Regina Squadron Fire Module (DMO) units which are to include the Krab 155 mm self-propelled howitzers have been officially included in the inventory of the Polish Armed Forces on Thursday. The event of handing-off of the vehicles took place in Węgorzewo, during the open day of the 11th “Mazurski” Artillery Regiment - the first unit utilizing the new platform.
– This is a special day for the Polish Army, as a full Regina Squadron Fire Unit becomes a part of its inventory – the famous Krab howitzers, known all around Poland – as it was stated by Bartosz Kownacki, Deputy Minister of Defence, whose role at the Ministry is to supervise the modernization process.
The Węgorzewo-based regiment has received the first, complete module back in July. The unit includes 24 Krab self-propelled howitzers, one command and staff vehicle for the commander, one command and staff vehicle for the chief of staff, three vehicles for the battery commanders and vehicles for the platoon commanders, six ammunition carriers as well as an armament and electronics repair workshop and a vehicle for the liaison officer.
The “Regina” programme, based upon the “Krab” armoured, tracked-chassis, self propelled howitzer assumes that five squadrons with 24 cannons in each unit would be acquired. Within the framework of the first stage of the procurement, the Army has received a single Squadron with 24 howitzers, with the first ones, based upon the Korean K9 chassis, having been delivered back in 2016. The agreement concerning the procurement of another four squadron-sized units has been signed in December 2016. Its value is defined as PLN 4.6 billion. As a result, until the year 2024, the Polish Army is to receive, in total, 120 155 mm “Krab” self-propelled howitzers.
The Polish Armed Forces are willing to acquire artillery rounds that would be guided towards the sources of electromagnetic emissions. According to the recent release issued by the Armament Inspectorate of the Polish MoD, six entities have expressed their will to be involved in a dialogue concerning the above procurement: Nexter Munitions, Berlopak Sp. z o.o., Rheinmetall Defence Polska Sp. z o.o.., Unitronex Poland sp. z o.o., Raytheon, Military Electronic Works S.A.
As we were told by former commander of the Polish Armed Forces’ Rocket and Artillery branch, Brig. general Jarosław Wierzcholski, artillery, at the moment, is a branch of the military in case of which the development proceeds at a rapid pace, nonetheless there is a burning need to complement the composition of the fire units with elements of C4ISR systems.
The conceptual work concerning the selection of a NATO-compliant 155 mm tube artillery system that would be capable of carrying out precise strikes against targets placed as far as 40 kilometers away has been initiated at the HSW S.A. company in the mid-1990s. Back in July 1999 an agreement has been signed to acquire a license regarding a British AS-90/52 turret, one of the latest systems in the world at the time. The Gliwice-based armour works decided to create the chassis.
Once HSW has quickly created two Krab prototypes back in 2000 (such name has been given to this system in Poland), and after successful finalization of tests back in 2001, the programme was frozen, until the year 2008. Not only did the resumption of the programme require an in-depth modernization of the howitzer’s IT and electronic hardware, but most of the systems had to be “polonized” too. In 2012 problems related to cracking hulls of the howitzers came out to the daylight. In the light of the above, a decision was made to acquire, for an amount of USD 330 million, a batch of readymade chassis examples for the Krab howitzers in South Korea. The new platform has been based on the Samsung Techwin (now: Hanwha Techwin) K9 system, modified to meet the Polish needs. Along with the aforesaid platforms, a license to manufacture the K9 chassis has been acquired, including, but not limited to, the relevant documentation. The new Krab system based on this chassis was presented back in September 2015, during the MSPO defence salon organized in Kielce.