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Mobile Gun System

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Prototype Mobile Gun System firing its autocannon.
Air-dropping a Mobile Gun System from a C-17.

Mobile Gun Systems (MGS) are a general term for self-propelled artillery designed with strategic, theater and tactical mobility as the prime design goal, even at the expense of firepower. Many, but not all, such systems are derivatives of the Mowag Piranha, although they may use high or low velocity cannon, or even missile-cannon hybrids.[1]

Strategic mobility requires that the vehicle be air-transportable, preferably in other than oversize transport aircraft such as the C-5 or An-22. Theater mobility requires that the vehicle fit into medium theater transport aircraft, especially the C-130, or aboard theater transport ships such as the Joint High Speed Vessel, with minimal or no reassembly. Tactical mobility tends to emphasize wheeled rather than tracked designs.

Rationale

Following the end of the Cold War some theorists believed that the existing suite of US Armoured vehicles, designed largely to fight Soviet tank divisions in Europe, were not well suited to the lower intensity missions US Armed forces would be tasked with.[2]

This wheeled vehicle would mount a cannon like the 105 mm cannon used in the previous generation of NATO tanks, like the Chieftain, M60 Patton, and the Leopard.[1][2][3] But, while it would take on some of the roles that have fallen to tanks, it is not a tank replacement. Its armour, for instance, would not defend kinetic kill rounds of modern tanks. But, in the kinds of conflicts likely today, it would be uncommon for it to encounter many modern tanks. Instead, it needs to protect against fragments, small arms fire, and light antitank weapons such as rocket propelled grenades.

Examples

  • XM8 Buford -- cancelled for budgetary, not technical reasons

The most important derivative of the Piranha is probaby the United States Army's Stryker vehicles. The variants used by the United States Marine Corps, and other nations, like Canada, are too tall to drive on and drive off a C-130 Hercules with their turrets mounted. They can't drive straight off the C-130, right into combat.

Because it used the same chassis as other Piranha derivatives, it would have the same mobility, and could be rescued or salvaged by a Piranha derived recovery vehicle. But without a radical redesign it too would require some re-assembly before it could drive into combat, after being delivered by a C-130. Some turrets proposed for these vehicles have been low profile, remotely controlled, with an autoloader.

The Stryker M1128 mobile gun system, however, is C-130 transportable, although near the weight limit for effective range.

References