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Subject: UK Artillery
interestedamateur    6/11/2008 5:29:43 AM
Everyone knows by now that the LIMAWS(G) and LIMAWS(R) programmes to give the UK a medium weight artillery capability have been cancelled. What this leaves us with are the AS90's and Light Guns. These are fine weapons and the RA really knows its stuff. However, am I alone in thinking that the artillery in the light brigades is going to be seriously ouranged and outgunned if they should ever come up against opposition with 155mm guns?
 
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neutralizer       6/11/2008 6:22:52 AM
They came up against 152mm in 2003 and managed OK.  You also have to think in terms of many sources of firepower, including GMLRS.  And before they can be attacked the enemy has to locate them.
 
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Lawman       6/11/2008 8:25:39 AM
Also, the M777 155mm could be made available if the need arose - for current operational requirements, the light 105mm and self-propelled 155mm are probably sufficient. My only major concern is the 39-cal used on the M777, since 52-cal would add a lot of capability, and probably not affect air-mobility too much (since the Chinook is the only realistic lifter, and the extra ton or so in weight would add a heck of a lot of capability). The big thing will be the PGK (Precision Guidance Kit), which allows GPS guidance kits to be added to the existing shells, i.e. Excalibur-type capability, but at a much lower cost! The concept of artillery-use can rapidly change with increased reliance on precision - there will still be a requirement for firing barrages on occassion, especially for area targets, but precision artillery is likely to become an alternative to some air support operations. If the future light and medium (and heavy for that matter) battlegroups can call upon precision artillery as well as massed fires, then things aren't too bad. 
 
As for LIMAWS(R), I have mixed feelings - it is a nice system in some senses, but the off-the-shelf HIMARS could probably have done the same thing. In particular, the whole of the MLRS force has been on the knife-edge over the last few years, with threats of retirement or de-funding of training. On the other hand, GMLRS has given the rocket systems a new lease on life; they have transformed themselves from massed area weapons, to rapid precision strike weapons. Another issue is whether battlegroups should be given the MLRS units, or if they should instead be held back as a Divisional-type weapon.
 
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interestedamateur       6/11/2008 8:56:07 AM

They came up against 152mm in 2003 and managed OK.  You also have to think in terms of many sources of firepower, including GMLRS.  And before they can be attacked the enemy has to locate them.


I hear what you're saying Neutralizer, but you have to admit that the light arty regiments were concerned about the extra reach of the Iraqi artillery. If they had been up against anyone half competent, it might have been a different story.
I also hear what you're saying about other sources of firepower - but that means that the army is dependent upon (gulp!) the RAF! Wash your mouth out with soap this instant!
 
In all seriousness, are the RAF and FAA going to have the numbers and response time to be able to provide the firepower that even a battery of LIMAWS(R) could? I think the FAA managed one air strike (albeit effective) at Goose Green. And GMLRS on its Bradley chassis (or AS90 for that matter) is hardly a lightweight system - not something you could trundle down to the Falklands or some other out of the way place.
 
It's noticeable that the Americans (with all of their other firepower) are purchasing 880 HIMARS plus 500 + M777's - they obviously don't think medium weight arty a redundant concept.
Obviously it doesn't matter much what I think, but I'm not convinced by your reply.
 
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interestedamateur       6/11/2008 9:03:30 AM

My replies in bold below.
Also, the M777 155mm could be made available if the need arose - for current operational requirements, the light 105mm and self-propelled 155mm are probably sufficient.
 
From where - the Belgians?
 
My only major concern is the 39-cal used on the M777, since 52-cal would add a lot of capability,
 
Completely agree here, although even the 39 cal M777 is a major advance on current capability. Not that I'm against our 105mm guns, but they aren't going to have the reach of a larger gun.
 
As for LIMAWS(R), I have mixed feelings - it is a nice system in some senses, but the off-the-shelf HIMARS could probably have done the same thing.
 
Agreed. But we aren't puchasing HIMARS either.
 
In particular, the whole of the MLRS force has been on the knife-edge over the last few years, with threats of retirement or de-funding of training. On the other hand, GMLRS has given the rocket systems a new lease on life; they have transformed themselves from massed area weapons, to rapid precision strike weapons.
 
