The KRAB self-propelled howitzer is designed to destroy missile systems, artillery and anti-aircraft missile batteries, command posts, communications and field fortifications, mechanized and motorized units located deep inside the enemy group, and other important facilities. Weighing more than fifty tons, the self-propelled howitzer is capable of firing up to 6 rounds per minute at a distance of approximately 40 kilometers. The service works consists of 5 people. The Krab howitzer is the basic firearm of an artillery squadron, a sub-unit dedicated to the implementation of fire support tasks at the brigade level.
KRAB 155-mm self-propelled howitzers are successively delivered to units of the Polish Army. It is the largest order in the Polish armaments industry since 1989. The amount of the contract concluded with Huta Stalowa Wola for the purchase of 96 self-propelled howitzers is over PLN 4.6 billion. On December 14, 2016, the Polish Ministry of National Defense signed a contract worth $1.1 billion with Huta Stalowa Wola for 96 Krab self-propelled howitzers of the K9 Thunder design. In December 2014, South Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) and Samsung Techwin reportedly signed a contract with Poland for the purchase and licensed production of up to 120 K9 systems for the Polish army.
Poland's future self-propelled howitzer, Krab, was initially to consist of a Polish hull, based on a T-72 chassis, using the British AS-90 BraveHeart turret. So the Polish designers had to make such a turret box in order to put the English turret on a chassis that was completely unsuitable for this. The Polish Army used 8 Krabs as the part of the test battalion-module with the chassis from Bumar-Labedy.
The Army and the producer of turrets were very critical in their evaluation of the initial Polish chassis manufactured for the first 8 Krabs. The problems included hull cracks, weak cooling system resulting in overheating of the engine, fluid leaks from the engine, leaky fuel system and exhaust system. The Polish chassis manufacturer was not able to remove the defects.
The first attempts to introduce a new artillery system into the artillery of the Land Forces began after 1991. At that time, Polish field artillery had at its disposal a large number of outdated towed howitzers and standard 152 mm gun howitzers for the Warsaw Pact, and only 111 self-propelled guns wz. 77 Dana was modern. Of course, there were also over 500 examples of 122-mm 2S1 tracked howitzers, which were licensed in Poland, but their range and firepower were considered insufficient.
Already in the concept phase, it was decided that the development of the self-propelled artillery system would take place in Poland, with the participation of a foreign co-operator. It was also agreed that the new artillery system should have a caliber of 155 mm used in NATO countries, a range of up to 40 kilometers, and firing precision ammunition.
Already in 1993, the Slovaks came forward with a proposal to jointly develop a 155-mm artillery system, who proposed placing the Zuzana turret with a 155-mm gun on the Polish chassis. Hence the initial code name of the new Polish artillery system - Zuzanna. The Polish co-operator in the project was to be Huta Stalowa Wola, a domestic producer of artillery equipment (the aforementioned 2S1 howitzers were manufactured under license there). After determining the initial tactical and technical assumptions (which took place in 1994), the army began negotiations with Huta Stalowa Wola, it was then established that the first sub-unit, the so-called a squadron module, it will consist of six cannon howitzers as well as command and logistics vehicles joining the battery and squadron levels, and then, after successfully passing the field tests.
In 1996, the Ministry of National Defense officially sent an inquiry to HSW regarding the Zuzanna artillery system program. The steelworks was to develop the tactical and technical assumptions of the system and select the final supplier of the turret from among foreign structures. The tracked chassis was to be built in Poland. The first tender for turret systems involving the Slovak (Zuzana), South African (T-6), British (AS90) and German (Panzerhaubitze-2000) proposals was canceled for economic reasons.
The changed tactical and technical assumptions were then formulated, and the turret system selected in the next competition was to be mounted on a chassis developed at the Research and Development Center for Mechanical Equipment in Gliwice, based on the universal MT-S tracked vehicle, the license of which was purchased by Poland from the USSR in the 1980s. and under the name Kalina produced for the Polish Army. The second tender, organized in 1998, was again joined by AS-90, Zuzana and PzH-2000. British and German offers were selected for the final game, and it was decided that fire tests would decide the final choice. Only the British took part in the field shooting and after successful trials in June 1999, the AS90 Braveheart howitzer was chosen (the name was courteously translated to Chrobry) with a barrel length of 52 caliber. In July 1999, an agreement was signed between Huta Stalowa Wola SA and GEC Marconi (now BAE Systems), under which the Polish side obtained a license to produce autonomous turrets for the artillery system. In addition, the British undertook to deliver six complete turrets to Poland.
