Israel to replace howitzers
The IDF is about to replace its longstanding arsenal of M109 howitzers with a new 155 mm/52 calibre self-propelled gun.
After a lengthy testing of all the potential alternatives, a special weapons committee recommended to MoD director general Maj Gen Udi Adam that Elbit Systems' proposal, based on the ATMOS system, is accepted.
The US-built 155mm M109 howitzer, the most common artillery system in the world, has been in IDF use for nearly 40 years.
A senior IDF artillery officer said that the new howitzer needed to have a higher rate of fire and a smaller crew than the M109 which requires 10 soldiers to operate it and fires three shells a minute.
According to a defence source the IDF's priority was a self-propelled gun, which can be mounted on APCs, preferably like the Bradley, which can be bought from the US.
The MoD and IDF Artillery Corps will conduct the development and equipping of a new self-propelled gun with Elbit Systems' Soltam plant in Yokneam, in the north of Israel.
The IDF Artillery Corps defined the characteristics of the new SPG so that the number of crew members will be only four, the range will be increased to 40 km, and the rate of fire will be improved significantly. They demanded a weapon capable of firing six shells a minute at a range of 40 km.
The gun will be similar to Elbit's 155 mm Atmos. This choice appears to be in line with the Artillery Corps' desire to have a system with autonomous aiming, firing and self-loading capabilities. The IDF version will have additional, undisclosed technologies and fire both guided and unguided shells – the Artillery Corps will soon receive IAI's TopGun precision guided shells.
Elbit competed against IAI, IMI (which was teamed with Rheinmetall Defence), and KMW, which offered its Artillery Gun Module system. KMW offered to bring the AGM howitzer to Israel for demonstrations, but the offer was refused for undisclosed reasons.