AMX AUF-1 (GCT-155)

     Notes:  This was designed to replace all of the 105mm and 155mm self-propelled howitzers then in French service, and entered service in 1979.  Before that, the first ones produced were actually bought by Saudi Arabia in 1977.  Later production included vehicles for Iraq and Kuwait, though the Iraqi AUF-1s were received between 1983-85 and if they are operational in any sense of the word, now are probably suffering from a severe state of neglect. AUF-1s served in the Iran-Iraq War (where Iranian aircraft and superior counterbattery fire took quite a toll on them), in the Balkan States, and to a limited extent, in Iraq during the 2003 invasion.  The French got 179 AUF-1s, which were later upgraded to AUF-1T/AUF-2 standards.  (The French Army are only ones to have received the AUF-1T.)  The production of the AUF-1/1T/2 are now complete, though Nexter (who inherited the design from AMX) has shown that it will pick up production in response to orders, as it did in 1996 for 20 vehicles.  The primary component being marketed today is the AUF-2, which is an advanced artillery system which can be mounted on the AMX-30, T-72, Arjun, and Leopard tanks.

 

The AUF-1

     The AUF-1 looks in many ways like the US M-109; however, the AUF-1 is superior to the base M-109 in almost every way.  This includes a longer main gun, better electronics, heavier armor, and faster speed.  The AUF-1 is the base version, which is capable of supplying quick, responsive fire support and is capable of using any Western 155mm round, and even Chinese rounds; its fire control computers require input from an FDC, but targeting information from a compatible FDC is funneled directly into the AUF-1 and turned into a firing solution.  When buttoned up, the crew is protected by an NBC overpressure system with vehicular filtration backup; the AUF-1 can fire while completely buttoned up from its internal ammunition store.  A 10kW APU can power the AUF-1 completely without turning on the engine, operating off of the vehicleís fuel supply.  The AUF-1 also has an adequate heater and air conditioner. 

     The main gun is an L/40 variant of the M-109ís L/39 155mm; the French version, however, has a more compact muzzle brake and a fume extractor.  Whether or not the AUF-1 has a commanderís or loaderís weapon is a bone of contention; AMX did not build any with external weapon mounts, but most of the countries (and/or units) that use the AUF-1 (and later versions) have added such mounts to the commanderís hatch, loaderís hatch, or both.  The version I have detailed below has a choice of possible commanderís weapons.  It can be fed by a resupply, and mount a conveyor belt system to feed from a vehicle or ground pile.  Maximum elevation is 66 degrees, and depression -4 degrees.  When fired, the breech moves back and opens automatically, with a manual override.  Most of the vehicle ammunition is in racks at the rear of the turret, although 22 short-range propelling charges are located near and under the loaderís seat.  The gunner has the interesting ability to fire wither single rounds or rounds in bursts of six (with one per phase being fired).

     The armor is of all-welded steel, with the driver on the front left, the commander in the turret on the left, the gunner below him, and the loader on the left turret.  Reloading is done via a large hatch on each side which can also receive crew and equipment), and the conveyor belt.  The commanderís position normally has a pintle mount, and a manually-rotating cupola with all-around vision blocks.  The commander has an elbow scope that allows him to see through the gunnerís sights; the gunner has a x10 telescopic sight, an image intensifier, and other night vision devices, as well as a low-magnification (x3) telescope for close-up work.  A sighting reticule and computer information is put into the gunnerís sights.

     Power is provided by an HS-110 turbocharged multifuel engine developing 720 horsepower, coupled to an automatic transmission.

 

The AUF-1T/TA

     In 1988, production was switched to the AUF-1T standard, which is sort of a bridge between the AUF-1 and AUF-2.  This gave the newer vehicle a powerful 40kW APU (as opposed to the 10kW APU of the AUF-1).  The AUF-1Tís APU can power four guns or a gun and an FDC. The loading system became almost totally automatic, with automatic self-laying potential and fire control, giving the AUF-1T the able to act as its own FDC, with GPS aiding this (this is the CITA-20 system).

     The AUF-1TA replaces CITA-20 system with the ATLAS FCS, which includes a muzzle velocity radar and an upgraded turret and chassis.  The gun has been replaced by an L/52 barrel, 2 radios have been replaced by secure frequency-hopping radios, and two other long-range radios which are simply encrypted.  All are data-capable.  The automatic fire control system combined with burst fire capability allows the gun by itself to MRSI.  The burst fire capability has been increased to 10 rounds.  The AUF-1T essentially upgraded almost all turret components.