In the following year, it was agreed that HSW SA (responsible for the entire contract) would participate in the production of the 155 mm self-propelled artillery system called Regina (which will include the Krab gun howitzers, the Azalia communication, command and control system and the Waran logistics system), OBRUM SA (chassis supplier), WB Electronics Sp. z o. o. (command system) and Star Trucks Sp. z o. o. (logistic vehicles).
The Crab # 1 prototype was completed in June 2001. The British turret was mounted on a thoroughly remodeled chassis, based on the MT-S and Kalina. By the end of this year, Krab had completed the first stage of the factory fire tests, and the next was completed with copy no. 2. Work on the remaining elements of Regina was not so advanced. The automated communication, command and fire control system Azalia, for which the carriers - Rys armored personnel carriers and Honkery off-road vehicles were selected only in 2003 - were tested in 2004. At an early stage, however, the development of the Waran subsystem was discontinued, only an ammunition car was built on the Stara 1466 chassis, both planned tracked cars (evacuation and repair) were never built. This was due to a reduction in funding for research and development.
In 2003 and 2004, under the supervision of the Ministry of National Defense, the qualification tests of Crab and Azalia were carried out and in August 2004 it was found that the Regina system meets the requirements specified by the Military Command of the Land Forces, even though the entire fire module was not tested (e.g. only the ammunition on Star 1466). At that time, it was planned that the first Crabs would enter the line within three years, and by 2016-2018 there will be at least 72. The Regina program cost PLN 85.6 million at that time, of which both prototypes cost about PLN 72 million (initially planned million PLN for research and development and a squadron module with 6 Krabs).
In the period from late 2004 to spring 2006, the Regina program was de facto suspended. It was even planned to cancel the program and put the department into training and a museum. However, in June 2006, a Crab No.2 shooting demonstration was prepared, prepared by a delegation from India, familiarizing themselves with the 155 mm self-propelled howitzers offered on the market, and on September 18, 2006, the Armament Council of the Ministry of National Defense decided to introduce the Regina artillery system to the WRiA in precision ammunition. The decision to purchase the remaining four serial Krabs to complement the first battery module was confirmed (both existing prototypes were to be modernized - mainly with the use of new electronic components), the command system was also to be modified.
At that time, the military planned to purchase, under the modernization program, a batch of 50 Krabs for four squadrons, twelve cannon howitzers (three batteries, four guns in two platoons - two) and two for the CSAiU training battery. The first squadron was to be part of the 10th Armored Cavalry Brigade, after 2012, the next division was to join the 34th Armored Cavalry Brigade, and two to the 23rd Artillery Brigade. Due to the fact that Wojskowe Zaklady Motoryzacyjne No. 5 - the producer of Rysi - did not continue the program, and the MAN company ended the production of Star trucks, the problem of vehicles for the command and logistics subsystems appeared. The latter was to be finally fitted with Jelcz trucks (ammunition trucks and workshops for the repair of weapons and electronics). For the command subsystem, the WZM-5 proposed BWP-1 variants or the MT-LB transporters adapted by HSW (from HSW). In the end, it was decided that the Azalia system vehicles would be the rebuilt chassis of the withdrawn 2S1 howitzers, which were named LPG (Lekkie Chassis Gasienicowe). In addition, conceptual work on the reconnaissance subsystem for Regina (Liwiec artillery radar, BSR) has begun.
After more than a year of negotiations between the Defense Policy Department of the Ministry of National Defense and HSW, in May 2008 an agreement was signed for the implementation of Regina's implementation work for the amount of PLN 233 million. Under this contract, by 2012, as part of the squadron module, the following were to be built: 8 Krabs, 6 command and fire control vehicles of the squadron and 2 vehicles of the squadron's logistics subsystem. If the first module was successfully implemented, in 2012-2018, the Ministry of National Defense was to purchase four self-propelled artillery squadrons with 50 Krabs (twelve-gun modules could be developed into squadrons with 18 or 24 cannon howitzers), capable of using precision ammunition.
