Translated from Ukrainian via Google
A few days ago, Germany officially announced the list of weapons that will be provided to Ukraine as part of the next tranche of military assistance. Among other things, it included 18 RCH 155 self-propelled artillery mounts. They plan to supply self-propelled guns from the warehouses of the Bundeswehr (German army), so they can be expected in Ukraine in the near future.
OBOZREVATEL figured out what kind of self-propelled howitzer it was and how it would be useful both in the context of the existing and future arsenal of ammunition.
More than once during the war one heard the phrase that “wars are won by artillery.” Of course, it is not without hyperbole, but the role of artillery in modern warfare is indeed very great. Artillery destroys enemy fortifications, ammunition depots, accumulation of enemy military equipment and manpower, and also covers its infantry units on the battlefield. According to various estimates, at least 85% of the losses in this war are caused by artillery (cannon and rocket in total).
As of the beginning of the war, the Armed Forces of Ukraine were armed with a wide range of cannon artillery: 122 mm D-30 howitzer , 152 mm D-20 towing howitzer gun , 100 mm MT-12 Rapira anti-tank gun , 152 mm trailed howitzers 2A65 “Msta-B” and 2A36 “Gyatsint-B” , 152-mm self-propelled howitzers 2S19 “Msta-S” , 2S3 “Akatsiya” and 2S5 “Gyatsint-S” , 122-mm self-propelled guns 2S1 “Gvozdika” , 203-mm gun 2S7 “Pion” and a promising development – 155-mm self-propelled guns 2S22 “Bogdan” .
However, in addition to the fact that all of them (except the Bogdan) are still Soviet developments and therefore morally and technically obsolete, the shortage of ammunition for them also quickly affected. After all, the warehouses are gradually emptying, and until recently, only Russia produced new Soviet-caliber ammunition (Ukraine launched the production of 152-mm shells only in early December).
In such a situation, one of the priorities in the supply of Western weapons for the needs of the Armed Forces of Ukraine was cannon artillery – both self-propelled and towed.
Of the towed howitzers, Ukraine has already received: the German-British 155-mm trailed self-propelled howitzer FH70 (Italy transferred an unknown number), the British 105-mm light howitzer M119 (the United States transferred an unknown number) and the British 155-mm light towed howitzer M777 (USA, Canada and Australia donated 152 units in total).
From self-propelled artillery mounts, the Armed Forces of Ukraine received: the Polish 155-mm self-propelled howitzer AHS Krab (18 units), the American 155-mm self-propelled howitzer M109 Paladin (about 100 units), the Slovak 155-mm Zuzana 2 self-propelled guns (6 units) and the 155-mm German ACS PzH 2000 (Germany, the Netherlands and Italy transferred a total of 28 units).
But there is never too much artillery, so Ukraine continues to expand the range of this type of weapon.
What is the RCH 155 installation
RCH 155 (Remotely Controlled Howitzer) is a 155-mm self-propelled remote-controlled howitzer gun, developed in 2014 by the German concern Krauss-Maffei Wegmann as a system development of the PzH 2000 self-propelled guns (1998) and Donar self-propelled guns (2008). That is, the manufacturer analyzed the practical experience of using both self-propelled howitzers, took the best from them and adjusted for modern requirements. In particular, this is the world’s first artillery installation capable of firing while moving.
The RCH 155 self-propelled artillery mount is a closed-type cannon on a wheeled chassis built on the basis of units and assemblies of the German-Dutch multi-purpose armored personnel carrier Boxer. Only the self-propelled guns are equipped with a more powerful MTU 199TE20 turbocharged diesel engine, reaching a power of 815 horsepower, as opposed to 711 hp. With. engine of the original armored personnel carrier. The total combat weight of the vehicle is 39 tons, of which the weight of the artillery module is 12.5 tons.
The Boxer platform gives the crew a high degree of mobility and high survivability. Also, the ACS has a modular armored hull combined with ceramic protection, and the triple bottom is shaped to provide maximum protection against anti-tank mines and improvised devices.
The artillery mount has a barrel length of 8 meters (52 calibers), an automatic loading system with an ammunition load of 30 equipped projectiles and 144 modular propellant charges. There is also the possibility of charging and shooting in manual mode.
