G5 155mm 45-calibre, towed gun howitzer
The G5 is a 155 mm 45 calibre, towed gun howitzer. It has such indirect fire flexibility that it can be employed in the traditional gun, howitzer and mortar roles, and can cover an area of almost 1000 km2 from a single firing position. The gun is capable of maximum sea level ranges of 30 km with ERFB projectiles and 39 km with ERFB base bleed projectiles. The G5 is fully compatible with NATO standard 155-mm ammunition and has a direct fire range of 3000 meters (using a Frag-HE round).
The G5 is fitted with an auxiliary power unit which gives it a self-propelled speed of 16 km/h. The APU, combined with the tandem walking-beam suspension, gives the G5 excellent self-propelled mobility over short distances. The four wheels are all powered and give the gun excellent traction over most terrain. But, the APU serves purposes other than mobility. It provides power to open and close the trails, raise and lower the trail wheels, and raise and lower the firing platform. However, there is no power traverse or elevation. Large wheels, spades and firing platform provide excellent mobility and stability in soft or sandy terrain. The gun can be transported in an aircraft such as the C-130.
Hydraulic power assistance makes it possible to bring the gun into or out of action in less than 2 minutes. Loading is facilitated by a semi-automatic breech and the loading tray with pneumatic rammer. The breech is of the screw type which provides reliable sealing under all conditions. Although designed for an eight-man section, the South African Defense Force normally operates the G5 with a five-man section. However, the G5 can operate with minimum of two people when all of the powered systems are working. The G-5 MkIII includes 35 reliability modifications and performance improvements. The improvements include the addition of the AS2000 Gun Monitor, an improved braking system, bigger diameter and wider trail wheels (specifically designed for sand), and incorporation of the REUTECH ACV 58 Communications System.
The G5 was the latest in a series of very long range artillery systems developed by Dr. G.V. (Gerry) Bull. After leaving government service where he was employed as a research scientist with CARDE (Canadian Army Research Establishment), he became probably the worlds foremost authority on long range artillery. His company, Space Research corporation (SRC), based in Highwater Quebec, became a centre for advanced aerodynamic studies of which artillery was only a part. The G5 can trace its ancestry back to the SRC designed GC-45. The GC-45 (the "45" denoted the barrel length as 45 calibres, as opposed to 39 calibres for most 155 mm guns used by NATO) was more than just a new gun, it was an intirely new weapons system firing special Extended Range Full Bore (ERFB) projectiles and using new propellents, up to Zone 11. These gave a range of 40,000 m compared to 18,200 for the M109 series firing conventional projectiles using the maximum propellent zone 7, then in service. The first foreign sales were 18 GC-45's with ammunition, which were sold to the Royal Thai Navy for use by their Marine Corps. The guns were built in Austria by NORICUM and the ammo came from PRB in Belgium
The GC-45 design was picked up by South Africa and produced under the designation G-5. These saw service against Cuban and FREMELO forces in Angola and some found their way to Israel where they were used to good effect in the Bekka Valley in 1986. NORICUM modified the GC-45 design to suit mass production and marketed it as the GHN-45.
Iraq was probably the biggest single customer and the GHN-45's dominated the battlefields of the Iran/Iraq war with their great range and the increased lethality of the ERFB projectiles. As the Gulf War loomed, the Coalition forces were concerned since the GHN-45's outranged anything they had. By the end of the ground fighting however, the GHN-45's proved far less effective then anticipated. Coalition air strikes destroyed the Iraqi target acquisition systems and command control facilities. The guns couldn't hit what they couldn't see, and becasue most of their gun tractors had been withdrawn to serve with logistics units in a futile attempt to re-supply the front line troops, they were unable to withdraw. Thus the majority of the guns were destroyed in their gun positions either by Coalition air strikes or Multiple Launched Rocket Systems (MLRS) counter-battery fire.
The GC-45 family of howitzers continue to serve in a number of countries. ERFB ammunition, despite its increased range and effectiveness, failed to achieve accuracy requirements and was not adapted as standard by any NATO country.
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