PzH 2000 (Panzerhaubitze 2000) Self Propelled Howitzer
As per reports, in late April 2022 the Netherlands agreed to send German-built Panzerhaubitze 2000 long-range armoured howitzers to Ukraine. These Pzh 2000s are 61.5 ton in weight and the heaviest artillery sent by a Western ally to Kyiv. Germany itself had refrained from sending heavy weapons to Ukraine. The training could be provided in Poland or Germany.
The Netherlands had acquired 56 Pzh-2000s, of which 18 remained active in the Royal Netherlands Army’s 41st Artillery battalion as of 2022. So, the Netherlands could send as many as 38 Pzh 2000s to Ukraine, enough to form two artillery battalions or half a dozen batteries. The Bundeswehr had received a total of 185 Pzh 2000s through 2002, of which 108 remained active in four German artillery battalions as of 2022. Another 37 ex-Bundeswehr Pzhs were sold to Croatia and Lithuania, suggesting around 40 more inactive PzH 2000s remained in Germany’s reserve inventory.
Germany will hand over seven PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine, a corresponding agreement has been reached on this, German Defense Minister Christina Lambrecht said. The Panzerhaubitzen 2000 artillery system is a track-mounted vehicle with a cannon that can fire 155mm shells up to 40 kilometers (25 miles). Germany will also offer training on how to use the heavy artillery. Lambrecht made the announcement during a trip to Slovakia to meet with German soldiers who have been deployed in the eastern European country that shares a small border with Ukraine.
The delivery of German howitzers marks another shift in Berlin's policy towards arming Ukraine. The German government under Chancellor Olaf Scholz had repeatedly come under fire, especially from its partners in Kyiv, for not doing enough to support Ukraine against the Russian invasion. The first U-turn saw Berlin go back on its tradition of not sending weapons into regions involved in conflict, but until recently, it had been reluctant to send heavy weaponry.
The German Defense Ministry did not give a time frame for the delivery of the howitzers, but the training of Ukrainian soldiers is set to begin next week. The seven artillery pieces will not be taken out of those that have been made available for the German Bundeswehr but rather from a separate pool that includes pieces that have been set aside for repairs. Germany has more than 100 of these howitzers, of which only 40 are currently ready for deployment. The heavy weapons will be delivered following maintenance over the next few weeks, Lambrecht and her chief of defense, General Eberhard Zorn, told reporters.
The German artillery will expand the handful of howitzers that have also been pledged by the Netherlands. The German and Dutch militaries are set to cooperate in the training of some 20 Ukrainian soldiers — already with some artillery experience — who will be trained starting next week in the western German state of Rhineland-Palatinate.
PzH 2000 Self-Propelled Howitzer is the most modern cannon in the world. Its maximum firing range of up to 36 kilometers together with its variety of ammunition and high rate-of-fire ensure effective support for the German maneuver forces. Its modular armor, high-mobility, and nuclear, biological and chemical ventilation system protect the crew and enhance the overall survivability of the system. The PzH2000 can engage soft and semi-soft area targets with its current ammunition. With the procurement of the 155-mm smart artillery (SMArt) seeker-head ammunition, for the first time the howitzer will be able to attack semi-hard and hard individual targets precisely while minimizing collateral damage.
The German PzH 2000 (Panzerhaubitze 2000) is Germany's next generation 155-millimeter self-propelled howitzer, and is among the most capable howitzers. The required range of 30 km with standard NATO- ammunition or almost 40 km with assisted ammunition is achieved by the newly developed 52 cal. 155 mm armament, and also by the new Modular Charge System (MTLS). Continued use of the in-service bag charges is also possible. The 155mm armament is automatically laid at high speed and precision, its position is checked after every fired round and, if necessary, it is relayed automatically. The automatic shell loading system includes different semi- automatic and manual back-up modes, an automatic primer magazine, and automatic inductive fuze setting. A hybrid Global Positioning System [GPS] navigation system is used for navigating and determining the position of the gun barrel. An on-board ballistic computer with a radio data link to an external fire control command post enables the gun to conduct fire missions quickly and independently from any unprepared firing position after receiving target position and ammunition data. The PzH 2000 is also able to automatically lay its main armament in accordance with laying and ammunition data radio transmitted by a fire control command post
Almost without exception the trend in future guns is to build longer shooting models withmost nation's experimenting with guns that fall in the 155mm, fifty-two-caliber size range. Armada International called the German Pzh 200O "the most powerful self-propelled artillery system under development in Europe." With a 155mm/fifty-two-caliber cannon and an automatic loader the Pzh 2000 has a burst rate of fire of three rounds in ten seconds or eight rounds a minute. With a high level of protection from top-attack submunitions and a capacity of sixty shells on the gun, several nations have shown an interest inthe Pzh 2000.