     Power for the AUF-1TA is by a version of the Mack E9-750. This version has double turbochargers, which are more reliable on steep side slopes than the HS-110 and HS-110-2.  The output is rated at 750 horsepower, and the engine offers a greater lifespan and a longer operating life.

 

The AUF-2 gun system

     The AUF-2 does not come with a base chassis; instead, Nexter supplies the turret and gun system of the AUF-1TA and mates it to an existing chassis.  Since most of the loading, gun, and computer and communications is in the turret, this is easier than one might think.

     The gun is the L/52 howitzer, along with the electronics inherited by the AUF-1/1T/TA (as appropriate).  Radios are usually supplied by the using country; computerization and night vision is supplied by Nexter.  The commanderís/loaderís weapon is generally supplied by the receiving country.  The 40 kW APU is also installed as part of this package, and any modifications to the chassis necessary to fit the turret to the chassis or modify it to its new role are done.  All told, the AUF-2 turret weighs 19 tons, but this is normally 2-6 tons less than the original tank weighed.  The possible combinations that Nexter is ready to modify right now is listed above; however, with the right offer, they may be willing to put this modification on other chassis.  They will not be detailed here, at least for now.

Vehicle

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

AUF-1

$949,754

D, G, AvG, A

400 kg

41.95 tons

4

24

Passive IR (D, G), Image intensification (G)

Shielded

AUF-1T

$1,028,779

D, G, AvG, A

360 kg

42.09 tons

4

28

Passive IR (D, G), Image intensification (G)

Shielded

AUF-1TA

$1,062,051

D, A

328 kg

42.23 tons

4

29

Passive IR (D, G), Image intensification (G)

Shielded

 

Vehicle

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Config

Susp

Armor

AUF-1

136/95

38/26

970

260

Trtd

T6

TF17Sp  TS6Sp  TR4  HF21Sp  HS5Sp  HR3

AUF-1T

135/95

38/26

970

260

Trtd

T6

TF17Sp  TS6Sp  TR4  HF21Sp  HS5Sp  HR3

AUF-1TA

146/100

40/21

970

303

Trtd

T6

TF17Sp  TS6Sp  TR4  HF21Sp  HS5Sp  HR3

 

Vehicle

Fire Control

Stabilization

Armament

Ammunition

AUF-1/1T

+1

Basic

155mm L/40 Howitzer; AAT-F1 (C) or MAG (C) or M-2HB (C) or NSVT (C)

42x155mm; 2050x7.62mm or 800x.50 or 800x12.7mm

AUF-1TA

+2

Fair

155mm L/52 Howitzer; AAT-F1 (C) or MAG (C) or M-2HB (C) or NSVT (C)

42x155mm; 2050x7.62mm or 800x.50 or 800x12.7mm

 

GIAT Caesar

     Notes:  This is essentially a heavy howitzer put on a medium truck chassis. The Caesar was designed for airmobile and airborne units, as well as for export to countries who do not have the coin for full-sized SP artillery.  Users include France, Saudi Arabia (perhaps the largest user of the Caesar), Indonesia, and Thailand; the Danish Army is also looking hard at the Caesar. Caesars were used by the French in Afghanistan and Mali, and the Thais used them in a border skirmish with Cambodia in 2011.

     In French service, the Caesar is built on a Renault Sherpa 5 chassis; for export, a Unimog U-2450L chassis is used.  In both cases, the crew rides in the enlarged cab, which comes in armored and non-armored versions.  In addition, the armor kit can contain a V-bottom for mine mitigation.  Based on the Sherpa, the vehicle has a diesel engine with a power of 240 horsepower and a 6x6 suspension, and an automatic transmission. There are doors on either side of the extended cab, each with bullet-resistant windows.  The windshield is likewise bullet-resistant.  Based on a Unimog, you have basically the same type and size of vehicle, but the engine is 237 horsepower.  The Unimog is a bit longer, but this is does not affect vehicle layout, although it is heavier.  The vehicle can be air-dropped or delivered by aircraft such as the C-130 or the G.222, or even a heavy-lift helicopter such as the Mi-26.

