassis. The system chooses automatically
the type of round and the charge according
to commander or gunner inputs. An eightround-per-minute firing rate is ensured, the
system being able to fire up to four
ammunition in multiple round simultaneous
impact mode. Using guided ammunition
allows to limit consumption; however using a
munition carrier equipped with a conveyor
reloading the full complement of shells and
charges can be done in less than 10 minutes.
The gun features a pepperbox muzzle brake
that considerably reduces recoil forces;
simulations show that use of spades might
not be necessary. Tests carried out so far
involved the gun, the ammunition, charge
and primer automatic loading system. Oto
Melara is ready to restart the development,
even for integration on a different chassis
should an export customer show up.

In the early 90s Giat Industries, now Nexter,

started developing a truck-mounted artillery
system that remained at prototype stage until
the late 90s when the French Army decided to
test it. Eventually known as the Caesar,
(CAmion Equip dun Systme dArtillerie,
truck equipped with an artillery system), it
finally became the subject of an order
involving five units with a view to boosting
the national industry. The French Army was
not too enthusiastic about the concept at the
time but ten years later things changed
considerably: today the French Army, which
ordered 72 further Caesars in late 2004, has
deployed them in Afghanistan and in Mali,
and is now fully convinced of the virtues of
the mounted gun solution. In Afghanistan


Compendium Artillery 2015

the 155/52 mm gun of the Caesar allowed to

cover the whole French area of responsibility,
15 x 40 km, operating from Nijrab in the
north and Gwan in the south. Their air
transportability was also instrumental in
their deployment, as was their accuracy. The
first long range fire mission requires only two
rounds to adjust fire in a 100-metre CEP,
followed by 10 rounds for the fire for effect
mission. While in Afghanistan Caesars were
operating from forward operating bases. In
Mali tactical mobility was the key element.
Operating in two couples, Caesars were
based in Gao from where they could reach
any place in the area of operation within two
days, when operations were mounted.
Fully digitised, a Caesar unit can quickly
split, be ready to fire within one minute, fire
six rounds in a minute, and be ready to move
45 seconds later. The French Ceasars are
mounted on a Renault Truck Defense Sherpa
5 6x6 truck chassis, their cabins being
optionally protected with add-on kits.
Caesars so far exported are based on a
Soframe/Unimog 6x6 chassis. This
configuration was adopted by Saudi Arabia
(a customer that never was disclosed by
Nexter, but an open secret) for the 100 units
ordered for the National Guard. Part of these
was assembled locally. Saudi Arabia also
acquired 60 Bacara (BAlistic Computer
ARtillery Autonomous) fire control systems,
as well as six Caesar simulators.
Thailand ordered six Caesars, and
Indonesia ordered 37 in 2012 to equip two
artillery battalions. In November 2014 Saudi
Arabia funded a rearmament programme for
the Lebanese Army; the deal signed with
France includes the delivery of 28 Caesars.
Nexter is obviously eyeing the Indian
Mounted Gun System programme, the

French company having teamed up with

Larsen & Toubro and Ashok Leyland Defence
to offer the Caesar installed on an Ashok
Leyland 6x6 Super Stallion chassis. Another
agreement was signed with Avibras in Brazil to
integrate the Caesar on chassis used for the
Astros 2020. Beside the integration on new
platforms to widen export chances, the Caesar
is undergoing qualification with guided
ammunition such as Nexters Spacido and
Raytheons Excalibur also described in an
earlier chapter of this Compendium.
Improvements in crew protection with addon armour on cabins, as well as an increase in
the number of on-board rounds (currently 18
ammunition) are also under consideration;
some of these solutions might hamper air
transportability, but some potential
customers do not require this capability.
Besides India, Nexter considers the Far East
and the Middle East the most promising areas
for its Caesar, which might also bid for the
M109 replacement in Denmark.
With the acquisition of Soltam, Elbit
inherited the 155 mm truck-mounted
Atmos. Further development work was
carried out to improve the loading system,
performance and accuracy. Currently Elbit
proposes the 155/52 mm version, the gun
being fitted with a horizontal sliding breech
and a semi-automatic loader. The platform
can be either a 6x6 or an 8x8 truck, with first
round fired within 20-30 seconds from
pulling the handbrake. The ordnance is fitted
with an integrated muzzle velocity radar to
ensure maximum accuracy. The Israeli
company is also ready to provide the Atmos
with a 39-calibre ordnance. The Atmos D30
version was developed to provide a mobile
solution for those countries that still had the
122 mm gun system of Soviet origin in their
inventory. Unlike the 155 mm, the 122 can
fire on all 360 (due to lower recoil forces) and
features a semi-automatic loading system.
Recent successes for the 155 mm Atmos
include an undisclosed African country and
a Far East nation; the latter has been
identified as Thailand, which chose a 39calibre ordnance on a 6x6 truck. According
to available information, following the
prototype production in Israel, the
remaining five guns are being produced and
assembled in Thailand.
Elbit Systems is very actively promoting
its Atmos. The system is the base for the
Polish Kril developed with Huta Stalowa
Wola. A modified gun system has been
adapted to a Jelcz-6x6 truck chassis purposely
developed for the Kryl that will ensure C-130

Unveiled in 2012, the Oto Melara Centauro

155/39 LW leverages the experience of the
company both in land and naval artilleries.
Due to the Italian Army budget reductions the
programme is currently on hold. (Oto Melara)

transportability. The dry weight of the system

weighs around 19 tonnes and the first units
are scheduled for delivery in mid-2015.
Currently 24 production Kryls are on order
(a battalion set, formed by three eight-gun
batteries) with first deliveries expected in
2017. For the Indian bid Elbit Systems
teamed with Bharat Forge, but like all the
other competitors is awaiting the publication
of the request for proposals. The Atmos is
already in use in Romania as the Atrom, but
installed on a Romanian 26.360 DFAEG 6x6
truck chassis; 18 such systems are currently
in service, prime contractor being Aerostar
SA of Romania. Apparently not adopted by
the Israeli Defence Forces, the Atmos is in
service in various countries, with Azerbaijan
deploying five, Cameroon 18, Uganda six and
Thailand six with chances for further orders.
Considering the success of the truckmounted formula Chinese Norinco
developed its own 155 mm product, the SH1
unveiled in 2007. It is based on a 6x6 chassis
with a huge hydraulically operated rear
spade. It is fitted with an autonomous
orientation system, a muzzle velocity radar
and an automated fire control system, and a
semi-automatic loading system. Developed
mostly for the export market, it has not so far
bagged a production order.

The development of truck-mounted 105

mm calibre artillery systems started for
different reasons: a need for special and
airmobile forces integral indirect fire
support was identified on the one hand, and
on the other a need to increase the number of
mobile artillery systems within limited
budgets emerged.
In the United States the Mandus Group
considered the first option, developing a

hybrid soft recoil technology: in its gun a

hydraulic system moves forward the
suspended mass before firing, allowing to
reduce the recoil on trunnion from around 13
tonnes, typical of 105 mm guns, to only 3.6
tonnes. This, plus the guns lighter weight,
offers wide variety of viable platforms; in April
2013 the system was test fired from a Ford F250, using four collapsible outriggers. For the
time being the system, known as the Hawkeye,
is fitted with a 105/27 mm barrel, that of the
M102 gun, the company being ready to adopt
different barrels should a customer require it.
With the M102 barrel the Hawkeye has a range
of 11.5 km with conventional ammunition
and 15 km with RAP rounds, and can also be
used in direct fire mode. Sustained rate of fire is
six rounds per minute, maximum being
between 10 and 12. The gun offers a 360 field
of fire, its elevation arc being 5/+72. A
major advantage over other guns is its
extreme simplicity, as it is made of only 200
parts, around 10 times less than the
L119/M119 Light Gun. The Hawkeye is fitted
with a digital fire control system that
electronically controls elevation and azimuth.
The Mandus Group operated together with
Mack Defense in the US to produce a light
mounted solution using its gun on board a
Sherpa chassis. A module mounted behind
the crew cabin hosts 24 rounds, the whole
system weighing less than nine tonnes, which
means that it can easy be transported even by
helicopters. Firing tests, carried out in 2012,
have shown that the Hawkeye/Sherpa system
can fire even without spades, allowing
deployment in 15-20 seconds.
In 2012 the Mandus Group launched a new
development aiming at producing a top
carriage and recoil system capable to accept
39- and 52-calibre 155 mm barrels, recoil
reduction allowing for installation of such
artillery systems on a five-tonnes truck chassis.
Mandus is currently working on a number of
projects which should soon materialise, but no
details were available at time of writing.

Elbit Systems ATMOS is available with guns in

different barrel lengths and installed on
various trucks; here a gun on a 6x6 chassis
during firing. (Elbit Systems)

The acquisition of Soltam brought Elbit

Systems in the artillery business, the
company finding synergies with its electronic
division that now integrates its products into
guns such as the ATMOS SP wheeled
howitzer. (Armada/P. Valpolini)

The prototype of the Kryl exhibited by Huta

Stalowa Wola at Milipol 2014; the artillery
system is that of the ATMOS by Elbit Systems,
installed on a Polish 6x6 truck chassis.
(Armada/P. Valpolini)

One of the first companies to use a 105

mm towed howitzer in a truck-mounted
configuration was Yugoimport in the form of
the M09. It is based on a 6x6 chassis fitted
with a front armoured cabin providing Level
1 protection to the five-man crew. The
artillery segment is a derivative of the
company M56A1 improved towed howitzer,
which is no more in production and features a
105/33 mm barrel; this allows to fire all



Norinco, China

Barrel length
L/W/H (travel)
Firing sector
Max rate of fire
Engine power
Road speed (auton)
Road speed (tow)

Norinco, China

Barrel length
L/W/H (travel)
Firing sector
Max rate of fire
Engine power
Road speed (auton)
Road speed (tow)

Denel Land Systems,

South Africa

Barrel length
L/W/H (travel)
Firing sector
Max rate of fire
Engine power
Road speed (auton)
Road speed (tow)

Denel Land Systems,

South Africa

Barrel length
L/W/H (travel)
Firing sector
Max rate of fire
Engine power
Road speed (auton)
Road speed (tow)




STK, Singapore

105 mm
52 cal.
3.8 t
6.9/2.02/2.1 m
-5 / +75
6 rpm

100 km/h

BAE Systems, UK

Barrel length
L/W/H (travel)
Firing sector
Max rate of fire
Engine power
Road speed (auton)
Road speed (tow)

Nexter, France

Barrel length
L/W/H (travel)
Firing sector
Max rate of fire
Engine power
Road speed (auton)
Road speed (tow)

155 mm
52 cal.
13.5 t
10.95/2.8/2.55 m
-3 / +70
6 rpm

75 hp
16 km/h
80 km/h

105 mm
37 cal.
1.98 t
4.87/1.78/1.37 m
360 (5.5)
-5.5 / +70
6 rpm



105 mm
30.5 cal.
1.94 t
4.87/1.78/1.37 m
360 (5.5)
-5.5 / +70
6 rpm



Yugoimport, Serbia


Barrel length
L/W/H (travel)
Firing sector
Max rate of fire
Engine power
Road speed (auton)
Road speed (tow)

BAE Systems, UK

Barrel length
L/W/H (travel)
Firing sector
Max rate of fire
Engine power
Road speed (auton)
Road speed (tow)


155 mm
45 cal.
13.75 t
9.5/2.5/2.3 m
-3 / +75
3 rpm
80 hp
16 km/h
90 km/h




155 mm
52 cal.
14 t
10.65/2.75/2.3 m
30 left, 40 right
-5 / +72
3 rpm
110 hp
20 km/h
90 km/h




155 mm
45 cal.
13 t
9.85/2.68/2.25 m
30 left, 40 right
-5 / +72
3 rpm
110 hp
20 km/h
90 km/h


105 mm
30 cal.
1.6 t

-3 / +70
6 rpm
5 (3)


Barrel length
L/W/H (travel)
Firing sector
Max rate of fire
Engine power
Road speed (auton)
Road speed (tow)

155 mm
45 cal.
8.42 t
11.17/2.4/2.65 m
-2.5 / +45
2-3 rpm


BAE Systems, USA

Compendium Artillery 2015

Barrel length
L/W/H (travel)
Firing sector
Max rate of fire
Engine power
Road speed (auton)
Road speed (tow)

155 mm
39 cal.
4.22 t
9.3/2.77/2.26 m
-2.4 / +71.7
5 rpm

88 km/h




STK, Singapore

Barrel length
L/W/H (travel)
Firing sector
Max rate of fire
Engine power
Road speed (auton)
Road speed (tow)

GDELS, Spain

Barrel length
L/W/H (travel)
Firing sector
Max rate of fire
Engine power
Road speed (auton)
Road speed (tow)




MKEK, Turkey


BAE Systems, UK-USA


Elbit Systems, Israel

155 mm
52 cal.
33 t
14.3/3.0/3.4 m
-1 / +70
3 round/15 sec
338 hp
70 km/h
500 km


Barrel length
Combat weight
Rounds ready/total
Firing sector
Max rate of fire
Engine power
Max speed


155 mm
52 (39) cal.
29 t
9.5/2.55/- m
0 / +70

6x6 or 8x8

80 km/h


Barrel length
Combat weight
Rounds ready/total
Firing sector
Max rate of fire
Engine power
Max speed

Excalibur Army,
Czech Rep.

Denel Land Systems,

South Africa

Barrel length
Combat weight
Rounds ready/total
Firing sector
Max rate of fire
Engine power
Max speed


Mandus/Mack Defense, USA


155 mm
52 cal.
17.7 t
10.0/2.55/3.7 m
0 / +67.5
6 rpm

100 km/h
600 km


Barrel length
Combat weight
Rounds ready/total
Firing sector
Max rate of fire
Engine power
Max speed


155 mm
52 cal.
18.0 t
11.6/3.3/2.6 m
-3 / +65
4-6 rpm
148 hp
20 km/h
60 km/h


Barrel length
Combat weight
Rounds ready/total
Firing sector
Max rate of fire
Engine power
Max speed

Nexter, France

155 mm
52 cal.
13.5 t
10.35/2.08/2.2 m
-5 / +68
10 rpm

106 hp
18 km/h
** km/h


Barrel length
L/W/H (travel)
Firing sector
Max rate of fire
Engine power
Road speed (auton)
Road speed (tow)


155 mm
39 cal.
5.4 t
10.0/2.75/2.4 m

4 rpm
28 hp
12 km/h
70 km/h

152 mm
33.3 cal.
29.25 t
9.91/3.0/3.53 m


-4 / +70
5 rpm
355 hp
80 km/h
600 km


152 mm
52 cal.