The 52-caliber tube has improved accuracy and a range of 30 kilometers (40 kilometers firing base-bleed rounds). The howitzer has an on-board ballistic computer and a combat load of 60 rounds. The howitzer can stop, fire and redeploy in less than two minutes. Its rate of fire is 10 rounds in the first minute (up to 20 rounds in less than three minutes) followed by the howitzer's conducting an immediate survivability move. The PzH 2000 requires a driver, gunner and vehicle commander; two ammunition loaders are included in the crew for manual operations, as necessary in combat.
Several known magazine/loader magazines with some form of indexing and inventory control exist for artillery systems-Crusader, the German PzH 2000, the French GCT, the Russian 2S19, and the British AS90 Braveheart. These systems have varying degrees of inventory control sophistication. The German PzH 2000 SPH employs a rather sophisticated projectile picker to shuttle rounds to the flick rammer. Ammunition stored in tray racks on the hull floor and in bins at the back of the turret. The projectiles are grouped into trays, four rounds in each, and the trays are located around the turret floor in stationary positions. The picker moves in a track in the middle of the floor, picks up a round, lays it flat and puts it on a conveyor under the floor which takes it to the flick rammer. The rammer hoist lifts the round into the rear of the breech and an electric powered pneumatic flick rammer shoves the round into the chamber. The charges are held in racks in a blast proof compartment at the back of the turret, and automatically opening doors allow access for retrieval when a switch is depressed. A loader then manually loads the charges behind the projectile and closes the breech. The breech contains an integrated 32-round standard primer magazine and once the number of charges has been set for a particular round and firing mission, the primer is added automatically when the last charge has been loaded.
The PzH 2000 155mm self propelled howitzer was developed by Krauss Maffei - Wegmann and Co GmbH for the German Army. In 1986 Italy, the United Kingdom, and Germany, agreed to terminate the trilateral cooperation on the PzH 155-1 (SP 70) program, and German industry was asked to submit bid proposals for PzH 155 mm (front-driven). Wegmann received a contract in March 1996 for production of 185 units [out of an eventual total of 594] with deliveries between 1998 and 2002 for use in the "crisis reaction forces" (KRK) as well as for first deployment in the Main Forces. Wegmann &Co GmbH, Kassel and Krauss-Maffei Wehrtechnik GmbH, Munich, the two key players on the German and international market for military land vehicles on tracks and wheels have merged in 1998.
Wegmann anticipated that there is an international market as ageing US-developed M109s, towed howitzers, and former Eastern bloc equipments requires replacement. NATO standardization requirements as well as the Joint Ballistic Memorandum of Understanding endorsed by France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom and the United States are met, which ensures interoperability of the PzH 2000 and the interchangeability of ammunition. It is the objective of Wegmann´s international marketing efforts to interest additional allied and friendly armies in the PzH 2000 with the intention of introducing and procuring this weapon system jointly with the German artillery. A larger procurement quantity will result in a lower unit price in Germany as well as a more attractive competitive price on the world market.
The PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzer has been designed and supplied to the German Army by the company Krauss Maffei Wegmann, with which Iveco and Oto Melara have signed an industrial agreement, following a Memorandum of Understanding between the German and Italian Governments signed in the year 2000. By adopting this vehicle, the Italian Army is now equipped with a modern system that replaces the obsolete M109L, offering great benefits in terms of modern technology and operative performance. The contract for the supply to the Italian Army of the PzH 2000 vehicles was signed in December 2002 between the Iveco Fiat - Oto Melara Consortium and the General Directorate of Land Weapon Systems and is one of the modernisation phases of the Italian armored units.
The PzH 2000 is an improvement over the US Paladin, but it does not meet all of the American Crusader's requirements. The PzH 2000 is configured as a typical howitzer, with the majority of the crew located in the weapons compartment [the Crusader vehicles have separate crew and weapons compartments, which allows additional armor to be placed around the crew compartment and provides better protection from hits in the weapons compartment]. PzH 2000 contractor officials have said that they could develop an automated resupply vehicle based on the PzH 2000 chassis and modify the PzH 2000 howitzer to meet all of the Crusader key requirements and many of the other Crusader requirements. A modified PzH 2000 howitzer and an automated PzH 2000-based resupply vehicle each would require a crew of three--the same crew size as the Crusader vehicles are expected to require. However, a modified PzH 2000 howitzer would still have crew located in the weapons compartment and the associated adverse impact on survivability.
