Denel Land Systems (DLS) officially launched its T5-52 truck-mounted self-propelled artillery system at the Africa Aerospace and Defence 2018 exhibition on 20 September. The new mounted gun will soon enter service with the South African Army.
DLS said the T5-52 has the same ballistic system, fire power performance and mobility as the 6×6 G6-52 self-propelled howitzer and thus offers the same range and accuracy. It is based on a Tatra T815 8X8 truck but fitted with a top carriage designed to absorb the firing loads of the main weapon. This is equipped with outriggers to provide stability during firing.
The all-wheel drive chassis employs independent suspension and a backbone tube frame, allowing each wheel to move independently with improved steering and maximum tyre to ground contact. A central tyre inflation system allows the driver to increase and decrease the tyre pressures whilst driving over different terrain types. In addition to torsional and bending stability, the backbone tube frame also provides protection to the driveline. The service free driveline is housed inside the tube, protected against dust, moisture and possible external damage.
The Tatra chassis gives a top speed of 85 km/h, and a range of up to 600 km. Denel said there is a clear worldwide trend toward wheeled artillery systems as they are cheaper to operate and maintain, and they have greater mobility.
Denel will be offering the 30 ton T5-52 with a double cab fitted with air conditioning (AC) and NBC protection. The soft cabin can be replaced with an optional armoured steel unit, giving the crew all-round protection against small arms fire as well as protection against artillery counter-bombardment fragments. The T5-52 on display at AAD has a cabin with seating for the five crew members, but has only two doors. This particular T5-52 has recently been subjected to trials in international countries.
The T5-52 is fitted with a 155 mm howitzer with a 52-calibre barrel, but a 45-calibre barrel is also available. The T5-52 has an unrestricted 60 degrees rearwards arc of fire for normal firing and can also fire in an emergency over the rest of the 360 degrees traverse arc. The gun can engage targets with direct fire over an arc of 180 degrees to the rear. Denel said this flexibility ensures that it can be employed in the traditional gun, howitzer, mortar and direct firing roles.
Projectiles are lifted three at a time from the ground by an automated power operated projectile loading crane and loaded into the barrel via a magazine and rammer. A total of 24 complete on-board rounds are stored in a purpose-designed ammunition container.
The main weapon enables the engagement of targets at a range of 33.2 km with standard ammunition or 43.4 km with base-bleed and 57 km with the rocket-assisted V-LAP projectiles when using the M9 projectile and M60 charge series. The engagement ranges with the M2000 Assegai projectile and M90 charge series are 30.5 km with standard, 40.5 km with base-bleed and 55 km with Assegai V-LAP projectiles.
On board ammunition allows the gun to be fired during shoot and shift operations. For continuous bombardments, projectiles are loaded via the crane and charges hand loaded from the ground. Loading of the projectiles and charges into the weapon are semi-automatic with the aid of a hydraulic chain driven push rammer. Percussion tubes are loaded by a primer loading mechanism and fired by an electro-mechanical trigger mechanism.
A power activated trigger mechanism with extensive safety features is provided to enable the firing of the percussion tube. The trigger can also be activated with a lanyard as back-up to fire the gun.
A temperature warning system is provided to warn the crew of high barrel and recoil oil temperatures when firing sustained and high rates of fire.
An electro-hydraulic gun control system provides automatic laying of the gun onto target to ensure high laying accuracy during rapid firing. Gun laying for direct and indirect fire is performed by the laying and navigation system which can operate in adverse weather, day and night. It includes a day camera, laser rangefinder and thermal imager. A GPS is integrated into the laying and navigation system to provide additional backup for the navigation function.
Multiple rounds (up to four) can be fired to impact simultaneously on the same target by means of the T5-52’s advanced on-board Gun Command and Control System (GCCS). The T5-52 can stop and fire three accurate rounds at full charge within 90 seconds and move to a new position within 40 seconds of the last round. It can repeat this exercise up to eight times with the on-board ammunition.
The gun ammunition loading mechanisms and gun elevation and traverse movements are all driven by hydraulic power. Hydraulic and electrical power are provided by the truck’s main engine but a permanently mounted Auxiliary Power Unit is also fitted to supply full hydraulic and electrical power. This provides 30 kW of power for 12 hours.
All automated and powered movements for gun loading and laying are supported by full manual back-up operation in the event of hydraulic or electrical power failure. A service mode is also provided to enable “ease of maintenance” and fault-finding.
The main gun components can be replaced quickly – the barrel, breech, recoil, recuperator, etc. can each be removed and replaced within 30–45 minutes.
Aside from the main gun, a 7.62 mm or 12.7 mm machine gun can be mounted on the roof of the cabin.
Denel unveiled the T5-52 several years ago, and has since demonstrated it to potential foreign customers, including Pakistan. The first customer for the weapon is the South African Army, which is getting three in exchange for six SA Army G5s being sold to the United Arab Emirates.
According to Denel Land Systems, the South African Army is currently working with Denel on a few refinements before commissioning the T5, which will be the 45-calibre barrel T5-45. It has the shorter barrel in order to fire existing SANDF 155mm ammunition.
Denel said the T5-52 was developed to provide an ultra-long-range artillery capability, and is based on its proven track record that included the firing of a Velocity-Enhanced Long-range Artillery projectile (VLAP) out to more than 70 kilometres in the Northern Cape during the late 1990s. The company’s heritage includes delivering more than 400 155mm G5 and G6 systems around the world.