In the case of the RCH 155 155-mm wheeled self-propelled howitzer from the German defense company Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW), the word “latest” in the title is not an exaggeration at all. Ukraine should become the first operator of these self-propelled howitzers, which were presented by the manufacturer in 2014.
In December 2022 it became known that Germany is going to provide Ukraine with 18 RCH 155 self-propelled guns. At the same time, the asterisk around this position indicates that: “This is an industrial delivery, which is financed from the funds of the modernization initiative. Some of the deliveries involve repair work or are still in production; in addition, some training services are still provided.” Given that the KMW RCH 155 has not yet been mass-produced, this means that the howitzers have yet to be produced.
And so, on December 31, 2022, former British Army officer and now military analyst and consultant Nicholas Drummond, who works as an advisor to Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and FN Herstal, while also promoting the universal GTK / ARTEC Boxer chassis, wrote on Twitter about the start of production of the RCH 155 for Ukraine. What’s more, these howitzers use Mr. Drummond’s favorite chassis.
“Sometimes combining two proven solutions into a new concept can be revolutionary while avoiding significant risk. Production of the Boxer RCH-155 for Ukraine has begun,” Nicholas Drummond wrote.
Of course, the start of production is not the start of the supply of howitzers to Ukraine, but let’s hope that Krauss-Maffei Wegmann will gain a good pace and soon the Armed Forces of Ukraine will receive another interesting solution to destroy the invaders. Because the KMW RCH 155 seems to be the first 155-mm self-propelled gun that can fire on the move!
Why is Krauss-Maffei Wegmann interested in testing its self-propelled guns in Ukraine? Because the RCH 155 made it to the finals of the competition to replace the M109 KAWES SpH of the Swiss army where it will compete with… the famous Archer self-propelled guns by BAE Systems. So the first to demonstrate its effectiveness on the real battlefield will have a considerable advantage.
Let’s see what the KMW RCH 155 is and why this self-propelled gun looks very interesting.
The KMW RCH 155 is a combination of the Artillery Gun Module (AGM), developed by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, and the GTK / ARTEC Boxer wheeled multipurpose armored vehicle chassis. AGM uses the same gun as the German PzH 2000 155mm self-propelled gun, 155mm Rheinmetall L52, but the turret here is completely different, more like a ship’s turret that was moved to land. As for the Boxer, this armored personnel carrier, which has been manufactured by a consortium of European defense companies since 2009, is used in many variants: IFV, command vehicle, mortar, repair vehicle, counter-battery radar, MLRS, anti-aircraft defense, light tank and so on.
The Boxer chassis makes the RCH 155 very mobile, as its speed on the highway is an impressive 100 km/h. And the use of the PzH 2000 fire control system allows you to fire 9 rounds per minute, including in the simultaneous attack mode, and leave the position even before the enemy realizes what happened. There is even a video of the RCH 155 firing test while driving, but there are questions about the accuracy of this mode.
And what is interesting, the RCH 155 is so automated that it is controlled by only two crew members (!), and they are not in the turret, but in the Boxer hull, that is, better protected.
Of course, the KMW RCH 155 can use the entire nomenclature of modern 155-mm ammunition, including high-precision M982 Excalibur projectiles and its European competitor Volcano GLR. The firing range and accuracy are adequate. By the way, the SpgH has a remote-controlled machine gun on the roof of the turret for this purpose.
As for Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, it is an old well-known defense company that produced, repaired and modernized such equipment as the Leopard 1 and Leopard 2 tanks; PzH 2000 self-propelled gun; Gepard anti-aircraft self-propelled gun, which showed itself well against kamikaze drones; MRAP APC Dingo 1 and 2, Grizzly, Boxer, MARS II MLRS and many other modern techniques. That is, they have enough experience.
According to the performance characteristics, it seems that the RCH 155 is really better than the competitor – the Swedish Archer. We hope that in a few months we will see how this self-propelled gun will show itself on the battlefield.
KMW RCH 155 SpGH specifications
Weight – 39 tons
Length -10.4 m
Width – 2.99 m
Height – 3.6 m
Barrel length – 52 calibers or 7.88 m
Crew – 2 (commander, driver)
Rate of fire – max. 9 rounds per minute
Firing range – up to 40 km, depending on the ammunition
Gun – Rheinmetall L52 (ammunition set 30 shells)
Caliber – 155 mm
Engine – MTU 199TE20 diesel
Power – 815 hp.
Operational range – more than 700 km (highway)
Speed – more than 100 km/h (highway)