Rare video: Swedish Archer SPH destroying the Russian Msta-S

The Ukrainian forces recently neutralized another Russian Msta-S self-propelled artillery system. This was captured on film by the 45th Artillery Brigade’s press division. A stealth reconnaissance drone located a camouflaged Russian artillery vehicle and then guided precise artillery fire toward the vehicle, ultimately leading to the destruction of the Msta-S self-propelled gun. 

BAE Systems Has Unveiled a New ARCHER Mobile Howitzer at DSEI
Photo credit: BAE Systems

The brigade added a caption to the video, stating, “One less enemy firepower. A direct hit by our forces! 45 OABr. Heading East,” indicating that the elimination of the enemy unit was likely due to a Swedish 155mm Archer self-propelled artillery weapon. 

It’s worth recalling that the official approval for the transfer of the Swedish 155-mm Archer self-propelled guns to Ukraine was granted in March 2023. The discussions regarding this transfer became public as far back as August of the previous year. 

Russians' favorite 2S19М1 Msta-S SPH leaves parades to go to Ukraine
Photo by Dmitriy Fomin

Interestingly, during the 2023 autumn celebration of Ukraine’s Missile Forces and Artillery Day, the Ground Forces Command of the Ukrainian Armed Forces decided to unveil this significant self-propelled gun to the public via a showcase video. 

The Automated Archer

Regarded as the world’s most advanced automated artillery system, the Archer self-propelled artillery operates uniquely with a crew of just three to four people. Nevertheless, while the onboard team is small, the total number of personnel required for the system’s combat operations is considerably larger.  

This was revealed by Stefan Sjöberg, the commander of the Boden Artillery Regiment A8 for the Swedish Armed Forces, who said that nearly 100 Ukrainian archers were trained to handle the eight Archers transferred to Ukraine. This information was relayed during an interview with the SVT TV channel.  

Interestingly, the training of this large number doesn’t necessarily suggest that Ukraine will acquire additional Archers. Instead, it underscores the fact that the operative deployment of weaponry involves not only the crew but also maintenance, fuel, ammunition transportation, and command management. The team train extended beyond the gun’s crew; it also included specialists for the upkeep of the self-propelled guns and battery command personnel.  

It’s worth noting that an American M109 self-propelled gun battery, with eight artillery systems, also operates with about 100 personnel, despite having a five to six-person crew. Thus, advanced automation of the artillery system doesn’t necessarily result in a significant decrease in personnel numbers.  

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

However, this automation greatly enhances the combat capabilities of an artillery system like the Archer. The Archer’s extraordinary ability to fire the first shot just 14 seconds after halting, release a three-round burst, and vacate the site before the initial round impacts the enemy’s position is truly remarkable.  

In addition, the Archer can unleash its full load of 21 shells in only 3.5 minutes, although it needs to retreat for restocking afterward. Therefore, the Archer shines as a precision tool in counter-battery warfare due to its high firing range and exceptional maneuverability, rather than simply inundating the enemy with projectiles.

2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine

UralTransMash delivered a batch of Msta-S SPH to the Russian army
Photo credit: UralVagonZavod

On February 21, 2022, Russia stated that its border facility was attacked by Ukrainian forces, resulting in the deaths of five Ukrainian fighters. However, Ukraine quickly dismissed these allegations, labeling them as ‘false flags’.

In a notable move on the same day, Russia announced it officially recognized the self-proclaimed areas of DPR and LPR. Interestingly, according to Russian President Putin, this recognition covered all the Ukrainian regions. Following this declaration, Putin sent a battalion of Russia’s military forces, tanks included, into these areas.

Fast forward to February 24, 2022, global headlines were dominated by a significant incident. Putin commanded a forceful military assault on Ukraine. Led by Russia’s impressive Armed Forces positioned at the Ukrainian border, this assault wasn’t spontaneous but a premeditated action. Despite the circumstances resembling a war, the Russian government refrains from using this term. They’d rather refer to it as a “special military operation”.

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