August 23, 2010:
Sweden and Norway are continuing the integration of their army artillery systems. Each nation is now buying the Norwegian (Kongsberg) ODIN Artillery Fire System for the Archer self-propelled artillery both nations have purchased. ODIN's main function is to integrate the communications between artillery systems, all sorts of headquarters and the units that call on artillery fire. With both nations using ODIN, it will be much easier for artillery from one nation to provide support for ground units of the other. The Odin equipment will cost $16 million and be installed within two years.
Earlier this year, each nation agreed to buy 24 Archer truck mounted artillery systems. Both nations had funded a $150 million, 14 year, development effort to create Archer. BAE will manufacture the systems. Archer is an FH77 155mm/L52 howitzer mounted on a modified Volvo 6x6 dump truck. The vehicle, with the howitzer on board, weighs 30 tons. L52 means the barrel is 52 times the caliber (8 meters/25 feet). When the vehicle halts, the four man crew can extend the metal braces in the rear, raise the barrel, and being firing within minutes. After firing, the vehicle can be moving in less than a minute. Archer also uses the Excalibur GPS guided round, which means Archer and an ammo vehicle can supply lots of effective firepower without the need for constant resupply. Each Archer vehicle costs about $4.2 million.
Archer is not the first weapon of this type, but is a heavier and more modern one. About the time development began on Archer (1995) a French firm was already developing a similar system (Caesar). Last year, France sent eight of its Caesar, truck mounted, 155mm howitzers to Afghanistan. The roads in Afghanistan are pretty bad, and wheeled combat vehicles have a hard time of it. But Caesar was built to handle cross country operations. Afghanistan was the first time Caesar has served in combat. This experience encouraged Norway and Sweden about the ability of Archer to operate in the vast rural areas of both nations. Some parts of rural Norway and Sweden are similar to Afghanistan, but worse (more swamps).