-5 / +75
6 rpm

85 km/h


Barrel length
Combat weight
Rounds ready/total
Firing sector
Max rate of fire
Engine power
Max speed

105 mm
27 cal.

-5 / +72
8-10 rpm
215 hp
110 km/h
> 1,000 km


HSW/Elbit Systems

Compendium Artillery 2015

Barrel length
Combat weight
Rounds ready/total
Firing sector
Max rate of fire
Engine power
Max speed

155 mm
52 cal.
23 t
10.3/2.55/3.44 m
25 forward
0 / +70
6 rpm
320 hp
80 km/h
500 km




Yugoimport, Serbia




Barrel length
Combat weight
Rounds ready/total
Firing sector
Max rate of fire
Engine power
Max speed

105 mm
33 cal.
12 t
6.85/2.3/3.15 m
25 aft
-3 / +65
6-8 rrpm

90 km/h
450 km


Barrel length
Combat weight
Rounds ready/total
Firing sector
Max rate of fire
Engine power
Max speed

155 mm
52 cal.
<33 t
11.2/2.95/3.82 m
Full auto
30 forw/aft
-5 / +65
4 rpm
536 Hp
90 km/h
800 km


Norinco, China


Barrel length
Combat weight
Rounds ready/total
Firing sector
Max rate of fire
Engine power
Max speed

155 mm
52 cal.
22 t


0 / +70

315 hp
90 km/h


Norinco, China


Barrel length
Combat weight
Rounds ready/total
Firing sector
Max rate of fire
Engine power
Max speed

122 mm
33 cal.
11.5 t
8.50/2.5/2.95 m
0 / +70
6-8 rpm
215 hp
90 km/h
600 km


Norinco, China

Barrel length
Combat weight
Rounds ready/total
Firing sector
Max rate of fire
Engine power
Max speed

105 mm
37 cal.
10 t

0 / +70

215 hp
90 km/h
600 km



MIC, Sudan


Yugoimport, Serbia


122 mm

20.5 t
9.06/2.67/3.49 m
40 forw
-5 / +70
8 rpm
260 hp
90 km/h
450 km


Barrel length
Combat weight
Rounds ready/total
Firing sector
Max rate of fire
Engine power
Max speed

122 mm
42 cal.
17 t
8.39/3.09/3.18 m
46 (+5 HEAT rounds)
35 forw/aft
7 / +75
6 rpm
279 hp
100 km/h
600 km


Denel Land Systems,

South Africa




Barrel length
Combat weight
Rounds ready/total
Firing sector
Max rate of fire
Engine power
Max speed

155 mm
52 cal.

40 rear
-3 / +75
6 rpm


Barrel length
Combat weight
Rounds ready/total
Firing sector
Max rate of fire
Engine power
Max speed

155 mm
52 cal.
32 t
14.2/3.02/3.52 m
-330 / +70
6 rpm
453 hp (442 hp)
80 km/h
600 km



Compendium Artillery 2015

Barrel length
Combat weight
Rounds ready/total
Firing sector
Max rate of fire
Engine power
Max speed

Barrel length
Combat weight
Rounds ready/total
Firing sector
Max rate of fire
Engine power
Max speed
Road Range

152 mm
27 cal.
27.5 t
8.4/3.25/3.05 m
-4 / +60
4 rpm
520 hp
63 km/h
500 km




Germany, Spain

Barrel length
Combat weight
Rounds ready/total
Firing sector
Max rate of fire
Engine power
Max speed
Road Range

Samsung Techwin,
South Korea

Barrel length
Combat weight
Rounds ready/total
Firing sector
Max rate of fire
Engine power
Max speed
Road Range

HSW, Poland

Barrel length
Combat weight
Rounds ready/total
Firing sector
Max rate of fire
Engine power
Max speed
Road Range


155 mm
52 cal.
35 t
10.3/2.8/3.0 m
0 / +70
6 rpm
720 hp
60 km/h
500 km





155 mm
52 cal.
47 t
12.0/3.4/2.73 m
-2.5 / +70
6 rpm
1,000 hp
67 km/h
480 km

BAE Systems, USA


BAE Systems, USA

155 mm
52 cal.
52.1 t
12.05/3.58/3.13 m

-3.5 / +70
6 rpm
838 hp
60 km/h
650 km


Barrel length
Combat weight
Rounds ready/total
Firing sector
Max rate of fire
Engine power
Max speed
Road Range

155 mm
39 cal.
28.85 t
9.6/3.9/3.6 m
-3 / +75
4 rpm
440 hp
61 km/h
344 km


Barrel length
Combat weight
Rounds ready/total
Firing sector
Max rate of fire
Engine power
Max speed
Road Range

155 mm
39 cal.
36.29 t
9.7/3.9/3.3 m

-3 / +75
4 rpm
675 hp
61 km/h
300 km

152 mm

42 t
7.15/3.38/2.99 m
-4 / +68
6-8 rpm
840 hp
60 km/h
500 km


Norinco, China




Barrel length
Combat weight
Rounds ready/total
Firing sector
Max rate of fire
Engine power
Max speed
Road Range


Barrel length
Combat weight
Rounds ready/total
Firing sector
Max rate of fire
Engine power
Max speed
Road Range

155 mm
52 cal.
43 t
11.6/3.4/3.6 m

-3 / +68
8 rpm
1000 hp
65 km/h
450 km


STK, Singapore


KMW, Germany


MKEK, Turkey

Compendium Artillery 2015

Barrel length
Combat weight
Rounds ready/total
Firing sector
Max rate of fire
Engine power
Max speed
Road Range

155 mm
39 cal.
28.3 t
10.21/3.0/3.28 m
-5 / +75
6 rpm
550 hp
50 km/h
350 km


Barrel length
Combat weight
Rounds ready/total
Firing sector
Max rate of fire
Engine power
Max speed
Road Range

155 mm
52 cal.
57 t
11.7/3.5/3.4 m
-2.5 / +65
8-10 rpm
987 hp
60 km/h
420 km


Barrel length
Combat weight
Rounds ready/total
Firing sector
Max rate of fire
Engine power
Max speed
Road Range

155 mm
52 cal.
47 t
12.0/3.4/3.43 m
-2.5 / +70
6-7 rpm
1000 hp
65 km/h
360 km

Following the trend of truck mounted

howitzers, Norinco of China developed the
SH1, which apparently has not yet succeeded
on the export market. (Armada/P. Valpolini)

ammunition developed for the US M101

howitzer, with a maximum range of 15 km
with the HE ER round and 18 km with the
HE ER-BB grenade. Loading is manual, as
well as the deployment of the two main jacks
located in front of the two rear axles and of
the two secondary ones at the back. A shield
provides the gun crew with partial protection
from ballistic threats. Ammunition is
contained into two armoured boxes installed
behind the cabin. A fire control system
ensures short reaction time. Overall the M09
weighs 12 tonnes in combat order.
Unveiled in late 2011, the South Korean
EVO-105 system prototype was developed by
Samsung Techwin using the upper part of the
US M101 towed howitzer. The 105/22 mm
weapon system fires in the rear sector. The
mounted gun system is fitted with the same
fire control system as the tracked K9
Thunders. According to the latest
information the Republic of Korea Army
intends to acquire 800 EVO-105s mounted
on KM500 6x6 five-tonne trucks. First
deliveries are expected in 2017.
At SOFEX 2014 Jordan KADDB unveiled
a similar system, but based on the M102 gun
which features a longer 32-calibre barrel,
yielding a maximum range of 11.5 km. This
was installed on a two-axle DAF 4440 and
fitted on a baseplate that allows it to be fired
rearwards on a 45 sector. The baseplate is
controlled by an electro-hydraulic system
(with manual back-up) that also controls
elevation over an arc of -5/+75. Behind the
truck cabin a box contains 36 rounds; in
firing position two outriggers located just
behind the first axle are used, while the sides
and back of the truck are lowered in order to
increase the working space for the three-men
gun crew. A GPS/inertial/odometer
navigation system is fitted, and during the


Compendium Artillery 2015

The Mandus Group is proposing its very low recoil 105 mm solution installed on a
Mack Defense chassis; Mandus is currently working on a series of new programmes,
among which a very low recoil 155 mm ordnance. (Mandus/Mack)

first firing tests, the system was deployed in

three and a half minutes and left the
deployment area 45 seconds after the last shot
was fired. Phase 1 should now be completed,
with the delivery of the prototype to the Royal
Jordanian Army for evaluation. Phase 2
should see the system installed on a pallet for
quick shifting from one platform to another,
as well as the integration of a fire control
system. An increase in the number of onboard ammunition is also foreseen.
Norinco of China SH2 and SH5 are two
light systems based on the same 6x6 truck, the
first one fitted with a 122 mm D30 gun while
the second, intended for the export market, is
armed with a 105/37 mm gun. The crew,
located in the forward protected four-door
cabin, operates the gun from the rear platform.

Exhibited at SOFEX 2014, this truck-mounted

solution allows to improve the mobility of
the old M102 105 mm towed gun. A phased
development programme is underway.
(Armada/P. Valpolini)

Fitted with automated navigation and gun

laying systems and with automated hydraulic
spades at the rear, the SH2 and SH5 can be
quickly put into action (for fire and leave
position, a 40-second figure is given for the
105 mm version). The SH2 has a maximum
range of 27 km with base-bleed rocket assisted
ammunition, hollow base range being 18 km,
while the SH5 reaches 15 km with HB rounds
and 18 km with BB ones, the system being able
to use American M1 ammunition up to ranges
of 12 km. To improve tactical mobility the
chassis is fitted with steering front and rear
axles. The SH2 should be aimed at the Peoples
Liberation Army, although it is unclear if it has
already been adopted, while the SH5 is clearly
a low-risk, low-cost, export operation,
although it is still looking for a customer.

Hell on Tracks
The tracked self-propelled howitzer remains the key
artillery element of heavy formations, and only few
nations have decided to do away with them, even if their
overall importance has decreased in many armies,
including those first tier armies that have acquired an
increased expeditionary role. The protection they offer
their crews is also second to none.
An Italian PzH 2000 during a firing exercise; many countries, Italy included,
now have a limited need for such howitzers, and as a consequence a number
of these are available on surplus markets. (Armada/P. Valpolini)

n America the replacement of the M109

has been a top priority in many of the
ground vehicle programmes that have
been cancelled in the past years. At AUSA
2014 Col. James Schirmer, Project Manager
Armoured Fighting Vehicles at US Army
Program Executive Office Ground Combat
Systems, again underlined the importance of
the armoured indirect fire component. May
2014 saw the induction into low rate initial
production of the M109A7, previously
known as M109A6 PIM (Paladin Integrated
Management). US Army Heavy Brigade
Combat Teams will rely on the umpteenth
upgrade of a system that started rolling off
the lines in 1962, although not many of its
original components are left in the newer
iterations. The new artillery system also
includes upgrades to M992A2 Field Artillery
Ammunition Support Vehicle, which in the
renewed version is known as the M992A3
CAT (Carrier Ammunition Tracked).
Compared to the original M109 the A6
version, also known as Paladin, incorporated
many improvements (larger turret, the M284
155/39 mm fitted with a semi-automatic
loading system, an automatic fire control
system with integrated navigation and

inertial positioning system, etc). Some

Paladins are also fitted with modification kits
to fire the M982 Excalibur. Fielded in 1994,
the last production system left the
production line in 1999.
The M109A7 includes numerous
automotive components taken from the
Bradley fighting vehicle, some elements
borrowed from the defunct NLOS Cannon,
as well as new components. Among the latter
is a new chassis for a maximum combat
weight of 45 tonnes which, importantly,
improves protection as it adds ground
clearance and includes provisions for mine
blast kit as well as for add-on armour. A
common modular power system was
adopted, which includes a 600V, 70kW
integrated starter generator with 600V-28V
bi-directional conversion. This was as sine
qua non to the replacement of hydraulics
with the three electric subsystems taken from
the NLOS Cannon, namely the electric
rammer, the elevation drive and the traverse
drive, all running on 600V. In addition, the
new power system also provides considerable
growth potential in terms of new powerhungry subsystems. Borrowed from the
Bradley are the 675 hp engine, the HMPT

800-3ECB transmission, the final drive and

the power take off, while a new cooling
system was added. Road and arm stations,
torsion bars and 485 mm wide tracks were
also taken from the Bradley, but with new
rotary dampers. Most of the driving
compartment is Bradley-derived, some
elements having already been integrated into
the Paladin, with the exception of the so
called drivers vision enhancer. While most
of the electronics remained unaltered, a blue
force tracking system was added.
In terms of performances, maximum
range is unchanged since the gun is the same
(the M109A7 can reach 24 km with standard
ammunition, 30 km with RAP shells, and 40
km with Raytheons Excalibur). The firing
rate is also the same, the A7 being fitted with
an improved semi-automatic projectile
rammer taken from the NLOS-C/Crusader,
but not with an automatic ammunition
loading system. Following the October 2013
one-year contract that started the M109A7
and M992A3 low-rate initial production,
BAE Systems received a follow-on contract
to continue LRIP in November 2014. This is
the first of three option year contracts to
produce an additional 18 vehicle sets, LRIP
aiming at the production of 66.5 vehicle sets
plus spares. A team effort between Anniston
Army Depot, Alabama, and BAE Systems,
final production is taking place at BAE
Systems Elgin facility. The delivery of the
first systems is planned for April 2015. Full
production of 450 additional vehicles is
planned, budgets allowing. First Unit
Equipped is currently scheduled for
February 2017, following completion of the
post-LRIP testing. Funding for FY16 will
support final developmental testing and the
acquisition of 20 systems, these including

The US Army fielded its M109A6 Paladin in

the mid-1990s; because numerous attempts
to replace it with new tracked howitzers failed,
it will remain the backbone of US Army
artillery for another few years. (US Army)

