The AS-90 replaced the Abbot and M109 self-propelled guns in British Army service, as well as the FH-70 towed guns.

Basically, the AS-90 is classified as an armored self-propelled artillery, known officially as Gun Equipment 155 mm L131. The AS-90 is operated by a crew of 5, including: the driver, the commander, the gunner, and the ammunition personnel. The vehicle is 9.07 meters long, 3.3 meters wide, 3 meters high, and 45 tons in weight, with a thickest steel armor of 17 mm.

The AS-90 features a distinctive design of modern self-propelled guns, with a hull arranged in a traditional layout. The track is supported by six rubber-tired road wheels on each side, with the track idler at the rear and three track return rollers across the top. The sides of the hull are reinforced by vertical steel plates, while very sloping forward. The turret is placed behind the hull, while the engine is positioned in the front to balance the vehicle’s weight. A large rear door allows crew members access, resupply of the 155mm projectiles from another logistic vehicle.

AS90 Vickers
AS90 Vickers

The AS-90 is powered by a Cummins VTA903T engine, with 660 hp. Maximum speed the vehicle can reach up to 55 km/h, a range of 370 km. The vehicle can cross a trench 2.8m, and wade in 1.5m deep. The AS90 is also fitted with auxiliary power unit, that powers all systems when the main engine is shut down. The AS90 has a number of automotive components from the Challenger 1 main battle tank.

The AS-90’s main weapon is a 155 mm / L39 howitzer, inherited from the FH70 towed howitzer. It is equipped with an auto-loading system, compatible with all standard NATO 155 mm ammunition types. Maximum range is 24.7 km with standard HE-FRAG projectile, and 32 km with a rocket assisted projectile. A total of 48 shells is carried. It can fire 3 rounds in 10 seconds, and up to 6 rounds per minute. The sustained rate of fire is 2 rounds per minute. Secondary weapons include a 7.62 mm machine gun, and smoke grenade launchers.

AS-90 entered service in 1993, too late for Operation Desert Storm. Later, it took part in Operation Iraqi Freedom and in NATO peacekeeping missions in the Balkan, where it supported firepower. However, there were weaknesses that would cause it to be phased out soon in British army service.

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