Bring out the big guns

Few sights are as impressive as an AS90 rolling into position. This self-propelled gun is so powerful that it is easily mistaken for a tank, but one of the main differences is that you need to be stationary to fire it.

'It’s very intimidating,' says Sergeant Panapasa Sui, who is a member of The Royal Artillery. 'I’ve worked on both the Light Gun and the AS90 – as a member of the Artillery you become an expert in both – but the AS90 is my favourite.'

Like any piece of military equipment, however, the technology is only as good as the personnel operating it. The AS90 requires a detachment of four soldiers (as well as a driver) to work together as a highly co-ordinated unit.

'I’m called the Number One, and am in overall control inside the gun,' says Sgt Sui. 'The command post gives me a target, with a bearing and an elevation so we can lock onto it. Another member of the detachment types these into a computer to position the barrel, which he can also adjust with a joystick. Then another member of the crew loads the gun. The shells weigh 44kg each so you’ve got to be strong,' says Sgt Sui. 'Once we’re in position, I’ll tell my commander, and when they give the order, I push the fire button.'

    "When they give the order, I push the fire button"

Awesome Fire Power
The AS90’s stats are awesome. It can target an area 19 miles away, destroying a 100m2 area with high explosive shells. No wonder its nickname is ‘The Nasty’. As well as explosive rounds, it can fire illumination or smoke rounds. Space is very tight inside, so it’s essential everybody pulls their weight and gets on. 'Teamwork is everything,' says Sgt Sui. 'To be a good commander you have to lead by example and get stuck in. But I love being active, so that comes naturally.'

 Inside an AS90 self-propelled gun

Challenger 2 main battle tank