The remote-controlled howitzer (RCH) 155 is a new 155mm wheeled self-propelled howitzer developed by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW), a defence company based in Germany.
The Ukraine ministry requested Germany to supply 18 units of RCH 155, worth approximately €216m ($226.6m), in July 2022. The weapons are expected to be delivered to the armed forces of Ukraine in 2025. The Bundeswehr commenced the testing of the RCH 155 in February 2023.
The RCH has been derived and perfected through joint operations. The full autonomy of the entire system in terms of command, navigation and fire control enables it to be deployed for a wide range of missions including engaging mobile targets and defending encampments.
RCH 155 howitzer details
The RCH 155 is a flexible and protected long-range artillery system measuring approximately 10.4m long, 2.99m wide and 3.6m high, with a combat weight of less than 39t. The vehicle can accommodate two crew members.
Based on the PzH 2000 system, RCH 155 combines automated artillery firepower and the range of the automatic and remote-controllable artillery gun module (AGM) with the safeguarded wheeled mobility of the Boxer armoured vehicle.
It features fully automated artillery efficiency and network-based system architecture, which can be expanded further when required. The network-based system architecture will potentially allow for the implementation of autonomous driving and action or remote-controlled operation in the future.
The RCH 155 offers fully automated operation with degraded operating modes and has a cooling and heating system for the AGM and crew. It has a fire control computer with integrated ballistics calculation and radio data transmission connection to an artillery control system, and a high-precision navigation system, with or without global positioning system support.
The vehicle also features a built-in test equipment system.
The vehicle is equipped with the NATO Joint Ballistic Memorandum of Understanding (JBMoU)-compatible 155mm L52 main gun, which can fire up to nine rounds per minute to a range of up to 40km, covering an area of 5,026km² with standard ammunition.
The range can be extended up to 54km with very long-range artillery projectiles through 360° azimuth and all charge and elevation ranges without requiring support. Terminal-guided projectiles such as VULCANO and EXCALIBUR can also be employed with the RCH 155.
The combat load comprises 30 ready-to-fire projectiles and 144 modular propelling charges. The secondary armament includes an optional remote-controllable weapon station.
The vehicle features an automated projectile loading system with inductive ignition programming, an automated loading system for modular charges, an automatic electrical gun-laying system, and optional capabilities for direct laying through optronics.
The vehicle features a separate crew compartment and operator stations for increased protection. The crew compartment has a fire extinguishing system, while the power pack compartment contains an automatic fire detection and extinguishing system.
The RCH 155 has a nuclear, biological and chemical protection and ventilation system with optional all-round self-protection, with a weapon station and smoke grenade launching system.
The Boxer drive module of the RCH 155 offers high survivability and superior protection to its crew members from mines, improvised explosive devices and ballistic threats, along with flexibility and mobility.
Engine and performance
The vehicle is powered by an MTU V8 199TE20/21 type engine with a capacity of up to 600kW (816hp). It can travel for a range of more than 700km on-road at a maximum speed of 100km/h.
The vehicle has a ground clearance of 0.5m. It can ford a depth of 2m and the gradient and side slope are 60% and 30% respectively. It has a turning radius of 7.5m and can climb a step of 0.8m.