Archer is now integrated with a 6x6 all terrain vehicle making it an extremely powerful, highly mobile artillery system.
BAE Systems Bofors in Karlskoga, Sweden, has developed the FH77 BW L52 self-propelled howitzer, a 155mm howitzer on a 6×6 chassis. The howitzer has a range of 40km using current standard ammunition and 60km with the M982 Excalibur rounds. The howitzer can also fire the Bonus top attack rounds developed by Bofors and Giat (now Nexter).
The self-propelled howitzer is fully autonomous and can be used in traditional warfare fire support as well as in modern international peace-keeping and peace enforcement missions.
In 2003 Försvarets Materielverk (FMV), the Swedish defence acquisition agency, awarded a development contract to Bofors (now BAE Systems Bofors) to build two demonstrator howitzers. The prototype FH77 BW L52 self-propelled howitzers entered firing trials in Sweden in 2005 and 2006.
In September 2006, the FMV placed a contract for detailed design work on Archer and, in January 2007, a contract for the next development phase. The Swedish Army has a requirement for 24 systems (two battalions). Following a decision on procurement, deliveries could begin in 2009.
The Archer system is a development of the earlier155mm towed FH77 L39, of which more than 700 were produced and are in service with the Swedish, Nigerian and Indian armed forces.
The vehicle platform is a modification of the Volvo A30D 6×6 articulated all-terrain hauler vehicle. The vehicle cabin and engine compartment are fully armoured and the cab is fitted with bullet and fragmentation-proof windows. The cabin seats up to four personnel. The howitzer is operated by three or four crew.
The cabin is fitted with a door each side and a circular roof hatch.
The main weapon is the 155mm 52-calibre gun. The gun uses the proven design of the cradle and recoil system from the current generation FH 77B towed field howitzer.
The weapon is equipped with a fire control system, laying system and inertial navigation and a muzzle velocity radar. Data from the radar is downloaded to the onboard computerised fire control system. However Archer can use other remote weapon stations on the market.
A remote weapon system, comprising a day and night sight with a 7.62mm general-purpose machine gun, is installed on the roof of the cab. BAE Systems Bofors has developed the Lemur family of gyro-stabilised, fragment-protected, electro-optical sights and remotely controlled (RC) weapon systems. The Lemur machine gun can be aimed and fired from inside the armour-protected cabin.
The vehicle carries 20 150mm projectiles in the fully automatic magazine and an additional 20 projectiles for reload. The howitzer can use NATO modular charges or Bofors Uniflex 2 modular charges.
The Uniflex 2IM modular charge system consists of two sizes of combustible charge cases; one full-size and one half-size case, both filled with the same type of insensitive guanylurea dinitramide (GuDN) propellant. The modular charge system allows several increments of charge to be available and increases the gun system's multiple rounds simultaneous impact (MRSI) capability and good range overlap between the increments.
With BAE Bofors / Nexter Bonus rounds the range is 35km. The range of the gun is extended to 60km with the precision-guided Raytheon / Bofors XM982 Excalibur round. The Excalibur shell is corrected in flight towards a pre-programmed trajectory by a GPS guidance system.
The system is operated by three or four crew members who are protected in combat by being under armour. The armoured platform provides protection against 7.62mm rounds, armour penetration rounds, 6kg mines (level 2 STANAG 4569) and has NBC protection for the crew.
The system is designed for high strategic, operational and tactical mobility. The vehicle can reach road-speeds of up to 70km/h, is capable of traversing snow up to a depth of 100cm, is rail transportable and can be air-transportable in the new A400M aircraft.
A large hydraulically operated stabiliser is installed in the rear of the chassis and is lowered with the vehicle in the selected firing position.
The gun elevation and traverse ranges are 0° to +70° and -75° to +75°. The initial deployment time and the redeployment times are each less than 30 seconds.
The system provides precision strike firepower and high sustained firepower for support and for deep firing operations with more than 25t of ammunition per gun and 24-hour operation.
The howitzer has a continuous fire rate of 75 rounds an hour, an intensive fire rate of 20 rounds (i.e. a full magazine) in 2.5 minutes, and a salvo fire rate of three rounds in 15 seconds. The MRSI capability, multiple round simultaneous impact, is up to six rounds. Direct-sighting can be used for target ranges up to 2,000m.