Ukraine’s defence forces are fielding ‘state-of-the-art’ artillery on location Ukraine in the form of the advanced Archer system, according to a release from Swedish Armed Forces Headquarters published 14 November 2023, just eight months after Sweden decided to donate the defence equipment to help defend against Russia’s full-scale invasion.
The Archer FH77 BW L52 is a 155mm self-propelled howitzer manufactured by BAE Systems Bofors in Karlskoga, Sweden. It is fully autonomous and can be used in traditional warfare fire support, with a 40km range howitzer using standard ammunition and a 60km range with M982 Excalibur rounds. The Archer FH77 BW L52 can also fire Bonus top attack rounds, developed by Bofors and Giat (now Nexter).
Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) received the first serial-production Archer artillery systems from BAE Systems in September 2015 and completed the 48 system order shared between Norway and Sweden in November 2022. Sweden them donated 8 Archers to Ukraine in the following March, and ordered another 48 Archer systems from BAE for $500m in September 2023.
Under the recently outlined appropriations plans, Sweden’s defence spending is set to break forecasts and reach Nato spending targets years ahead of schedule, with a 71% increase in military specific appropriations in the next 12 months.
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Ukraine crews were brought up to standard with the equipment in Sweden in a fast-paced training phase administered by the Boden Artillery Regiment (A 8).
A trainer in the programme identified as ‘David’ said the students demonstrated a strong willingness to learn, and to overcome language barriers, and noted that for the cohort faced a challenge in moving from a over Soviet artillery systems to significantly advances technology, but were able to master the system. “It has been stressful for both instructors and students. However, my conclusion is that the Swedish training methodology works well.”
In remarks to A 8 personnel, artillery inspector and commanding officer of the regiment Colonel Stephan Sjöberg acknowledged the size of the feat and laid out the necessity of their mission: “I understand that what you have done during this extremely intense period has ‘challenged your hearts and minds’.
“The war that our friends are fighting in Ukraine is justified, and I know that you understand the significance of integrity entailed in the task itself. And at the same time, I am aware of the challenges you have experienced as you have likely developed friendships during this intense training period.
“I want to thank you all as a colleague and as your commanding officer for all that you have achieved. I am especially happy to see that the training was carried out jointly by the army. Your contribution is of great importance to our friends in Ukraine.”
Additional reporting from Harry McNeil and Richard Thomas.