Krab final design shown in 2016
|Place of origin||Poland, South Korea, United Kingdom|
|Used by||Polish Land Forces|
|Designer||OBRUM, CPW HSW|
|Weight||48,000 kg (106,000 lb)|
|Length||12.05 m (39 ft 6 in)|
|Width||3.60 m (11 ft 10 in)|
|Height||3.00 m (9 ft 10 in)|
|Shell||155 mm NATO|
|Rate of fire||6 rounds per minute (sustained)|
|Effective firing range||30 km (19 mi)|
|Maximum firing range||40 km (25 mi) with base bleed round|
|WKM-B .50 BMG|
|Engine||MTU MT 881 Ka-500 8-cylinder water-cooled diesel
|Transmission||S&T Dynamics X1100-5A3|
|400 km (250 mi)|
|Speed||Maximum: 67 km/h (42 mph)
Average: 30 km/h (19 mph)
The AHS Krab (Polish for Crab) is a 155 mm NATO-compatible self-propelled tracked howitzer (or more precisely a gun-howitzer) designed in Poland by Centrum Produkcji Wojskowej Huta Stalowa Wola, by combining the South Korean K9 Thunder chassis with a British AS-90M Braveheart turret with 52-calibre gun and WB Electronics' "Topaz" artillery fire control system. The 2011 version used a Nexter Systems barrel and UPG chassis. The 2016 production batch utilize the K9 chassis and a Rheinmetall barrel. As of 2016 full-rate production of 120 Krabs for Polish Army has started with 16 guns completed and deliveries to be completed by 2024.
The cannon was developed within the research framework "Regina". The program's goal was to create a 155 mm (6 and 1/8 inches) long-range artillery piece for the Polish Army that would serve as a division level asset. It was decided, that instead of buying a licence for a complete vehicle, only a licence for a modern L/52 gun and turret would be bought, and they would be mounted on domestically developed chassis.
In 1997 there was announced a contest for an artillery part (complete turret with a gun). The British AS-90M was a winner (the other contestant was PzH-2000), and in 1999 its technology was transferred to Huta Stalowa Wola factory. The chassis UPG-NG was developed in Poland by OBRUM in Gliwice, from a chassis SPG-1M (developed itself from a Soviet MT-S tractor), utilizing parts unified with PT-91 Twardy tank. The first prototype was completed in 2001, the second - next year. The first two examples of the howitzer (prototypes) are fitted with turret systems supplied by BAE Systems. It was planned to complete the first squadron in 2008, but the program was delayed due to financial reasons, and only in 2008 Polish Army ordered the first introduction batch of the squadron module, compleded in 2012. It covers eight guns (six new-built and two upgraded prototype vehicles), command vehicles (on a much modernized MTLB chassis), plus ammunition vehicles and repair vehicles for the armament and electronics, as well as the fire control system etc.
In the introductory and series products original British guns were replaced by those supplied by Nexter. Trial firing of another gun supplied by the maker is realized every month until the end of the year (the third gun was tested on 10 August in presence of representatives of the Armament Inspectorate and the Head Office of the Missile and Artillery Force of the Air Forces). These are realized at the Dynamic Trial Center of the WITU (Military Technical Institute of Armament) in Stalowa Wola. The first firing of the third complete Krab (which has also received new elements of on-board electronics, developed by WB Electronics) was carried out on 29 July 2011. Concentration of fire was tested, among others. As of 2012 two prototypes and eight initial units (two artillery batteries each with four guns) have been built by Huta Stalowa Wola. In 2012-2013 eight new examples were used for tests conducted by the Polish Army as a part of the battery command module "Regina".
Eventually, on 17 December 2014 Polish Ministry of Defense announced the deal worth US $320M with Korean Samsung Techwin (now Hanwha Techwin) to purchase 120 K9 Thunder chassis, with first 24 to be delivered in 2017 and 96 to be built under license in Poland in 2018-2022. Poland also evaluated the Turkish built T-155 Firtina chassis of the same origin. The original Polish OBRUM's[Note 1] UPG-NG chassis build by BUMAR equipped with an S-12U engine and other elements (like road wheels) from the PT-91 Twardy used in eight initial production howitzers was abandoned due to cracks in its structure and ceased production of S-12U engines.
The first K9 chassis was shipped to Poland for testing and integration in June 2015. The prototype was rolled out on 24 August 2015. It went through type acceptance testing in October 2015. The type examination ended successfully in April 2016 allowing serial production. On 7 April 2016 Ministry of National Defence and manufacturer concluded the research and development phase. On 28 April 2016 during Polish Prime Minister visit in Stalowa Wola first two serial examples were handed over to Polish Army. They joined eight initial production examples in Artillery Training Center in Toruń. They were used to elaborate operational norms for combat units. During handover ceremnony on 18 November 2016 nine Krabs were accepted in the present of Polish Minister of National Defence, while seven more were in acceptance testing phase. Eight original turrets on UPG chassis are scheduled to be upgraded with K9 chassis after first batch of 16 guns is delivered by the end of 2016. The deal for following 96 units was signed on December 14, 2016, raising total order to 120 Krabs for five regiments.
Each of the planned five squadrons of Krabs is going to be equipped with 24 howitzers. The first unit to receive 24 Krabs by 2017 will be 11th Masurian Artillery Regiment in Węgorzewo. The development program of advanced, smart 155 mm ammunition is started and is expected to conclude in 2017.
- OBRUM stands for Ośrodek Badawczo-Rozwojowy Urządzeń Mechanicznych (Polish: "Research and Development Centre for Mechanical Appliances")
- 155 mm samobieżna haubica. (Polish)
- Kwasek, Tomasz. Nowe szaty Kraba in: "Nowa Technika Wojskowa" Nr. 9/2015. P.16-24 (Polish)
- POZYTYWNE WYNIKI BADAŃ DZIAŁA DLA KRABA. (Polish)
- KRABY DLA 11. MPA. (Polish)
- Samsung Techwin signed a deal to deliver 120 K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzers to Poland. armyrecognition.com, December 17, 2014.
- e-RAPORT MSPO 3/2013 Archived December 18, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. 3 September 2013.
- Pierwsze koreańskie podwozie dla Kraba. altair.com.pl (Polish)
- „Krab” na nowej drodze życia?. defence24.pl (Polish)
- Testy poligonowe Kraba. "Ostatni etap przygotowań do produkcji seryjnej". (Polish)
- Krab gotowy do produkcji, huta czeka na zamówienia wojska. (Polish)
- Wojsko zgadza się na produkcję seryjną Kraba. Czas na eksport?. (Polish)
- Kraby meldują się do służby.
- “Artillery Deal of the Century” – Is it Maturing?. defence24.com, 21 NOVEMBER 2016.
- „Krab” na ostatniej prostej. (Polish)
- Artyleryjski kontrakt stulecia podpisany. "Regina" za 4,6 mld zł. defence24.pl, 2016-12-14 (Polish)
- Krab Howitzers for the Polish Army. defence24.com, 21 NOVEMBER 2016.
- Amunicyjno-artyleryjska karuzela w Sejmie. Prace nad pociskami dla Raka, Kraba, Leopardów. (Polish)
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