Compendium Artillery 2015


Known for some time as the M109A6 PIM and

now M109A7, it exploits numerous elements
of the Bradley and some parts of the defunct
NLOS-C Crusader. The first units should be
delivered in mid-2015. (BAE Systems)

The KMW PanzerHaubitze 2000 fitted with a

Rheinmetall 155/52 mm ordnance from
Rheinmetall, is definitely the most advanced
self-propelled tracked howitzer currently on
the market. (Armada/P. Valpolini)

one howitzer and one ammunition supply

vehicle. According to the US Army a
decision on full rate production should be
taken in January 2017.
BAE Systems is pursuing a first export
order; M109 users worldwide have models up
to M109A5 standard, which feature a smaller
turret. But since an upgrade to A7 is
impossible, an entirely new system is being
offered. The viability of the option remains to
be seen considering that the M109A7 retains a
39-calibre barrel against the 52-calibre offered
by the competition, albeit at a higher cost. It
will probably be a case-by-case matter, which
will also depend on FMS contracts.
Many M109 upgrade solutions are
available around the world. The reduced
dimensions of the turret however affects the
use of some new ammunition; the Italian
Army for example seems ready to scrap its
M109s as it cannot accommodate the kit
required for the new Vulcano ammunition.
Italy already gave ten surplus M109Ls to
Djibouti in 2013. Numerous second-hand
M109s might also become available due to
further force reduction programmes,
mostly in Europe, Austria having for
example announced a reduction from 136
to 106 of its M109A5 fleet while Denmark
is also looking at a replacement for its
M109A3. On the other hand Brazil seems
interested in acquiring surplus M109A5s
through the FMS programme and to
upgrade part of its M109A3s. In early
December 2014 Chile received 12 M109-A5
taken from US Army surplus via the US
Army Security Assistance Commands
foreign military sales programme. Chile
received 24 M109A3 in the mid-2000s and
12 more, fitted with the M284 39-calibre
gun and M182 gun mount, in 2013.
Old Europe can come up with a better
weapon system than America, as instanced by
the PzH 2000 developed and produced by
Krauss Maffei Wegmann with the
contribution of Rheinmetall Defence for the

gun. It is by a long shot a more modern and

effective system, fitted as it is with a 52-calibre
ordnance that gives it a much longer range.
This, coupled to the superior crew protection,
allowed the PzH 2000 to be successfully
deployed in the Afghan theatre of operation
by the Netherlands and Germany. It is also
used in Greece and Italy, and has been
produced under license by Oto Melara.
Overall some 400 PzH 2000 have been
produced, as original numbers for Germany
and the Netherlands have been cut due to
force reductions.
Its automatic electrically driven and
digitally controlled ammunition loading
system allows an eight to 10 round-perminute firing rate to be achieved, with
multiple round simultaneous impact
capability. Together with the considerable
amount of rounds available on boardup to
60sets it head and shoulders above all the
others in terms of barrelled artillery firepower.
As for the range, the PzH 2000 reaches 30 km
with standard ammunition and over 40 km
with base-bleed ammunition. This allowed the
systems deployed to Afghanistan to cover a
huge amount of ground.
Two of the users, Italy and Germany,
having teamed for developing the new long
range Vulcano ammunition, the PzH 2000


Compendium Artillery 2015

Put in simple words, the Artillery Gun Systems

is in fact a light version of the PzH2000.
It uses the same gun but lighter armour.
(Armada/P. Valpolini)

will soon acquire a much greater range as

well as pinpoint accuracy. In Italy Oto
Melara is developing the kit that allows to
adapt the loading system to the new rounds,
which require to modify the loading rail and
the rear floor, and the removal of the fuse
setter. The development should be
completed by late 2015.
Like the M109, the PzH 2000 is also
available as surplus from the stocks of the user
countries. Germany ordered 450 howitzers
but only kept 260 in service. Italy activated two
out of the three planned regiments, each with
18 guns, and therefore some 20 PzH 2000 have
been mothballed and should be sold once the
Italian Army reorganisation plan receives final
approval. The Netherlands had ordered 57
howitzers, but deployed only 39 leaving a
surplus of 18. The last member of the PzH
2000 club is Croatia, which signed a deal with
Germany for 12 systems in two batches, to be
delivered respectively by 2015 and by 2016.
Denmark is also considering the KMW
howitzer as a possible M109 replacement, with
a requirement of between 15 and 30 units.
With a weight of 55 tonnes in combat
order and 49 tonnes in transport
configuration the PZH 2000 is not an easily
deployable howitzer, especially by air. KMW
thus developed the Artillery Gun Module,
AGM in short, that uses the same ordnance
but has a transport weight of 12 tonnes. A lot
of weight saving comes from the reduced
armour since the AGM is remotely
controlled. It has a fully automatic charge
portioning station and charge loading
system that complements the automatic
ammunition loading systema derivative of
that used in the PzH 2000. The weapon can
fire three rounds in 15 seconds or six rounds
in less than one minute. Its standard
ammunition complement is of 30 rounds.
Fitted with a digital fire control system and
an integrated hybrid INS/GPS navigation
system, it has multiple round simultaneous
impact capability. The AGM has been
shelved for some time, but was revived at
Eurosatory 2014 installed on a Boxer chassis,
firing trials being scheduled for Fall 2014. It
can be installed on an infantry fighting
vehicle tracked chassis: such a solution,
known as the Donar, is proposed by KMW
together with General Dynamics European
Land Systems using the Ascod chassis, with
a transport weight of 31.5 tonnes, which is
well within the limits of the A400M Atlas.
Another fully autonomous artillery turret
is expected to emerge in Israel. Following the
acquisition of Soltam, Elbit Systems has

invested in its new activity, adding new

capabilities via in-house electronics and
improving some existing systems, but is also
working on new developments mostly based
on existing building blocks. One of those is
focused on an Israeli requirement for a fully
autonomous artillery turret for wheeled or
tracked chassis. Elbit Systems already has
the required barrel, recoil system, loading
system, fire control system and electric
actuators on hand. The engineering effort is
underway to develop a prototype, which was
said to be at a very advanced stage by Elbit
officials at Eurosatory 2014, who plan to test
it by late 2015.
In the late 1990s the British Army decided
to increase the range of its 1980s vintage
AS90, and launched the development of a 52
calibre version known as Braveheart. This
retains the automatic loading system which
allows it to fire three rounds in less than 10
seconds, or six rounds a minute for three
minutes (the sustained rate of fire being two
rounds a minute), but all actuators are
electric. Main engine off operation is allowed
by an auxiliary power generator, considerably
reducing fuel consumption and thermal
signature. The upgrade also includes the
adoption of the Selex ES Linaps (Laser
Inertial Artillery Pointing System), which
provides the gunner with the exact bearing
and elevation of the gun barrel as well as with
the system position. The all-welded steel
turret ensures Level 4 protection for the crew.
The Bravehearts firing range is typical of 52calibre barrels, namely 30 km with standard
rounds, 40 km with base-bleed types and
over 50 km with rocket assisted projectiles.
Not all the British Army AS90s have been
updatedonly 96 of the original 179 as a
result of force reductions in the mid 2000s,
and further cuts could even reduce that
number to slightly more than 60.
The AS90 did not score any export order.
However, in 1999 a licence agreement was
signed with Poland for the production of
AS90 turrets by Huta Stalowa Wola, to be
fitted with a 155/52 gun. The turret was to be
installed on a Polish-made chassis, a
derivative of the mine-clearing Kalina tracked
vehicle developed by Bumar-abdy with the
components of the PT-91 tank. However, the
plan to deliver 24 such howitzers, known as
the Krab, by 2015 was halted due to structural
defects in the chassis. Interestingly, the first
eight barrels were provided by Nexter, but the
following 18 were built-to-measure by
Rheinmetall in Unterlss. The Krab hosts 40
rounds, 29 in the shell and 11 in the chassis.

The Donar is made up of the Ascod II chassis

and the Artillery Gun Module developed by
KMW by taking elements of the PzH 2000; the
Artillery Gun Module can also be installed on
wheeled platforms. (GDELS)

In December 2014 a contract for the

manufacture and customisation of the South
Korean Samsung Techwin K9 chassis was
signed. A first batch of 24 chassis will be
delivered in 2017 from Korea to cover the
needs of a first battalion. Turret integration is
carried out in Poland. The remaining 96
chassis will be manufactured locally at the
Gliwice production facility and by 2022 five
artillery battalions will be equipped with the
new Krab. Data of the Krab are missing in the
table as available figures only refer to the
earlier version.
South Korea garnered quite some
experience with the licence production of
over 1,000 M109A2s known as K55the
subsequent mid-90s upgrades to the K55A1
standard and the associated K56
ammunition supply vehicle. In the early
1990s South Korea developed a new 155/52
mm artillery system that started being
delivered just before the turn of the century.
The K9 Thunder came with an automatic
ammunition resupply vehicle known as the
K10 based on the same chassis. The K9 is
fitted with an automatic shell handling and
ramming system, an automatic gun laying
system, and an automatic fire control system
with inertial navigation system. These allow a
quick into-action time as well as a high rate
of fire, three rounds in 15 seconds in standard
mode or in multiple round simultaneous
impact mode. Normal rate of fire is six
rounds per minute, sustained rate being two
rounds per minute. No precise data are
available on production, although South

Seen here in model form, the South Korean

K9 Thunder has not been exported as such,
but is the core of the Turkish Firtina, while its
chassis is being adopted for the new Polish
Krab. (Armada/P. Valpolini)

Korean press sources recently stated that 850

K9s have been delivered to the Army out of a
considered requirement of 1,200.
The first export customer for the K9/K10
tandem was Turkey, where it is known as the
TUSpH Firtina or T-155 K/M Obus. The
Turkish version is produced by Makina ve
Kimya Endstrisi Kurumu (MKEK) and
features considerable differences especially in
the turret and the electronic components, the
T-155 being fitted with a fire control system
developed by Aselsan. The initial Turkish
requirement was for 350 howitzers, but it is
unclear if all of these have been manufactured,
or whether production stopped at around 180
howitzers. MKEK also produced 70
ammunition resupply vehicles. Developed by
Aselsan, these reload 48 rounds and
corresponding charges in 20 minutes, from an
on-board stock of 96 rounds.

Locally produced by MKEK, the Turkish

Firtina is a derivative of the K9 produced
by Samsung Techwin in South Korea.
(Armada/P. Valpolini)

Turkey managed to sign an export contract

for 36 Firtina systems with Azerbaijan in 2011,
but had to solve the German embargo on for
the delivery of the MTU engine. An
alternative powerpack meant a partial
redesign of the engine compartment and
consequent delayed deliveries, which were
supposed to start in 2014.
Mobility issues in Singapore required a
lightweight self-propelled howitzer to replace
M109s. In the mid-1990s Singapore
Technologies Kinetics (STK) was thus tasked
with the development of a 30-tonner with a
width of less than three metres called the
Primus. To speed up development and
reduce costs STK based its new system on the
United Defense (now BAE Systems)
Universal Combat Vehicle Platform, which
featured an aluminium armour. The artillery
component was developed leveraging FH2000 experience, and kept at 39 calibres for

Compendium Artillery 2015


A model of the PLZ52, the latest development

by Norinco. It features a 52-calibre gun, and
its launch customer on the export market
might well be Algeria. (Armada/P. Valpolini)
The Firtina resupply vehicle is a Turkish
adaptation of the South Korean K10; the
tandem operates in the same way as the
M109 M992 pair. (Armada/P. Valpolini)

weight reasons. To improve the rate of fire

STK developed a 22-round magazine with
automatic loading and ramming, allowing it
to fire three rounds in 20 seconds and to
maintain a sustained fire of two rounds per
minute for half an hour. Thanks to the
automated fire control system and to the
navigation system, the Primus can fire the
first round within 60 seconds from stopping.
The first of 48 Primus were delivered to the
Singaporean Army in 2002.
For its export market, Russia proposes
two self-propelled tracked howitzer, the
Akatsiya and the Msta-S, both of Cold War
vintage. Russia sticks to its 152 mm calibre
and made very few attempts to develop a155
mm option for export.
The 2S3Akatsiya is fitted with the 27calibre D-22 gun and has a maximum range of
18.5 km with conventional ammunition,
increased to 24 km with rocket-assisted
projectiles. In service in many countries, for
the most part delivered during the Soviet era,
the Akatsiya chalked up some post-Iron
Curtain export orders from Algeria, Libya,
Syria and Ethiopia, with Ukraine having
selling a few to Azerbaijan. A 155 mm version
was developed, but apparently not marketed.
Outgunned by other 155 mm systems, it
remains however in the Russian export
catalogue and over 1,000 such SP howitzers,
part of them upgraded, remain in service
with the Russian Army.
The 2S19 Mtsa-S is a much heavier affair,
and though its barrel length was never
revealed it is estimated to be around 40
calibres. Declared ranges on the other hand
are 24.7 km with standard HE rounds and 30
km with base bleed ammunition. It is fitted
with an automatic loading system that works
at any elevation angle. When firing from a
prepared position a conveyor allows to fire
externally supplied ammunition, at a rate of 67 rounds per minute. Charges are loaded with


Compendium Artillery 2015

a semi-automatic system. As for exports, 18

were delivered to Azerbaijan in 2012-13, 20
to Ethiopia in 1999, 48 to Venezuela in 201113, some former Soviet republics having
retained SP howitzers of that type in their
arsenals following the split of the USSR. The
latest customer for this howitzer should be
Morocco, which received its first systems in
2014. A later 2S19M2 was fitted with an
upgraded fire control system and a new
signature control system and entered service
in 2013 with the Russian Army.
China switched over to 155 mm calibre in
the late 1990s, adding new systems to its fleet of
152 mm calibres of Soviet origin. Norinco
developed the PLZ45, a self-propelled
howitzer armed with a 45-calibre barrel. The
system carries the usual tracked architecture,
with driver and engine at the front and a huge
turret at the back housing crew and
ammunition. The PLZ45 comes with the
PCZ45 ammunition support vehicle, which
carries 90 projectiles and charges, that is three
full complements. Twenty-four projectiles are
carried in a semi-automatic loader, charges
being loaded manually, which allow a fiveround per minute firing rate to be achieved.
A muzzle velocity radar feeds data into the fire
control system to improve accuracy. Firing
range is between 24 and 39 km, depending on
the ammunition used. In service with the
Peoples Liberation Army, the PZL45 has been
exported to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
A further development, the PZL52, was
unveiled in 2012. Very similar to the previous
model, it nevertheless has a modified chassis
and a new powerpack to cope with the nearly
10-tonne weight increase. It is obviously
fitted with a 52-calibre barrel to considerably
increase the range, up to 53 km. It retains a
semi-automatic loading system, Norinco
declaring an eight-round per minute firing
rate as well as a multiple round
simultaneous impact capability. It is not
clear if the PZL52 is already in service with
the PLA. A photo taken in Algeria in 2014
showed a howitzer moving on a tank
transporter that very much looked like a
PZL although it is impossible to determine

its barrel length, but at any rate it could well

indicate a first export success for the type.
In the Far East Japan developed a 155/52
mm SP howitzer in the mid-1980s. Known as
the Type 99, it was produced by Mitsubishi
Heavy Industries in cooperation with Japan
Steel Works. A 40- tonne system, it is in service
with the Japanese Ground Self-Defence Force.
Until 2014 Japan was not exporting defence
equipment, but now that a Parliamentary vote
allowed Japanese companies to consider
export opportunities, another potential
competitor might enter the fray.

