The Archer is a next generation artillery system. It was developed as a replacement for ageing FH 77A and FH 77B towed howitzers. Development of this artillery system began in 2003. Prototypes were trialed in 2005 and 2006. Sweden and Norway ordered a total of 48 of these artillery systems (24 units each). A number of other countries expressed interest in obtaining this artillery system. First Archer howitzers were delivered to the Swedish Army in 2013. However in the same year Norway left the project due to funding problems.
This artillery system is a further development of the FH 77B 155-mm howitzer. Its barrel was extended to 52 calibers to give longer range of fire. The Archer has a rapid, automatic loading system. Maximum range of fire is 30 km with ordinary projectile and 40 km with rocket-assisted projectile. The Archer also fires Excalibur precision guided extended range projectiles with a maximum range of 60 km. It is also compatible with Bonus precision guided projectiles.
Maximum rate of fire of 8 – 9 rounds per minute. The Archer is capable of multiple-round simultaneous – impact firing. It fires up to 6 rounds in 30 seconds, each in different trajectories, so that all of the shells arrive on target at the same time. This self-propelled howitzer has onboard ammunition supply of 20 rounds.
It takes only 30 seconds to stop and be ready for firing. Out of action time is also as short as 30 seconds. Brief redeployment time allows to avoid counter-battery fire.
Secondary armament consists of LEMUR remotely controlled weapon system, fitted with 12.7-mm machine gun and smoke grenade dischargers.
The Archer has a crew of four, consisting driver and three operators. In case of emergency this artillery system can be operated by only two men (driver and one operator). The Archer is operated remotely from the cab.
Cab and artillery system of the Archer is protected against 7.62-mm armor-piercing rounds and artillery shell fragments. It is fitted with an automatic fire suppression system. It is worth mentioning that only vital parts of the artillery system are protected. Cab is fitted with NBC protection. It also withstands mine blasts equivalent to 6 kg of TNT.
The Archer artillery system is mounted on the commercially available Volvo A30D 6×6 articulated hauler chassis. Vehicle id fitted with emergency driving equipment, which makes possible to drive with all wheels punctured. The Archer can be airlifted by the Airbus A400M transport aircraft.
The Archer is reloaded by ammunition re-supply vehicle. Every self-propelled artillery system is assigned with one re-supply vehicle. Reloading time is up to 8 minutes. If necessary the gun can be loaded by re-supply personnel alone. The Archer is also assigned with one support (maintenance) vehicle per unit. It conducts refueling and simple maintenance.