Lord Jim wrote:Both very good articles and really highlight the different attitude to Artillery between the UK and Finland. As pointed out there is a lot of closed terrain in Finland, due to the abundant forests, but that sort of terrain still allows for massed fore with basic HE shells upon a target. How do the Finns look at massed artillery fire in urban areas? Certain countries, not far from yourselves have shown a total lack of concern of casualties amongst enemy civilian casualties, but others have decided that only precision rounds should be used in such an environment.
Many NATO countries are having to relearn many lessons on how to fight a Peer on Peer high intensity conflict. The UK is slowly relearning what it know in the nineteen eighties and early nineteen nineties, but we are still quiet away of from getting there. What types of artillery we need and how to use it is a hard land probably costly lesson to relearn, and how the programme to replace the AS-90 is handled and funded will show the MoD's and Treasury's commitment to carrying out the essential modernisation the Army needs.
I do like the Finns attitude to defence, but I do not think it is totally applicable to the UK. With the AS-90 replacement, we need a platform that provides reasonable protection to the crew of the weapon, both with manoeuvring and when operating the gun. Neither towed weapons nor platforms like Caesar do that. In addition we need a platform that can work with out planned Mechanised Brigades and travel with them over the same distances when the former deploys.
There are at least two systems that possibly can meet these needs but one, the Swedish Archer, may not have the same range of the prime vehicle in these formations the Boxer which may be an issue. It is however a proven platform with most of its pros and cons known. The Second option would be the Boxer variant that used a self contained mission module that I believe utilises the same gun as the German PzH2000. This platform would obviously bring operational saving having a common chassis and the benefits this brings, but it is still only a demonstrator at present and its pros and cons are therefore not known. Both systems could be delivered within the UK's timeframe but neither would be cheap. At the same time the UK needs to adopt either Excalibur or one of the Precision Guidance Kits now offered by numerous manufacturers as well as a Dispensing Cargo Round, able to release smart munitions of one kind or another.
But we need more than just the Gun Platform and clever ammunition. We need an integrated system of platforms able to work and operate together including platforms like an Armoured High Mobility Logistics Platform and Electronic Warfare. Also other platforms already planned for the Mechanised Infantry Battalions. These include an Armoured Recovery, Combat Engineering, Command and Control, Security, REME and more will be needed.
This Weapon System needs to operate dispersed and be highly mobile with all its elements. Though Dispersed it needs to be able to deliver concentrated and precision fire rapidly on a target and be repositioning fast enough to avoid return fire. It also needs the integral protection of Electronic Warfare assets to interfere with or Jam an Opponents ISTAR capabilities to disrupt their attempts to locate our assets. This needs to work seamlessly with more capable assets operating higher up at Brigade level and above. Finally these assets need both integral protection against ground assault and have assets attached to provide Air Defence, most likely Starstreak in its Infantry shoulder launched or using the three round lightweight launcher together with some type of IR or Radar detection system.
So replacing the AS-90 should actually be a far more complicated programme than just choosing a new gun platform. We need by procure a systems that will take us forward into the late 2020s and beyond.
About fires in urban terrain I believe it's mostly same as in forests. Open sources don't deal with it often so I believe it doesn't differ from other environments. Close protection should come indirectly from infantry units hence they should be pretty close to friendly infantry.