Rheinmetall M-109A3G

     Notes: This is an upgraded version of the M-109A3 modified for the German Army.  The Germans basically took M-109A3s which were becoming obsolete, bought them on the cheap, then retooled and updated them so well that they were considered quite modern until the PzH-2000 was introduced.  M-109A3Gs were exported to only one other country (Norway), though some of the technology was exported to other countries using the M-109.  The M-109A3G has essentially become a vehicle more advanced than its parent M-109A3.

     One of the first things the Germans did with the M-109A3 was to replace the gun barrel with a new L/45 barrel, tipped with a state-of-the-art muzzle brake and with an improved fume extractor on the barrel.  The barrel is also strengthened so that is does not wear as fast and can go a little more between cleanings during fire missions.  This gun was paired with improved fire control, so that it can simply receive instruction data by data-capable radio and have it fed directly into the fire control computer, increasing the speed at which the gun can get into action.  Another fire control computer was installed to give the M-109A3G a better chance of hitting a target in direct-fire mode. The M-109A3G has an autoloader, further quickening the fire rate, along with a new onboard magazine storing 22 of the gunís capacity of 36, as well as the required fuzes and powder bags for those 22 rounds.  The gun has new manual elevating and traversing gears; these are used when fine-tuning oneís aim to a more exact solution than one gets from the computer and electric drives.  Fire control information are displayed on an LCD screen, with another for the commander that also displays the information from the driverís screen and some information about the state of the vehicle.  As with most German vehicles, the commanderís weapon has been replaced by an MG-3, and new storage schemes for the machinegunís ammunition allows the M-109A3G to carry massive amounts of ammunition.

     The turret of the M-109A3G, like all M-109s, has a limited traverse of 30 degrees right or left.  The turret houses the commander, gunner, and the two loaders.  The turret has large doors in either side, as well as one in the back of the turret (for ammunition resupply; it opens directly on the back of the internal magazine).  There is another door in the rear lower hull for crew and equipment entry and for quicker ammunition resupply if necessary. The front right deck ahead of the turret has the driver with a hatch that has vision blocks to the front and right; one may be removed and replaced with a night vision block.  The commander has a manually-rotating cupola with all-around vision blocks and an elbow joint that allows him to see through the gunnerís scope and night vision gear.  The gunner has telescopic direct fire sights, an indirect-fire sight, and some night vision gear.  The driver has conventional controls, and the engine is a modified version of the M-109A3ís engine, one that develops 405 horsepower and is turbocharged, coupled to an automatic transmission.  The engine and transmission are combined into a power pack, which can be removed in the field with the appropriate equipment in 30 minutes, and installed in an hour. The M-109A3G has had a 5kW APU installed into it to run the vehicleís systems when the engine is off and to conserve fuel. An interesting feature is that all the doors and hatches have locks; another one is that the commander has auxiliary controls that allow him to drive the M-109A3G.  On each side of the turret, near the top, are a bank of four smoke grenade launchers.

     A special consideration is the conversion of all mechanical, gun, and computer measurements to metric standards instead of US measurements.

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

$765,968

D, A

500 kg

25 tons

6

11

Headlights

Shielded

 

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Config

Susp

Armor

116/80

29/20

511

136

Trtd

T4

TF8  TS4  TR4  HF10  HS3  HR3

 

Fire Control

Stabilization

Armament

Ammunition

+2

Fair

155mm L/45 Howitzer, MG-3 (C)

36x155mm, 10000x7.62mm

 

Rheinmetall PZH-2000

     Notes: Perhaps the most advanced mobile artillery system in the world today, the PzH-2000 began to replace the M-109A3G in German service in 1998, and by 2007, had replaced the last M-109A3G in German service.  (The M-109A3G soldiers on in Norwegian service.)

The PzH-2000 evolved out of the former multinational SP-70 program, which ended in 1986 after producing only a handful of prototypes, which no one agreed on.  The PzH-2000 is known for itís lack of need for an FDC along with very high shelling rates Ė as high as 3 rounds in 9 seconds and 10 rounds in 56 seconds.  It is also quite adept at MRSI fire missions.  Using special experimental rounds, the PzH-2000 has been able to shell targets as far away as 60 kilometers.  In addition to Germany, the PzH-2000 is used by Italy, Netherlands, Greece, and Qatar; Croatia is also negotiating for the PzH-2000, and the US, Finland, the German Navy, and Sweden has tested the PzH-2000, but elected for other designs.  The PzH-2000 was used in combat in Afghanistan by Germany and the Dutch.

