On Tuesday, Poland signed a contract in Kyiv for three new Krab gun-howitzer squadrons for Ukraine, which will consist of around 60 howitzer artillery pieces able to strike targets up to 40 kilometers away.
The first squadron of 18 howitzers arrived in Ukraine last week. At that time, the tracked equipment was sent from Polish Army stockpiles. War footage from Ukraine proves that artillery is an essential weapon on the modern battlefield.
The equipment will be produced by Huta Stalowa Wola (HSW), part of Polish Armaments Group S.A. Deliveries will be completed during the next few to several months as the current production capacity of HSW is 20 to 30 pieces per year. The transaction value is 3 billion złoty (over $700 million); Ukraine is the first foreign client of HSW for this type of equipment.
Officials from the Polish Ministry of State Assets, the Ministry of Defense, and the Chancellery of the Prime Minister acted in a united manner to deliver a successful deal. It is somewhat of a breakthrough for the Polish defense industry, as it is its biggest export contract in decades.
A contract for delivery of Krabs for the Polish military was signed in December 2016, when Antoni Macierewicz was the Polish minister of defense. That deal involved 96 Krab self-propelling 155 mm gun-howitzers and many other command and munitions vehicles costing €983 million (4.5 billion Polish złoty).
“The 155-mm Krab howitzers weigh around 48 tons and are able to strike targets 40 kilometers away, firing even six rounds per minute,” writes the Polish Ministry of Defense.
Efforts to develop the Polish howitzers for the military lasted for several years, and it was originally intended to be based on chassis constructed by Bumar Łabędy mechanical works. However, having encountered multiple problems, a license for the Korean K9 chassis was purchased instead. Today, HSW has the capabilities to produce it, together with barrels for both the Krab and other equipment such as Leopard 2 tanks.
The question of ammunition remains a problem because Polish industry still cannot produce it independently, which means ammunition for Ukrainian Krabs will most likely be provided by the United States.