155 mm SpGH ZUZANA 2000
The Slovak Army initially possessed 16 Zuzana howitzers - 155mm, model 2000 - and planned to acquire more by 2010. First adopted by the Slovak Army in 1998, the weapon employs powerful shells made by the Konstructa DEFENCE a.s. of Trencin. Thanks to a barrel length of 52 calibers is able to fire at a maximum distance of 40 km. Design of the gun enables to use any NATO standard 155 mm ammunition available on the market. One of the unique features of ZUZANA is that the gun is mounted externally between two totally separated compartments of the turret. This makes the system extremely safe for its crew that is completely out of reach of any potentially dangerous mechanics of the gun and autoloader plus the crew is protected from the gases generated during firing.
On 02 June 2022, Slovak Defense Minister Jaroslav Nagy confirmed that his country would hand over Zuzana 2 self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine. Slovakia has signed a contract with the Ukrainian side for the supply of eight Zuzana 2 self-propelled howitzers to counter Russian aggression. Its gun is capable of sending 155mm rounds a distance of up to 50km. The howitzer can make six shots per minute due to its automatic loading mechanism. According to Ukrinform, this was announced by the head of the Ministry of Defense of the Slovak Republic Jaroslav Nagy on Twitter. "I am pleased to confirm that the Zuzana 2 howitzer contract for Ukraine has been signed. Only 8 units will be delivered to Ukraine," he wrote. Nagy also thanked the Minister of Defense of Ukraine Oleksiy Reznikov for participating in the negotiation process. Despite using the word “help,” it pointed out that the howitzers would be supplied as part of a commercial contract, meaning that Kiev will have to pay for the hardware. The value of the deal hasn’t been disclosed.
The Slovak army has been waiting for them since 2018. Nevertheless, the howitzers went to the Ukrainian army, not the Slovak army. - If Ukraine asks for more, we will treat it as a priority - said a spokeswoman for the Slovak Ministry of National Defense.
The Minister of Defense of Ukraine Oleksiy Reznikov called the contract with Ukraine for the supply of Zuzana howitzers a serious investment in the Slovak economy. According to Ukrinform, the Minister stated this 04 June 2022 on the sidelines of the International Security Forum GLOBSEC-2022 in Bratislava, according to the Ministry of Defense. Reznikov welcomed the signing of a contract with the Slovak side for the supply of Zuzana howitzers to the Defense Forces of Ukraine. "I am very pleased to note that we have signed a contract for the supply of Zuzana howitzers, which Minister Yaroslav Nagy" tweeted "publicly. We are grateful to the Slovaks for this decision, but among other things, it is a serious investment in the Slovak economy. And we will ask you to provide us with howitzers faster than the military-industrial complex can make orders, "Reznikov said.
The 155 mm SpGH ZUZANA 2000 has a 45–caliber barrel with a breech of volume of 23 liters. The ammunition is stored in the conveyors which are capable to keep 40 projectiles and 40 powder charges. The ammunition is loaded in the barrel with automatic equipment. Design of the gun enables to use any NATO standard 155 mm ammunition available on the market. One of the unique features of ZUZANA is that the gun is mounted externally between two totally separated compartments of the turret. This makes the system extremely safe for its crew that is completely out of reach of any potentially dangerous mechanics of the gun and autoloader plus the crew is protected from the gases generated during firing.
Zuzana represents a weapon with the long range, high accuracy and rate of fire, prompt preparation for fire and high level of mobility. Thanks to its features and performance, it is designed especially for rapid deployment units. The basic fire method is an indirect fire supported with automated means of commands, recon and fire control system with a possibility of using the salvo fire mode.
The heart of ZUZANA is represented by its weapon part. The most important element of this part is a barrel of 155 mm calibre. Its length is 45 calibres (7,000 mm). The barrel is of a monoblock type made from high-strength steel. The cartridge chamber is closed by an axial side tipping breech. In its front section, there is a metal packing ring located. The breech is closed with two half-ring segments. The barrel muzzle is ended with a high-duty double-chamber muzzle brake which reduces the pulse of the round power. This is further reduced also by the recuperator device which is located inside the cradle that is of a cabinet structure and its guideway serves for barrel moving in course of recoil. Moreover, it enables to adjust both elevation and traverse by means of hydraulic servomotors.
The gun is built up on the modified, highly mobile chassis of TATRA 815 8x8 with a multi-fuel engine TATRA 3-930.52, located in the rear part, with maximum power output of 265 kW. This concept enables to provide high manoeuvrability and mobility in terrain as well as adequate fast change of the firing post before making any retaliatory assault in course of firing over large distances.
The turret is of a welded structure from armour plates having a double trapezoidal shape. It is divided by a gun which is located in the center of two cabins air-conditioned separately. The weapon is fully automated and enables to make effective fire in the elevation range ±60% and the traverse range from –3.5 deg through +70 deg in a distance of 39 km, in dependency on ammo used.