Additionally, the self-propelled guns may have an auxiliary weapon station (for example, a machine gun), a smoke grenade launcher, a radiation, biological and chemical hazard protection system (RCB protection) and a ventilation system.
Also, the artillery unit has an advanced fire control system: the crew of the vehicle receives target designation via radio communication or using a data link. The shot is fired remotely by the crew, which is in the cockpit of the self-propelled guns. The crew consists of only two people.
The manufacturer claims a range of 40 km with conventional rounds and 76.3 km with V-LAP rounds . The self-propelled guns are also capable of using long-range Vulcano (90 km) and Excalibur (70 km) projectiles. All of them have a caliber of 155 mm and are interchangeable.
What are the projectiles
V-LAP is a long-range artillery projectile with increased velocity. The long-range principle is based on the combination of a long cannon barrel and projectiles with optimally aerodynamically shaped warheads that fire at high muzzle velocity. Unlike classic long-range projectiles, V-LAPs are reinforced with an additional rocket launcher.
The projectile manufacturer claims that for guns with a barrel length of 52 calibers (like the RCH 155 self-propelled guns), the initial velocity of the projectile is 1013 m / s, and the maximum effective range is 76.3 km.
Vulcano is a family of high-precision, finned, high-explosive fragmentation artillery projectiles designed to engage stationary or moving targets at long range. They are both managed (range up to 90 km) and unmanaged (up to 50 km).
The initial speed of the guided projectile is more than 1130 m/s, which makes it possible to achieve a maximum distance of 90 km in about 160 seconds of flight.
Before the shot, computer data is entered into the guided projectile to initiate the guidance system, as well as data from the GPS receiver located on the gun. In the first 60 seconds of the flight, the projectile is guided on the trajectory by the inertial method. Then, the trajectory is additionally corrected according to the data of the 12-channel GPS receiver. In the event of GPS channel interference in the final flight segment, the transition to inertial guidance is carried out, while the average deviation of the projectile from the target does not exceed 20 meters at maximum range.
A variant of the projectile is also possible, equipped with a semi-active infrared homing head, the guidance of which is supposed to be carried out using laser illuminators located on board the UAV, which will loiter in the target location area. As we wrote earlier , Baykar is working to integrate this option into the Bayraktar TB2 drones in service with the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
On August 19, 2022, the German government published a statement on the acquisition by Germany, together with the European Union, of 255 Vulcano shells for the Armed Forces of Ukraine. However, which version (managed or not) was not reported. Also, nothing is known about their use.
The M982 Excalibur is an extended range guided missile. The mass of the projectile is 44 kg, of which 22 kg is the mass of the warhead. The cost of the projectile, depending on the modification, can range from 120 to 200 thousand US dollars.
The Excalibur is GPS-guided and can hit targets up to 60 km away, but there have been cases of successful hits at a distance of 70 km. There is also a version of the ammunition capable of hitting moving targets. It was called Excalibur S and has an additional laser beam guidance option.
Due to its high accuracy, the projectile can hit targets at a distance of up to 75-150 meters from friendly units, or when the targets are among civilian buildings and the use of traditional unguided artillery shells is impossible due to the high risk of collateral losses. The experience of using Excalibur in the war in Iraq showed the high accuracy and effectiveness of weapons – 92% of hits were with an error of less than 4 meters.
In April 2022, Canadian media wrote that along with the M777 trailed howitzers, Ukraine received from Canada, in addition to conventional ammunition, a certain amount of M982 Excalibur precision-guided projectiles that they had left after the Afghan war. And in September, American media reported that the United States had donated $92 million worth of GPS-guided M982 Excalibur precision-guided projectiles to Ukraine.
So far, we are talking about the delivery of only 18 RCH 155 self-propelled artillery mounts, which in itself is not much. However, what is more important here is that a fundamental decision was made to transfer these self-propelled guns. After all, as practice shows, it is at this moment that the majority of Ukrainian requests for Western weapons are stalled.
In addition, the RCH 155 self-propelled guns will become the most modern and long-range type of self-propelled cannon artillery in service with the Armed Forces of Ukraine, while weapons of this quality are not in service with the Russian army. And quality often outweighs quantity.
Now the main thing is that the delivery time to Ukraine should not be delayed, as is often the case with German military equipment.