in Defence

DE&S delivers first Archer to British Army

Posted 9 October 2023

Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) has delivered the first Archer wheeled artillery system to the British Army.

Image courtesy DE&S

The arrival of the first Archer 6×6 howitzer on UK soil comes almost six months to the day it was contracted and is the first of 14 guns which have been purchased for the Royal Artillery.

DE&S will also deliver Ammunition Resupply System, an initial ammunition suite, a training package and an initial support package as part of the contract.

The platform, which enables new ways to fight will be fielded by 1 Deep Recce Strike (DRS) Brigade and initially held by 19 Regiment Royal Artillery (The Scottish Gunners), Larkhill, Wiltshire, where capability integration activity and safety trials will be carried out to meet Initial Operating Capability in 2024.

The rapid procurement of Archer comes following the UK’s commitment to granting-in-kind 32 AS90 self-propelled guns to Ukraine. The systems have been bought under a Government to Government agreement with the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) and have been upgraded to a UK specification by BAE Bofors.

Above: The Archer Mobile Howitzer 6x6 gun, the next generation of wheeled artillery systems, has rolled off the ship at the Marchwood Military Port in Hampshire.
Courtesy British Army

DE&S’ International Relations Group supported negotiations of the deal with Sweden, reaching an agreement in the space of just two months, demonstrating agility and DE&S’ capability to procure at pace to rapidly deliver the Army’s requirements.

Colonel Rob Hollinrake, DE&S Team Leader responsible for the Interim 155mm project, said: “The delivery of the first Archer gun system to the British Army so quickly after the initial contract agreement is testament to the hard work and diligence of all those involved in the project. We are totally committed to equipping the UK Armed Forces and soon as possible and supporting them, whilst meeting our obligations to operational commitments.”

Image courtesy DE&S

Colonel Stuart Nasse, Assistant Head of Military Capability Delivery, said: “It is one of the fastest procurements of a complex system that’s ever been conducted through necessity."

“We had an intolerable gap which needed to be closed and we were fortunate our Swedish Allies had an opportunity for us to purchase some of the Archer artillery system. That meant we could move quickly, to seize the opportunity and buy the new capability."

“In February I was given orders by the Army Headquarters to go after Archer and 48 days later we were on contract, thanks to a joint team that was established with Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S), our delivery agent.

“We worked collaboratively at some significant pace to achieve this acquisition in record time.”

DE&S which negotiates and manages defence contracts on behalf of the UK Armed Forces, will run tests and trials with the Archer Project Team. This is to ensure it is fully compliant with UK legislation and provide a smooth start into the Field Army.

The platform which offers new ways to fight will be fielded by 1 Deep Recce Strike (DRS) Brigade Combat Team. It will initially be housed within 19 Regiment Royal Artillery (The Scottish Gunners), at Larkhill, in Wiltshire, as a reference gun to facilitate the trial.

Designed and built by BAE Systems Bofors in Sweden, a further four will arrive in the UK by the end of the year and the balance by spring 2024.

Colonel Nasse explained: “These will be undergoing trials and evaluation for approximately the next six months; artillery soldiers will start training on them from next spring and we will be firing them in the UK next summer."

“They will be with the Field Army immediately after that first firing, so by next autumn they will be with the Field Army and used on operations as soon as possible."

“As the project matures and the doctrine for operating develops, the systems may be reallocated elsewhere to maximise their effect on the battlefield."

“We’ve procured 14 Archers because that was what was available at the time, we have an aspiration to buy another 10 which will bring us up to a full regiment of capability.

“The Archer is an interim solution until the delivery of Mobile Fires Platform Project at the end of the decade, a separate programme which is the replacement programme for the heavy artillery, this is not the replacement for the AS90.”





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