     In either case, the armament of the Caesar is an L/52 155mm howitzer.  You pretty much canít miss it when you look at the vehicle; it is exposed on the back of the vehicle (which, in the case of the Sherpa, is extended).  The vehicle must deploy four hydraulic jacks, two at the sides of the rear and two at the rear, before firing (this takes 6 phases).  A roll-out platform can also be deployed behind the gun, giving the crew a lift off the mud and the gunner a step up to his sights. Traverse for the gun is 15 degrees to either side of center; larger changes in deflection require repositioning of the vehicle.  The rear of the gun can be raised, putting into traveling configuration or allowing a depression of 0 degrees for direct fire shots.  Elevation limit is 60 degrees.  Unfortunately, the mounting allows only limited traverse; the Caesar can make a deflection change of only 15 degrees in either direction and otherwise, the crew must reposition the vehicle.  There is almost no space on the Caesar for ready-use rounds; the Caesar is dependent on other trucks or vehicles for its ammunition supply.  There is room for a 10kW APU.

     There is no sort of vehicular NBC system; crews are reliant upon their own masks and suits.  The cab does, however, have a heater and air conditioner. The standard crew for a Caesar is 5; however, a crew of as little as three can operate the howitzer, and crews of as large as six can be carried and used.  Armor of aluminum panels backed with Kevlar and carbon-fiber may be attached to the cab, and a V-hull may be installed underneath the vehicle.  Flexible Kevlar curtains can be raised on the sides of the gun platform, but this is not normally done as crews say they just get in the way.  The cabs tend to be squared off, allowing easy installation of armor.  The suspension is designed to lower almost to the ground, facilitating work with the howitzer.

 

     Twilight 2000 Notes: This vehicle was placed into limited production in 1995 for use by French Forces.

     Merc 2000 Notes: This vehicle was viewed by some countries as an inexpensive alternative to heavier tracked guns.

Vehicle

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

Caesar (Sherpa Chassis)

$970,572

D, A

200 kg

18.5 tons

5

17

Headlights

Enclosed

Caesar (Armored Sherpa Chassis)

$973,831

D, A

181 kg

19.75 tons

5

18

Headlights

Enclosed

Caesar (Unimog Chassis)

$970,562

D, A

196 kg

18.4 tons

5

17

Headlights

Enclosed

Caesar (Armored Unimog Chassis)

$973,821

D, A

176 kg

19.65 tons

5

18

Headlights

Enclosed

 

Vehicle

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Config

Susp

Armor

Caesar (Sherpa Chassis)

163/138

20/17

220

83

Trtd

W(3)

TF1  TF1  TS1  HF1  HS1  HR1

Caesar (Armored Sherpa Chassis)

153/129

19/16

220

89

Trtd

W(3)

TF1  TF1  TS1  HF6  HS3  HR3*

Caesar (Unimog Chassis)

151/128

19/16

215

80

Trtd

W(3)

TF1  TF1  TS1  HF1  HS1  HR1

Caesar (Armored Unimog Chassis)

141/120

18/16

215

85

Trtd

W(3)

TF1  TF1  TS1  HF6  HS3  HR3*

 

Vehicle

Fire Control

Stabilization

Armament

Ammunition

Caesar

+1

Basic

155mm L/52 Howitzer

18x155mm

*Turret armor is for the exposed gun.  Hull Armor is the AV for the cab sides, front, and rear; the entire vehicle has a floor armor of 4Sp and the benefits of an MRAP hull, while the cab roof has an AV of 3.  Kevlar curtains, if deployed, have an AV of 2.

 

GIAT Mk F3

     Notes:  This vehicle was designed in the early 1950s to replace Franceís World War 2-vintage M-41 Gorilla SP howitzer.  GIAT based the design on the AMX-13 light tank; at the time, it was the smallest 155mm self-propelled howitzer in service, and it looks sort of like a small version of the US M-107 and M-110 howitzers.  In time, the Mk F3 was used by 10 Middle Eastern and South American countries; orders continued to be brisk, and the Mk F3 was full production and parts production for over 40 years.  The Mk F# is still in active service in some South American countries.

