Huta Stalowa Wola [Stalowa Wola Ironworks] presented the prototype of the Krab self-propelled howitzer, during the Kielce MSPO 2015 Defence Industry Exhibition. The vehicle is based on a K9 chassis, one example of which was shipped from South Korea. Test programme pertaining the first two examples of the new variant of the Krab howitzer is going to begin in September.
The new chassis is significantly lighter and it features a replaceable power-pack, using a 1000 HP MTU engine. Performance of the chassis is said to be significantly better than the parameters of the older vehicle delivered by OBRUM and Bumar-Łabędy companies. Second example of the K9 chassis is going to be delivered to Stalowa Wola in September.
The test programme, planned to last until mid-2016, according to the agreement signed with the Ministry of Defence, is going to begin in September as well. HSW declares that the test programme is going to cover a shorter period of time, than it was initially assumed. The deliveries of the first 24 vehicles are going to be realized until the end of 2017. This would cover the needs of a single artillery unit. Until 2022, 120 Krab howitzers are going to be procured.
The license agreement regarding the production process related to the K-9 chassis for the Krab howitzers, has been signed on 17th December 2014. The operation which resulted in mounting the turret on a new chassis took place exactly 8 months later. The K9 chassis is going to be license-manufactured by Huta Stalowa Wola – the company which acts as the leader of the programme.
Krab self-propelled howitzers are fitted with a cannon featuring a 52-calibre long barrel, which provides the vehicle with a target-striking capability at ranges of up to 40 kilometres. The cannon has been developed on the basis of the British-made AS-90 system, with a 52-calibre long barrels. The license for manufacturing the turret system was acquired by the HSW company back in 1999. The fire control system was developed together with the WB Electronics company. It uses the ZZKO TOPAZ solutions.
The decision to acquire the K9 chassis license was made, due to the fact that the vehicles delivered by the Bumar-Łabędy company turned out to be defective. The contract with the Koreans provides Poland with “unlimited possibilities within the scope of the future use” of the K9 vehicles in the prospectively manufactured weapons systems. Also, the vehicles based on the license-manufactured K9 platform would be exportable.
K9 Thunder artillery system is used by the South Korean Armed Forces, where it replaces the K55 howitzers (a derivative of the US-made M109 vehicles). Similarly as the Krab howitzer, the K9 is armed with a 155 mm cannon featuring a 52-calibre long barrel. Notably, the Turkish T-155 Firtina howitzer is also based on the solutions implemented in the K9 platform.