Saturday, March 23, 2019

Polish Army starts production of the Krab Howitzer...

via Defense 24
HSW has begun deliveries of the first series manufactured Regina DMO squadron level fire module, utilizing the Krab sphs. The above means that the Polish military is receiving equipment that has been acquired within the framework of the most significant Polish defence contract ever signed. The agreement in question was concluded back in 2016.

On Saturday, 16th March, another convoy with a batch of equipment left the HSW S.A. facility. Delivery of the equipment for the first series manufactured Regina module has begun. Agreement concerning this delivery was signed on 14th December 2016 and has a gross value of PLN 4.649 billion. The provisions of the agreement assume that, by 2024, four DMO squadron level fire modules would be delivered. Each of the elements listed above comprises of 24 155 mm Krab sphs and 19 auxiliary vehicles.

Conclusion of the aforesaid contract is a result of successful completion of preliminary introduction of this system into the inventory of the Polish military. Ultimately, the Regina modules are to replace the obsolete 122 mm 2S1 Gvozdika howitzers. Gvozdika platform was also being manufactured at HSW. Between 1984 and 1993 the facility delivered almost 550 systems as such to the Polish military. Gvozdika, despite the implemented upgrades, is not compliant with the NATO standards, within the scope of its calibre, combat effectiveness and, primarily, within the scope of its range - 15 km. For the sake of comparison, one should note that Krab sph, utilizing the standard 155 mm NATO rounds (JoBMoU-compliant ammunition / Joint Ballistic Memorandum of Understanding), has a range of more than 40 kilometres.

Ever since the AS90 turret license agreement has been signed in 1999 (52-calibre length barrel) the Krab programme suffered from numerous technical and financial obstacles. Ultimately it was launched in 2014, following a decision, made jointly by the Polish Ministry of Defence, PGZ Group and HSW, to introduce license manufacturing of a new, prospective Korean base platform. It was in December 2014 when a contract was signed to procure a batch of readymade polonized derivative of the Korean K9 Thunder platforms. Alongside those platforms, rights to license manufacture the vehicle to meet the demand created by the Polish military have been acquired. Furthermore, the HSW facility is also entitled to manufacture the chassis and derived products for export purposes.

Joint effort undertaken by a Polish-Korean engineering team made it possible to develop a polonized variant of the K9 platform, over the course of a few months. The main differences between the Polish version and its prerequisite include a number of modern solutions that are missing in case of the latter, namely an APU, fire extinguishing and explosion protection systems, or a Polish ventilation/air filtering system. Back in August 2015 Krab howitzer based on a new platform was rolled out at HSW and then premiered during the MSPO defence industry exhibition in Kielce.

After the handing off test procedures came to an end, Krab underwent its type certification procedure. Following the completion of the process above (April 2016) it was confirmed that the system is fully compliant with the requirements set by the Polish Ministry of Defence. Following the formalities related to settlement of the test programme it became possible to negotiate a manufacturing contract. First, HSW and Polish Ministry of Defence arranged the delivery programme with regards to all of the components expected to form the first introductory Regina DMO.

The first batch of 9 howitzers belonging to the introductory DMO element was handed off in mid-November 2016. Further examples were being delivered, in an ongoing manner, as they passed the handing-off test procedures. Officially the delivery of the “introductory” DMO Regina element was completed in July 2017.

It's gone largely unnoticed but the S. Koreans have taken the world by storm with their K-9 Howitzer. 

Only now are we seeing the US Army and Marine Corps move on increasing its fire support/artillery fires.

We need to keep pace but if a small country like Poland is fielding superior systems to our own then we need to take a beat to orient ourselves and then correct the deficiency.

In other words if Poland can do it then we surely can!

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