To strengthen its artillery capabilities, Ukraine is set to receive further 155 mm Self-Propelled Howitzers (SPHs), consisting of CAESAR 8×8 SPHs from France and Zuzana 2 SPHs from Slovakia.
The German Federal Ministry of Defence (BMVg) announced on Sunday that, following the 11 August Copenhagen Donor Conference, the delivery of 16 Zuzana 2 wheeled self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine has been agreed. According to the BMVg, Germany, Denmark and Norway want to jointly and equally finance the production of the Slovakian howitzers, with contributions valued at €92m. Deliveries are slated to begin in 2023.
Details of the Self-Propelled Howitzers
ZUZANA 2 is the latest variant of the Slovakian ZUZANA wheeled howitzer, developed and manufactured by the Slovakian company Konštrukta Defence. Compared to the previous variant, the ZUZANA 2 has an extended L52 barrel, providing an increased range of 41 km, depending on the ammunition nature, and an armoured cab. The turret can traverse and fire through 360°, and is provided with an automatic ammunition handling system, bringing the crew requirement for operation down to three.
Additionally, the SPH is capable of firing in Multiple Round Simultaneous Impact (MRSI) mode. This is a specific type of firing mode where gun elevation and/or charge quantities are varied for each round fired in the fire mission (typically up to four) firing, with the aim of all the projectiles fired arriving on target simultaneously. This can be done either by a single gun or by a battery and can help toachieve greater effect on target in a shorter time period.
According to a report in the newspaper Le Monde, France wants to deliver 6-12 CAESAR 8×8 wheeled howitzers to Ukraine. The howitzers had been originally part of a batch of 15 destined for Denmark, however the Danish, French, and Ukrainian governments are in discussions regarding the diversion of some of this batch Ukraine. France has previously delivered 18 CAESAR 6×6 wheeled howitzers to Ukraine, however these consisted of the 6×6 variant used by France.The 8×8 variant selected by Denmark is heavier, at 32 tonnes compared to 18 tonnes, but the vehicle’s cab has a higher protection rating than the lighter 6×6 variant. Additionally, the heavier vehicle carries 36 ready rounds, which is double the 18 ready rounds carried by the 6×6 variant.
With the new commitments, Ukraine will have received over 100 artillery systems using the NATO standard 155 mm calibre.