AS90

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Welcome to the suggestion for the AS90, officially known as Gun Equipment, 155 mm L131, and sometimes hyphenated to AS-90 or spaced as AS 90. This is a self-propelled artillery vehicle in use primarily by the UK, armed with a 155mm gun. The main improvement over the its predecessor in-game and in real life, the M109, would be firepower. The AS90’s standard shell is the L15 high explosive round, which has a larger amount of explosives, currently found in-game on the Japanese Type 99 self-propelled howitzer.

History

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FV433 Abbots from 49 Inkerman Battery 16 Regiment Royal Artillery at a range in Germany, 1989.

Beginning its life as a private venture by Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering Limited (VSEL), the AS90 (Artillery System for the 90s) was aimed at the domestic market. This was primarily due to the British Army seeking to replace its older FV433 and M109s. At the same time, however, the UK was involved in the SP70 program with Germany and later Italy. This was meant to be an improvement upon further systems, but funding and reliability issues ultimately caused the project to falter. It was also found that the M109 it was meant to replace ultimately outperformed it, causing the cancellation of the project in 1984.

With this in mind, VSEL committed itself to the AS90. Two years after the failure of the SP70, the first AS90 prototype was ready in June of 1986. This prototype was well liked by British military officials, and underwent trials until June of the following year. It would be compete against the American M109A6 until June of 1989, and enter service with the British Army in May of 1992 as Gun Equipment, 155 mm L131. An order of 179 guns for a fixed price contract of £300 million was placed, to be built at VSEL in Barrow-in-Furness and equip six Field Regiments of the British Army’s Royal Artillery.

The SP70, a failed project to replace the M109.

The AS90 was designed to be innovative, but also use tried and tested components, such as a front mounted engine and traversable turret. Armor was thin at 17mm, but the vehicle was only really intended to survive shrapnel from counterbattery fire. It was powered by a 660 hp Cummins VTA-903T-660 V8 diesel engine, propelling it up to 55 km/h on-road, and an average of 30 to 35 km/h off-road. This was paired to a ZF LSG 2000 automatic transmission, with the vehicle suspended by a hydropneumatic suspension.

Firepower is provided by a 155mm L31 gun, firing primarily the NATO standard L15 high explosive shell. In trials, two AS90 guns were able to deliver a total payload of 261kg on to a single target in less than ten seconds. This is in large part due to the automated loading system, which according to the UK MOD, allows the AS90 to “fire a burst of three rounds in fewer than ten seconds, an intense rate of six rounds a minute for three minutes and a sustained rate of two rounds a minute.

An AS90 155mm self-propelled gun of the Royal Artillery trundles out of its base near Glamoč, Bosnia, April 2nd, 1997.

Production began in 1992 and would continue until spring 1995, with the first British unit operational in 1993. It would see service with the British Army during the Yugoslav Wars, notably in peacekeeping operations during Operation Cambrai in March and April 2001. During the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, the AS90 provided supporting fire during the Battle of Basra, and received minor upgrades throughout the 2000s and 2010s. However, as time went by, the UK began to use less and less AS90s, with only 134 of the original 179 vehicles in service still.

A few variants were created, such as the AS-90D, a desert upgrade with thermal protection for the crew and better cooling for the vehicle’s engine and machinery, with the tracks changed to be better adapted for desert use. Another variant, named Braveheart, was equipped with a longer L/52 gun, capable of firing at greatly increased ranges. This was ultimately not a success, aside from being mounted on the Polish Army’s AHS Krab.

AS-90s from 26 Regiment Royal Artillery prepare to fire during Exercise Mansergh Sabre, February 2016.

An AS-90 from the Ukrainian 117th Mechanized Brigade, 2023.

Similar to a number of other vehicles, the AS90 had a surge in popularity following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The UK donated 32 vehicles, with 12 of these being able to be refurbished or used as spares, were donated to Ukraine. To fill this gap, the UK announced its intention to purchase 14 Swedish Archer Artillery Systems in March, 2023. These are considered a stopgap until a winner can be decided for the ongoing Mobile Fires Platform competition to replace the AS90 officially, which the Archer is notably a part of.

An Archer Artillery System in Swedish service.

Specifications

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Crew: 5
Length: 9.07 m
Width: 3.5 m
Height: 2.49 m
Main armament: 155mm L/36 L31
Main armament range: 24.7 km
Main armament elevation: -5° / 70°
Main armament traverse: 360°
Ammunition stowed: 48 rounds (17 in hull, 38 in turret in four racks)
Secondary armament: 7.62mm L37A2 GPMG
Engine: Cummins VTA-903T-660 Turbocharged V8 660 hp diesel engine
Maximum speed: 53 km/h
Maximum vehicle range: 420 km

Sources

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AS-90 Braveheart in Detail - British 155mm SP Howitzer & All Support Vehicles in IFOR Mission by Josef Spurny
British Army - Artillery - AS 90 - Armed Forces - a6a4
AS90 | Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) | Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL)
https://www.army-technology.com/projects/as90/?cf-view

Pictures

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3 Likes

does it have an automated loading system, never seen one in any of the vehicles I’ve been inside? O.o

secondly it does have an unofficial ecclesiastical name ‘choirboy’ - and its not worth a ban for to explain why

I’ve seen some sources state it does, including the UK MOD site, though I couldn’t find anything 100% concrete.

+1 No brainer.

2 Likes