In a bid to modernise the UK’s artillery landscape, an alliance comprising BAE Systems, Babcock, and Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land introduces the Archer wheeled mobile artillery system as a candidate for the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) Mobile Fires Platform (MFP) programme. 

With plans to rejuvenate the country’s 155mm capabilities, the Archer artillery alliance aims to leverage the technology of the Archer system, already in service with the British Army, offering a homegrown solution that aligns with the MoD’s land industrial strategy.

Positioned as the optimal replacement for the legacy AS90, the Archer system is set to mitigate risks for the Mobile Fires Platform programme, enabling the UK to modernise its 155mm artillery.

The Mobile Fires Platform (MFP) programme acquisition is expected to cost $990m (£792m) for the new self-propelled artillery system when the contract has been awarded, according to GlobalData’s “The UK Defense Market 2023-2028” report. 

John Borton, managing director of BAE Systems weapon systems UK, emphasises the potential of an Archer-based solution, stating, “Our aim is to deliver a long-term homegrown artillery solution for the UK, which will safeguard, sustain, and grow a critical, specialised British industrial capability and an opportunity for exports.” The alliance plans to collaborate with other UK businesses as the proposal progresses.

BAE Systems will lead in providing and integrating the weapon system, managing the assembly, integration and test facility, and transferring technology from its Swedish production line to establish a UK-based MFP production line. 

Babcock International Group will contribute to superstructure consolidation and ammunition resupply, utilising its manufacturing and maintenance capabilities.

Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) takes the lead for the RMMV HX 8X8 truck chassis and cabin preparation for integration with the Archer artillery system. The alliance’s proposal anticipates creating over 350 high-skilled jobs in the UK but also ensures UK industrial content during full-rate production.

Archer, recognised for its automation and rapid deployment capabilities, offers mobility, lethality, and survivability. With a track record of selection by Sweden and Switzerland, and as the UK’s interim solution, the Archer Artillery System emerges as a candidate for reshaping the future of UK artillery.

The competition is Hanwha Defense, in collaboration with UK defence manufacturers, who have unveiled “Team Thunder” to bid for the UK Mobile Fires Platform programme, aiming to develop a local variant of the K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzer for the British Army.