The effective rate of fire at automatic loading is 30 rounds in 6 minutes ( in the 1st minute from 5 to 6 rounds). In manual loading mode, it is one round in two minutes. The gun concept provides the possiblity of using NATO standard ammunition, including the BASE BLEED type with comparable ballistic performance. The total stock of ammunition is 40 pieces.
Mechanical sets are supported with manual duplication having a possibility to control the gun in event of any hydraulics failure. The great advantage consists in the fact that the crew consisting of 4 men, including a driver, operates the gun in air-conditioned cabins separated from the gun. The crew is equipped with a computer fire control system, terrain navigation system, sighting device for direct fire, radiostation with an intercom device and other accessories.
The weapon superstructure assembly is located on the wheeled chassis of TATRA 815 VP31 29 265 8x8. All wheels are provided with a permanent drive and a tyre inflating central system. The supercharged Diesel multi-fuel engine TATRA 3-930.52 with power output 265 kW provides the vehicle with maximum speed of 80 kmph on roads and a sufficient mobility and crossability when running in terrain. Maximum range of action is 750 km. The driver´s cabin is located in vehicle front part with both filtering & ventilating unit and air-conditioning system mounted behind it. The vehicle central part contains extendable hydraulic supporting blocks which provide the vehicle higher stability when firing. The chassis is completed with an independent power plant and boxes for locating armament and other ammo.
The gun itself is located between two turrets. They are welded from armor plates of a double trapezoidal shape. The right turret contains a conveyer for 36 shells and the left one accomodates a conveyer for 30 charges. The conveyer stepping operation is provided by hydraulics. Both cabins are air-conditioned and connected to the filtro-ventilating device. The advantage of turrets consists in the fact that crewmen are protected against combustion products of powder charges and they are not threatened by recoil masses. The gun structure enables to use the NATO standard ammunition including both Base Bleed type ( projectiles with a base discharge generator) and RAP ( rocket-assisted projectiles).
The gun is loaded in automatic mode by means of automatic loader having its hydraulic drive. This system loads both shells and charges over entire elevation range. The application of automatic loader enables to obtain the fire rate from 5 to 6 rounds in the first minute. The full capacity of cartridge conveyer, i.e. 30 rounds, can be fired in six minutes.
The stock of all carried ammo is 40 pieces. The loading system is doubled. In event of any automatic loader failure, there is the manual loading control available. The rate of fire at manual mode is one round in two minutes. The high fire accuracy is reached by means of elevation and traverse servo mechanical sets that provide aiming of every round.
The utilization of the on-board fire control system, having the Slovak design, puts the SpGH ZUZANA to the category of up-to-date existing artillery systems. Its base is made by the ballistic computer. The navigation and positioning system provides an information on the vehicle position in terrain all the time and enables to open the fire even from a non-prepared firing post. When using this on-board fire control system, gun laying is done by servodrives of both elevation and traverse. At direct fire, it co-operates with the PAZ 96 sight. The further important part of this on-board fire control system is represented by a muzzle velocity sensing unit. The information transmitted by this device serve for computations of firing data and thus contribute to higher accuracy of fire.
The gun can apply also a special salvo mode. In general, it makes possible to fire 2 through 4 rounds one after the other while they can hit a target at the same time, or in a short interval of 10 seconds respectively, when using the ammo prepared and combining the fire of both top and bottom groups of angle limits. This feature substantially increases the power of fireconducted to a target from one gun.
- fully automated loading cycle, including primers in a full limit of elevation and even in course of laying at elevation, provides stabilized cadency in any angle of elevation
- special fire mode ("SALVOMODE") enables to fire 2 through 4 rounds over with striking a target in time interval up to 10 seconds
- light turret concept provides the high off- and on-road mobility
- sectional turret provides the crew protection against combustion products coming from powder charges and at the same time the crew is not threatened with recoil masses
- both double-chamber high-efficient muzzle brake and long recoil in the sectional turret eliminate the chassis load after firing
- elevation and traverse servomechanism enables to have every shot aimed
- permanent diagnostics of basic operational parameters
- direct fire possible through optical sight with automated cross levelling
- high accuracy at a target point
- all kinds of transportation (by air, water, railway and ferry lines ) proved in practice
Professional soldiers took over the first eight self-propelled cannon howitzers Zuzana 2 in Martin (Zilina region) on Thursday, 22 July 2021 Minister Jaroslav Nad (OLaNO) said at a press conference in the premises of the 11th mechanised battalion in Martin. A total of 25 howitzers erre set to be supplied, and expected to be delivered gradually up to the end of 2022. The head of the Defence Ministry emphasised that after investing mainly in the Air Force in recent years, the priority of this management of the ministry is investment in the ground forces. “This is the beginning of a long journey. Zuzana self-propelled howitzers are very high-quality machines that can significantly help increase the capabilities and potential of the Slovak Armed Forces. At the same time they are an emerging tool for the domestic defence industry that can sell itself abroad using this equipment,” said Nad, confirming that they plan to rearm the military unit deployed in the operation in Latvia with the new type of howitzers.
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