According to info published in 2001 France acquired a total of 273 AUF F1 from 1973 or thereabouts. Those delivered from 1988 were an updated version (AUF1 T), the last were delivered in 1996 (ie after GE and UK had started delivery of PzH2000 and AS90!) These guns all had a unique FR ordnance (40 cal barrel , 19 litre chamber, max rg unassisted a tad under 24km (ie less that a MoU 39 calibre with modern ammo)), the upgraded version replaced a few mechanical items with electronic, a better aux gene and other bits and pieces. 104 have been upgraded to AUF1 TA, but only 70 to AUF T2 (2 regts), which has the 52 cal barrel and all the modern stuff including auto loading of modular charges and a primer magazine in a screw breech (this may be unique, both GE and UK modern 155mm breeches use a sliding block, the problem with screw breeches is that they use more turret space).
Both TA and F2 have a new main engine. However, the fundamentally flawed design is retained - an arty turret on a tank carriage. The problem is ammo supply - no rear door to permit continuous 'top-up', all ammo has to be loaded through doors at the back of the turret, this means parking a truck there (unless the gun is dug in).
There's no barrel cooling so while 10 rds in a minute from F2 is possible thermal management means it won't last long, of course given the 42 round on board ammo load it won't anyway! TA is a fairly standard 3 rds in 15 sec (PzH2000 and AS90 = 10secs) and 6 rpm, presumably with about a 3 min limit for the usual thermal mgmt reasons.
Can't find any authoritative qtys for towed TR F1, apart from it being a lot less that planned. This gun is 39 cal but max rg seems limited to 28 km with normal assisted projectiles. Frankly, this gun was a FR attempt to match FH70, but without the sophistication. It appears that units a dual equipped with TR1 and 120mm mortars, they take whichever is most suitable to the mission.
Interestingly the LG1 towed 105mm has disappeared, although for obscure reasons the Canadians use it. This gun is designed around US M1 type ammo, but with a special cartridge to give 15km, similar to/copy of the GE design of the 1960s, although the FR seemed to have produced a modern HE shell design. The more interesting question is why anyone would design a modern towed 105mm with a split trail!
Caesar is interesting, although the Czechs went that way decades ago with their Dana. Nevertheless it’s a bit difficult to work out what such guns are supposed to be for. The best that can be said is that they are probably lighter and more compact that a towed 155mm and its towing vehicle and this is useful for strategic air deployment. Tactical they probably offer the worst vulnerability of both worlds. Interestingly in 1998 the FR Army was saying they had no need of such a weapon. This invites the question 'what's changed' (apart from a political instruction to support FR exports!).
Whether or not Orchidee is the best opti9on is debateable. UK was considering such a system in the early 80s (CASTOR - inevitably drawing the comment 'and what rhymes with pollux?)), and the US had a deployed prototype. Both countries drooped the idea and went to fixed wing platforms. US has JSTARS and UK ASTOR is entering service.
COBRA is good, its also big and very expensive. ArtHur meets most needs and UK operates both.
GMLRS is being adopted by most if not all MLRS users, basically it’s a software upgrade in the launcher but as I understand it is also being coupled with a new processor. Of course GMLRS also makes the old heavy M270 SPLL unnecessary because accurate laying is unnecessary for GMLRS, hence UK going for the lightweight LIMAWS(R).
There's a choice of ER bomblet around. Sensible nations shop around for the best deal that meets their needs. 35 km max rg for an assisted shell from a 52 cal barrel is a bit below par. OCHRE doesn't seem to be cracking this market amongst western nations. Draw your own conclusions.
There's also a choice of SFM - BONUS or SmaArt. BONUS seems likely to fare a bit better here.
Most NATO nations are deploying new arty C&C systems using the NABK for ballistic processing. Networked arty C&C has been around for a while - AFATDS, BATES, ADLER and others. As the army (and alliance) wide message standards emerge these are changing into (or being replaced by fully networked systems not just arty 'stove-pipes'.
Leading armies are also re-thinking the role and tasks of their arty observer parties, attacking targets with whatever fire support asset is increasingly the role of NCOs, officers are used to 'orchestrate' the totality to meet the supported commanders needs. Observation equipment too is increasingly networked into the wider system - radars, eyesafe LRF, TI devices integrated together either in a vehicle or for f
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