The fearsome German PzH 2000 howitzer turns out to be too delicate in the war against Russia

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Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P. Chacko is the publisher of Frontier India. He holds an M.B.A in International Business. Books: Author: Foxtrot to Arihant: The Story of Indian Navy's Submarine Arm; Co Author : Warring Navies - India and Pakistan. *views are Personal

A month after the deliveries of German 155-mm Panzerhaubitze 2000 self-propelled artillery mounts to Kyiv, it is now known that the German equipment could not withstand the conditions of actual hostilities and needed to be repaired.

A self-propelled howitzer is a heavy artillery system with a cannon on a tracked vehicle similar to a tank.

According to Der Spiegel, the guns are already showing clear signs of wear, and onboard systems are giving error messages. According to the assumption of representatives of the German defense department, these problems may be associated with a high rate of fire.

Bundeswehr experts said that the Armed Forces of Ukraine are firing self-propelled guns too often, which creates an “exorbitant load” on the loading mechanism. At the same time, the interlocutors of the publication from the defense department noted that for Germany, 100 shots a day from one installation is already a “high intensity” of shooting, and the Armed Forces of Ukraine, as the Germans believe, make much more shots a day. Another mistake of the Ukrainians, allegedly, was that the Armed Forces of Ukraine tried to fire at targets located at a considerable distance.

The Bundeswehr promised to quickly send more spare parts packages to Ukraine to fix the problems. At the same time, the federal government is negotiating with the armaments industry about establishing a repair centre in Poland, where necessary repairs to delivered material could be carried out more quickly. 

In addition, the Russians had already started blasting these guns as soon as they arrived. 

But Kyiv buys 100 more

Ukraine has ordered a hundred Panzerhaubitze 2000s. The German government practically in a rapid order – literally two days after the application was received – approved this deal.

The howitzers will be produced by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW), known for producing Leopard II tanks, GTK Boxer armoured personnel carriers, and Puma infantry fighting vehicles.

The declared amount of the contract is 1.7 billion euros, and the deliveries are scheduled to begin at best in a year and a half and stretch over several years.

PzH 2000 howitzer in Ukrainian service

As per the open source information, the Armed Forces of Ukraine are already using seven self-propelled guns from Germany and eight more delivered from the Netherlands. The self-propelled howitzers are not from the Bundeswehr’s active stock but were refurbished from the stocks. Officially, the Bundeswehr has 119 of these howitzers, of which about 40 are apparently operational.

The Bundeswehr trained Ukrainian soldiers at the artillery school in Idar-Oberstein in Rhineland-Palatinate.

Panzerhaubitze 2000

The Panzerhaubitze 2000 is the Bundeswehr’s most advanced piece of artillery. It resembles a massive combat tank. The Bundeswehr has stationed these howitzers in Lithuania to secure NATO’s eastern flank.

The Panzerhaubitze 2000 has been in production since 1998. Depending on the type of shells, they can hit at a distance of 30,000 to 40,000 meters. The rate of fire is up to ten rounds per minute. The available ammunition load is sixty rounds. For self-defense, there is one 7.62 mm MG3 machine gun.

It is powered by a diesel engine of 1000 hp. The maximum speed on the highway is 67 km / h, and the fuel range is 420 km. It is crewed by five personnel. The combat weight is 55300 kg.

Other weapons delivered

Along with the guns, the German government supplied Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft guns, 3,000 Panzerfaust cartridges, 100,000 hand grenades, 2,700 Fliegerfaust, 500 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, 100 machine guns and 16 million rounds of ammunition. In addition, there is a large amount of equipment, such as 23,000 combat helmets, 178 motor vehicles, 1,200 hospital beds, a field hospital and much more.

The German government has some more deliveries planned, including heavy weapons. Iris-T SLM is particularly important for Ukraine, a modern anti-missile defense system from the German defense contractor Diehl Defense.

There has long been a dispute over delivering heavy weapons to Ukraine. Germany had decided just two days after the start of the war to support the country with arms as a matter of principle. However, the decision to supply heavy weapons was only made about two months later. Germany has a policy of not supplying weapons to warring states, but in this case, supplying them to Ukraine was necessary as Germany thinks that Russia could attack it in future. 

There are also problems with Norwegian ammunition, which are to be supplied for 30 Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft guns, already transferred to Ukraine. As it turned out during the tests, the Gepard onboard system refused to recognize them. Because of this, the manufacturer will have to modify them and carry out new test firing, which will inevitably lead to a serious delay in the supply of ammunition to Ukraine. As per the open source, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann had 50 Gepards in stock. 


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