     With the Mk F3, what you essentially have is a turretless AMX-13 with the turret ring replaced by a traversing table, the idler wheel removed, and a 155mm howitzer mated to the top of the chassis.  The original gun used was a short L/33 howitzer, but later, export operators had the gun replaced with an L/39 gun.  The original engine was a SOFAM 8Gxb 250-horsepower gas engine, but later this too was replaced by a 280-horsepower turbocharged Detroit Diesel or Baudouin diesel engine.  The Mk F3 is not able to swim, but can conduct deep fording, to the point that it has only inches of freeboard available and the glacis has a splashboard to prevent the driverís compartment from being swamped.  In order to center the gunís line of fire better, the standard idler wheel of the AMX-13 was removed and the fifth roadwheel acted as the idler wheel.  This modification also meant that no hydraulic stabilizers were necessary.  The tracks are normally all-steel, but rubber pads may be added in conditions where causing less damage to roads is necessary.  The roadwheels are likewise steel, but have rubber rims on them.

     The Mk F3 may have a crew of eight, but only two of them ride in the Mk F3.  The others ride in one of the vehicles the Mk F3 moves with.  The Mk F3 has almost no onboard space for ammunition, and the Mk F3 is usually accompanied by 2-4 AMX-VCAs and AMX-VCIs carrying the rest of the crew, ammunition, and sometimes extra ammunition handlers.  Most of these vehicles will also be towing trailers with more ammunition and equipment. A RATAC artillery radar vehicle is normally also part of the mix. If necessary, the rest of the gunís crew can cluster themselves on the deck of the Mk F3, hanging on to whatever they can find, but the French Army does not recommend this; in addition, theyíd have to dodge any rounds or shrapnel that comes their way. .  The driver is the front left of the vehicle, steering with tillers.  The engine is to his right, and behind the driver is the commanderís position (with a split hatch opening to the left and right).  He does not have a weapon mount, as it would interfere with the gun crew when they are working; however, he does have an unmounted machinegun to use.  The commander and the driver operate the radios, with help from the rest of the crew when the gun is in firing position. The driver has three vision blocks to the front; the center one can be removed and replaced by a night vision block.  The commander has three vision blocks (two to the front and one to the left side).  One each side of the upper hull are removable stowage lockers, four per side.  The only other seat is for the gunner, which he uses when the gun is being fired, and is to the rear and left of the howitzer.  Mounted on the hull roof to the front of his position is a loudspeaker, and the front of the vehicle has a winch with a capacity of 18 tons and 400 meters of cable.  The cable can be led out the front and the rear.  Armor protection is thin, able to stop small arms fire and shrapnel, but not much more.  There is no provision to automatically put out fires on the vehicle, and there is nothing like a vehicle collective NBC system; they must rely on fire extinguishers and their own masks and MOPP gear.

 

     Twilight 2000:  This vehicle was in heavy use during the Twilight 2000 timeline; by 2000, they could be found in Western Europe, most of South America, and large parts of the Middle East.

Vehicle

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

L/33 Gun, Gas Engine

$144,088

G, A

300 kg

17.41 tons

2 (+6)

13

Image Intensification

Enclosed

L/39 Gun, Gas Engine

$150,188

G, A

263 kg

17.56 tons

2 (+6)

15

Image Intensification

Enclosed

L/33 Gun, Diesel Engine

$144,203

D, A

271 kg

17.52 tons

2 (+6)

15

Image Intensification

Enclosed

L/39 Gun, Diesel Engine

$133,054

D, A

250 kg

17.67 tons

2 (+6)

15

Image Intensification

Enclosed

 

Vehicle

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Config

Susp

Armor*

L/33 Gun, Gas Engine

112/66

25/15

450

136

Trtd

T3

TF2  TS2  TR2  HF4  HS2  HR2

L/39 Gun, Gas Engine

111/65

25/15

450

137

Trtd

T3

TF2  TS2  TR2  HF4  HS2  HR2

L/33 Gun, Diesel Engine

110/66

25/15

450

90

Trtd

T3

TF2  TS2  TR2  HF4  HS2  HR2

L/39 Gun, Diesel Engine

109/65

25/15

450

91

Trtd

T3

TF2  TS2  TR2  HF4  HS2  HR2

 

Vehicle

Fire Control

Stabilization

Armament

Ammunition

L/33 Gun, Either Engine

None

None

155mm L/33 Howitzer, AAT-52 or AAT-F1 (C)

4x155mm, 1000x7.5mm or 7.62mm

L/39 Gun, Either Engine

None

None

155mm L/39 Howitzer, AAT-52 or AAT-F1 (C)

4x155mm, 1000x7.5mm or 7.62mm

*The ďturretĒ is actually the howitzer, and the Turret AV does not actually protect anyone.