Among the many artillery systems sent to Ukraine after the Russian invasion were eight Swedish Archer truck mounted 155mm artillery systems. Ukrainian artillerymen used the Archers for counterbattery, as in destroying enemy artillery, work. Ukrainians used UAVs for find targets for Archer and sent target locations to the nearest Archer system. Archer then fired a few 155mm shells at the target and moved, all in less than two minutes. Archer has 21 155mm shells onboard in a magazine that automatically loads these shells into the gun. This contributes to the speed of operation capability that makes Archer so effective. The Russians are also looking for counterbattery opportunities but have nothing like Archer, which can move, halt, fire and then resume moving faster than any Russian artillery. Archer can fire 20 shells at the rate of one every 7-8 seconds.
Archer counterbattery tactics have destroyed a growing number of Russian artillery and the Russians have not developed any defensive measures, except to shut down artillery operations and seek a hiding place from Archer.
Sweden has been responsible for several artillery innovations, including the Excalibur GPS guided shell.
It was a French firm that developed, in the 1990s, the truck-mounted 155mm Caesar, which entered service in 2003. In 2009 France sent eight Caesar 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 and was successful. The French Army has ordered about a hundred and another hundred have been exported. Caesar is the lightest of the truck-mounted 155mm howitzers, weighing 18 tons. Other nations have built heavier (20-30 ton) systems, usually on a 6x6 heavy truck chassis.
None of these systems can be considered an exotic piece of technology. For example, 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 be firing within minutes. After firing, the vehicle can be moving in less than a minute. Archer can use 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 $5 million.
This French experience with Caesar in Afghanistan encouraged Sweden about the ability of its Archer system to operate in the vast rural areas of Scandinavia. Some parts of rural Sweden are similar to Afghanistan, but worse
more swamps. Sweden had had some Archer systems in service 2013 and 24 by 2017 and eventually 48. More were ordered because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The original Caesar system has been produced in larger quantities, with about 870 delivered or on order so far. Every time Caesar or similar systems like Archer have been used in combat, they have been successful. Their mobility has reduced losses and only four have been lost in combat so far. Three of those losses were in Ukraine, where these systems have experienced their most intense combat operations.