Developed by India's DRDO, probably as

an interim solution, the Catapult II consists
of an Arjun Mk1 chassis fitted with an M46
130/ mm gun. (DRDO)

Indias Catapult II
Defining the Catapult II as an SP tracked
howitzer might be right or wrong, the
system being in fact a tracked mounted
howitzer, if we maintain the
categorisation adopted for wheeled
systems. Unveiled at Defexpo 2014 by
Indias Defence Research and
Development Organisation, it consists
of an Arjun Mk 1 tank chassis mounting
an M46 130/ mm gun. A similar
operation was carried out in the past
with a Vijayanta tank chassis and was
called the Catapult, 170 of which were
built for the Indian Army. A solid roof
protects the crew from splinters, no
lateral ballistic protection being
provided. The M46 Soviet field gun has
a 58.5-calibre barrel and a maximum
firing range of 27.15 km, elevation arc
being 2.5 / +45; traverse is also
limited to 14. In August 2014 India
decided to acquire 40 such mounted
howitzer, which should be considered
an interim solution awaiting a bid for a
modern SP howitzer to be launched.

The Towed Option

How much towed artillery is still a viable option very
much depends on the scenario. In airmobile operations
ultralight 155 mm or light 105 mm guns remain the
alternative to heavy mortars, ammunition supply
remaining a key issue.
Although no longer in production the Light Gun is in service in many armies as the L118,
the US Army deploying the L119 version that can fire the M1 ammunition. (BAE Systems)

o cope with airmobility weight limits

155 mm systems are usually fitted with
39 calibre barrels, which means that
their range with standard ammunition is
slightly in excess of 20 km, well enough for
such operations. Last generation towed gunhowitzers are fitted with 52-calibre barrels,
which give them a longer range. How much
the towed solution is still viable when
confronted to truck-mounted systems with
similar ordnance is matter for conjecture,
some armies having given up the gun plus
truck solution to put the gun over the truck
itself. Numerous 155/39 mm systems remain
in service, even in first tier armies and in
most cases limited budgets are the main
reason behind that choice.
The Indian overarching need for artillery
includes also a towed gun-howitzer. Two
155/52 mm systems took part in trials that
ended in fall 2014: the Nexters Trajan and the
Elbit Systems Athos. Meanwhile a shorter
barrel competitor, an evolution of the Bofors
FH77B developed in India and featuring a
45-calibre barrel with a 38 km range, also
carried out its latest trials following technical
problems encountered in 2013. The Indian
Army ordered 116 such guns from the
Ordnance Factories, to which 300 more guns

might be added. The TGS (Towed Gun

System) segment will be the bigger slice of the
field army rationalisation plan, as some 1,580
systems should be acquired by Delhi. India
recently lifted the ban on various defence
contractors, among which is Denel of South
Africa, another artillery producer, although

this company was more involved in heavier

systems. Besides the need for heavy field
howitzers, Delhi also planned to acquire 145
M777 ultralight howitzers; the programme
was delayed motivating BAE Systems to close
the ULH production line, which together
with the increasing value of the US dollar
considerably increased the potential budget
for that operation. However, in January 2015
BAE Systems offered to transfer the entire
M777 assembly line from the United States
to India to partly overcome those issues and to
ensure an even higher customisation of the
howitzer. How much this will allow to restart
the acquisition process remains to be seen.
The M777 was developed to provide
airmobile 155 mm artillery to the US Army
and US Marine Corps, complementing the
former and much heavier M198. The weight
limit was placed at 10,000 lbs (4,218 kg), and
to remain within that weight titanium and
aluminium alloys were used. Given that the
M777 has not been provided with an
autonomous propulsion system; it can be
sling-carried by CH-53E and CH-47D
helicopters, the MV-22 Osprey and on
board C-130s. A Humvee is sufficient to
locally tow a howitzer, though a heavier
vehicle is required for longer distances. The
M777 can fire five rounds per minute for up
to two minutes, sustained fire rate being two
rounds per minute.
The initial M777 version was fitted with an
optical fire control, the A1 configuration
adding on-board power to feed a digitised
suite that included an INS/GPS navigation

A Canadian M777 lifted by a

CH-47 Chinook; BAE systems
155/39 ultralight howitzer was
can also be airlifted the CH-53s
used by the US Marine Corps.
(Canadian Army)

Compendium Artillery 2015


and positioning system, a radio, a gun display

unit and a section chief assembly. To make the
M777 compatible with the Excalibur guided
ammunition the M777A2 was developed,
which added the Enhanced Portable
Inductive Artillery Fuze Setter as well as a
software upgrade. The howitzer is in service
with the US Army, the Marine Corps, the
Australian and Canadian armies. Deployed
to Afghanistan since 2006, the M777 had fired
tens of thousands of rounds, including
Excalibur rounds. Further improvements
might include a new release of the fire control
system as well as a laser ignition system, the
aim being to handle the Modular Artillery
Charge System. Besides the Indian customer,
the Brazilian Marines have recently shown
some interest for a small number of howitzers,
but budgetary constraints have led them to
shelve this choice.
Another lightweight 155/39 mm howitzer is
the Pegasus, developed in the early 2000 by the
Singapore Armed Forces, the Defence Science
and Technology Agency and Singapore
Technologies Kinetics. Weight limit was put at
5.4 tonnes: barrel and carriage are made of
titanium and aluminium alloy, an auxiliary
power unit was adopted to move the howitzer
on cross-country terrain. Once the gun is
deployed the APU is also used to power the
autoloader, which gives the Pegasus a burst
rate capacity of three rounds in 24 seconds. A
new recoil system allowed forces to be cut
down to a third of those of a standard 155 mm
system. The new howitzer was introduced in
service in October 2005, replacing the French
LG1 105 mm light gun. No information about
export orders have ever surfaced.
In the Far East another nation, China,

The Elbit Autonomous Towed Howitzer Ordnance System, or Athos,

has recently been ordered by the Philippines. (Elbit Systems)

developed an ultralight, the AH4 155/39

mm of about four tonnes, but not many
details are available.
Shifting to the heavies, the Trajan uses
Nexters experience with 1980s towed
howitzers and with the Caesar (q.v.). The
Trajan, purposely developed for the Indian
bid, and currently at prototype stage, is based
on the oscillating mass and aiming system of
the Caesar, fitted onto an evolved TR-F1
carriage. Fitted with an ammunition
handling crane and an automatic shell
loading and ramming system, it can fire six
rounds per minute. Hydraulically operated
deployment procedures through the
auxiliary power unit allow the gun to be put in
action in less than 90 seconds with a six-man
crew. The APU ensures good autonomous
mobility, with a 5 km/h off-road speed.
Nexter is currently awaiting the Indian RfP,
the French company having set up a

consortium with Larsen & Toubro in 2011 for

local production.
The Athos, for Autonomous Towed
Howitzer Ordnance System, was developed
by Soltam (now Elbit Systems) as a carriage
and oscillating mass capable to
accommodate barrels of different lengths,
including state-of-the-art 52 calibre types.
This is currently offered to India, in
cooperation with Bharat Forge Limited with
which a joint venture was formed to produce
the Athos locally. Fitted with an automated
loading system, it can fire three rounds in 30
seconds, intense rate being 12 rounds in
three minutes, while sustained rate allow to
fire 42 rounds in one hour. Equipped with
digital navigation, fire control and laying
systems, it can be used also for direct fire up
to 1.5 km range. Its APU powers a hydraulic
system driving its two main road-wheels that
provide autonomous shoot-and-scoot
capability. The Athos has obtained a recent
success in the Philippines, Elbit Systems
having received a contract for 12 systems
worth nearly 7 million in March 2014.
Another 52-calibre system comes from
General Dynamics European Land Systems,
originally developed by Santa Barbara of
Spain and known as the 155/52 APU-SIAC
(Sistema Integrado de Artillera de
Campaa). Compared to other systems of
that category the Spanish gun has a carriage
with four main wheels, two more being on
the spades and raised during firing. The
howitzer is fitted with ballistic computer,
muzzle velocity radar, chamber temperature
Developed to take part in the Indian towed
artillery competition, the Nexter Trajan was
brought straight to prototype stage, but
awaits a launch customer. (Nexter)


Compendium Artillery 2015

The 155/52 APU-SIAC howitzer originally

developed by Santa Barbara, is in service
with Spain and Colombia and might also be
acquired by Brazil. (GDELS)

sensor, recoil meter sensor and effective full

charge round counter. Thanks to this and to its
auxiliary power unit it can be deployed in two
minutes and leave the firing position in one
and a half minute, shooting three rounds in 11
seconds, four rounds in 20 seconds, or 10
rounds in one minute, sustained fire rate
being two rounds per minute. It can be
simultaneous impact up to four rounds. The
howitzer is also in service with Colombia in
the 155/52 APU-SBT configuration. The
SIAC is also being eyed by the Brazilian
Marine Corps.
In the Far East Singapore Technologies
Kinetics developed a 52-calibre gun starting
from its FH-88 155/39 mm howitzer, keeping
the same four main wheels carriage
architecture. Known as FH2000, it is fitted
with a semi-automatic breech and a hydraulic
rammer that allow to maintain a rate of 6
rounds per minute for three minutes.
Adopted by Singapore, Indonesia also uses
the FH2000. This gun was used as the basis
for the Turkish T-155 Panter towed howitzer,
STK providing assistance to MKEK in the
system development. Heavier than the
original FH2000 and equipped with a more
powerful auxiliary engine, the Panter is in
service in the Turkish Army in a few
hundreds, Turkey having also exported the
system to Pakistan which has also produced
locally some dozen howitzers.
Once known as GC45 and now as AH1,
Norincos 155/45 mm towed howitzer had the
typical four main wheel carriage, with two
smaller wheels under the trails. It is derived

from the PLL01, the first 155 mm artillery in

service with the PLA, and reaches targets at
39 km using base bleed ammunition and 50
km with rocket assisted projectiles. Fitted
with a pneumatic rammer, it reaches three
rounds per minute rate of fire. The AH1 is in
service at least with an export customer,
Algeria. A 52-calibre version has been
developed, known as AH2, which weight is
increased by one ton compared to the AH1.
Ethiopia seems to be among the first
customers, even if the contract has never
been officially announced.

While many nations replaced their 105 mm

light guns with lightweight 155 mm types,
those that could not afford them or that
operate helicopters that cannot lift them still
rely on smaller calibre systems. Another issue
is ammunition supply, considering how
heavy can be a resupply of 155 mm projectiles
and charges. Probably considered now a
niche market, it remains however a market.
Nexters 105 LG1 can be definitely
airlifted by a medium size helicopter thanks
to its weight of only 1.6 tonnes. One of the
latest customers is Colombia, which
developed interesting usage concepts. The
LG1 is used as assault artillery being easily
deployed anywhere within range of the area
of operation providing a rugged and simple
fire base. To ensure quick action time the
LG1 is equipped with a GPS/INS navigation
and orientation system; however lessons
learned in Colombia showed the necessity
for each single gun to be able to compute its

The advantage of 105 mm howitzers, here a

Nexter LG1 being air-lifted by a Cougar, also
lies in the lighter weight of ammunition in
terms of logistics. (Nexter)

own firing data based on target data

supplied by the army network. Nexter thus
developed the prototype of a light firing
computer, the Toplite, which is currently in
the very last development stage. The Toplite
exchanges data via WiFi with the digitised
gun, reducing errors and speeding up
action. Nexter has not yet scored an order
for that system, but Colombia has obviously
shown great interest.
Late winter 2014 saw the first operational
use of the M119A3 digitised light gun by the
US Army 101st Airborne Division (Air
Assault) artillerymen. This is the latest version
of the L118/M119 Light Gun produced by
BAE Systems. It is fitted with a digital fire
control system that includes inertial
navigation unit, GPS, digital gunners display,
and digital communication between each gun
and the Fire Direction Centre guidedprecision system technology and other
features that give the weapon the ability to
determine its precise geographical location
on its own. The digitised system allows the

Compendium Artillery 2015


Firing the Nexter LG1 light howitzer is made easier

with the Toplite light firing computer. (Nexter)

first round to be fired in two to three minutes,

as opposed to the 10 minutes of the previous
M119A2. The software has 90% commonality
with that of the M777A2, which in turn is very
similar to that of the M109A6 Paladin,
simplifying routines for artillerymen while
saving development money. The gun retains
all the A2 features, which allowed soldiers
downrange to switch to manual mode when
digital systems went down in a few situations.
The M119 is the American production
version of the L118 Light Gun, originally
developed in the mid 1970s by Royal
Ordnance (now BAE Systems).
Light gun digitisation has also been
implemented by other nations. The British
Army adopted Selex ES Linaps for its L118,

The British Army has upgraded its Light Guns

with the Selex ES Linaps system. BAE Systems
is offering similar upgrade programmes on
the export market. (British Army)


Compendium Artillery 2015

and by Canada, the United Arab Emirates,

Oman, South Africa, Malaysia and Thailand
for use in conjunction with various types of
guns. New Zealand was one of the most
recent customers, having installed it on the
L119 Light Guns. The Linaps features a
muzzle velocity radar, a FIN 3110L inertial
navigation unit, a gun laying unit, a battery
power module, and a detachment
commanders data terminal, a ruggedized
tablet computer with multi-layer map
capacity. The most recent versions feature a
DRS Technologies display and control unit
with a 10.4-inch screen. The Linaps INS/GPS
navigation system provides a 10-metre CEP in
horizontal and vertical positions, heading
accuracy being under one mil.

