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Foreign candidates for the US Army's towed howitzer replacement effort


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2 hours ago, bojan said:

What is wrong with it?

I searched (on Bing) for 'caesar howitzer problems' and didn't find anything; I'd like to hear of problems as well.

I'm also interested in how well the candidates can be worked manually.

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Not "problems" per se. But Archer is faster to set up (30 sec vs 1 min), has higher rate of fire (20 vs 15 in 150 sec) at least during short fire missions), faster to scoot, reloads faster, a lot more flexible to azimuth variations (+/-85° vs +/-30°),  and all that with fewer crew (two/four vs five). So I'm wondering what the redeeming features of Caesar are. Both fit the A400M and have, being of same barrel length, effectively the same ranges.

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21 minutes ago, Ssnake said:

Not "problems" per se. But Archer is faster to set up (30 sec vs 1 min), has higher rate of fire (20 vs 15 in 150 sec) at least during short fire missions), faster to scoot, reloads faster, a lot more flexible to azimuth variations (+/-85° vs +/-30°),  and all that with fewer crew (two/four vs five). So I'm wondering what the redeeming features of Caesar are. Both fit the A400M and have, being of same barrel length, effectively the same ranges.

Is that the description for the 6x wheel Caesar or the 8x wheel Caesar?

 

6x Caesar is light enough to fit in a C-130H. 

 

If your description is for the 8x Caesar then it seems Archer has many advatages since even weight are around same class.

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On 11/20/2020 at 3:26 PM, Ssnake said:

Not "problems" per se. But Archer is faster to set up (30 sec vs 1 min), has higher rate of fire (20 vs 15 in 150 sec) at least during short fire missions), faster to scoot, reloads faster, a lot more flexible to azimuth variations (+/-85° vs +/-30°),  and all that with fewer crew (two/four vs five). So I'm wondering what the redeeming features of Caesar are. Both fit the A400M and have, being of same barrel length, effectively the same ranges.

It will never really be an apples to apples comparison as ARCHER is a real SPH while CAESAR is more an evolution and replacement for drawn artillery,.... But lets try anyway

Archer is faster to shoot yes.....but not by as much as you think....With a competent crew CAESAR is ready to shoot in well under a minute ...maybe 40-45s ....the few extra seconds will not make an appreciable difference IRL.  

The Archer has a marginally higher ROF.....but not for long with its meagre 21 round magazine.  And what BAE doesnt tell you is that the high ROF comes at the cost of accuracy (only in the original dumper version)......in its burst-fire mode dispersion is so great as to make the capability essentially useless. 

Because of its automated magazine and the need for specialized resupply/lumber vehicles , the ARCHER is MUCH slower to reload than the CAESAR.......optimistically about 15 min whereas the latter can be reloaded from any truck or trailer in a few minutes using its own crew.  With 36 rounds and charges onboard it is also able to conduct longer fire missions before requiring resupply.

In terms of scooting Caesar is again 10-15s slower than Archer, but still plenty fast enough to avoid CB fire. 

The limited traverse and fire arc of CAESAR and all the other GOATs , is a disadvantage that cant be so easily explained away but is a result of having to compromise to keep down cost, weight and complexity.  A necessary sacrifice to get 80-90% of the capability at 30-50% of the cost of "real" SPH. 

Wrt crew size, the CAESAR 8x8 is available with fully automatic shell loading , which allows you to reduce crew size to 3 ....But having 4-5 soldiers increases flexibility and redundancy so is often retained even if not strictly needed.

As for redeeming features of the CAESAR......well its battle proven, has a large and growing user base, its reliable, has a very good gun, superb FCS, has excellent strategic mobility and quite good off-road performance too, its cheap(ish) at less than half the cost of real SPHs like ARCHER, K9 etc.....but gives you equivalent or near equivalent capability. 

In comparison ARCHER, looks like a great system on paper.......but fact is its been around just as long as CAESAR but has barely reached operational status yet, ...its been dogged by reliability and performance issues throughout its lengthy development, some of which to my knowledge remain unresolved. Despite BAEs heavy sales pitches Archer has also yet to secure its first export customer ..... in stark constrast to CAESARs success on the same market. 

Not only has Archer failed to attract new buyers , its actually lost two!.....all those fawning over its paper specs would do well to read into the final norwegian evaluation , made shortly before they left the ARCHER project. ......its pretty damning TBH, and mirrors the conclusions the danish army came to years earlier when they too were part of the development team..... technically immature, overly complex, unreliable,  unsatisfactory accuracy , questions regarding resupply/ reloading when the company making the specialized resupply vehicle went bankrupt, soaring costs, and a general concern over BAEs ability to rectify all those issues.  Despite what the swedes have been claiming ever since , neither Denmark nor Norway ditched the ARCHER because of money.  

Maybe one day the ARCHER will end up being a decent system, especially now BAE have seen the light and put the gun on a sensible platform.....but for now its still far from being able to live up to the hype. 

 

 

 

Edited by MikeKiloPapa
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from swedish arty officer , swedish perspective

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The fact is that when the range approaches or pushes beyond 20 km, the shells will follow a trajectory that is so high, and spend such a long time airborne that the weather makes accuracy unacceptably poor. The reason is partly because it becomes hard to reach the desired effect without ranging shots and/or the need for additional rounds in target, and partly because the increased dispersion increases the danger for the friendly units one tries to support. Base bleed and rocket assisted projectiles (RAP) which are used to increase the ranges also further diminish accuracy and increase cost. To counter this increase in dispersion once the range is edging towards 40 km technical aids such as precision-guided rounds and course correcting fuzes are used. These are very expensive, and ill-suited to the massed fires required to support ground combat. Firing at ranges between 30 and 40 km also has other consequences. At least double the gas pressure and V0 close to 1,000 m/s leads to increased strain on the equipment and faster wear. My opinion is that if the laws of physics makes it a bad, or at the very least an expensive, idea to use supporting fires at ranges above 20 km, then we shouldn’t invest too much money and effort into such a capability for systems acquired to support ground combat. To reach 20+ km 120 mm is plenty enough.

