In 1982 Iraq ordered a total of 85 AuF1/ GCT 155mm units from France, with deliveries commencing in 1983 and being completed in 1985.
The AuF1 is a SPG (self propelled gun) artillery unit is based upon the hull of AMX-30 MBT (main battle tank) but incorporating a new much larger turret to accommodate a 155mm/39-caliber gun with automatic loading system along with 42 rounds of ammunition.
Although it was conceived and designed to meet a French Army requirement due to an exclusive deal it was actually Saudi Arabia who received the first units with deliveries of 51 units beginning in 1978.
Iraqi AuF1s were known to have been employed in the Iran-Iraq war, for which they were specifically ordered for, where the accuracy and 23.5km range of its gun reportedly proved very effective.
Whilst it is expected they played a role in the Invasion of Kuwait and subsequent Gulf War (1990-1991) no details of such service and potentially losses are readily available. Their role, if any, against the 2003 invasion of Iraq is also unclear.
However what is clear is that a number of AuF1 survived both conflicts relatively intact and this may be attributed to their potential lack of operational status following the arm embargos since the invasion of Kuwait which would prevent spares and support from the French manufacture.
This is evident from the large number of photograph of derelict Auf1s that have emerged since the 2003 occupation. It is in fact one of the most photographed types, presumably due proportions of the 155mm gun. The majority of these examples reside within Camp Taji (formerly a republican guard base) often in long rows. Here are some of the better photographs I have identified:
|A line of derelict AuF1s and a single 2S3 Akatsiya (far right) at Camp Taji|
In regards to the turret mounted machine gun, it has been highlighted that in the early parade photograph that no gun or cradle is mounted. This therefore raises the possibility that it was a later Iraqi addition thus widing the range over which gun could of been fitted, including the russian DShKM.