Battle Artillery: The Urgent Need for a New Type of Extended Range PzH-2000 Ammunition

The question of the Greek PzH-2000 has occupied us many times. The main issue most often is the need to increase the number of specific self-propelled guns. The only way for the Battle Artillery is to increase the number of PzH-2000 and above all to acquire a new type of ammunition. Here we must note that even today, despite the ten-year inactivity of the leaderships of the Ministry of National Defense and the GEETHA and GES, there are second-hand PzH-2000 available.

Germany and the Netherlands together have 52 PzH-2000s in storage (in addition to the guns the Netherlands has sent to Ukraine). Our opinion is that Greece should immediately scout the two countries and discuss with them their prospective market. We have absolutely nothing to lose from such a move. In the worst case, their answer will be negative. But at best we will get a little less than 52 PzH-2000 at 1/5 of the cost of buying a new build PzH-2000 (if we take into account the cost paid by Croatia for the 16 used PzH-2000 and the potential cost of 100 of new PzH-2000 that KMW is willing to sell to Ukraine). The 52(-) PzH-2000s from Germany and the Netherlands, together with the 24 we have, are sufficient to equip 3-4 Squadrons with 24 or 18 guns respectively.

Upgrade program required

In addition to the potential opportunity for second-hand PzH-2000s, Germany and the Netherlands have decided and signed a joint upgrade program for the 146 PzH-2000s they have decided to keep in service. The relevant contract was signed in December 2020 and is a program that Greece needs to evaluate as its goal is to keep the guns capable and modern until 2040. The program includes the replacement of those sub-systems that are no longer supported due to age. The upgrade will bring about a change in the system architecture, during the placement of the new electronic systems. Also, a new air conditioning system, a new power supply system, an improved vision system for the driver and additional armor to increase the level of protection will be installed (the prototype should be available for testing until 2025).

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In addition to the German and Dutch program, which is extensive, Italy has also recently completed a PzH-2000 upgrade program. However, the Italian program is smaller compared to the German and Dutch programs. The Italian program emphasized increasing the level of safety for the crew and the ability of the guns to operate in a very intense weather environment, especially at very high temperatures, through the integration of the GCS (Generator Cooling Systems) and CCCS (Charge Compartment Cooling) systems Systems). Crew safety has been enhanced with the addition of a new fire extinguisher system inside the gun and a tool kit for maintenance and cleaning of the firing mechanism on the battlefield.

For the future, and beyond the specific upgrades, in December 2019 Rheinmetall announced that it will develop a new version of the PzH-2000 with a longer barrel, 60 calibers, as part of the German artillery program ZSIF (Zukünftiges System Indirektes Feuer : Future System Indirect Fire). The program has targeted/required a maximum range of 75 km, but Rheinmetall has targeted 83 km.

The parameter of new ammo and increased range

For the umpteenth time, through, we must point out that the combat value of a weapon system is maximized and increases vertically with the selection of the appropriate ammunition. Our assessment is that the ammunition of the VLAP (Velocity Enhanced Artillery Projectile) family and the Assegai are the only way for the Greek Artillery and especially for the self-propelled guns of the 156 and 163 Self-propelled Medium Artillery Squadrons.

In November 2019 it became known that the South African Denel conducted test firings of PzH-2000 and G6-52 guns with ammunition designed and developed by the RDM (Rheinmetall Denel Munition) consortium. According to Denel a maximum range of 67 kilometers (PzH-2000, 52 caliber barrel) and 76.2 kilometers (G6-52, 52 caliber barrel) was achieved.

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The tests were carried out in the framework of the NATO JBMoU (Joint Ballistics Memorandum of Understanding) program for the development of new guns and ammunition with a maximum range of more than 80 kilometers, i.e. a program equivalent to the German ZSIF. Projectiles of the VLAP (Velocity Enhanced Artillery Projectile) family were used in the shots.

The tests were carried out as part of the NATO JBMoU (Joint Ballistics Memorandum of Understanding) program to develop new guns and ammunition with a maximum range of more than 80 kilometers. The American ERCA (Extended Range Cannon Artillery) program is also relevant, which is testing the 58 caliber XM-907 cannon (on M-109).

In November 2017 the RDM consortium announced that it is developing a new long-range version of the Assegai (155 mm) munition, of the VLAP family, which will have a maximum range of more than 70 km and will be fully compatible with all NATO-built guns standards. After five years the missiles after first being tested and evaluated are fully ready and completed according to NATO and extended range standards. The Assegai family of ammunition offers two essential advantages for the SS Artillery: a range of over 60 kilometers and accuracy of fire.

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