The tests of 155mm gun, for the self-propelled howitzer Krab, produced by Stalowa Wola, ended with a complete success in June 2011. By 2015 there were about 8 in service, of 24 on contract for the initial order. Poland planned to buy about 124 total: 5 artillery regiments worth, plus a few for the training center in Torun. These were to replace the Dana 152mm wheeled self-propelled howitzers.
Initially, it was planned that a turret compartment with a 155-mm howitzer from an English AS-90 self-propelled gun would be installed on a Polish seven-kat chassis built using Soviet T-72 tank units. However, having made 8 cars, the Poles realized that they simply could not produce the chassis (they reported problems with the engine and the appearance of cracks in the hull). As a result, they had to turn to South Korea with a request to sell the chassis from the K-9 SPH. So it turned out that there wes relatively little Polish proper in the Krab.
The Krab (crab) self-propelled howitzer, developed by BAE Systems Land Systems, won the international competition to meet future self-propelled artillery systems requirement for the Polish Army. The Polish requirement was for around 130 howitzers of this type. The first order was expected in 2008. However the Polish MoD halted its order due to a possible bribery case. A total of 24 howitzers were ordered. By 2012, only 8 howitzers had been built and delivered to the Polish Army. The future of this artillery system remained uncertain.
In September 2013, Huta Stalowa Wola (HSW) signed a letter of intent with the Turkish manufacturer MKEK, or Mechanical and Chemical Industries Corporation, for Turkish TUSpH Storm (T-155 Firtina) hulls. Then the Polish army choose the Korean K-9 hull for the SpH vehicles with a Polish-designed turret and a 155mm gun. In December 2014 Bumar-Labedy was offered the production of the chassis under the Korean license.
The contract signed in 2016 concerned 4 Division Fire Modules. Pursuant to the concluded contract, deliveries are to be completed in 2024. Each DMO includes:
- 24 self-propelled howitzers "KRAB",
- 3 command and staff vehicles,
- 8 command vehicles of various ranks,
- 6 ammunition wagons,
- 1 armament and electronics repair car.
The new vehicles were successively replacing the Gozdzik self-propelled howitzers that were put into service at the turn of the 1980s and 1990s. - The differences between them are significant. Starting from the caliber of the gun - 122 mm in Gozdziki, 155 mm in Krabs, through the range - respectively 15 and 40 km, to the equipment with electronics and engine power, which in the older type of howitzer is 200 hp, while in our last purchase - 1000 hp.
Krabs are part of a battery. Each has eight howitzers. In addition, it is equipped with three command vehicles (one assigned to the battery commander and two to platoon commanders) and two ammunition vehicles. Three batteries form the Regina fire module. The whole is managed by the squadron commander, who also has his own vehicle on the battlefield. This is what it is like in the 5th Regiment.
Everything, of course, begins with gathering information about a potential target. - They can flow from external sources, but also be obtained using own reconnaissance means. The squadron uses the work of the combined fire observers section, unmanned aerial vehicles and the Liwiec artillery reconnaissance radar indications. The data is entered into the Topaz combat management system , which calculates the settings for the howitzer. Then the orders flow down - from the squadron commander, through the battery and platoon commander, to the crew or crews of selected howitzers.
If there is only one battery in the field, the decision-making begins at the level of its commander. Thanks to full automation, it all takes seconds. Assigning a task to specific howitzers is also made easier by the fact that thanks to the GPS system, commanders of higher ranks are perfectly aware of the position of individual vehicles. The indicated howitzers take their positions and prepare to open fire. As a rule, the settings are entered into the system in a fully automatic manner. But the gunner can also target the target with a semi-automatic method, using a joystick or analogically, by turning the handles
During shooting, the barrel can be raised to an angle of more than 45 degrees. Thanks to this, the shell is able to fly over trees or other obstacles, even if they are in the immediate vicinity of the howitzer. The Krab can not only attack the enemy, but also effectively defend itself against his attack. First of all, the howitzer is equipped with a 12.7 mm large-caliber machine gun. It is operated by one of the loaders. In addition, sensors have been mounted on the armor, which, if necessary, will alert the crew that the enemy is currently targeting the vehicle through a laser sight. It is a very sensitive apparatus.
A Krab can fire six missiles in a minute. The howitzer should not remain in its position for more than two minutes. The crew must take into account that the enemy will target them while firing. Therefore, after completing the task, they move to another place as soon as possible.
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