Turning to the Denel G7, this is quite a

peculiar gun as its barrel is a 52-calibre,
which gives it a considerable rangesome 32
km with base-bleed ammo. This comes at
some weight penalty, the G7 currently
tipping the scales at around 3.8 tonnes.
However, weight reduction measures are
already being looked at to reduce this by at
least one tonne. Any further action probably
depends on a launch customer.

The FH-70 is an ageing system, but

some nations, awaiting better times,
are planning to upgrade it before
replacing it with lighter 155 mm guns.
(Armada/P. Valpolini)

FH-70: a diehard gun

The tri-national Cold War-era 155/39
mm field gun is definitely getting old;
however it is not much willing to retire.
Probably helped by the deep cuts in
defence budgets, it remains in service
in various countries, although nearly
all the original producing countries
have shelved it. The exception is Italy,
which plans to keep it in service for
10-15 more years. An upgrade
programme is currently underway:
Phase 1 includes the development of
a prototype which can be interfaced
with the Italian Artillery SIF (Integrated
Fire System) C2 suite, the upgrade of
three more guns at that standard, and
that of an Astra artillery tractor. The
main upgrades include a new diesel
auxiliary power unit, the adoption of
the Selex-ES Linaps artillery pointing
system, and the acquisition of an
Astra artillery tractor. The prototype
should be available for trials in June
2015. Phase 2 will include the upgrade
of 74 more FH-70s, and the
acquisition of new tractors. Another
key issue is that Oto Melara is
developing a kit to allow the FH-70 to
fire Vulcano ammunition.

Heavy Mortars and Ammunition

When range is not a key issue and high attack angles allows it to hit targets on
reverse slopes or targets protected by urban canyons, the mortar becomes a choice.
Heavy mortars have often become a secondary armament even within artillery units.
Vehicle mounted variants even provide organic indirect fire to motorised and
mechanised infantry units.

DA, (formerly Thomson Brandt

Armements), the Thales subsidiary
specialised in mortars, many years ago
developed the MO 120 RT rifled 120 mm
mortar, which is in use by many infantry and
artillery units. Towable by a light vehicle and
easily sling transportable by medium utility
helicopters, the 622-kg mortar has a
maximum range of 8.1 km with standard
ammunition. The two-metre long rifled
barrel provides good accuracy, and range
increases to 13 km with rocket-assisted
projectiles. Deployable in less than three
minutes, its rate of fire can reach 18 rounds
per minute. The MO 120 RT can be split into
three loadsbarrel, base plate and carriage
(the latter being the heaviest at 285 kg)and
deployed by parachute. The MO 120 RT is in
use in 24 countries, including Belgium,
France, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey and the
United States, where it is deployed by the
Marine Corps in the Osprey-transportable
Expeditionary Fire Support System (EFSS).
From this mortar TDA developed the
2R2M (Recoiling Rifled Mounted Mortar).
This is a 1,500 kg system that can be mounted

in the rear compartment of 10- to 15-tonne

tracked or wheeled armoured personal
carriers, thanks to its recoil brake that
absorbs up to 75% of the forces. Its
computerised fire control cum land
navigation system allows it to fire the first
round in less than a minute from vehicle stop.
The semi-automatic muzzle loading ensures a
10 round per minute rate of fire. The 2R2M
can be connected to a fire management
system, which magnifies platoon effects and
provides automatic data transmission
between mortars, command post and the
forward observer. The elevation arc is
+45/+85 while traverse is 220, ballistic
performances remaining identical to those of
the MO 120 RT. The number of ready rounds
depends on the carrier but is usually around
35. The 120 2R2M has been adopted by Italy,
installed on the Freccia 8x8 chassis (the first of
12 mortar carriers were delivered in late
2014), by Malaysia on board the ACV-19 in
a solution also adopted in undisclosed
numbers by Saudi Arabia, and by Oman on
6x6 VABs. The 2R2M should be installed on
the Griffon, the new 6x6 currently under

Firing from an M113 with Elbit Systems

Cardom 120 mm mortar; the system can also
accept 81 mm tubes and is in service with
Israel and Spain. (Elbit Systems)

TDA's 2R2M 120 mm automatic

mortar system has been
integrated on various chassis,
among which the VAB 6x6 and the
Piranha 8x8 seen here. (TDA)

A close view of the Elbit Cardom 120 mm

mortar; originally developed by Soltam, the
system now draws on Elbits experience with
electronics. (Armada/P. Valpolini)

Compendium Artillery 2015


development for the French Army to equip

its light and medium units.
Another automated vehicle-mounted
mortar is the Cardom developed by Soltam,
now part of Elbit Systems. It can be armed
with a 120 mm or an 81 mm smoothbore
mortar and is fitted with electric drives for
automatic laying, state-of-the-art embedded
fire control system, inertial navigation system
and on-board ballistic computer which can
be integrated in a battle management system
which enables it to shoot a first round within
30 seconds of taking position.
The 120 mm version has a maximum
range of 7,000 metres, and a rate of fire of 16
rounds per minute (the number of rounds
depends on vehicle type). The Cardom has a
360 traverse, and the mortar can also be used
dismounted. A multiple-round simultaneous
impact mode is available to further improve
effectiveness. It has been adopted by the
Israeli Defense Forces armed with the 120
mm barrel (two contracts signed in 2011 and
2013) as well as by the Spanish Army, but
with the 81 mm barrel. The Cardom is also
the basis of the RMS6-L system installed by
the Mistral Group in 324 Strykers (known in
US Army parlance as the M1129/M1252
Stryker Mortar Carriers).
An evolution of the work carried out by the
Marvin Group is the XM-905, fielded in early
2014 by US Special Forces. The programme
was launched as a Joint Urgent Operational

Need to fill a gap in base protection in

Afghanistan. Also known as Automated
Mortar Protection System (AMPS), it is based
on a round base-plate with three spades and
stakes on which the RMS6-L is installed. The
electric drive system is linked to the fire
control system to minimise the time to target,
the plate being able to rotate on 360 in both
directions. The fire control system is able to
find accurate firing solutions even when the
system is deployed on a slope. The March
2013 contract awarded to the Mistral Group
following that of January 2012 adds to the
previous the Enhanced Mortar Target
Acquisition System (EMTAS), nine of which
were deployed in spring 2011 to
Afghanistan. The US Army intends to widen
the user community by also supplying it to
the Green Army.
Providing infantry with a high-mobility
big calibre indirect fire capability was the aim
of Elbit Systems designers when they started
working on the Spear. They worked on a new
recoil system to reduce recoil forces under a
10-tonne threshold and thereby allow the
Spear to be installed on Humvee-class
vehicles without needing stabilising spades.
The system weighs less than one tonne
without ammunition, the ammo complement
being 36 rounds with charges. The range and
rate of fire remain those of the Cardom,
ammunition loading being the only manual
action required from its crew of two. It is

Elbits laser guided mortar ammunition is based on a seeker derived form that
of the JDAM and is obtained by adding a kit to a standard 120 mm mortar bomb; on the
ledt the kit installed on the ammunition while the right picture shows the separate
elements of the kit. (Armada/P. Valpolini)


Compendium Artillery 2015

In America the Mistral Group developed the

RMS6-L mortar system. Based on Elbit
Systems' Cardom, it has been installed on
the Stryker. (US Army)

equipped with a computerised navigation and

aiming system with north finding system and
clinometers. Thus fed, the fire control system
(which can be integrated into most battle
management systems) allows the electric
drives to exactly position the mortar barrel in
azimuth and elevation. A Spear-equipped
vehicle can enter in action within 60 seconds
from stopping and fire with a 30-metre
accuracy. The Spear opens up the possibility to
provide heavy calibre mobile mortar fire to
infantry units equipped with light vehicles,
enabling to deploy the same type of vehicle to
cover troop transport, direct and indirect fire
roles. The Israeli Defence Forces have
expressed their interest and Elbit confirms
that a few potential export customers have
already lined up.
About 15 years ago Ruag in Switzerland
developed a vehicle-mounted 120 mm
smoothbore mortar known as the Bighorn.
A hydraulic powerpack ensured gun laying
and semi-auto loading, while an inertial
navigation and positioning system provides
accurate weapon position and mortar
alignment independently from GPS
availability, accuracy being 0.5% distance
travelled in x- and y- grids and 0.25% in
altitude. Azimuth range was of 190
(adding a slip-ring a 360 continuous
traverse is available as option) while elevation
arc covered +45/+85. The semi-auto loader
ensured a burst rate of four rounds in less
than 20 seconds, an intense rate of 8-12
rounds per minute, and a sustained rate of

Ruag's Cobra is the most recent addition

to vehicle-mounted 120 mm mortar systems;
equipped with all-electric actuators,
it is largely based on the former Bighorn.
(Armada/P. Valpolini)

four rounds per minute up to 150 rounds.

Maximum range was in excess of 9,000
metres, depending on ammunition. The
programme was eventually shelved, but in
February 2015 the Swiss company unveiled
the Cobraa fully modernised version of the
Bighorn. In addition to a modern
bodywork, the Cobra essentially sees all its
hydraulics replaced with electric drives and
a modern firing management system. The
recoil force is of 30 tonnes and only lasts 30
milliseconds meaning that a two-axle truck
suffices to operate it, according to the
company. The wholly new ballistic computer
and fire control system can be easily
integrated with any artillery command and
control system. With its semi-automatic
loader the Cobra can shoot four rounds in
less than 20 seconds (a safety system prevents
double loading). According to Ruag a Cobraequipped vehicle can take position, fire six to
ten rounds (the first one leaving the barrel
within 60 seconds) and scoot in less than two
minutes. The two-metre barrel (a 1.6-metre
barrel can also be had in case of limited
volumes) accepts any current smoothbore
ammunition, even the longer guided
ammunition. The Cobra also features an
embedded training facility as well as the
already mentioned 81 mm barrel insert
providing a train-as-you-fight capability
reducing ammunition cost and firing range

requirements. In terms of weight some

savings were obtained, the Cobra weighing
1,200 kg without the loading system and
1,350 with it. Ruag has already started firing
trials required to confirm the new
architecture (the artillery components taken
from the Bighorn had already fired over
2,000 rounds). The Cobra has been
integrated on a Piranha (it is mainly
proposed for 8x8 platforms). Discussions
with several countries are underway.
The ST Engineering of Singapore Super
Rapid Advanced Mortar System (Srams) 120
mm smoothbore mortar system is in service
with Singapore and the UAE, respectively on
the Bronco all-terrain vehicle and on the
RG31 mine protected vehicle. The mortar
has a 1.8-metre long barrel, and is fitted with a
10-round per minute semi-automatic loader.
Maximum range is 9 km with RAP
ammunition, elevation arc being +40/+80,
while the platform rotates 28 from the
center line. The overall weight of the system is
less than 1,200 kg, recoil being less than 26
tonnes (it has been integrated on the
companys Spider as well as on the Humvee).
In the Singaporean Army configuration it is
mounted on the rear section of the Bronco,
while on the RG31 it is installed on the
flatbed. A first batch of Srams was delivered to
the UAE and integrated on the RG31 Mk5 by
the International Golden Group; this
assembly is known as Agrab 1. A second
batch of 72 is being integrated on the RG31
Mk6E as the Agrab 2 with deliveries well
underway. The latter version is fitted with a
Selex ES FIN3110 navigation system and, like
the Agrab 1, with Denel Land Systems
Arachnida fire control system.
Another type of mortar solution for
vehicles is the one that includes full
protection for the crew, that is, turreted

STK Engineering of Singapore has exported

its Srams to the UAE where it has been
integrated on the RG-31 to become the
Agrab 1. (Armada/P. Valpolini)

mortars. Constraints on vehicles dimensions

are obviously more stringent due to the
weight, while first round can usually be fired
quicker, as there is no need to set up the
mortar when the vehicle stops, but only to
adjust direction and elevation.
In the late 1990s Patria Hgglunds Oy, a
joint venture between Patria and BAE
Systems Hgglunds, developed the Amos
turret to provide an indirect firepower
solution for wheeled or tracked armoured
personnel carriers and fast combat boats.
With a weight of 3,600 kg the Amos turret is
armed with two three-metre long 120 mm
smoothbore breach-loading mortars on
hydro-pneumatic recoil system. Traverse is
360 while the elevation arc covers 3/+85
(laying is electric). The firing position is
automatically reached by the fire control

The Amos twin 120 mm breach-loading

mortar turret produced by Patria of Finland is
in use by the national army installed over a
Patria AMV chassis. (Patria)

system, followed by first firing less than 30

seconds later. Loading is semi-automatic,
allowing the first four rounds to be fired in
five seconds. Maximum rate of fire is 16
rounds per minute while maximum
continuous is 10 rounds per minute. The long
barrel provides a range of over 10 km, and the
fire control system has a simultaneous impact
firing capability of up to 10 rounds.
Following the development contract signed
in 2003, 18 Amos-equipped Patria AMVs
were finally ordered in December 2010 by the
Finnish Armed Forces followed by initial
deliveries in 2013.
In 2006 Patria further developed the
turret into the lighter single-barrel Nemo. It
maintains the same barrel and most

