DSA 2018: Japan continues development of wheeled 155mm SPH
The Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency (ATLA) within Japan’s MoD is developing a wheeled 155mm SPH as a successor to the FH-70 towed howitzer for the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF).
The new design (inset picture) adopts a self-propelled configuration to speed up firing and position relocation, and to improve strategic mobility. After completing system design and prototype production from FY2013, ATLA has conducted tests of the prototype from FY2015-18.
Called the Wheeled HSP by the MoD, it utilises the L/52 155mm gun of the Type 99 SPH (pictured above) to reduce development costs. ATLA required that it use existing ammunition consisting of the shell, charge, proximity fuse and percussion primer.
The requirement includes a maximum firing range of about 40km using Type 93 long-range HE base-bleed rounds, and a rate of over six rounds per minute. The Wheeled HSP also needs to be able to fire insensitive munition.
Adopting a mechanical and manual loading system, the Wheeled HSP has external armour around the driver’s cab and around the 12.7mm M2 machine gun mount.
With a top road speed of 100km/h, it must weigh less than 25t so it can be transported by C-2 cargo planes.
ALTA originally planned to use a heavy recovery vehicle chassis but, for unknown reasons, an 8x8 MAN truck chassis is now being employed.
The Wheeled HSP will connect to the Firing Command and Control System (FCCS) and Field Artillery Digital Automatic Computer (FADAC) using an advanced network system.
JGSDF divisional artillery units are equipped with the FH-70 and 99HSP, plus M110A2 SPHs and MLRS as army-level artillery. The Type 99 is deployed in brigades and divisions in the Northern Army, while brigades and divisions in the Northeastern, Eastern, Middle and Western Armies use the FH-70, except for the 15th Brigade in Okinawa.
The JGSDF had 600 artillery pieces at the end of 2013, but this is reducing to 300. Division and brigade artillery units will only have 120mm heavy mortars according to a JGSDF reorganisation, while field guns will be concentrated in artillery units controlled directly by armies. Meanwhile, the M110A2 will be abolished.
A total of 492 FH-70s were produced under licence in Japan, making it the largest user in the world. The JGSDF has fewer than 300 FH-70s now, and the Wheeled HSP will replace them.
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