Switzerland evaluates RCH 155 and Archer howitzers in artillery modernization project

By Defence Industry Europe

In the project for a new artillery system, Switzerland entered another significant phase with ongoing mobility trials. Following the shortlisting of three systems in 2022, out of which one will replace the over 50-year-old M109 self-propelled howitzer, practical trials with one of the selected systems are underway in Switzerland from mid-October to the end of November.

 

The currently deployed M109 self-propelled howitzers are due to be replaced with a modern successor. Following the pre-evaluation in 2022, the Swiss Federal Office for Defence Procurement (armasuisse) selected three systems from BAE Systems Bofors of Sweden (Archer 8×8) and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann of Germany (RCH 155 with two potential carrier platforms: Boxer 8×8 and Piranha 8×8) for further evaluation.

 

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Mobility trials in Switzerland

The technical mobility trials with these vehicles aim to demonstrate and test their mobility capabilities in Switzerland. Conducted under the supervision of armasuisse Science and Technology (S+T), these trials will assess various aspects for deployment and training, including mobility on Swiss roads and off-road, maneuverability, obstacle crossing, driver training, navigation, ergonomics, safety, and specific certification aspects.

Apart from the majority of mobility trials conducted in the Thun area, various other locations in the cantons of Valais, Vaud, Jura, and Fribourg will also be involved. During the testing phase, the systems will also be operated on public roads. The first system will be tested in Switzerland from mid-October to the end of November (calendar weeks 42 to 47), with mobility trials for the other two systems planned for the following year.

 

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Project status and next steps

The “Artillery Wirkplattform und Wirkmittel 2026” (Art WPWM) project aims to ensure the maintenance and development of the capability of indirect fire at medium operational distances with increased range, precision, and mobility. Since the beginning of 2023, the technical, operational, and logistical aspects have been thoroughly tested and analyzed using functional prototypes in Switzerland and abroad. The evaluation is conducted with industry prototypes in the configurations specified by the applicants, and it includes logistical inquiries, technical trials for the main weapon, mobility trials, troop trials, as well as various training, investigations, and demonstrations.

 

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