It’s not just the United States providing Ukraine with lethal aid in their six-month-long war against Russia.
Here in the US, when we think of Sweden, we think of…well, I think of Volvos and snow and the mythical “Swedish Bikini Team“ beer commercials from another era. The Ukrainians, however, have more pressing issues on their minds these days. From the land of ice and snow, red candy fish, and non-Italian meatballs come some of the best artillery systems in the world.
Meet the Archer Artillery System, aka the Archer-FH77BW, aka Artillerisystem 08.
According to the Ukrainian military website Defence Express, this past Monday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Mr. Dmytro Kuleba, was in the capital of Sweden meeting with Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and the Minister of foreign affairs Ann Linde. Their discussions centered around continued military aid from the Swedes. Kuleba didn’t mince words; he told the pair, “As long as the war continues, we will be asking for more weapons. Every euro, every bullet, every shell matters.”
Politico reports that the aid package agreed upon will contain 500 million Swedish krona (SEK), about $46.8 million US, in lethal aid and an identical amount to reconstruct a war-torn Ukraine. Foreign Affairs Minister Linde stated, “We do not know how long Russia’s war will last, but Sweden is ready to provide long-term support to Ukraine.” The Prime Minister supported that sentiment and said, “Sweden will continue to be a close friend and support Ukraine. We cannot let Russia win this unjust war.”
Documents from the Government Offices of Sweden tell us that just three days after the war began, on February 27th, they pledged 100 million SEK in humanitarian aid. On April 22nd, they donated a large amount of equipment to repair Ukraine’s damaged electrical grid. The Swedes gave another 100 million SEK on June 2nd through their Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency.
In the military aid department, the Swedes have provided thousands of AT4 light anti-tank weapons, an unspecified number of Barrett M82 rifles and ammunition, an unspecified number of Robot 17 anti-ship missiles, an unspecified type and amount of mine clearing equipment, thousands of bulletproof vests and two rotations of 60 soldiers each were sent to the UK to help provide civilians with basic military and self-defense training.
Ukrinform reports that, during his visit to Stockholm, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kuleba was quite direct in articulating what his country needs to continue the battle. During a meeting with the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister, he said, “The best thing Sweden can do in the field of defense in the coming weeks is to provide Ukraine with its famous Archer artillery systems, RBS-70 air-defense systems, and more shells for our artillery systems.” He continued, “Because, as strange as it may sound, the best way to save human lives, including the lives of civilians, and to save more Ukrainian villages and towns from destruction, is to give Ukraine more weapons so that we can repel Russian aggression and the Russian army.” Kuleba also went on to thank the Swedes for all the aid they have provided to Ukraine thus far.
Following the request, Foreign Minister Linde took to Twitter to tell the world her government was considering sending in the heavy artillery.
🇸🇪 Gov presents 7th military package to 🇺🇦 @DefenceU w/ SEK 500 M worth of artillery ammunition. This is not last package. 🇸🇪 Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) & Armed Forces will evaluate possibility to provide 🇸🇪 artillery Archer, air-defence RBS70 & more. 🇸🇪 stands with 🇺🇦
— Ann Linde (@AnnLinde) August 31, 2022
Why the Archer?
Winter is coming. In a country like Ukraine, that can mean snow and lots of it. According to BAE Systems, the company that makes it, the Archer self-propelled 155mm artillery gun was designed for mobility in such environments. The gun platform is the highly mobile Volvo A30D 6X6 all-terrain vehicle. It is powered by a Volvo diesel engine rated at 340 horsepower. The three axles are configured as an independent suspension system and were built for cross-country travel. The axles are solid but not rigidly fixed to the vehicle’s frame.
It can travel on solid surfaced roads at speeds up to 56 mph and traverse snow up to three feet deep.
The Archer in action. Video courtesy of YouTube and Extreme World.
The unit can be operated by a crew of three or four artillerymen—the cabin, which is fully enclosed and has bullet and fragmentation-resistant windows, seats four people. The cost for each unit is approximately $4.5 million.
The Archer system features a fully automatic magazine capable of holding up to 21 155mm artillery rounds. The initial deployment time is less than 30 seconds; this is a fast system capable of a continuous firing rate of up to 75 rounds per hour and burst fire rates of twenty rounds in just two and a half minutes. That’s an entire magazine in the amount of time it takes to listen to the average Ramones song.
As colder weather approaches and Ukraine keeps pounding away at their enemy, I sincerely hope the Swedes will see their way to sending a couple of these capable units to Kyiv.