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But range threatens to become the “24 cm higher cabin” of the artillery, an extreme cost driver. Longer range also places indirect requirements on extreme accuracy, no longer is just “rather accurate” good enough. The technology behind the increased accuracy is and will continue to be expensive. This means that the ammunition used to fire far away and with high accuracy becomes too expensive to use for massed fires. 

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The quest for accuracy partly comes from the increased range, but also from some kind of engineering bewitchment for perfection. Accuracy is very nice when the enemy headquarters is located or when the enemy has put their fighting positions close to a hospital. But at the end of the day, artillery is an area effect weapon, and to achieve effect it is enough to hit the target area instead of aiming for the bullseye with every round. I am worried that we in the West is forgetting this. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard “Isn’t it jolly good to have better accuracy, that we can get the same effect with fewer rounds.” I have tried to explain that it is enough to be in the right area and that it is more important to be able to fire large volumes in many places, which increases the odds that the enemy will be suppressed in many different spots. Often the fire mission is based on an estimate on the enemy and the terrain, and not on an observation. If one can see the enemy both we and the enemy can use direct fire, and it is the losses that causes which we wish to avoid. Why then aim for a few expensive bullseyes and completely overlook massed fires? Making this case is often like talking to the wall. I will however persist, gutta cavat lapidem.

https://corporalfrisk.com/2019/01/26/guest-post-an-unreasonable-brigade-artillery/

Edited by bd1
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You don't have to use all the range, all the time. It could be argued that the extreme ranged fires should be the outliers and not the norm. Equally, that role is already handily filled by GMLRS type systems. 

6" ordnance seems to have the HE to be effective against built up areas and fortified positions. 

 

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They are largely correct on area fires. A suitable target will very often have other unidentified targets in the vicinity and you will want to hit or suppress them too. You also want to not let the targets simply move 100m away and be out of the area of fire.  Of course with very accurate fire you can still program a pattern of fire to hit a wider area, but I suspect it will rarely happen in battle.

The range issue arguably makes a case for a mix of medium range pieces and long range specialised counter battery and interdiction pieces, especially as there is an increasing push for extreme range which will be expensive to have as a capability everywhere. And at some point atypical solutions might make sense for very long range requirements.

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If you are using artillery as an area fire, suppressive system, then you want a large number of cheap, fast-shooting systems, that can shoot-and-scoot quickly to avoid counterbattery. Extremely long range I should not nearly as important, since you'll have to have some sort of protection in order to operate long enough to get useful suppressive effects from a single mission.

if you are using artillery as any extremely accurate, destructive system, then you want as much range as you can get, since you are going to have a few, expensive systems and what to get as much coverage from those systems. The inherent inaccuracies of long range fires are less problematic, since you'll need to get some sort of accuracy enhancement out of the projectile, too.

 

The US problem is that it wants to get one system that does both of these things well, which is impossible within any kind of realistic cost constraints.

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2 hours ago, FALightFighter said:

...The US problem is that it wants to get one system that does both of these things well, which is impossible within any kind of realistic cost constraints.

I get why smaller nations would be interested into "jack of all trades" artillery, since few arty Bns in the as many mech Bdes is all they can (or want) to afford. But what I don't get is US, Russia and China getting on the "one size fits all" train.

L/39 with ~25km range for Bde level, longer ranged stuff goes to a specified artillery units and is used when needed. What is so problematic about high/low mix?

Edited by bojan
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For China and Russia there will be a low-high mix from the legacy systems. Russia inherited the USSR's pronounced high-low mix (including things like 2S7) and the addition of new 'high' systems will still leave plenty of low in the mix. The same applies to China except they have no legacy 'high' systems.

In both cases there are newer 'low' systems though, e.g 2S42. PCL-181 has an advanced FCS and gun but is a cheaper alternative to PLZ-05. And China will also retain 122mm platforms such as PLZ-89, PCL-09 and the newer PPL-05.

Edited by KV7
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Isn't 2S42 a Bn asset that is supposed to replace 2S9, 2S23 and towed 120mm mortars in certain units?

Why not 152mm L/39 at Bde level + rockets for higher levels?

What weight is saved by lighter barrel can be used for automating loading process fully to achieve good ToT bursts. You could even possibly use water cooling with a mass saved.

30+km ranges are IMO best served by rockets, and while they are more expensive than individual shells (through not by much as they can use lesser quality steel in their construction), their guidance can be way cheaper than the one used on guided shells (difference in MRL and arty shell guidance unit price is about 5-15 times). Nature of the artillery fires as used in the modern times, especially sub 3 minutes shoot-and-scoots favors this approach. Rockets are also very easy to adopt to missions, their launch tubes are easy to construct so you can play with different calibers w/o breaking the bank.

Edited by bojan
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Many of these modern 'low' systems are designed for good mobility, including by air. 2S42 is for use by airborne and naval troops. PCL-09 and PCL-181 are truck mounted for rapid road marches and with reduced mass enabling air transport. PLL-05 fills a similar role to Nona/Lotos. PLZ-07B is amphibious. AH4 is designed to be extremely lightweight (4500 kg) for air and helicopter mobility.

I agree that for longer range fire MLRS seem to be the superior solution, though there is some recurring worry they are unsuitable for sustained fire, due to the time required to load longer range systems. But I cannot see many scenarios where you would want to shell some target from 30 + km away for hours on end.

Edited by KV7
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