Compendium Artillery 2015


characteristics in terms of elevation arcs,

laying and loading systems, while of course
the highest rate of fire is reduced to three
rounds in 15 seconds. Maximum rate of fire is
of 10 rounds per minute and sustained six per
minute. The Nemo weighs 1,700 kg, which is
less than half the Amos, making it compatible
with 6x6s and lighter vessels. The launch
customer is an undisclosed Middle East
service, understood to be the Saudi Arabian
National Guard, which under a 2010 FMS
contract, ordered 36 Nemo-equipped LAV
IIs equipped from GDLS-Canada. Naval
orders are also said to have been chalked up.
According to Patria interesting opportunities
for the Nemo are arising in Europe, the
Middle-East and in Northern America. In
2012 Patria introduced the Nemo Plus
concept, integrating a Kongsberg Protector
Super Lite remotely controlled weapon
station in the turret, as well as a situational
awareness system. Moreover, in 2014 Patria
unveiled a mortar system gunnercommander training simulator that can be
used from basic to advanced training, typical
platoon configuration including three
gunner-commander stations and one
instructor-operator station. In early 2015
Patria and Kongsberg announced a teaming
agreement to pursue together a major
combat vehicle and weapon system
programme somewhere in the Middle East.
Leveraging experience with the 2S1
Gozdzik self-propelled howitzer of Soviet
origin, Huta Stalowa Wola (HSW) of Poland
developed a turreted mortar system known
as the RAK 120. It is armed with a single 120
mm mortar the 3,000 mm long smoothbore
barrel of which gives it a maximum range of
10 km. Aiming can be fully automatic, the
Polish configuration featuring the Topaz

After the Twin barrel turret, Patria

developed the Nemo. a single-barrel light
mortar turret. (Patria)


Compendium Artillery 2015

The RAK is a 120 mm turreted mortar system developed by Huta Stalowa Wola of Poland
that can be installed on tracked or wheeled armoured vehicles. (HSW)

integrated communications and fire control

system, or manual via a joystick (a fully
manual back-up is available). Vehicle
position is provided by a Talin 5000 inertial
navigation system coupled to a GPS and an
odometer, ensuring navigation even in GPSdenied situations. Elevation arc is 3/+80
while traverse is 360 and all actuators are
electric. The automatic system allows
ammunition to be loaded at all elevations, 20
ready-to-use rounds being hosted in the
turret bustle, while 40 more are stored in the
vehicle rear compartment. Rate of fire is
between six and eight rounds per minute, the
system ensuring multiple rounds
simultaneous impact with at least three
rounds. The turret can also be used to deliver
direct fire up to 500 metres. Time into action
is estimated at less than 30 seconds, the
vehicle being manned by a crew of two or
three and the turret fitted as standard with a
Level 1 protection.
Poland selected the RAK 120, but orders
came in slowly, a first batch of eight being
installed on the Rosomak 8x8. In 2013,
however, the Polish MoD ordered a further
batch of Rosomaks, 80 of which should be
armed with the turreted mortar while the
other 43 should be outfitted as command
posts and forward observer vehicles. HSW
also installed its turret on a Marder, which
was exhibited at MSPO in 2013 and 2014 to
attract export orders.
In the early 1980s the Soviet Union started
developing a turret armed with a 120 mm
breech-loaded 2A60 rifled mortar for

The RAK 120 seen here is installed on a

Rosomak 8x8 armoured personnel carrier;
the system has been ordered by the Polish
Army. (Armada/P. Valpolini)

wheeled or tracked light armoured chassis

like the BTR-80 and the BTR-D air assault
vehicle. Traverse is limited to 70 while
elevation arc covers 4/+80. The tracked
version, known as the 2S9 Nona, is
apparently no longer offered on the export
market quite unlike the wheeled 2S23 Nona
SVK and the towed Nona-K that are actively
marketed. A maximum rate of fire of 10
rounds per minute can be reached, sustained
fire not exceeding four rounds per minute.
Maximum range is 8.8 km with conventional
ammunition and 12.8 km with rocket
assisted projectiles. Still in service with many
of the former Soviet republics, the most
recent export success seems to be with
Venezuela for 18 systems. A further evolution

At IDEX 2015 the Military Industrial Complex

of Sudan exhibited a 120 mm mortar carrier
based on the Khatim-2 chassis, a very
spartan solution for the African market.
(Armada/P. Valpolini)

is the BMP-3 carried 2S31, which adopts the

longer barrel 2A80 mortar. Range leaps out
to 13 km with standard rounds.
China quickly developed similar
systems, largely based on reverse
engineering. The first one is the PLL-05
based on a WMZ 551 6x6 chassis with the
mortar-armed turret mounted at the back.
Here the turret could however be traversed
on all 360. Semi-automatic loading system
was fitted, five different types of rounds
being available, among which a HEAT
round for direct fire up to 600 metres. A
version based on a different chassis, that of
the Type 07P 8x8 personnel carrier was
developed, mostly for export purposes.
Named the Type 07PA, the launch customer
appears to be Tanzania, a usual customer of
Chinese military hardware.

The German Armys decision to stop the

procurement of the lePzMrs (leichter
Panzermrser, light armoured mortar system)
also known as Mortar Fighting System based
on the Wiesel 2 light tracked vehicle has de
facto put the system supposed to equip the
German light infantry on ice. The German
Army keeps the single system acquired, which
is made of eight Wiesel mortar vehicles, two
Wiesel command vehicles, four Mungo
ammunition carriers and some 6,000 newgeneration rounds. The system is fitted with
the Adler DVA Streitkrftegemeinsame
Taktische Feueruntersttzung command and
information system. According to the latest
information the system might be used by the

The German Government's decision to stop procurement of the Wiesel 2 probably reflects that
nation's desire not to be too deply involved in current confilcts.

Artillery from 2015, infantry units being

standardised on 81 mm mortars. The Wiesel
2 mortar is based on the Tampella (now
Patria) 120 mm smoothbore mortar already
in use by the German Army. The barrel is
reinforced to withstand higher pressures
yielded by the new ammunition. Barrel,
cradle, recoil device and yoke are all mounted
on a pivot; the fire control system allows fire in
less than 60 seconds from halt. Of the overall
310 kg, 180 kg are accounted for by the
traversing mass. Oriented forward, the
mortar can be traversed 30, elevation arc
being +35/+85. The 1,700 mm long barrel
and the new ammo performances combine
into a range of eight kilometres. Rate of fire
is three rounds in 20 seconds and 18 rounds in
180 seconds, a total of 25 rounds plus two
guided ammunition being carried on board.
Loading is manual, the barrel coming to a
horizontal position for doing so; hence its
relatively short length. The crew of three
military operate under armour and two
stabilising hydraulic jacks automatically
extend at the back of the vehicle prior to
firing. The Wiesel 2-based mortar system was
aimed at equipping the German Army
airmobile brigades and was thus designed to
be air-lifted inside the CH-53 helicopters in
service with the German Army Aviation. The
Mortar Fighting System remains in
Rheinmetalls export items portfolio. The
company is evaluating options to mount it on
other vehicles, and is open to cooperate with
other vehicle manufacturers.

increasing the accuracy of 120 mm mortar

bombs fired from smoothbore tubes with
crossed hairs trained on the US Armys
Accelerated Precision Mortar Initiative
(AMPI). The MPK, as it is known to reflect
Mortar Precision Kit, retains the fixed canard
nose assembly, but adds a tail subsystem with
fold-back fins to increase flight stability. Both


ATK's Mortar Precision Kit was fielded in

Afghanistan, however as no major order followed
the company is now seeking an international
partner to expand its market. (US Army)

Using its experience with the GPS-based

Precision Guided Kit (PGK), Alliant
Techsystems developed a similar kit aimed at

Compendium Artillery 2015


are installed on an M934 high-explosive

120mm projectile body. APMI requirements
called for a CEP of less than 10 metres,
compared to a CEP of 136 metres for 120 mm
smoothbore mortars at their maximum
range, which can be reduced by 50 metres
when using advanced precision position and
pointing systems. AMPI munitions are
programmed, like the PGK-equipped
artillery shells, with the Enhanced Portable
Inductive Artillery Fuze Setter. The MPK was
fielded in March 2011 in Afghanistan, the
first round being fired one month later.
However, no major contract was placed by
the US Army since, and ATK is thus looking
for international partners to expand the
market of its munition.
ATK is also involved, together with
General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical
Systems, in the Precision Extended Range
Munition (Perm) programme. The aim is to
provide the Marine Corps with new
ammunition that increases the range of their
Expeditionary Fire Support System on the
one hand, and considerably increases
accuracy on the other (objective requirement
calling for a CEP of less than 20 metres at 18
km range). The other competitor is a team
composed of Raytheon and Israel Military
Industries. The latter developed its Guided
Mortar Munition (GMM120) for 120 mm
smoothbore mortars, a 9-km range
ammunition that is currently equipped with
GPS guidance. The projectile features four
canard wings that pop-out in the aft section
once the round has left the barrel, guidance
inputs from the Pure Heart GPS/Inertial
navigation and control unit steering the
wings to bring the round as close as possible to
the target (10-metre CEP according to IMI). A
nose-mounted seeker semi-active laserguided version of this round might also be
developed for a CEP of less than 1.5 metres. In
February 2014 Israel Military Industries
announced that the GPS version of its
GMM120 guided mortar bomb was
undergoing qualification with the Israel
Defence Forces.
Another Israeli company, Elbit Systems,
developed a 120-mm mortar ammunition
the laser guidance kit of which is derived
from the laser JDAM. The kit includes power,
electronics, steering canard wings and seeker.
Weighing less than 3 kg, it ensures a wide
field of view, is compatible with all Nato
designators and provides a one-metre
accuracy. Elbit Systems is however looking at
further improvements; one weak point of
mortar laser guided bombs is the fact that


Compendium Artillery 2015

Produced by KBP of Russia the Gran 120 mm laser guided mortar bomb operates in
conjunction with the Malakhit laser designator; in the background is the 155mm Krasnopol
artillery guided round. (Armada/P. Valpolini)

they need a designator to illuminate the

target, while very often mortars are used to
neutralise targets which are not in direct view.
Designation from a flying platform is the best
option; however, infantry has no such assets.
The idea is thus to use hand-launched drones
to provide target illumination. Weight then
comes into play, the payload of such drones
being limited. Hence the need to develop
improved seekers with much higher
sensitivity that would allow to terminally
guide the ammunition with a much weaker
target signal reflection. The Israeli company is
actively working on that, the integration of a
GPS guidance system being also on its way.
One must remember Elbits heavy
involvement in the drone discipline and its
Skylark 2 could be an optimal designator.

MTC Industries & Research Carmiel of Israel

produces the CAS-0313 canard actuation
steering system for 120 mm mortar bombs
and 122 mm rockets. (Armada/P. Valpolini)

The fact that Israeli companies are

extremely active in the 120 mm mortar
ammo should not come as a surprise
knowing that the Israeli Defence Forces have
decided to replace all their 81 mm mortars
with the larger calibre, deploying one platoon
of four tubes per battalion. At AUSA 2014
another Israeli company, MTC Industries &
Research Carmiel, unveiled its CAS-0313
canard actuation steering system in which
each surface is controlled by a separate
electric direct current motor. The angular
position of each wing is measured by a
potentiometer and the spin rate of the motor
is determined by an electronic controller (not
being included in the kit). The unit is 212 mm
long, has a diameter of 119 mm, the
wingspan being of 370 mm. The wings are
deployed after launch. The system is also
proposed for 122 mm rockets.
KBP of Russia developed the Gran laser
guided 120 mm ammunition. Fired by
smoothbore mortars, it has a maximum
range of 9 km. The 27 kg round is 1,200 mm
long, has an 11.2 kg high explosivefragmentation warhead containing 5.3 kg of
explosive, and is designed to defeat single
and group, stationary and moving,
armoured and soft-skinned targets. Its lethal
range is given as 150 metres against
unprotected targets. Target illumination is
provided by the Malakhit portable
automated artillery fire control system.
Once the target is acquired the Gran is
launched. The rear fins deploy soon after
launch, after which the sustainer rocket
motor ignites; the gyroscope is then
activated, and the nose section separates
once it starts to orient itself towards the
target area with its canards.

Rockets, From Saturation to Precision

Range and accuracy also are two points of major concern also for rocket system
developers, the other being the improvement of in-action time and the reduction of
resupply time through the use of podded designs. Here too accuracy improvement comes
through the addition of guidance kits, which de facto turn dumb rockets into missiles.

