On Sunday, Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) shared the first video of a British-made AS90 “Braveheart” 155mm self-propelled howitzer in service in Ukraine. To date, the UK has pledged to send 30 of the howitzers to the Ukrainian army – enough to create a new brigade.
The video was posted following the news that a second batch of Ukrainian warfighters had completed training on the platform in the UK last week. The Ukrainian crews received three weeks of instruction at the British Army’s Royal School of Artillery. This followed the completion of training on the Challenger 2 main battle tank last month.
Training reportedly covered only the most vital skills. British soldiers received more extended training with the AS90.
“These soldiers are not recruits, however the range of military experience varies from just a few months to decades, and we have had to tailor the training accordingly. We have delivered a much compressed training package in which we have taught them how to use, fire and maintain the AS90,” explained Lt. Col. Ed Botterill, chief instructor at the RSA.
The Ukrainians were apparently quite eager.
“I knew they were going to be thirsty for knowledge but goodness me, from the moment they got off the bus we had to slow them down,” added Botterill. “We had to stop them from asking questions in order to find out their names!”
The AS90, Britain’s Big Gun
Officially known as “Gun Equipment 155mm L131,” the AS90 Braveheart has been the standard British self-propelled artillery platform since the early 1990s. Designed and built by the armaments division of Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering — now part of BAE Systems — 179 were produced between 1982 and 1987. The mobile artillery platform is now in service with the 1st Regiment Royal Horse Artillery and the 19th Regiment Royal Artillery.
The AS90 is armed with a BAE Systems 155 mm L/39 main gun. The vehicle has a crew of five — a driver plus four personnel in the gun detachment — and a trained crew can fire either three rounds in 10-second bursts, or six rounds per minute for three-minute intense bombardments. The gun can also handle two rounds per minute for 60 minutes of sustained fire.
The barrel is compatible with NATO L31 ordnance, as well as the M982 Excalibur GPS- and inertial-guided munition. As previously reported, the 155mm extended-range guided artillery shell was developed as part of a collaborative effort between the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center. It can perform in close support situations within just 75 to 150 meters of friendly troops.
Each AS90 can carry 48 projectiles and charges, including 31 in the turret and 17 more in the hull. In addition, 1,000 rounds of ammunition are carried for the vehicle’s 7.62mm L7 machine gun that is provided for crew defense from infantry while on the move. The howitzer offers a maximum 17mm of armor protection.
#Ukraine: The first video of British ???????? AS-90 155mm self-propelled howitzers already on Ukrainian soil.
In total, the UK committed to donate 30 of these SPHs to the Ukrainian Army, which presumably will be used by newly formed brigades. pic.twitter.com/AdYYtOjEEP
— ???????? Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) April 9, 2023
It is powered by a Cummins VTA 903-T600 90-degree V8 engine, and it can sustain a maximum speed of 55 km/h on the road.
As noted by the video on social media, a number of AS90s arrived in Ukraine. Botterill warned that the crews could soon be “firing the AS90 in anger and putting into practice all they have learned.”
Author Experience and Expertise:
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.