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German Government Approves Sale of 100 Self-Propelled Howitzers to Ukraine

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Written by Jimmy Horjus

On 13 July, the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs informed the Munich-based arms industry company Kraus-Maffei Wegmann that it is licensed to produce 100 self-propelled howitzers for the Ukraine. A company spokesperson confirmed the approval on 27 July to Der Spiegel. The howitzers are of the type Panzerhaubitze 2000 (PzH 2000) and, when signed, the deal is expected to cost €1.7 billion. Since the agreement concerns freshly produced PzH 2000s and not a donation from the existing Bundeswehr inventory, the delivery could take several years. Germany has currently handed over ten howitzers to the Ukraine from its ranks. This brings the total of PzH 2000s in Ukrainian service to 23, following similar Dutch and Italian deliveries.

Ukraine has been eager to acquire more artillery systems as the war against Russia has evolved mainly into an artillery duel in which numbers, precision and range dictate the outcome. The PzH 2000 offers the Ukrainians a highly protected mobile platform that outranges most Russian howitzers and excels in precision. In preparation for the arrival of the howitzers, the Ukrainians have developed a digital system to improve efficiency, according to NATO Assistant Secretary-General David van Weel. Coined as the ‘Artillery Uber’, the software calculates which artillery system is in the most favourable position to strike an identified target. As a result, the Ukrainians have reduced the time from target acquisition to launching the first shots down to around half a minute. Previously, the same process reportedly took the German and Dutch PzH 2000s twenty minutes.

The increased efficiency has however also resulted in a downside: accelerated wear and tear. Der Spiegel reports that the intensive use, often at maximum range, has its impact on the system. To remedy the problems, the German government is sending spare parts to Ukraine and is negotiating with the defence industry to set up a weapons repair centre in Poland. 

Restarting the production of the PzH 2000 indicates that supply chains for the 155mm gun and autoloader used in other systems such as the Boxer RCH 155 will also be running. With the K9 production line accelerating to meet recent Polish demands, European armies will have the opportunity to replace their gifted artillery systems to Ukraine relatively smoothly by lifting on production lines already in place.


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