Aerospace Long March International of China proposes a series of 301 mm rockets with
ranges of 100 to 290 km. (Armada/P. Valpolini)

n the west Lockheed Martins Cold War era

Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS)
has been in service for years; yet retirement
is not even being discussed since the United
States expects to extend its operational life to
2050. While the main operator still remains by
large the US Army, numerous other
countries adopted it, like France, Germany,
Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway,
Turkey and the United Kingdom. The
Netherlands and Norway have phased out
theirs, while Denmark sold its launchers to
Finland. Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain,
South Korea and Japan also deploy the rocket
system. As for the lighter version, the Himars,
it is operated by the Army and the Marine
Corps in the United States, Jordan, the
United Arab Emirates and Singapore.
Sensibilities on submunitions has led many
countries to get rid of their M26 rockets, each
containing 644 M77 Dual-Purpose
Improved Conventional Munitions as well as
the M26A1 and M26A2 in favour of unitary
warheads. In addition the need to reduce
collaterals has oriented new acquisitions
towards the GMLRS, the guided version of
the 227 mm rocket featuring a GPSaugmented inertial guidance that provides a
CEP of 10 metres. The initial M30 GMLRS
warhead was still based on submunitions, the

following M31 GMLRS-Unitary having been

extensively used by US Army, Marine Crops
and British Army MLRS/HIMARS launchers
(latest available reports {October 2013}
quoting over 3,000 such rockets fired in
operation). Nearly all US Army GMLRS-U
were fired in urban-counterinsurgency
scenarios. Over 25,000 GMLRS have been
produced by Lockheed Martin, Lot 9 rockets
to be delivered from the Camden (Arkansas)
company facility in April 2015 to the US
Army, the Marine Corps and the Italian
Army. Italy, Germany and France upgraded
their M270 launchers to a European standard
that includes the GMLRS-U-compatible
European Fire Control System. The
European upgrade follows the American
2002 initiative which had similar aims being
based on the Improved Fire Control System
and the Improved Mechanical Launch
System, modified launchers being known as
M270A1. A further contract in 2012 included
new armoured cab and more updates to the
FCS, with deliveries starting in 2015. The
British Army adopted the same upgrades.
Although the United States did not sign the
Convention on Cluster Munitions, the
operational use of cluster munitions warheads
was suspended since 2003. However the use of
unitary warheads for area denial missions

The British Army is equipped with the

GMLRS and has used it with its MLRS
launchers during the Afghan deployment in
the Helmand valley. (British Army)

A HIMARS launching a 227 mm rocket; this

system was developed to provide high mobility
forces with the same firepower as heavy forces
equipped with the MLRS. (US Army)

required a much higher number of rockets,

increasing time and cost. A GMLRS
Alternative Warhead Program was thus
launched, with three competitive prototypes
tested in 2010 from which ATK emerged as
the winner. Engineering development flight
tests were carried out in 2013.
The ATK approach was to maintain a
unitary warhead, while considerably
increasing its lethal radius. To do so it applied
its Lethality Enhanced Ordnance (LEO)
technology, based on the use of tungsten

Compendium Artillery 2015


For the GMLRS Alternative Warhead

ATK is exploiting its LEO technology;
a production contract is expected soon.
(Armada/P. Valpolini)

spheres of different diameter, mixing them in

an appropriate pattern to maximise damages.
The new warhead should match the lethality
of previous submunitions warheads, and
should be fitted with a fuse with two different
altitude settings as well as with a point
detonation function, although no precise
information is available on those matters as
well as on lethality. One of the aims was to
reduce risks of uncontrolled reactions in the
warhead if this was hit by bullets or
fragments. The new warhead has now
completed qualification, and Lockheed
Martin and ATK expect a production
contract in summer 2015. The US Army
should maintain in service only the new
Alternative Warhead rocket, discontinuing
the production of the current Unitary rocket.
Israel is definitely a target for rockets. By
late 2014 over 25,000 rockets had been fired
since 2001 into that nation. Being often on the
receiving end does not mean that Israeli
defence industry is not active in this field. The
national champion is Israel Military
Industries, which has gradually improved its
offer, especially in terms of ammunition,
which now have increased range and accuracy.
IMI has developed the Lynx, a launcher
that can fire five types of rockets. Usually
mounted on a 6x6 truck, it is fully
autonomous as it is equipped with an
advanced inertial navigation system, a fire
control system and a C4I system. Rockets
being contained in two pods, ensuring a high
availability on the field, it can be reloaded in
less than 10 minutes and turned back into
firing position. The simpler rocket is the
standard 122 mm Grad free-flight rocket,
capable of carrying a 20 kg warhead to 20/40
km (and each pod carries 20). IMI then
developed the LAR, a 160 mm free flight
rocket carrying a 45 kg warhead up to a range


Compendium Artillery 2015

of 45 km, with each pod carrying 13. To

improve accuracy IMI developed the
Accular, for Accurate LAR, with a view to
putting together long range, accuracy and
economy to challenge the cost of guided 155
mm artillery grenades. The Accular carries a
35 kg warhead at 40 km, the guidance system
being based on GPS. The maximum official
CEP is 10 metres, but IMI say it is actually
between two and three metres. It has been
adopted by the IDF as well as by an
undisclosed overseas customer. The Lynx can
accommodate 10 Accular in each pod.
To allow land forces to be independent
from the air force in terms of long range strike,
IMI developed the Extra (Extended Range
Artillery) which is a 306 mm rocket that
carries a 120 kg warhead to a range of 150 km.
Guidance is based on a GPS-inertial system,
while the rocket is steered by canard wings
that ensure maximum CEP of 10 metres. Each
Lynx pod can accommodate four Extras. It
has been adopted by two undisclosed foreign
customers, deliveries with a fragmentation
warhead having reached the 500 mark. Israel
also has the Extra, though in a version that
remains classified. The rocket can also be
equipped with submunitions, the same being
true of most of the aforementioned
munitions, but Israel has stopped using
cluster bombs. This being said, IMI is
developing very advanced cluster
ammunition for the IDF, which will generate
an amount of duds that is much lower than
1%, tests indicating 0.02% as a realistic figure.
Each of them weighs 1.2 kg and is equipped
with three different types of self-destruction
mechanism. These will be deployed with
rockets and 155 mm artillery shells.
The fifth ammunition of the Lynx (LAR
and Accular are considered to belong to the
same category) is the Delilah-GL. It is
definitely difficult to define it as a rocket,
since it is the ground-launched version of the
Delilah missile. With a 330 mm diameter, the
Lynx can only carry two pods, each with one
missile. Carrying a 30 kg warhead to a range of
180 km, its precision is less than one metre
thanks to its INS/GPS navigation system and
to its advanced electro-optical seeker. The
ground-launched version features a rocket
booster that accelerates the Delilah to a speed
at which its turbo engine can take over.
Thanks to the man-in-the-loop concept, realtime video imagery is relayed to the operator.
The Delilah-GL can loiter for some time over
the area of interest to enable its operator to
positively identify the target or to shift to a
more valuable one. Attacking usually is

An Italian Army MLRS launcher belonging to

the 5th Artillery Regiment; like many nations,
Italy is upgrading its MLRS to make them
GMLRS compatible. (Armada/P. Valpolini)

performed with a dive trajectory that adds

kinetic energy to the explosion, the missile
reaching around Mach 0.85 in the dive.
Lets switch to what might soon be added
to the current IMI portfolio. In Q1 2014,
under the pressure of two customers looking
for a 250 km range rocket, IMI started
working on a very long-range rocket, known
as the Predator Hawk, the development of
which should be completed by mid-2016.
The new weapon weighs 800 kg, has a 370
mm diameter, and carries a 200 kg unitary
warhead. Its guidance is based on
GPS/Glonass-inertial, and according to IMI
ensures a 10-metre CEP. Both the warhead
and the guidance system are derived from the
Extra. IMI aims at putting the Predator Hawk
to other good uses, like coastal and island
defence. Cost are reined by the lack of seeker
since guidance is ensured by two Elta radars
that triangulate the target, while a one-way
data-link will provides target data updates to
the rocket until the last moment. Thus sea
targets can be neutralised at a much lower
cost than with conventional surface-tosurface missiles. IMI is close to sign a
contract with an Asian country for such a
system, while a second potential customer
from that same geographic area is standing
in line. The company is now contemplating
the use of the principle against ground
moving targets.
Turning to Israeli MLRS improvements,
IMI developed the Trajectory Correction
System (TCS) which adds a guidance rocket
motor, located in the forward part of the
rocket, between the warhead and the nose
cone. It is activated by the TCS ground
control unit, which is located in the battery
command post and can simultaneously

A Himars at Lockheed Martins Missiles and Fire Control plant in Dallas; compared to the
MLRS the lighter system can accept only one rocket pod instead of two. (Armada/P. Valpolini)
In the Slovak Republic Konstrukta-developed
the RM-70/85 M modernised rocket launcher
is fitted with a new navigation and fire
control system, and the Modular version can
also be used to fire 227 mm rockets.
(Armada/P. Valpolini)

control up to 24 rockets. Rocket steering is

carried out in the mid part of the flight, and
allows to considerably reduce the rockets
CEP. Fully in service with the Israeli Defence
Forces since the early 2000, the TCS is not
dependent on the GPS and is an automatic,
all-weather system, with no man-in-theloop. IMI produces the systems that are
integrated into rockets acquired from
Lockheed Martin. To date no export
customers have yet materialised.
Roketsan of Turkey is one of the most
active companies in the rocket field, its
products ranging from 107 mm rockets and
launchers (typical Chinese rocket calibre)
though 122 mm systems typical of Soviet era,
to 300 mm systems. Starting with
ammunitions, the TR-107 rocket has a range of
3-11+ km with a launch weight of 19.5 kg and
an HE warhead of 8.4 kg that has an effective
radius of 14 metres. Two types of 122 mm
rockets are available, the TR-122, with 16-36
km range (21-40 at 600 metres altitude),
weighing 65.9 kg, 18.4 of which represent the
HE warhead with a lethal radius of 20 metres.
Both rockets have point detonating fuses. The
TRB-122 has the same physical data, but
carries a proximity-fused HE-fragmentation
warhead with 5,000 steel balls, which
increases lethality to 40 metres. The same
applies to the TR-300, the bigger of the family,
which comes in two versions, the TR-300E
with a range of 65-100+ km, and the TR-300S,
attaining 40-60 km. Both weigh 590 kg, and

carry the same 150 kg HE plus steel balls

warhead, but have a lethal range of 70 km.
To offer maximum flexibility to its
customers Roketsan developed a series of
modular systems that use more than one type
of rocket at the same time. The TR-107 being
particularly light, a trailer-mounted 12-tube
pod is available for airborne and airmobile
troops; it is equipped with steel tubes and can
thus be reloaded. The trailer system without
rockets has a weight of 385 kg. Vehiclemounted 107 mm pods are also available in
single-use configuration, insulated and with
composite tubes, the T-107 SPM being fitted
with 2 x 12 tubes. Compared to the original
eight-kilometre range Chinese 107 mm
rockets the Roketsan types leap further out
by nearly 50% to 11 km. Transitioning to the
122 mm calibre, Roketsan proposes the T122 launcher which carries two 20 steel tubes
clusters in four rows of five tubes, or two
thermally insulated composite pods each
with 20 rockets, which have a 40 km range
versus the 20 km to the original Russian
types. The launcher can be oriented 110,
elevation arc being 0/55. The system is
installed on a 6x6 or 8x8 truck, fitted with a
15 tonne-crane for reloading and with a
hydraulic stabilisation system with four jacks.
To ensure quick reaction time the launcher is
fitted with an INS/GPS navigation, an
automatic laying system, a weapon
management system, and a voice/data link.
Less than five minutes are required to fire the
first rocket, with a minimum firing interval
of 0.5 second. Overall the system has an
indicative weight of 23 tonnes. Ballistic
protection for the crew is available on
request. A smaller truck, such as a 4x4, can
be equipped with the T-107/122 cradle; this
can accommodate three single-use 107 pods

Roketsan of Turkey is developing guided

versions of its 122 and 300 mm rockets,
which can both be launched by the
companys T-122/300 multi-calibre system.
(Armada/P. Valpolini)

When fitted with 122 mm rockets, the

Roketsan T-122/300 can accommodate
40 rockets contained in two 20-rocket pods.
(Armada/P. Valpolini)

Compendium Artillery 2015


side by side, or one 122 single-use pod with

20 tubes fitted longitudinally, 122 mm
rockets pods being three metres long. It is to
note that 107 mm rockets can be launched
also with a negative elevation, which allows
one to perform direct fire from a vantage
point. Another two-calibre launcher is the T122/300 which can carry two 20 tubes 122
mm single-use pods or two two-tubes sealed
300 mm pods. All multi-calibre cradles
automatically detect and identify the type of
rocket-pod loaded.
To further improve its offer Roketsan is
developing guided versions of its 122 mm
and 300 mm rockets. Different versions will
be available, either with INS/GPS guidance
or with semi-active laser guidance.
According to the company these models will
have a range increased by around 20%
compared to non-guided versions.
At IDEX 2013 Jobaria Defense Systems, a
joint venture formed by Tawazun e Al Jabed
Land Systems, both from Abu Dhabi,
unveiled the Behemoth multiple rocket
launcher. This enormous vehicle, clearly
developed for operating in desert areas due
to its dimensions, is based on an Oshkosh 6x6
HET tractor towing a five-axle trailer on
which four launchers are installed, this
monster being four metres wide, 3.8 metres
high and 29 metres long! All four launchers
are trainable and each of them hosts three 20tube 122 mm rockets pods, for a total of 240

Huta Stalowa Wola of Poland has developed

long range 122 mm rockets and two
launchers, one based on a 6x6 truck which is
known as Langusta 40, the other, the
Langusta II, is mounted on an 8x8. (HSW)

rockets. The Behemoth is equipped with

GPS/INS navigation, meteorological data
sensors and is linked by voice and data to the
artillery field command. The commander
can programme fire missions depending on
targets and effects required, the system being
able to shoot all 240 rockets in ripples against
a single target or to take out multiple target
with a reduced number of rockets,
operational range being of 16 to 40 km.
Rockets are provided by Roketsan of Turkey
and are of the HE type, with a prefragmented warhead fitted with steel balls
and a proximity fuse. According to available
data the Behemoth is in service with the
Emirati Army, although the number of
systems acquired is undisclosed.
Huta Stalowa Wola of Poland has been
producing 122 mm multiple rocket launchers
for years. In its current catalogue two such

The Behemoth was developed by Jobaria

Defense Systems of the UAE in cooperation with
Roketsan of Turkey and carries four trainable
launchers each with three 20 122 mm rocket
pods, for a total of 240. (Armada/P. Valpolini)

systems are available, both fitted with the

same artillery component. The launcher can
host forty 122 mm free flight rockets, which
can be fired within 20 seconds; HE rockets
have a 42 km range while cargo ones can fly up
to 32 km. Maximum elevation is 50, while
minimum is 0 which becomes 11 if firing
forward, due to the cabin. Traverse is 70
right and 102 left from centreline. The fire
control system is made of a WB Electronics
DD9620T terminal, a Honeywell Talin 5000
navigation system, and a Radmor RRC9311
AP capable to transmit voice, data and IP
packet transmission in secure mode. When
installed over the Jelcz P662D.35-M27 6x6
truck the system becomes the Langusta WR40, while when mounted on a Jelcz P882D.43
8x8 truck it becomes the Langusta II. The
latter truck allows to take on board one reload
package with 40 rockets, that can be
automatically reloaded into the launcher,
providing a greater firepower. The Langusta
WR-40 is aimed at replacing legacy BM-21

RM-70 (based on the BM-21 122 mm rocket

launcher) reloading is quick thanks to a
spare rocket load transported behind the 8x8
truck cabin. (Excalibur)

launchers, the 122 mm calibre for rockets

being one of the very few standards of the
Cold War era that will be retained in Warsaw
forces inventory, due to the very strong
production base of those rockets existing in
the country. The Polish Army is also looking
for a new system, compatible with MLRS
rocket pods; this should be based on the new
Jelcz 663.32 6x6 truck, which is also being
used for the company Kryl mounted 155 mm
howitzer. HSW should be the prime
contractor and integrator, Lockheed Martin
having signed an agreement with Mesko of
Poland during MSPO 2013 on rocket and
missiles development. The system will be
known as WR-300 Homar, 300 indicating the
maximum range reachable, which would be
attained when using an ATACMS missile


Compendium Artillery 2015



Number of rockets
Combat weight
Firing sector
Max road speed

300 mm/370 mm
42.5 t

60 km/h


Number of rockets
Combat weight
Firing sector
Max road speed

300 mm
39.6 t
12.0/3.05/3.05 m
30 fwd
0 / +55
60 km/h


Number of rockets
Combat weight
Firing sector
Max road speed

122 mm
17.1 t
8.60/2.54/2.74 m
70 right / 102 left
0 / +55

85 km/h


122 mm
40 + 40
23.5 t
10.50/2.55/3.33 m
70 right / 102 left
0 / +55

85 km/h


HSW, Poland

Number of rockets
Combat weight
Firing sector
Max road speed

227 mm
10.9 t
7.0/2.4/3.2 m
140 fwd
85 km/h


Lockheed Martin, USA

Number of rockets
Combat weight
Firing sector
Max road speed

Norinco, China


Splav, Russia


HSW, Poland



Number of rockets
Combat weight
Firing sector
Max road speed

227 mm
25 t
6.85/2.97/2.59 m
140 fwd
64 km/h


Number of rockets
Combat weight
Firing sector
Max road speed

122 mm
22 t
10.7/2.5/3.2 m
0 / +58
90 km/h

Excalibur Army, Czech Rep.

