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Soltam Ltd's "rascal" Light 155Mm Sph - Service Status?


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#1 Gavin-Phillips

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Posted 06 January 2018 - 1655 PM

One of Soltam's products which I've only heard of recently and that certainly caught my eye was the "Rascal" which is a tracked, self-propelled, light-weight howitzer.  Apparently designed to be as light as possible in order to be capable of being not only airborne, but also transported by a C-130, it would seem Soltham would be onto a winning formula here.  Very few self-propelled artillery designs would seem to be in this league, apart from perhaps the Russian 2S9 120mm Nona-S or the wheeled French CESAR 155mm?

 

There doesn't seem to be any information on the Rascal, or its wheeled counterpart the ATMOS 2000, as far as being in service, or simply being marketed but with no potential buyers yet.

 

So has the Rascal or ATMOS 2000 actually been purchased yet?  Do any armed forces operate either system?  If indeed it is as air-portable as claimed, then it would be quite a boost to the firepower of airborne forces.  Certainly the French CESAR artillery system seems to offer just that.

 

So have Soltam managed to get either into production yet?  Does anyone know?


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#2 lastdingo

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Posted 06 January 2018 - 1826 PM

Rascal is widely published as weighing in at 20 metric tons, presumably empty. That's too much in practice even for C-130J.

The BAe M777 portee and Caesar (the first one) are more within C-130 limits than Rascal.

 

ATMOS 2000 - even Wikipedia lists certian buyers: https://en.wikipedia...wiki/ATMOS_2000


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#3 Gavin-Phillips

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Posted 07 January 2018 - 1150 AM

Rascal is widely published as weighing in at 20 metric tons, presumably empty. That's too much in practice even for C-130J.

The BAe M777 portee and Caesar (the first one) are more within C-130 limits than Rascal.

 

ATMOS 2000 - even Wikipedia lists certian buyers: https://en.wikipedia...wiki/ATMOS_2000

 

Much appreciated.  Just a shame the article on the Rascal is no-where near as detailed, even Wikipedia refers to it as a "stub".  I suppose that could always change once more information is known.

 

Interesting point about the weight of the Rascal, and it being too much for a C-130J.  Soltam's official site mentions that it can be transported by a C-130 so I wonder if the vehicle has to be partially dismantled for this to be the case.  Perhaps the carrier vehicle and the howitzer can be separated?  But then that would make any advantages of having a low-weight and highly mobile SPH pretty much moot.  Certainly food for thought there.


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#4 lastdingo

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Posted 07 January 2018 - 1203 PM

Lockheed Martin is funny:

https://www.lockheed.../c-130j-30.html

give a ceiling with a higher payload than maximum allowable payload. Still, the latter is 19,958 kg for C-130J-30 (USAF fact sheet says 19,090 kg for older J version).

Use a waiver and accept that the flightis going to be super short with a Rascal without munition, crew or fuel for more than leaving the vehicle and it will fit in.

 

That's just not of practical value.

--------------------------------

Airborne forces could use true lightweight 155 mm SPG designs instead of squeezing in things that are close to C-130J limits.

The ancient AMX-13 F3 with a stub 155 mm weighs two tons less.

 

The Singaporeans have a 39cal_155mm-on-a-cart prototype that weighs in at 7 tons. It's more an auxiliary propulsion on steroids than a true offroad shoot & scoot SPG, of course:

https://www.armyreco...a_sheet_fr.html

www.army-guide.com/eng/product4622.html

http://sgforums.com/...8/topics/340602


Edited by lastdingo, 07 January 2018 - 1204 PM.

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#5 Mighty_Zuk

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Posted 17 January 2018 - 1326 PM

The Rascal is definitely a very interesting vehicle, but also not a very promising one at that.

Not a whole lot is known about it except for the probability that it was aimed from the beginning for the export market. It simply did not meet any IDF requirement. It was too exposed as it had no turret, had a completely manual loading, and even if the crew were in the cabin they were entirely unprotected. Not to mention that the hull was purpose-built and thus offered no commonality with other IDF vehicles at the time or in the future.

 

It could be great for poor countries that seek certain elements that define a modern artillery, but with the most expensive bits taken away. For example, an advanced FCS and navigation system is a central piece in any artillery vehicle, but a state-of-the-art drivetrain was not necessary.

 

Around that time or a bit later, Soltam entered a financial crisis. It could not secure enough customers, and whatever it sold to the IDF (mortars, howitzers etc) was sold at nearly production costs, and orders were inconsistent even with the IDF. 

 

A few years ago they were purchased by Elbit and restores to full functionality and now offer instead the ATMOS which took the Rascal's niche. Another artillery piece that was practically irrelevant to the IDF but could succeed abroad. And indeed the ATMOS can be considered to be a marketing success.

 

The ATMOS is, at least in its most recent configurations, not really suited for aerial transportation. The heavier 8x8 trucks weighing anything between 30 and 40 tons are not something many would agree to take as it would usually require heavier transport aircraft that are relatively scarce, and don't provide the tactical advantage that using a C-130 gets.

 

ATMOS and Caesar, thus, being constructed very similarly to each other along their lives (which indicates attentiveness of the industries to global needs), much better fit the niche of poor countries seeking advanced capabilities in affordable packages, than wealthy countries that have the luxury of well equipped airborne formations.


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#6 Gavin-Phillips

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Posted 17 January 2018 - 1517 PM

Thank you for the informative replies.

 

I was unaware that Soltam had been bought up by Elbit so that's news to me.


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#7 Chris Werb

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Posted 17 January 2018 - 1600 PM

It depends on the scenario of course*, but making a system super light for air portability if that system relies to a great extent on frequent resupply with large quantities of very heavy unguided projectiles appears an illogical approach.

 

*In certain circumstances heli-lifting an M777 and a dozen Excalibur projectiles and charges to the top of a mountain might well make sense, but most of the time, for most armies, it will just be a party trick.


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