06 November 2013

Elbit, Thai Industry Collaborate on ATMOS 155 mm SP Howitzer

06 November 2013


An ATMOS 155 mm/39-calibre SP artillery system integrated onto a 6x6 chassis. Source: Elbit Systems (photo : Jane's)

Elbit Systems and Thailand's military industrial complex are collaborating on the production of the Israeli company's Autonomous Truck Mounted howitzer System (ATMOS) 155 mm self-propelled (SP) howitzer, it has emerged.

The co-operation programme has been under way since 2012, and represents a major feature of the closer industrial ties between the two countries that is evident at the Defense and Security 2013 exhibition in Bangkok.

Thailand is understood by IHS Jane's to have ordered six ATMOS gun systems, although further orders are expected at a later date.

Under the arrangement, Elbit is building the first platform in Israel while the latter five will be built, following technology transfer, by the Artillery and Mortar Production Division of the Royal Thai Army's (RTA's) Weapon Production Centre (WPC). The RTA is expected to take delivery of the Israeli-built system before the end of 2013 and the locally built platforms by 2015.

Other collaboration programmes currently under way between the two countries are similarly focused on the Thai production of a range of materiel developed by, and purchased from, Israel Military Industries (IMI).

For instance, IMI is partnering the RTA's Military Explosives Factory (MEF) on the production of 81 mm and 120 mm mortar projectiles and 155 mm bimodular artillery charge systems. IMI is also teamed with the WPC and Ministry of Defence's Defence Technology Institute on the production 105 mm M156 high-explosive tank cartridges and rocket artillery systems respectively.

These collaborative programmes reflect Israel's increased penetration in the Thai defence market. Other deals to have been concluded in recent years include the Royal Thai Air Force's procurement of tactical unmanned aerial system produced by Innocon in partnership with local composite material manufacturer G-Force, and the RTA has also taken delivery of more than 1,000 IMI-made 5.56 mm Negev light machine guns and 15,000 5.56 mm IMI Tavor Tar-21 rifles.

COMMENT

The ATMOS was originally developed by Soltam Systems, which is now part of the Elbit Group, as a private venture to meet potential requirements for the home and export markets for a wheeled 155 mm artillery system with greater strategic mobility than tracked SP artillery systems.

ATMOS can be integrated onto the rear of a 6x6 or 8x8 cross-country chassis. It is being marketed with a 155 mm 39/45 or 52-calibre ordnance depending on requirements.

When fitted with a 155 mm/39-calibre ordnance with a chamber volume of 16.85 litres, the maximum range is quoted as 30 km firing an extended range full bore base bleed (ERFB-BB) projectile.

When fitted with a 155 mm/45-calibre ordnance and with a chamber volume of 23.55 litres, maximum range is quoted as 39 km firing an ERFB-BB projectile.

The longest range of 41 km firing an ERFB-BB projectile is obtained when the system is fitted with a 155 mm/52-calibre ordnance.

ATMOS is already in service with a number of countries and has been evaluated by the Israel Defence Force.

The RTA currently operates a battery of six Nexter Systems CAESAR 155 mm/52-calibre (6x6) SP artillery systems and it had been expected that additional systems would be ordered to form a complete regiment of 18 weapons.

The decision to procure ATMOS could indicate that the RTA will not procure any additional Nexter CAESAR systems.

The only other SP artillery systems deployed by the RTA are 20 BAE Systems M109A5 155 mm tracked systems plus a similar number of M992 Field Artillery Ammunition Support Vehicles that were delivered in 1993/94.

(Jane's)

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