UK AS90 turret trainer achieves remarkable 100,000 firings milestone

A significant milestone has been achieved by the British Army’s AS90 turret training system. This groundbreaking system, has recently completed 100,000 simulated firings. It was introduced into the UK Armed Forces in 2005.

UK AS90 turret trainer achieves remarkable 100,000 firings milestone
Photo credit: UK DE&S

The UK Ministry of Defence [MoD] reports that this accomplishment has resulted in substantial cost savings of approximately £230m [$293m]. 

UK Defence Equipment & Support [DE&S] was responsible for procuring and supporting the AS90 turret training system. The system’s primary function is to enhance the operational practices and capabilities of the commander, gunner, and loader. They are the crew of 155mm self-propelled howitzer, a weapon that has been in the British Army’s arsenal since 1992. 

The AS90 turret training system is located at Larkhill Garrison in Wiltshire. Here, crews can hone their firing drills and turret operation procedures without the financial burden of live firing exercises, thereby considerably reducing training costs. 

Trainer based on AS90 turret

The trainer, which is designed based on an actual AS90 turret, utilizes an electro-mechanical system to simulate a complete firing cycle. This includes the weight and size of the artillery rounds as well as the noise and turret movement that occurs upon firing. 

The MoD has revealed that the AS90 turret training system has been employed for the training of Ukrainian soldiers. This training is as part of a broader initiative to equip them with the skills required to operate AS90 guns. recalls that UK has delivered AS90s to Ukraine. 

Britain was left without 155mm serviceable self-propelled artillery
Photo by Pfc. Rhonda J. Roth-Cameron

In addition to this, as a component of DE&S’ comprehensive support of Ukraine amid Russia’s large-scale invasion in 2022, 32 AS90 platforms have been supplied to Ukrainian forces. Of these, 20 were ready for combat, with the remaining 12 to be used for spares and replenishment. 

Van Halteren Technologies [VHT] has also delivered over 100 systems for other weapons. They also delivered the M101, M119, M198, and FH70. VHT is the company responsible for developing and manufacturing the turret trainers.

The transition from the old 

The UK’s donation of 32 AS90 155 self-propelled howitzers, which comprised a significant part of its fleet of approximately 80 platforms, marked a notable shift. Despite being outperformed by newer models, the AS90 still holds its ground as a competent fire support platform on the battlefield. 

In a further act of support, the UK has also provided Ukraine with an additional 64 artillery guns. This includes 28 M109 155mm self-propelled guns and 36 L119 105mm guns along with the necessary ammunition. 

The decision to gift the 32 AS90s to Ukraine accelerated the UK’s earlier plans of enhancing its long-range fire support capability through the Mobile Fires Platform by 2030. A short-term solution emerged in March of this year with the procurement of 14 Archer 155mm artillery systems from Sweden, which is projected to be completely operational by April 2024. 

The Archer

The Archer, a wheeled 6×6 system, comes equipped with an automated, self-propelled 155mm main gun. Designed for swift deployment, it boasts a firing range of 50km using extended-range ammunition, effectively doubling the AS90’s 25km range. 

Sweden intends to supply 155mm Archer artillery systems to Ukraine
Photo credit: Twitter

In 2022, the UK also embarked on a mission to double the size of its M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System [MLRS] fleet, which currently consists of around 40 vehicles. This initiative also involves considering platforms that are presently housed in museums or serving as gate guards. Earlier in the Ukraine war, the UK had donated a total of six M270 MLRS to Kyiv, divided into two delivery batches. 

To keep the system in service until 2050, the British Army is planning to invest £250m in upgrading the M270 fleet. The upgrades will equip 44 launchers with a new armored cab and enhanced automotive and launch mechanism components.


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