Corruption at the government level in India during the 1980s and 1990s eventually ended hopes for exercising the purchase of forty-eight more Swedish FH77 "Haubits" 155mm towed howitzer weapons (FH77B export model) for the Army service. Instead, these units were rerouted back to the Swedish Army inventory who was already enjoying use of their original FH77A models in some number. The Swedish Army then elected to mount these weapons onto a Volvo A30D 6x6 heavy truck and this has since produced the "Archer Artillery System" - a wheeled Self-Propelled Artillery (SPA) platform.
Design work was had in 1995 and was influenced by the land-based, towed FH77 howitzer form (detailed elsewhere on this site). Development of the gun eventually went on to include neighboring Norway who held the promise of purchasing the new mobile weapons platform alongside their Scandinavian neighbors.
The Archer vehicle is powered by a Volvo diesel-fueled engine outputting 340 horsepower. Three axles are in play and each showcases large, rubber-tired roadwheels. There is 6x6 independent suspension offered for cross-country travel. Road speeds can reach up to 40 miles per hour and operational range is out to 310 miles.
The primary armament of the Archer is the 155mm /52 caliber FH77 field howitzer. This weapon is sat atop a trainable mounting that allows the system to operate independently of the vehicle - as such the gun can point in a direction different than what the truck is facing. A "Protector" Remote Weapon System (RWS) is afforded the crew for point-defense services. Aboard is a crew of four made up of a driver, commander and two gun operators.
Dimensions include an overall length of 46.2 feet, a width of 9.9 feet and a height of 12.10 feet. Weight is 66,000lb.
The vehicle is traditionally-arranged, meaning the engine component sits at the front of the driving cab where the forward axle is located (these forward wheels provide the turning capability to the truck component). The rear pair of axles is well-aft of midships and holds the weight of the gun section complete with its mounting base and recoil hardware. At the rear of the truck are recoil legs which are lowered prior to the firing of the gun. The RWS unit is fitted over the driving cab with an unobstructed view of the area surrounding the truck and operated by the crew from within the relative safety of the vehicle. The cab is armored against small arms fire and artillery spray. Fire Control (tracking, gun-laying and engagement) is assisted by a wholly digital computer system for excellent accuracy at range.
Pilot forms (prototypes) of the gun were available in 2004 (through two examples) and evaluation models were ordered by the Swedish Army in 2008. The service committed the following year and both Sweden and Norway initially contracted to acquiring twenty-four vehicles apiece (for a total of 48 units). Service entry into the Swedish Army ranks occurred in early 2016 though Norway ended up cancelling their share in a 2013 move against the project. Croatia was, at one point, a possible candidate for the Archer - electing to purchase the German PzH 2000 instead.
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