GCT 155mm self-propelled artillery of the French Army
|Place of origin||France|
|In service||1977 – present|
|Used by||Saudi Arabia, Iraq and France|
|Produced||1977 – 1995|
|Crew||4; Commander, Driver, Gunner and Loader|
|One 155 mm howitzer|
|One 7.62mm or 12.7mm anti-aircraft machine gun|
|Engine||Hispano-Suiza HS 110 12-cylinder water-colled multi-fuel engine.
|Speed||60 km/h on-road.|
The GCT 155mm is a modern self-propelled artillery vehicle currently in use by the armies of France and Saudi Arabia. It replaced the former Mk F3 155mm in French Army service. The GCT 155mm's primary advancement is that it incorporates and provides full armor and nuclear-biological-chemical (NBC) protection for its crew of four, while the former Mk F3 155mm offered no protection and could carry only two of its four crew members. Though 60% heavier than the American M109, the GCT 155mm is both faster, and incorporates a more sophisticated fire control system. The GCT 155mm saw combat with the Iraqi Army in the Iran–Iraq War.
Though the French Mk 3 155mm would remain in production through the 1980s, by the early 1970s the French Army realized there was an urgent need for its replacement. The Mk. 3 155mm lacked an automatic loading system, but more importantly it lacked nuclear-biological-chemical (NBC) protection for its crew, and could carry only two of the four crew members needed to operate it (the remaining two having to be transported in support vehicles). Development of the GCT 155mm began in the early 1970s, and the first production version, known as the AUF1, was introduced in 1977. About 400 have been produced, with 70 having been upgraded to the AUF2 variant.
The GCT 155mm AUF1 is based on the AMX-30 main battle tank (MBT) chassis and equipped with a 155mm 39-caliber gun with an auto-loading system, giving a rate of fire of 8 rounds per minute, and a sustained rate of fire of 6 rounds per minute. It is also equipped with a roof-mounted 12.7mm anti-aircraft gun. The AUF1 has an effective range of 23,500 meters firing conventional rounds and 28,000 meters using Rocket Assisted Projectiles (RAPs).
The first production AUF1s were delivered exclusively to the Saudi Arabian Army, while the French Army received their first deliveries in 1980, deploying the GTC 155mm AUF1 in regiments of 18 guns each. In addition, the Iraqi Army received a small number of GTC 155mm AUF1 variants in 1980, which they employed during the Iran–Iraq War.
A battery of 8 AUF1s from the French Army's 40em Regiment d'Artillerie was deployed in support of the Rapid Reaction Force on Mount Igman during the 1995 NATO bombing campaign in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The battery provided rapid counter-battery fire against Serb artillery units during the siege of Sarajevo, the long range of its guns allowing it dominate the surrounding terrain.
The AUF2 is an improved turret for the GCT 155mm designed and built by GIAT. The AUF2 155mm howitzer and turret are designed for integration onto a wider range of armored chassis such as AMX30, Leopard 1, Arjun and T-72. It was initially developed to upgrade the GTC 155mm AUF1 self-propelled howitzers then in service with the French Army. The French Army has procured approximately 70 AUF2 turrets and mounted them on the AMX30B2 chassis.
Improvements in the AUF2 include an all-new automatic round and charge feed system and a new 52-caliber artillery tube. New charges and rounds are also available for the AUF2. The AUF2 is equipped with a 7.62mm anti-aircraft machine gun located at the roof of the turret. The AUF2 turret, including the gun and loading systems, weighs nearly 19 tons. Compared with the AUF1, the AUF2 offers a significantly improved range of 42 km, a higher rate of fire of 10 rounds/minute and multiple rounds simultaneous impact. In use, the weapon system has been found to have greater reliability, accuracy and ease of maintenance.
- France - 253 unit (70 upgraded to AUF2)
- Saudi Arabia - 51 units
- Iraq - 85 received between 1983-1985
- Kuwait - 18 units