Western models of technology have repeatedly demonstrated their effectiveness in different sectors of the front. Self-propelled artillery mounts are a good example of stable partner support – back in May 2022, information began to appear about the transfer of the first Krab self-propelled guns from Poland, and in October France announced an additional assistance package, which provides for six CAESAR howitzers. We understand the main differences between these heavy weapons and their advantages over Soviet models.
Polish self-propelled guns Krab have been used by the Armed Forces of Ukraine for more than a month. Polish installations helped liberate the Kharkiv region from Russian invaders, often seen in the photo from the de-occupied cities.
In June, it became known about the conclusion of a contract for the purchase of 50 self-propelled guns in Poland. The cost of this contract between Kyiv and Warsaw, according to various sources, ranges from 2.7 to 3 billion zlotys, which allows us to expect an increase in the strike force of Ukrainian artillery in the future. It is known that, in addition to the installations themselves, Poland also transferred command vehicles to them.
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The Krab self-propelled gun is a modern 155 mm caliber howitzer, which Ukraine first met at an arms exhibition in 2017. The Krab self-propelled guns use NATO-standard ammunition, are equipped with a turret from the British AS-90 self-propelled guns with a 52-caliber barrel and a tracked chassis from the K9 Thunder self-propelled guns manufactured by the South Korean company Samsung Techwin. The self-propelled guns are produced at the Huta Stalowa Wola plant, which is part of the state holding Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa.
The main advantage of the Krab self-propelled guns is a fairly high maneuverability and maneuverability. With a weight of 48 tons, the installation can reach speeds of up to 60 km per hour on the highway and 15-30 km/h on rough terrain.
The crew of the self-propelled guns Krab consists of 5 people, and it takes only 30 seconds to transfer from traveling to combat position. The maximum rate at which the installation fires is 6 volleys, and the maximum firing range is 40 km. This allows you to cover the enemy with fire at distant approaches, destroy equipment and manpower in tactical depth. The characteristics are quite similar to the Soviet analogue “Hyacinth-S”, however, in the Polish self-propelled guns, the load on the crew is reduced, because an advanced electronic navigation and fire control system, communication, warning and self-defense systems, and night observation devices are used.
Often, the security of the installation and high accuracy are highly appreciated. Automated aiming allows you not to build self-propelled guns in one line, but to work on one target, dispersing installations. It was the war with Russia that became the baptism of fire of the self-propelled guns Krab – in history this installation will be remembered as reliable and timely assistance to neighboring Poland.
Another modern weapon at the front is the French-made 155-mm self-propelled artillery mount CAESAR. Serial production of the installation began in 2007 and, unlike the Polish one, CAESAR had combat use in Afghanistan, UN missions in Lebanon and in various military operations on the African continent. The operators of the plant are not only France, but also Denmark, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Thailand.
In Ukraine, the first CAESAR self-propelled guns appeared in May – the Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Valeriy Zaluzhny confirmed the use of these self-propelled guns in published photos. It is known that Ukraine received these installations twice. However, in early October, French President Emmanuel Macron announced an additional aid package that also includes CAESAR installations.
The French media report that they will be used to transfer the self-propelled guns ordered by Denmark. As a result, Ukraine will receive from 6 to 12 installations. In some ways, CAESAR is similar to the Polish self-propelled guns, because it is also equipped with a 155-mm howitzer and a 52-caliber barrel length. NATO-standard projectiles are used, including the Excalibur guided projectile with a range of 46 km. Ammunition contains 18 shells.
However, unlike Krab, CAESAR has a wheeled chassis – in French samples it is Renault Sherpa 5 6 × 6 with additional armor, and in export it is Mercedes-Benz Unimog U 2450 6 × 6. Accordingly, the speed of movement of the self-propelled guns is different – on the highway, the installation can travel from 80 to 100 km / h, on rough terrain up to 50 km / h.
In terms of firing rate, the installations are similar – up to 6 volleys per minute. The CAESAR armored cabin can accommodate 5 people. The fire control system is automated, tied to GPS. Drones are often used for aiming and adjusting fire.
It is worth noting that the CAESAR self-propelled guns intended for Denmark differ from what the Armed Forces already use. The Danish version has a different Tatra T815-7 chassis with an 8×8 wheel formula, and the maximum firing range is increased to 55 km with the VLAP projectile. The installation can carry twice as much ammunition (up to 36 rounds), and also fires up to 8 rounds per minute.
Due to its high efficiency, CAESAR self-propelled guns remain highly valued heavy weapons. The French Directorate General of Armaments has contracted manufacturer Nexter to develop an upgraded version of the CAESAR with improved protection, a new diesel engine and chassis.
Often in the news there is information about the transfer of American self-propelled guns M109. The operators of this installation are more than 40 countries of the world, so there are a large number of modifications of this weapon. For Ukraine, these self-propelled guns were transferred by the Belgians, Latvians, Italians, many of these installations, which can be called veterans, are stored in the warehouses of both the United States and NATO countries in Europe. The M109 self-propelled guns went through the Vietnam and Iraq wars, and their history begins in 1963.
In the US Army, a common version of this mount is the M109A6 Paladin. It was developed in 1991 and is equipped with a 39 caliber barrel. The installation supports modern fire control systems, navigation and communications, the transfer to a combat position takes only 30 seconds. This mount can use the long-range Excalibur projectile. In counter-battery combat, it prevails in terms of range and fire maneuverability, second only to the outdated projectile delivery system.
Ukraine can count on the modification of the M109L self-propelled guns, which are planned to be received from the Italian government. According to open sources, Italy has about 300 units of these installations in storage. The M109L self-propelled gun is an Italian version of the 155 mm mount with a 39 caliber barrel, a firing range of up to 24-30 km and a speed of 60 km/h (highway), 25 km/h (rough terrain). Thanks to the caterpillar chassis, the installation has high cross-country ability, and long-term use by other countries proves the reliability of weapons for use by the Ukrainian army.
In general, self-propelled guns can be called the striking force of the army and a significant strengthening of every Western country that supplies Ukraine with heavy weapons. In modern wars, artillery and rocket troops play a crucial role and inflict more losses on enemy forces. The presence of modern self-propelled guns allows you to provide fire support to breakthroughs and hold the defense. The main thing is that Western samples arrive in the right quantity and on time for the Armed Forces of Ukraine.