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Artillery Mobility - Towed, Mounted & Self-Propelled

Artillery is also classified according to the method of ground transportation, either towed or self-propelled. Towed artillery is mounted on carriages and is designed to be towed behind other vehicles. Self-propelled artillery is mounted on tracked vehicles, and can move between firing positions under its own power. Towed artillery is generally lighter than self-propelled, but obviously requires a separate vehicle to tow it. Self-propelled artillery can be quicker to reposition to a new firing position.

A towed artillery gun comprises, on the one hand, a frame on which an artillery gun carriage rotates and comprises, on the other hand, an automotive system as well as trails. These trails play a double role. When apart and unhooked from the towing vehicle, they serve as a stable support for the firing phases. When closed, they play the role of a tiller for the towed mobility phases. During the towed mobility phase, the gun tube is oriented parallel to the trails and toward the towing vehicle. Once the gun is on its firing site, in order to be able to fire, it is necessary to first bring the tube in the laying area located opposite to the trails, and then to accurately lay the tube of the weapon.

Heavy artillery guns which cannot be manually implemented are known, such as the 155 mm artillery guns TR155 from Nexter Systems. These guns use a single weapon rotating means consisting in a hydraulic engine and a single pivot integral with the frame for turning and laying a weapon carriage. These two phases require different performances. Turning requires speed to implement the gun as fast as possible, while laying requires accuracy. These two performances are thus difficult to maintain simultaneously as these means, which allow to act quickly, have features which do not allow to obtain a satisfactory accuracy, and vice versa.

A towed 105 mm howitzer is a versatile system that can be dropped with prime movers, air assaulted with prime movers, pulled by a five-man crew for survivability moves or to tuck into tree lines easily in what was common practice known as an artillery hide. A hide is a camouflaged shelter or location used to conceal from the view or notice of enemy forces, often used as a temporary bed down location. Moreover, the 105 mm ammunition is less than half the weight of the 155 mm ammunition.

Self-propelled field artillery weapons have been widely used and in some of these the weapon is loaded and fired from the outside of the vehicle while in others the gun crew is sheltered within the armor of the vehicle during loading and firing of the weapon. Ballistic armor is used in many forms and many applications, including both structural and non-structural applications, for protecting all manner of items from damage due to impact from all manner of ballistic projectiles.

The United States Army self-propelled artillery weapon M109 has been widely used and in this weapon the gun crew is housed within the armored vehicle body during service of the weapon. The Model M109 and similar vehicles usually mount a 155 mm gun or an 8-inch gun, and both of these are separately loading, that is, the projectile is loaded in the chamber followed by the propellant and the detonator is then put in place to complete the loading of the weapon.

Such fast self-propelled field artillery weapons usually carry ammunition within the armored housing of the vehicle but this ammunition must be readily and promptly resupplied during active engagement of the weapon. Heretofore, such ammunition supply has been carried out by conventional vehicles such as trucks, half-tracked vehicles, and the like, depending upon the terrain, but it is highly desirable that these field artillery weapons be supported by support vehicles which are at least equally fast and equally maneuverable as well as provided with armored protection for the supply vehicle during movement and also during its supply function adjacent the weapon.

The field artillery support vehicle is mounted upon a suitable chassis, and is provided with an armored housing mounted thereon providing armored protection for the driver of the vehicle and crew of the vehicle, as well as armored protection for the ammunition carried by the support vehicle. Racks are provided within the vehicle for the individual projectiles and compartments are provided for the propellant charges and particular means are also provided for loading the vehicle at an ammunition dump and for feeding the projectiles and propellant from the vehicle to the gun when the vehicle is in gun-supply position.

Tactical mobility characteristics, such as reduced weapon emplacement/displacement time, capability of helicopter lift, self-propelled capability, and cross-country performance, place strict requirements/limits on system size and weight. Strategic mobility characteristics, such as weapon system transport volume and weight, and the required logistics of both supplies and maintenance support personnel, also place requirements and limits, although less severe.

An obvious way to reduce firing loads, without lengthening the recoil stroke or reducing range, is to reduce the energy input applied to the weapon system. This is achieved by the addition of a device to the muzzle of the cannon, commonly referred to as a muzzle brake. A muzzle brake deflects the flow of the propellant gases, as they are discharged from the bore, creating a forward load on the recoiling mass.

The user cost to own, utilize and support the weapon system also affects design. Crew reductions can be realised by the addition of automation with its associated impact on system reliability or reliability allocations. The manpower required to service and support a weapon system is an expensive item and will quickly out pace the initial cost of the weapon. The annual cost for a crewmember has been estimated at over $100,000. Reduction of operating expenses in these times of budget and manpower constraints has been a recurring requirement. Minimizing the logistics burden of a weapon system also has been a recurring requirement. Increased reliability and durability of the weapon, and the elimination or reduction of consumables, have been the primary thrusts.

For airborne and naval assault forces, towed artillery systems provide a number of significant tactical advantages over heavier self-propelled artillery guns. Towed systems with a conventional caliber 105-155 mm quickly transported by helicopter and are currently being successfully used in Afghanistan.

However, self-propelled artillery systems continue to lead the battlefield, due to modernization in the field of projectiles and loading systems, as well as with the support of a number of different systems currently being manufactured and developed around the world. In recent years there has been a clear trend towards the creation and implementation of wheeled self-propelled artillery systems. Compared to their tracked counterparts, wheeled self-propelled systems offer a number of significant operational advantages. These include a large strategic mobility, because they move quickly over long distances without the help of conveyors of heavy machinery (HET). It was also stated that they have lower operating costs, they are more accessible in management and maintenance.

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Page last modified: 31-05-2019 14:53:34 ZULU