Most armies use MLRS/HIMARS as a corps (or sometimes divisional) weapon. I've never heard of it going below that level.
 
There are still 4 regular batteries of MLRS I believe, of which 2 or so will become GMLRS. See my comments below to Neutralizer though - GMLRS ain't light at c.30 tons and isn't something you could pop in the back of an A400.



 
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flamingknives       6/11/2008 4:25:00 PM
Ah, time for my regular backlash against the lack of knowledge regarding artillery systems

1) LIMAWS(R) is airportable by Chinook. HIMARS isn't.
2) HIMARS was not an "Off the shelf" option compared to LIMAWS(R).  Only the MoD mucking about delayed the LIMAWS to the extent that HIMARS came into service first.
3) MLRS is currently being used in support of a Brigade in Helmand. The advent of GMLRS has utterly changed the employment and they are being used in direct support of company attacks.
4) Guided artillery shells like Excalibur ought to have extended range over something like PGK, which only improves accuracy within the normal shell range.
 
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interestedamateur       6/12/2008 12:55:57 PM

Ah, time for my regular backlash against the lack of knowledge regarding artillery systems
1) LIMAWS(R) is airportable by Chinook. HIMARS isn't.
2) HIMARS was not an "Off the shelf" option compared to LIMAWS(R).  Only the MoD mucking about delayed the LIMAWS to the extent that HIMARS came into service first.
Points taken. It was also C130 transportable which I believe HIMARS isn't either. MLRS definitely isn't transportable by Chinook or much of anything really.
 
3) MLRS is currently being used in support of a Brigade in Helmand. The advent of GMLRS has utterly changed the employment and they are being used in direct support of company attacks.
I know. But my point is that our current MLRS systems are still pretty heavy. I doubt if we could have taken them to the Falklands for instance?
4) Guided artillery shells like Excalibur ought to have extended range over something like PGK, which only improves accuracy within the normal shell range.
Yes, but isn't Excalibur currently only a 155mm system? I think I'm right in saying that there isn't yet a 105mm precision munition. And do we know that one will outrange 155mm systems anyway.
 
 


 
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flamingknives       6/12/2008 1:54:44 PM
HIMARS will fit into a C130, but only one. If there were more than one in existence, you could get 2 LIMAWS(R) into a C130J.

The Falklands would be a tricky deployment, but the range, accuracy and effect of GMLRS and its low logistics train makes up for that enough that they'd probably do it. A launcher at Goose Green would be able to hit positions around Port Stanley.
 
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neutralizer       6/13/2008 8:43:58 AM
UK MLRS is all GMLRS only.  The old bomlet warheads were abandomned before the Dublin agreement and a contract to disassemble and destroy them was signed last year or early this, with RUUG IIRC.  The only area of doubt are the AT4 warheads.  However, Dublin does seem to have stopped any purchase of ATACMS unless the bomblets are made a lot smarter or a different type of warhead is adopted, but ATACMS is designed for deep attack not CB.
 
Light forces are for appropriate missions.  You don't send them against a heavy threat, unless they are part of a heavy force as in 2003. 
 
Multiple sources of firepower included conventional arty, GMLRS, LM (coming along quite fast), Apache as well as conventional air.  It's also useful to remember that for UK on the battlefield conventional air is in effect controlled by artillery.  I'm not aware of any suggestion that fitting a 52 cal barrel to M777 is an option anywhere. 
 
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interestedamateur       6/13/2008 12:44:56 PM
Well, most people seem to disagree with me so I'll shut up!
 
It's interesting that there has been little comment on arsse except to say that most people thought that LIMAWS(R) wasn't needed. Having said that, there are one or two indications on that site that the RA are lobbying to try and get that decision reversed, and also LIMAWS(G) reinstated. Not much chance I would have thought but you never know.
 
Is GMLRS only a unitary warhead?
 
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neutralizer       6/14/2008 2:15:34 AM
Is GMLRS only a unitary warhead?

Currently this seems to be the case.
Although he says virtually nothing about particular branches, never mid equipment this speech a few days ago is flagging some interesting evolution http://www.army.mod.uk/documents/general/CGS_RUSI_LWC_Speech.pdf

 
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