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The heyday of “Malva”: howitzer-convertible goes to the test

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A cabriolet howitzer on a wheeled chassis goes for testing. In 2021, tests of the self-propelled unit 2С43 “Malva” will begin. The 152-mm gun of the new artillery system is housed in the body of the Voshchina high-pass wheeled tractor. Thanks to this solution, “Malva” is capable of making high-speed marches for hundreds of kilometers. Until recently, all Soviet and Russian howitzers were produced only in a tracked version. Together with the latest wheeled self-propelled convertible, a whole family of new highly mobile guns and mortars is in the final stages of development. According to experts, the transition to such equipment is a modern trend in world artillery, and the new installation will be able to interest foreign buyers of domestic weapons.

Be in trend

At present, the schedule of work on the newest self-propelled artillery installation ACS 2S43 “Malva” has been approved, sources in the military department told Izvestia. The document was prepared at the end of last year. According to this schedule, the developers of the unique howitzer, as part of the Sketch development work (ROC), were to conduct the first firing by the end of 2020. And also check the driving performance of the novelty with many kilometers of mileage. After the completion of factory tests, the novelty will be revised. After that, the convertible howitzer must be handed over to the defense department for further checks. Testing is expected to begin in the spring or early summer of this year.

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Earlier, the Commander-in-Chief of the Ground Forces, General of the Army Oleg Salyukov, said that within the framework of this ROC, state tests of samples of highly mobile artillery and mortar weapons on various types of chassis are already underway. Some of them are specifically designed for operations in the Arctic region. They are planned to be completed in 2021.

The first images of the newest self-propelled gun “Malva” appeared in 2019. At the Army-2020 forum, she was presented in the exposition area closed to the public. The novelty is equipped with a 152 mm 2A64 gun. The same is used today on tracked artillery mounts “Msta-S”. The howitzer is designed to destroy a wide variety of targets – from enemy infantry and equipment on the front line to tactical nuclear weapons in the near rear at a distance of up to 24 km.

Mobility “Malve” will be provided by the all-terrain chassis of the Bryansk Automobile Plant BAZ-6010-027 with a wheel arrangement of 8×8. The open installation of the howitzer without additional armor or turret made it possible to lighten the vehicle. With an ammunition load of 30 rounds, its weight is 32 tons. This is a quarter lighter than the tracked Msta-S with the same weapon.

Rise of Malva: Convertible Howitzer Goes to Test A self-propelled artillery unit on a wheeled chassis will be the first in a new family of weapons systems

“The transition to wheeled vehicles is a modern trend,” military historian Alexei Khlopotov told Izvestia. – Artillery gains increased mobility and increased resource. Tracked vehicles are much more expensive and have less resource.

Many such systems have appeared in the armies of the world today. France, Sweden and other countries have their own wheeled howitzers. Our developers are now following the same path.

“The new wheeled howitzer will certainly be interesting on the world arms market,” military expert Andrei Frolov explained to Izvestia. – Every year in the world, including the countries of Africa and Asia, dozens of such systems are bought. There is not enough such self-propelled gun in the export portfolio of Russia. Now we are mass-producing only “Msta-S” on a tracked chassis. Not everyone is interested in it, and we have not yet had lighter samples.

According to the expert, wheeled artillery systems can be used anywhere. Taking into account the fact that “Malva” is tested in different climatic conditions at different temperatures, there will be practically no restrictions on its operation.

Artillery bouquet

There are several more models of gun mounts that are now being developed as part of the same development work “Sketch” at the Nizhny Novgorod Central Research Institute “Burevestnik”. Their creation under a contract with the military department started in 2015. All new items received color names, continuing the Soviet tradition of designating self-propelled guns.

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The most unusual of them – the project 2S39 “Magnolia” – is designed for operations in the Far North. The tower of the 120-mm cannon “Vena” was mounted on a powerful two-link Arctic all-terrain vehicle DT-30MP “Vityaz”. As a result, a tracked combat vehicle can float, move through swamps and ice.

Ammunition “Magnolia” reaches 80 shells and mines. With them, the gun can fire both direct fire and mortar fire at a distance of up to 10 km. At the same time, the use of corrected 120-mm ammunition is also possible.

Another project in the final stages of development is the 2S40 “Phlox” 120-mm self-propelled artillery gun. The base for it was the six-axle chassis of the Ural-4320 “Motovoz-M” trucks. High automation is declared as a key feature. The unit can quickly arrive at position, prepare to fire and move swiftly after completing the task.

Another representative of the new family will be the 82-mm automatic mortar 2S41 “Drok”, mounted on the armored chassis “Typhoon VDV” K-4386 developed by KamAZ. It is planned to equip such batteries in the battalions of paratroopers and mountain riflemen. A car weighing 14 tons can not only be transported by military transport aircraft, but also parachuted.

From tracks to wheels

Abroad, self-propelled artillery mounts on a wheeled chassis have been developed and adopted into service in several leading armies of the world. In Israel it is ATMOS 2000, in France – CAESAR, in Sweden – Archer. Their samples were created in China and several states of Eastern Europe. Several hundred large-caliber Dana wheeled howitzers of Czechoslovak design were previously in service with the Warsaw Pact countries. They were also tested in the USSR, but were not adopted for service.

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“In Soviet times, we developed options for placing self-propelled artillery on a wheeled chassis, but it didn’t go further than individual experimental samples,” Aleksey Khlopotov told Izvestia.

At that time, the concept dominated that self-propelled artillery should accompany tanks and have a cross-country comparable to them – be able to overcome mud, rough terrain. Today, there are practically no hostilities on such terrain. Europe has a large developed road network. In the southern directions, there are many dirt roads, rocky ground, steppes, where wheeled vehicles are doing well, the expert explained.

Now in the Nizhny Novgorod “Burevestnik” tests of another wheeled howitzer are underway. In this version, the promising Coalition-SV Joint Stock Company was presented, tracked samples of which were delivered to the troops for trial operation last year. Its armored turret with a 152-mm gun was mounted on a four-axle KamAZ-6550 truck. It is stated that in terms of shooting characteristics, it will not be inferior to its predecessor.

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