     The Dutch, in particular, have been critical about the PzH-2000ís performance, particularly in Afghanistan.  They have even mothballed most of their PzH-2000s until they can find an answer to the PzH-2000ís perceived shortcomings.  Their criticism generally lies in the PzH-2000 and the weather encountered in Afghanistan; the Dutch say that the PzH-2000 does not handle dust well, as well as high temperatures and very low temperatures.  A particular problem is that Dutch crews occupying a position found they needed to keep the gun barrel (and mind you, this is an L/52 barrel Ė itís not what you could call short) in the shade, or much of the initial shots of a barrage would be off target.  In addition, they found that the gun barrel contracted excessively in very cold conditions, again, initial fire from the gun would be inaccurate.  (This could be partially alleviated by applying warming packs or blankets to the barrel for a time before shooting.)  They found the need to apply appliquť armor, especially to the turret roof and hull floor.  Finally, the tracks were very hard on muddy Afghan roads, and their PzH-2000s got stuck on more than one occasion.

    The PzH-2000 is a huge vehicle, this is partially the result of all the electronics, computers, and navigational aids; for the most part, however, it is the result of the sheer amount of ammunition carried, enough to carry on a pretty decent bombardment before the ammo carrier arrive.  (Rheinmetall is currently working on a resupply vehicle similar in concept to the US M-992.)  Down in the guts of the gun and the turret, ammo is not only autoloaded; the proper fuze is selected by the autoloading program and a short, narrow conveyor sends the fuze to the loader responsible for fuze attachment.  The autoloader also retrieves the proper round in response to a touch on an LCD panel by the gunner. The LCD is touch-capacitive, so only a bare finger will actuate it. The gun is a Wegmann-designed L/52 155mm howitzer; the elevation limit is +65 degrees, and the depression limit is -2.5 degrees.  This gives the PzH-2000 a chance at ground targets and direct lay if necessary, and the PzH-2000 can actually engage ground targets while moving at about half speed.  The turret can revolve 360 degrees and fire from any direction the turret is turned to; the turret covers almost a third of the hull top.  The chassis is heavy enough that no jacks or supports are necessary when firing, regardless of turret angle. The barrel is chrome-plated and includes an advanced muzzle brake, modified from the M-109A3Gís muzzle brake.  On the glacis is a phased array radar which measures the muzzle velocity of each round as it exists the barrel, to allow the crew to adjust for climatic conditions and wind, as well as barrel droop.  The commanderís cupola is armed with a medium or light machinegun; one example is given below.

     The hull contains the driver on the front left side, behind a splashboard (the PzH-2000 cannot swim, but can ford almost completely up to the level of the chassis top.  Major components were taken from the Leopard 2; when seen from the side, the PzH-2000ís Leopard 2 heritage is obvious (though it is elongated by one roadwheel).  No less than three long-range secure data-capable radios equip the PzH-2000, along with a medium-range and short range secure radios for general communication.  To accomplish its self-FDC capability, the PzH-2000 has a large amount of computer; these computers also take care of navigational needs, providing maps, data on enemy and friendly positions, and the state of the vehicle.  This information gets distributed to the LCD screens of the appropriate crewmember, and controls if necessary.  Night vision is copious aboard the PzH-2000, especially for the gunner (and the commander through his elbow scope.  Power is provided by an MTU 881 Ka-500 turbocharged diesel developing 986 horsepower, a level of power provided or surpassing many modern main battle tanks.  The driver has conventional controls as well as an automatic (with a manual backup). The gunner is in the turret, with a loaderís hatch above him; the loaderís hatch also has a manually-rotating cupola, ringed by vision blocks, like the commanderís cupola.  He does not have a weapon mount or night vision devices (though in Afghanistan, many crews added a shielded weapons mount to the loaderís cupola, and gun shields to the commanderís cupola. The hatches open to the rear, providing a sort of shield to the rear of the commander or loader.  The crew has an NBC overpressure system with a collective vehicular backup, as well as an air purifier, air conditioner, and heater.  The turret rear as well as the hull rear have large doors to allow crew entry as well as equipment loading; the turret doors open directly into the magazine to allow quicker replenishment of ammunition.  Finally, a 10kW APU is installed, running off vehicle fuel, which runs the systems while the engine is off.  The PzH-2000 is NBC protected, right down to the anti-chemical paint.

     Twilight 2000 Notes: Comparable to the US M-109A6 Paladin, the PzH-2000 was in short supply in the Twilight War.

     Merc 2000 Notes: Budget cuts resulted in the PzH-2000 production being cut by almost two-thirds.

Vehicle

                                Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

PzH-2000

$1,449,554

D, A

500 kg

55.33 tons

5

25

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

Shielded

PzH-2000 (Dutch)

$1,471,602

D, A

500 kg

55.96 tons

5

25

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

Shielded

 

Vehicle

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Config

Susp

Armor

PzH-2000

142/99

36/25

970

365

Trtd

T5

TF17Sp  TS12Sp  TR11  HF21Sp  HS11Sp  HR8

PzH-2000 (Dutch)

140/98

36/25

970

369

Trtd

T5

TF17Sp  TS12Sp  TR11  HF21Sp  HS11Sp  HR8

 

Fire Control

Stabilization

Armament

Ammunition

+2

Fair

155mm Wegmann L/52 howitzer, MG3 (C)

60x155mm, 2000x7.62mm