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AUF-1 Canon de 155 Automoteur modèle F1

Among the NATO countries, Great Britain, FRG, France and Italy engaged in creating self-propelled artillery and had self-propelled guns and howitzers in service in their own ground forces which were indigenously developed in the 1960s and 1970s. They included the French 105- and 155-mm howitzers (based the AMX-13 light tank) and the British 105-mm ABBOT self-propelled gun (based on the TROJAN armored personnel carrier).

By the end of the Cold War the only modern (in service) European self-propelled field artillery piece was the French self-propelled F.1 gun (previously designated the 155 GCT - Grande Cadence de Tir - high rate of fire), which was created in the mid-1970s and based on the AMX-30. The 155-mm caliber piece is equipped with automatic loading which assured a rate of fire of eight rounds per minute and a modern fire control system.

In 1969, work began on the creation of a 155-mm self-propelled gun GIAT GCT. This gun was supposed to replace all self-propelled artillery systems caliber 105 and 155 mm, which was in service with the French army. The first prototype appeared in 1972, and after numerous tests in 1977, its mass production began at the plant in Rouen.

The 155-mm automatic cannon AUF-1 is intended to equip forces with armored artillery to ensure the missions of support of direct and indirect fire. The 155-mm gun is assembled from a turret on the chasis of the AMX 30, equipped with a suspension locking device, providing mobility close to that of this battle tank. The range of the gun of 39 calibers makes it possible to reach 23.5 km with normal ammunition and 30 km with wide range ammunition. The system can as well fire all the ammunition of 155 mm, French as foreign. Its normal ammunition is the high-explosive shell with hollow base. The propelling loads are consisted combustible casings containing of the powder sachets. The initial speed in maximum loading is 810 m/s.

The vehicle is capable of carrying 42 complete rounds: 7 racks of 6 shells, 7 racks of 6 combustible casings. Restocking of ammunition can be realized in fifteen minutes with 4 men. The pace of firing with an automatic attachment feeding in ammunition, using combustible casings, allows to firing 6 shots in 45 seconds and 12 shots in 2 minutes because of its gun display unit and automated loading sequence. In the event of breakdown partial or total of this device, firing is still possible manually but at reduced rate. Protection counters Chemical, Bacteriological and Nuclear effects (N.B.C.) thanks to the sealing of the turret, as well as projectiles of light automatic weapons. The secondary armament is a 12.7-mm machine gun on circular being able to carry out anti-aircraft and ground fire.

Its turret can be hermetically sealed to provide nuclear/biological/chemical protection for the crew. It weighs less than 40 metric tons and has a maximum range of 23,500 meters and a maximum rate of fire of 8 rounds per minute. Its range was extended to over 30,000 meters with the RAP round. Traverse is 6,400 mils.

The AU F1 receives fire orders through a remote display and has a range of 24 kms and up to 30 kms with the French base-bleed round. RATAC [Radar d'Acquisition et de Tir de I'Artillerie de Campagne] is a radar mounted on the VAB (armoured personnel carrier) used at the battalion level. It acquires moving targets out to 25 kms. ATILA [Automatisation des Tirs et des Liaisons d'Artillerie] is an artillery data processing and communications system with capabilities between that of the US tactical fire direction system (TACFIRE) and the advanced Field Artillery tactical data system (AFATDS). It's used in the forward observer vehicle (VOA) and the battery and battalion command posts.

Rate of Fire is one of the basic parameters affecting the firing effectiveness of self-propelled ordnance. This is particularly important during the initial, most effective minutes, of the artillery strike. Thus, in accordance with the demands of NATO specialists, the first three rounds from self-propelled howitzers should be delivered in ten seconds, and the normal rate of applied fire should reach 8 to 12 rounds per minute. Achieving such a firing rate can only be accomplished with automatic loading devices.

An example of this is the French 155-mm self-propelled F.1 gun where the cycle of loading the piece is completely automated. The loading mechanism consists of two systems acting in parallel, one of which is designed to feed the projectile on a tray and the other feeds the propellent charge which is packed in a combustible cartridge case. The drives are hydraulic. The loading deviceis controlled by a mechanism based on an electronic logic unit that works on programmed cards. Loading can occur with the piece at any angle of elevation.

The 42 rounds of ready service ammunition is distributed about the rear section of the turret in a special two-section rack (the projectiles and charges are separate). Even though many observers considered that this automatic loading device was extremely complicated and did not provide the necessary level of reliability, the automation of the ordnance loading process for self-propelled artillery had become a real necessity.

The French Army Command (NE) planned to purchase the first batch of SG GCT in 1976, but due to funding restrictions, a manufactured batch of howitzers was sent to Saudi Arabia in 1978. The artillery units of the armed forces of France, this system entered only in 1983. In addition, it was purchased by Kuwait and Iraq. The artillery system was recognized by the military leadership of these countries as one of the best examples of this type of military equipment until the mid-90s. During this period, it was decided to upgrade the basic howitzer model in order to extend its service life by another 20 years. Since 1977, the French firm Giat had produced 440 SG GCT, of which 273 - for its own NE, 86 - for Iraq, 18 - for Kuwait and 63 - for Saudi Arabia. Howitzers proved well during the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988). The advantages of the French system were most clearly demonstrated in August 1995 in the mountainous regions of Bosnia and Herzegovina. At that time, the gun battery, which was armed with eight howitzers, provided reliable fire support to the UN forces, thanks to its long range, speed and high efficiency of fire. AU F1 CTI [Conduite de Tir Inertielle] is an improved AU F1 howitzer. It has an on-board navigation system, automatic laying and individual fire control capabilities. The improvements increase the howitzer's autonomy and survivability for 3x8 battalion operations. The AU F1 CTI howitzer looks like the AU F1 on the outside. Fielding began at the end of 1990. The new inertial fire control devices on the 155 AU F1 reduced its vulnerability and time to respond after movement. The installation of a computer on each gun increased its autonomy. These improvements and others changed the AU F1 howitzer into the AU F1 CTI.

The modernization of the system provides for: the replacement of an auxiliary 6.5 kW gasoline engine with the Mikroturbo gas turbine with a capacity of 10.5 kW; Improving the system of automatic loading of ammunition in order to increase reliability; Installation of a CITA 20 mechanical gyro platform by the French company SAGEM for autonomous navigation and azimuth determination. In 1996, the last batch of 20 ordered by the SG of this option was delivered to the Armed Forces of France. Total released 179 AUF1 and 97 AUF1 T. Production complete but can be resumed.

At the beginning of the 21st century, French ground forces underwent a reorganization, abandoning divisions in favor of more compact brigades. At present, they consist of eight brigades, two of which — the 2nd and 7th — are armored. Each brigade includes an artillery regiment, but the 1st artillery regiment of the 7th brigade, instead of SAU AUF1, is armed with MLRS multiple rocket launchers. The 40th artillery regiment is part of the 2nd Brigade, the unit that first received the AUF1 self-propelled guns and the only one that retains them in service. The regiment includes four fire batteries of eight guns - a total of 32 AUF1.

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Page last modified: 21-02-2019 18:44:17 ZULU