Britain’s first Archer wheeled artillery system has arrived after only six months since the UK Government agreed to acquire 14 guns from the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration for the Royal Artillery.

The agreement also includes the delivery of an Ammunition Resupply System, an initial ammunition suite, a training package and an initial support package.

The Archer 6×6, 155mm self-propelled howitzer is a fully autonomous 52 calibre gun with a 40km range using standard ammunition, but 60km range with M982 Excalibur rounds. The system carries 20 projectiles in the magazine and an additional 20 munitions for reload.

Having donated 32 of its 39 calibre AS90 Braveheart howitzers to Ukraine – artillery systems that are only expected to be operational until 2032 – the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) acquired the 14 Archers as an interim replacement to balance its inventory.

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By GlobalData

However, the acquisition should not conflict the UK’s long-term plan to introduce a new long-range artillery capability by the end of the decade through the Mobile Fires Programme, intended to permanently replace the ageing AS90 systems.

With concerns that the MoD does not spend its budget efficiently, the government was prompted to alter its strategy in the Defence Command Paper Refresh in July this year, where the ministry now focuses its efforts on practices that ensure programmes are delivered faster, using more open architecture and spiral development.

In that spirit, the MoD procurement branch, Defence Equipment and Support, stated in a 6 October press release that “reaching an agreement in the space of just two months [demonstrates the ministry’s] agility and DE&S’ capability to procure at pace to rapidly deliver the Army’s requirements.”

The system will be fielded by 1 Deep Recce Strike (DRS) Brigade, and initially held by 19 Regiment Royal Artillery (The Scottish Gunners), Larkhill, Wiltshire, where capability integration activity and safety trials will be carried out to meet Initial Operating Capability in 2024.

Additional reporting from Richard Thomas.