Podcast with Chris Foss, Editor, Jane's Armour and Artillery
There is a growing trend towards precision effects in artillery and the guided MLRS has been the most effective precision system in Afghanistan. This gives an engagement capability out to 70 kilometres, with an accuracy of 10-15 metres. Use of such systems has reduced the logistic requirement as the number of rounds fired is reduced.
The other trend towards joint fires has not been easy. As an example of the different approaches made by countries, the Germans use the Fennec command vehicle in pairs, one for forward air control and one for artillery/mortar control. However, Battlespace Management is the key here. Another example given of the problems that need to be overcome, was last year, when two Chinook helicopters flew directly through an artillery barrage, but fortunately, were not hit.
There is still a need to train with live ammunition. Conventional and Manoeuvre Warfare, as used in the Gulf Wars, is not needed in Afghanistan, but may be required again in the future.
Engaging fleeting targets with artillery is very difficult, so loitering munitions are a good option for such targets; however, they are expensive and efforts are being made to drive down their cost.
Both the Caesar and Archer 155mm artillery systems were presented at the Defence IQ Future Artillery conference in March. These wheeled artillery systems give great strategic mobility. The first French Army Caesar regiment is in service and the Caesar artillery rounds are loaded manually. By contrast, the Archer system is completely autonomous - the crew stay in the lorry cab. Both systems will be air transportable in the A400M. Norway and Sweden are procuring 24 Archer systems each and these will comprise each country’s sole artillery assets once delivered.