The British government announced on Thursday that it would attempt to fill a gap left by the supply of weapons to Ukraine by purchasing Swedish 155mm Archer artillery systems.
The British government confirmed this week that fourteen artillery systems are being purchased to replace the AS90 systems given to Ukraine.
“The first 14 Archer artillery systems will have ownership transferred to the British Army this month and be fully operational by next April, forming an interim replacement for the 32 AS90 artillery systems the U.K. gifted to the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” a statement from the Ministry of Defence reads, adding that the newer Archer system has double the maximum range of the AS90 sent to Ukraine.
Some of the more modern Archer systems are also headed to Ukraine, courtesy of Sweden.
The Archer also has improved operational mobility, can be operated by a crew of as little as three compared to five for the AS90. It can also reach a top speed of 70kph, compared to the AS90’s 53kph.
Purchasing the Swedish artillery systems as part of a rapid procurement effort will ensure that the British government has access to sufficient military hardware while the longer-term Mobile Fires Platform program continues.
British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told the House of Commons on January 16 that he will accelerate the program to ensure that the U.K. has access to advanced artillery systems by the end of the decade and not in the 2030s as originally planned.
Speaking to Defense News, a spokesperson for the MoD said that the deal was negotiated over eight weeks and went through virtually the same process as when the United Kingdom procured equipment to supply its forces in Afghanistan.
“The first 14 Archer artillery systems will have ownership transferred to the British Army this month and be fully operational by next April, forming an interim replacement for the 32 AS90 artillery systems the U.K. gifted to the armed forces of Ukraine,” the Ministry said in a statement.
The fast procurement of the weapons is good news for the United Kingdom, not just in that the weapons have been quickly replaced, but also because they are a substantial upgrade over the artillery systems previously used by the British military.
Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive’s Breaking News Editor. He is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.