Number of rockets
Combat weight
Firing sector
Max road speed

122 mm
24 t
8.80/2.5/2.9 m
70 right / 125 left
0 / +55
85 km/h

Number of rockets
Combat weight
Firing sector
Max road speed

122 mm
40 + 40
23 t
9.32/2.5/3.03 m
0 / +55

85 km/h

Number of rockets
Combat weight
Firing sector
Max road speed

273 mm
38 t

+27 / +56

80 km/h

Lockheed Martin, USA

Norinco, China

Norinco, China

which pod is compatible with the six-rocket

pod hosting 227 mm munitions. Homar
should be made available in 2017.
In the Czech Republic, Excalibur Army
still has the RM-70 in its catalogue. This
entered service in 1972 with the then
Czechoslovak Army. It is based on the BM21 forty-122mm rocket launcher fitted onto
an adapted version of the Tatra T813 Kolos
8x8 truck, which carries also a 40-rocket
reload pack and an automatic loader.
Following current trends, Yugoimport
developed a self-propelled multitube modular
rocket launcher which is based on a rotating
platform with a cradle hosting two disposable
modules each containing 12 rockets. The
launcher can accept modules loaded with
different types of rockets, in the 107 mm, 122
mm and 128 mm calibres. Among those the
M06 107 mm extended range capable to
deliver a 1.25 kg fragmentation warhead at
11.5 km, the Grad 122 mm with a 19.1 kg
warhead at 20.1 km, improved versions with
the same warhead reaching respectively 27.8
km (Grad-M) and 40 km (Grad-2000), the
M77 Oganj 128 mm rocket with its 19.5 kg
warhead and 21.5 km range, and the short
range M87 Plamen-D delivering a 3.3 kg
warhead at 12.6 km. The launcher is fully
automated and relies on an integrated fire
control system with INS/GPS navigation,
meteorological sensors and automatic
platform levelling system, which reduce the
inaction time to less than 60 seconds, the
launcher being ready to leave its position 30
seconds after the last rocket has been fired.
The adoption of ammunition modules allows
easy reload, a resupply truck with a light crane
being sufficient to quickly replace expended
modules. Yugoimports modular rocket
launcher can be easily fitted onto a 4x4 truck.
Russian Rosoboronexport offers the latest
derivatives based on its Smerch 300 mm
rocket family, which depending on the model
and warhead have a maximum range of 70 or
90 km. Submunition, antitank mine cluster,
HE-fragmentation, thermobaric, HEpenetration, shaped charge-fragmentation,
and sensor-fused submunitions warheads are
available. The 12-tube LV 9A52-2 can fire all
rockets in 40 seconds, firing the first within
three minutes from stop thanks to the fully
automated navigation, fire control and tube
laying systems. With a three-man crew
operating from a protected cabin the LV
9A52-2 is quite a heavyweight at over 43
tonnes in combat order. A lighter six-tube
launcher was developed, the LV 9A52-4. It
offers similar ballistic performances but


Compendium Artillery 2015

Indonesian Astros rocket launchers; Avibras of

Brazil is currently working on the Astros 2020
programme for the Brazilian Army, which
includes new systems and upgrades. (Avibras)

reduces combat weight to around 24 tonnes.

In its various forms the Smerch has been
exported to numerous countries such as
Algeria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, India,
Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Syria, Turkmenistan,
Ukraine, the UAE and Venezuela. Russia is
still proposing its 122 mm Grad rocket
system, in the basic 40 tubes configuration.
Avibras developed the Astros (Artillery
Saturation Rocket System) in the 1980s, and
has since continued to evolve the system. The
current standard is the Astros II Mk6.
Compared to the Mk3 in service with Brazil
the last version is fitted with an up-armoured
cabin, new digital navigation and
communication equipment, while the
Contraves Fieldguard radar is replaced by a
new tracking radar. The multiple rocket
launcher and the other components of the
system are being installed on Tatra T815-

790R39 6x6 and T815-7A0R59 4x4 high

mobility trucks, the original Mk3 being based
on a Mercedes Benz 2028A 6x6. Brazil has
already acquired a first batch of nine Mk6s, the
first having been delivered in June 2014. A
further contract should bring the acquisition to
a total of 60. In the meantime Brazil is
upgrading its Mk3 to Mk3M, which includes
most of the upgrades adopted in the Mk6, with
the exception of the new chassis. A multicalibre system since its inception, the Astros
can be fitted with a pod containing a different
number of rockets depending on calibre, 32
SS-30 127 mm, 16 SS-40 180 mm or four SS60/80 300 mm, with respective ranges of 33,
40, 60 and 90 km. To improve accuracy and
increase range the Astros 2020 programme
includes the development of a guided version of
the 180 mm rocket, the SS-40G, the new and
upgraded systems being also able to launch the
AV-TM 300 tactical cruise missile, two of
them being carried by the launcher.
The Astros II is in service in six foreign
countries, Angola, Bahrain, Malaysia, Iraq,
Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Indonesia being the
last customer, with 36 launchers. How much
the financial crisis that is hitting Avibras will
influence the future of the Astros remains to
be seen.
The South Korean Army is currently
receiving the first batch of Chun-Mu rocket
launchers. The system is based on a Doosan
8x8 chassis. The firm also provides the cradle
and the launcher and acts as prime contractor
and system integrator. The rockets, for their

Norinco AR3 launcher can be fitted with 300 or 370 mm rockets that can reach targets at a
range of 280 km. (Armada/P. Valpolini)

part, are developed and made by Hanwa. The

launcher accommodates two pods with six
239 mm rockets each. These can be either
free-flight or guided types. While a variety
of warheads are available, only HE are
offered for export (the other are probably
cluster warheads; South Korean is amongst
the nations that did not sign the ban on such
types of weapon). The range of the system
has not been disclosed, but estimates put it at
around 80 km.
China definitely does not lack rocket
launcher manufacturers. At least three
companies are active in this field, namely
North Industries Corporation (Norinco),
China Precision Machinery Import Export
Corporation (CPMIEC), and Aerospace
Long-March International (ALIT). They all
have developed launchers and rockets.
Starting with Norinco, the most common
type is the Type 90B, a 122 mm system with 40
tubes mounted on a North-Benz 2629 6x6
chassis, which carries the launcher cradle and
loaded tubes as well as a reload package. A
canvas can be quickly drawn to make the
whole unit inconspicuous. The most advanced
122 mm rockets have a range of 50 km, but
Norinco plans to add an INS/GPS guidance to
those rockets. The 120km-range WM-120 is
much bigger and fitted with two pods of four
273 mm rockets each. The WM-120 is the
evolution of the WM-80, also based on a TA580 8 8 cross-country truck chassis. It won
an export order from Armenia in the late
1990s. This carries 80-km range HE, HEI or
cargo rockets, though the new guided rockets
add 40 km to their range. The 8x8 AR1A
carries two pods with five 300 mm rockets
each, which is a calibre of Soviet Smerch age.

The latest rocket developments at Norinco of China are the various Dragon guided rockets,
developed in different calibres. (Armada/P. Valpolini)

China has considerably improved the rocket

family: two four-rocket pods can also be
installed, with 370 mm rockets. Three types of
300 mm rockets are available, the BRE2 (190 kg
HE warhead, lethal radius of 100 metres and
range of 60 to 130 km), the BRC3 cargo rocket
(623 submunitions capable to penetrate up to
50 mm steel armour, with a range of 20 to 70
km), and the BRC4 (480 submunitions and 60
to 130 km range). The AR1A is a development
of the AR1, which is fitted with two fourrocket pods, the export version being the A2
which was sold at least to Morocco. A further
development is the AR3, which can carry two
five 300mm rocket pods or two four-370mm
rocket pods. In the latter calibre the Fire
Dragon 280 guided rocket can reach 280 km, its
guidance system being based on an inertial
system coupled to a satellite positioning
system, which can be GPS, Glonass or the
Chinese Beidou, to achieve a CEP of 30
metres. The 300 mm guided rocket is the Fire
Dragon 140, which has a similar guidance
system and a range of 130 km. Norinco also
developed a modular MLRS which can use
either 122 or 220 mm rockets, the SR-5. The
122 mm pod houses 20 rockets while the 220
mm one accepts a maximum of six. These are
of the Fire Dragon 60 type with a 70 km
range; they use the guidance system of the
other Fire Dragon rockets with the addition of
a semi-active laser terminal guidance to
ensure metric accuracy.
The Alit WeiShi (Guardian) family of
rockets is developed in free-flight, guided
(with a simple inertial guidance) and

precision guided (with INS/satellite

guidance) versions. The 122 mm WS-15, the
300 mm WS-1 and WS-1B free-flight rockets
have respective ranges of 45, 100 and 180 km.
The WS-1B carries a 150 kg HE prefragmented warhead at a maximum speed of
Mach 5.2, with a dispersion between 1 and
1.25%; a submunition warhead is also
available. The WS-22 is the guided version of
the WS-15, keeping the same range, while the
WS-2 is a 400 mm guided rocket with a 200
km range. Turning to precision guided
rockets, the WS-32 is the guided WS-1 while
the WS-33 is a 200 mm rocket with respective
ranges of 150 and 70 km. The WS-3 is the
precision version of the WS-2, the WS-3A
being a longer range version reaching out to
280 km. Alit also developed the 301 mm Aseries, where the A100 is guided and the
A200 and A300 are precision guided. The
figure in their designations is supposed to
reflect their ranges in kilometres although the
last one is just shy of 300 at 290.
The CPMIEC M12 accommodates two
600 mm missiles, each weighing 2,070 kg
with 450 kg blast or blast-cluster warheads.
Launched vertically, they have a range of 50 to
150 km with a CEP of 80-120 metres with
INS and 30-50 metres with INS/Satellite
guidance. Eighteen minutes are needed to
deploy the system and fire the first missile,
the second following three to five minutes
later. Two other CPMIEC launchers are
armed with the SY400 and SY300 guided
rockets that can be fitted with INS giving
them a CEP of 250 metres or an INS/GNSS

Compendium Artillery 2015



An SR-5 model; this multiple rocket launcher

developed by Norinco of China accepts 122
and 220 mm rockets, both also produced as
guided rockets. (Armada/P. Valpolini)

to reduce this to 50 metres. The SY400 is a

400 mm affair which is 4.8 metres long. It has
a launch weight of 1,175 kg with 200 kg
accounting for the warhead, which can be
HE, fuel-air explosive, or cluster. The smaller
SY300 has a 300 mm calibre over a length of
6.518 metres for a weight of 745 kg, including
a 150 kg warhead which can be integral blast
fragmentation, integral fuel-air explosive,
integral blast fragmentation combustion, or
anti-armour fragment cluster. It has a range of
between 40 and 130 depending on warhead.
Both the SY400 and SY300 are vertically
launched. Chinese rocket launchers and
rockets have won numerous export
successes and can be found in Armenia,
Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sudan, Tanzania,
Thailand, Turkey and Venezuela.


Compendium Artillery
Supplement to
Issue 2/2015
Volume 39, Issue No. 2, April-May 2015

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The South Korean Chun-Mu rocket

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Compendium Artillery 2015

did not strictly speaking pioneer the concept of the

light, post-Cold War purpose howitzer on wheels, it
certainly paved the way to the practical, easily
deployable, powerful - it is a 155/52! - 6x6-mounted
field weapon system - one that does not require police
escorts on public roads and can drive through
motorway tolls. Many tried to gild the lily, but with
mixed results. (Armada/Eric H. Biass)

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ON THE COVER: Although the Nexter Caesar

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Superlight systems
Agencija Alan from Croatia promotes the
Heron M93 A2, a 70 mm rocket launcher
with two pods of 20 tubes each. Mounted
on a trailer, it can be readied for fire in two
minutes; its elevation arc is 1 to +46 while
in azimuth it can be oriented 15, 360
being available as option. It is filled with TF
M95 rockets which carry a 3.7 kg warhead
at a maximum of 10 km. With a loaded
weight of less than 1.3 tonnes, the system
can also be installed on a vehicle.
From Asia comes another 70 mm
system, developed by Hanwha of South
Korea. Installed on a 4x4 utility vehicle, the
launcher hosts 34 rockets, these being
available in three different types: HE, with a
1 kg warhead and point detonation fuse,
multipurpose submunition, with nine
submunitions and electronic time delay
fuse, and flechette, containing 1,200 3.9
grams projectiles and also with an
electronic time delay fuse. Fitted with a fully
automated navigation, fire control and
laying system, it can fire at a maximum rate
of four rounds per second, in direct or
indirect fire mode, up to 8 km
(multipurpose), 7.8 km (HE) or 6 km
(flechette). The launcher is fully trainable on




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