British Army selects RCH 155 self-propelled howitzer in MFP programme

By Defence Industry Europe

The UK government has announced a collaboration with Germany to develop the Remote-Controlled Howitzer 155mm (RCH 155). This initiative is part of a broader effort to meet the British Army's Mobile Fires Platform (MFP) requirement. The announcement was made on April 23, 2024, as UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak met with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin, marking a significant moment in UK-German defence and security cooperation.

 

During the meeting, Prime Minister Sunak emphasized the strategic importance of the UK-German partnership, referring to both nations as “European powerhouses” whose combined strengths bolster defence against threats and contribute to economic and technological growth. “Today we are opening a new chapter in our relationship: one that will make us safer and more prosperous. At this dangerous moment for the world, the UK and Germany are standing side by side to preserve security and prosperity at home and across our continent,” Sunak said.

 

 

The RCH 155 system marries the modular Boxer 8×8 vehicle chassis, produced by the ARTEC consortium, with an Artillery Gun Module developed by Germany’s Krauss-Meffei Wegmann (now KNDS Deutschland). This artillery system incorporates a Rheinmetall 155mm L/52 gun capable of firing up to nine rounds per minute with a range of 40 km using standard ammunition and up to 54 km using extended-range munitions. Its advanced capabilities include fire-on-the-move, the ability to deliver multiple rounds onto a target simultaneously, and a direct-fire mode for close-range engagements.

 

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This new artillery system is intended to replace the British Army’s aging fleet of AS90 155mm tracked self-propelled howitzers, which have been in service since 1992. In an interim measure, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) had previously agreed in March 2023 to purchase 14 BAE Systems Bofors Archer 155mm wheeled SPHs from Sweden, with the first units delivered in October 2023. Additionally, the UK bolstered support for Ukraine by donating 32 in-service AS90s to the country, reducing the original fleet of 179 to just 57 listed as in service as of October 2023.

Lieutenant General Dame Sharon Nesmith, Deputy Chief of the General Staff, expressed pride in the new partnership, stating, “I am very proud that we have the opportunity to collaborate with Germany to develop RCH 155 as the British Army’s Mobile Fires Platform. It not only presents an invaluable opportunity to work alongside our vital ally Germany, but also demonstrates our clear commitment to and leadership role within NATO. RCH 155 will provide a world-class 155mm self-propelled artillery gun system to the Royal Artillery – an excellent strategic fit with the British Army of the future.”

 

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The British Army’s press release on April 24, 2024, indicated that the RCH 155 systems are expected to enter service within this decade, significantly boosting the Army’s capabilities. The selection of the RCH 155 followed consideration of other contenders for the MFP requirement, including the KNDS PzH 2000 and Hanwha Defense K9A1/2 Thunder tracked SPHs, as well as wheeled solutions such as the Nexter Caesar system, Elbit’s ATMOS 2000, and the Rheinmetall 155mm howitzer based on an HX3 10×10 truck chassis.

 

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