Why is Georgia interested in ‎Slovak 155 mm ShKH Zuzana 2 wheeled self-propelled howitzer?

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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

Slovak troops received their first wheeled self-propelled howitzer Zuzana 2 in July 2021. By the first half of December 2021, several artillery systems were deployed as part of the NATO force contingent in Latvia. There are currently 135 Slovak soldiers in Latvia; in December 2021, crews joined them with nine new Zuzana 2 howitzers. A number of potential customers, including Georgia, have shown interest in the Slovak howitzer system.

The Minister of Defense of Georgia received good recommendations on howitzers based on their operation in Latvia, said the head of the military department of Slovakia, Yaroslav Nagy.

As noted in the Czech edition of CZDefence, the Zuzana 2 self-propelled guns interested the Georgian military, and this interest is not accidental. Georgian troops currently use several types of self-propelled howitzers. According to IISS data for 2021, the Georgian artillery fields 20 2S1 Gvozdika howitzers, 13 2S3 Akatsiya howitzer, 32 77DANA of Czechoslovakia production and one unit each of 2S7 Pion and 2S19 Msta-S.

Georgian military is equipped with Soviet-era howitzers like 2S1 Gvozdika. Image: Vitaly Kuzmin

According to the Georgian Ministry of Defense, these Soviet-era artillery systems are utterly ineffective in the Caucasus region. The defence ministry has decided to prepare and submit a program to improve the current state of the [artillery fleet], says the magazine.

As per the comprehensive Action Plan for 2020 – 2030, Georgia is planning an intensive development of artillery and is expected to begin from 2024. At the same time, the country intends to use its national production facilities to produce mortars and other artillery systems.

The Czech Republic is also looking for new self-propelled howitzers, and Slovakia is promoting the sale of ZUZANA 2 to the Czech Republic at the government level. 

155 mm SpGH ZUZANA 2

The wheeled self-propelled gun Zuzana 2 is being produced by Konštrukta-Defence. The 155-mm howitzer is based on the new Tatra 815 VP31 8×8, and the turret has the 3rd level of protection according to the STANAG 4569 standard, which means it can withstand a 155-mm projectile at a distance of 60 m. 

The combat weight of the howitzer is 32,000 kg. The vehicle is powered by a Tatra TATRA T3B-928.70 engine with a volume of 12.7 litres with a maximum output of 330 kW (449 hp). The transmission is also Tatra. However, if necessary, Zuzana 2 can be equipped with a MAN engine. The maximum speed on a fixed road is 80 km / h, and the range with internal tanks (460 litres) is 600 km.

Slovak 155 mm ShKH Zuzana 2  wheeled self-propelled howitzer
Slovak 155 mm ShKH Zuzana 2 wheeled self-propelled howitzer

The maximum firing range is the gun is 41 km. The only operator of the Zuzana 2 is officially the Slovak Armed Forces. By the end of 2022, the Slovak Army is scheduled to induct 25 units of such armoured vehicles from the manufacturer.

The new ShKH Zuzana 2 in the Slovak army will replace 16 Zuzana howitzers delivered between 1998 and 2000. Zuzana The Greek military has 12 units of the Zuzana howitzers.

Slovaks produce their artillery ammunition for Zuzana howitzer, including fragmentation-explosive missiles 155-OFdM3-DV with bottom gas discharge and classic fragmentation-explosive ammunition 155-OFdMK. 

The 155-OFdM3-DV projectile with a bottom outlet is designed to shoot very long distances. This projectile can hit targets up to 41,000 m when fired from a Zuzana 2. With the cheaper classic ammunition 155-OFdMK, Zuzana 2 can fire up to a range of 32,500 m. Zuzana 2 can also fire an MRSI (Multiple Round Simultaneous Impact) volleys. An integral part of the howitzer is the Tatrapan 8 × 8 ammunition vehicle with a supply of 120 rounds and the same number of powder charges. One of the Slovak army requirements was that Zuzana 2 must “take up a firing position and aim at the target” within two minutes.

Zuzana 2’s secondary armament consists of a 12.7 mm mounted machine gun and 500 rounds. The crew also has personal weapons, grenades and one RPG.

The development of the Zuzana 2 howitzer began in 2003. The key difference of ShKH Zuzana 2 compared to the older version of the Zuzana is mainly 52 calibre (8200 mm). The EVA wheeled howitzer uses the same barrel. The rate of fire in automatic mode is six shots in the first minute or 16 shots in the first three minutes. In manual mode, it can fire shoot at two shots per minute.

Another visible change is the new front cab, which has room only for the driver. The other three crew members are in the combat module. Ballistic resistance of the combat module from the front in the range of + – 30 ° reaches level 4 (penetrating 14.5 × 114 mm) according to STANAG 4569.

The Slovak Armed Forces currently use three types of artillery systems for fire support – self-propelled cannon howitzer 2000 Zuzana, RM-70 Modular 2 salvo rocket launcher, and the latest howitzer Eva.


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