The AS90 turret training system of the British Army has recently accomplished a significant feat by completing 100,000 simulated firings. This innovative system was introduced to the UK Armed Forces in 2005 and has resulted in considerable cost savings of around £230m [$293m], as reported by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD).

The AS90 turret training system was procured and supported by UK Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S). Its main purpose is to improve the operational practices and capabilities of the commander, gunner, and loader, who form the crew of the 155mm self-propelled howitzer. This weapon has been part of the British Army’s arsenal since 1992.

The AS90 turret training system is situated at Larkhill Garrison in Wiltshire, where crews can practice their firing drills and turret operation procedures without incurring the expenses associated with live firing exercises. This significantly reduces training costs.

The trainer, modeled after an actual AS90 turret, employs an electro-mechanical system to simulate a complete firing cycle, including the weight and size of the artillery rounds, as well as the noise and movement of the turret upon firing.

The MoD has disclosed that the AS90 turret training system has been used to train Ukrainian soldiers as part of a broader initiative to equip them with the skills necessary to operate AS90 guns. It is worth noting that the UK has previously delivered AS90s to Ukraine.

Furthermore, as part of DE&S’ extensive support for Ukraine in the face of Russia’s large-scale invasion in 2022, 32 AS90 platforms have been provided to Ukrainian forces. Of these, 20 were combat-ready, while the remaining 12 were designated for spares and replenishment.

Van Halteren Technologies (VHT), the company responsible for developing and manufacturing the turret trainers, has also delivered over 100 systems for other weapons, including the M101, M119, M198, and FH70.

The UK’s donation of 32 AS90 155 self-propelled howitzers, which made up a significant portion of its fleet of around 80 platforms, represented a significant shift. Although the AS90 is outperformed by newer models, it remains a capable fire support platform on the battlefield.

In addition to this, the UK has also provided Ukraine with an additional 64 artillery guns, including 28 M109 155mm self-propelled guns and 36 L119 105mm guns, along with the necessary ammunition.

The decision to donate the 32 AS90s to Ukraine accelerated the UK’s previous plans to enhance its long-range fire support capability through the Mobile Fires Platform by 2030. In March of this year, a short-term solution was found with the procurement of 14 Archer 155mm artillery systems from Sweden, which are expected to be fully operational by April 2024.

The Archer is a wheeled 6×6 system equipped with an automated, self-propelled 155mm main gun. It is designed for rapid deployment and has a firing range of 50km using extended-range ammunition, effectively doubling the AS90’s range of 25km.

In 2022, the UK also undertook an initiative to double the size of its M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) fleet, which currently consists of around 40 vehicles. This initiative also involves considering platforms that are currently housed in museums or serving as gate guards. Earlier in the Ukraine war, the UK had donated a total of six M270 MLRS to Kyiv in two delivery batches.

To keep the system in service until 2050, the British Army is planning to invest £250m in upgrading the M270 fleet. The upgrades will equip 44 launchers with a new armored cab and improved automotive and launch mechanism components.