At $8 million a system ($2 million less than the Crusader), the German PzH2000 selfpropelled howitzer seemed to be the better option. The German heavy mechanized cannon comes close to Crusader capabilities but would still require some modification to accommodate US logistical and C2 parameters. The crux of the US Army's problem with the Paladin and related M109 series of guns is that they are based on a 1950s chassis, making it not only largely outmoded, but also at its limit of ability to be upgraded with the latest technology. In addition to lacking the mobility to keep up with the M1 Abrams Tank and the M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle,the Paladin also lacks the lethality of many of today's artillery systems. With a range of thirtykilometers and a rate of fire of four rounds per minute, the Paladin cannot match systems such asthe Russian 2S19 self-propelled howitzer, the German PzH2000 system, the South African G6 howitzer, or Great Britain's AS90 self-propelled howitzer. In each case, the Paladin isoutmatched in both range and rate of fire. The German Pzh 2000 weighs fifty-five tons, with the South African G6 weighing in at 47 tons, and the British AS90 howitzer tipping the scales at 45 tons. While none of the existing self-propelled howitzers can meet all of the Crusader howitzer requirements, a US Army study assessed the German PzH 2000 as the mostcapable foreign howitzer.
The PzH 2000'ssurvivability and availability for firing missions would be less than the Crusader's. First, without an automated resupply vehicle, PzH 2000 crewmembers would have to leave the protection of their vehicle to physically carry the projectiles and powder charges between vehicles. This would make them more vulnerable than Crusader crewmembers, who can remain protected in their vehicles to conduct resupply operations. Further the PzH 2000's availability for firing missions would suffer because thePzH 2000 would have to leave the battle whenever it needed resupply or refueling.Second, the location of the crewmembers within the PzH 2000 would adversely affect their survivability.
The PzH 2000 is configured as a typical howitzer, with the majority of the crew located in the weapons compartment. The Crusader vehicles had separate crew and weapons compartments, which allowed additional armor to beplaced around the crew compartment and provided better protection fromhits in the weapons compartment. PzH 2000 contractor officials said in 1997 that they could develop an automated resupply vehicle based on the PzH 2000 chassis and modify the PzH 2000 howitzer to meet all of the Crusader key requirements and many of the other Crusader requirements. Also, they believed that they could fieldt hese vehicles within 6 years of the start of development, assuming that US government-furnished material, such as the actively cooled cannon, was available when needed.
The US Army did not perform a detailed assessment of possible modifications to the PzH 2000 to improve its performance. Army program officials said in 1997 that a detailed analysis was not required because an Army cost analysis had determined that the basic PzH 2000's life-cycle costs were more than the Crusader's and that modifying the PzH 2000 would only increase these costs. However, this reasoning overlooked the possibility that the modifications that would fully automate the firing and resupply processes would likely reduce the PzH 2000's crew requirements. The PzH 2000's crew size, five, was a major factor in its life-cycle costs being more than those of the Crusader howitzer. PzH 2000 contractor officials said in 1997 that a modified PzH 2000 howitzer and an automated PzH 2000-based resupply vehicle each would require a crew of three - the same crew size as the Crusader vehicles were expected to require. However, a modified PzH 2000 howitzer would still have crew located in the weapons compartment and the associated adverse impact on survivability. Also, the modified PzH 2000 howitzer would not have interchangeable crew stations at which all crew tasks could be performed.
The Iveco Fiat-Oto Melara consortium delivered the first PzH 2000 Self Propelled Howitzer to the Italian Army in May 2007. The ceremony took place at the Oto Melara plant in La Spezia. Among the many distinguished representatives from the political, military and industrial fields that attended the ceremony, were the Undersecretary of State for Defence, Lorenzo Forcieri MP, La Spezia Prefect, Dr. Vincenzo Santoro, the Chief of Army Staff, General Filiberto Cecchi, the Director-General of Land Weapon Systems, Gen. Mauro Pescarini and other important military authorities. Representing the industry: Finmeccanica Chief Operating Officer Mr. Giorgio Zappa, Oto Melara president Gen. Giulio Fraticelli, Mr. Roberto Cibrario Assereto and Mr. Carlo Alberto Iardella, President and Vice President of the Consorzio Iveco Fiat-Oto Melara respectively, Giancarlo Grasso, President of Oto Melara and local authorities.
- Long maximum effective range up to 40 km
- High rate of fire (3 rounds in less than ten seconds, 12 rounds in one minute proven)
- Modular propelling charge system, auto-matic primer magazine and automatic shell loading
- Long barrel life (demonstrated in live fire trials: > 2,500 with six charge modules, > 5,000 rounds with five modules)
- A balanced mix of ammunition covering accuracy and maximum range enables the PzH 2000 155mm to cover effectively the full spectrum from soft to hard targets
- In December 2002 the principle of integrating a PzH 2000 155mm turret on a F124 frigate platform was demonstrated. This preliminary integration was only a six weeks effort
When comparing the PzH-2000 with other artillery systems in service, an important indicator is the number of crew serving the vehicle when performing specific tactical tasks. Within only 30 seconds after receiving the order to open fire, the SG takes up a firing position, for 1 min, makes nine shots and after 30 seconds leaves the position. An onboard navigation system allows you to act independently of external artillery observers and spotters. Even during lengthy operations, only three people are enough to control the PzH 2000 FG - the commander, loader and driver. The full crew of a self-propelled howitzer can be five people: a commander, a driver, a gunner, and two loaders.
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