|Manufacturer:||Huta Stalowa Wola SA (HSW)|
|Product type:||Armoured Vehicles|
Following an international competition, Poland selected a modified version of the now BAE Systems Land Systems (previously RO Defence) 155 mm/52 calibre Braveheart self-propelled artillery turret system to meet its future self-propelled artillery requirement.
This 155 mm/52 calibre turret has been installed on a local chassis designed and built by OBRUM with HSW being the overall prime contractor for the complete system which is called the Krab.
As of early 2008, only two prototypes of the Krab had been designed and built for an extensive series of trials by the Polish Army. During these initial trials, 50 155 mm rounds were fired of which 32 were with the maximum number of modular charges.
Although the first two turrets were supplied by the UK, the now BAE Systems Land Systems has transferred the technical data pack to Poland so that production turrets will be manufactured in Poland.
When eventually fielded, the 155 mm/52 Krab self-propelled howitzer will be used with the Azalia artillery command, control, communications and intelligence system developed by WB Electronics.
Qualification trials of the Krab were completed in 2003 and this marked the end of the research and development phase of the programme.
It was originally expected that the first order will be for a single Krab battery, which will consist of the following:
- Six Krab self-propelled artillery systems
- Two ammunition resupply vehicles based on a Star 1466 (6 × 6) truck
- Waran maintenance vehicle
- Azalia battery level artillery command, control, communications and intelligence system. This would comprise a battery/battalion command vehicle based on a Rys (8 × 8) armoured personnel carrier chassis and a second on the Honker (4 × 4) utility vehicle
In late 2006 it was stated that the Polish Ministry of National Defence Armament Council had given the go ahead for the procurement of the 155 mm/52 calibre Krab artillery system.
It is expected that up to 48 155 mm/52 calibre Krab systems will be procured which will be issued to four battalions each with 12 systems. It is expected that the first battery could be deployed as early as 2011.
Each battery will have six weapons plus two ammunition resupply vehicles, Waran maintenance vehicle and a WB Electronics Azalia artillery C4I system. The latter would comprise one battery/battalion command vehicle on an 8 × 8 chassis and a second on an 4 × 4 cross-country vehicle chassis.
In addition to the above, Poland also has a requirement for a new 155 mm precision artillery projectile with a maximum range of over 70 km.
The chassis of the 155 mm/52 calibre Krab self-propelled howitzer is a new design that uses proven parts wherever possible and is of all-welded steel construction that provides the occupants with protection from small arms fire and shell splinters.
The driver is seated at the front of the vehicle on the left side and has a single-piece hatch cover in front of which is a single, wide-angle day periscope that can be replaced by a passive periscope for driving at night. Mounted on the forward part of the hull is a gun travel lock for the 155 mm/52 calibre ordnance that is operated by the driver from within the vehicle.
The power pack is located to the right of the driver with the air inlet and out louvres in the roof and the exhaust outlet on the right side of the hull so the exhaust gases blow downwards. The diesel fuel tanks are located under the floor of the vehicle.
The suspension is of the torsion bar type with either side consisting of seven, dual, rubber-tyred road wheels with the drive sprocket at the front and idler at the rear. There are also track return rollers and the upper part of the suspension is covered by a skirt to help reduce dirt.
The turret is positioned at the rear of the vehicle with the crew entering and leaving the vehicle via a large door in the hull rear.
The turret is almost identical to that installed on the AS90 Braveheart covered in detail in a separate entry. The main differences are that it has a locally developed fire-control system, local 12.7 mm machine gun mounted on the left side of the turret roof and a bank of four 81 mm electrically-operated smoke grenades either side of the turret, firing forwards.
According to HSW, the Krab has a burst rate of fire of three rounds in 10 seconds and a maximum rate of fire of 18 rounds in three minutes. A flick rammer is fitted as standard. Minimum range is 4.7 km and maximum range firing an assisted projectile is 40 km. Aiming accuracy in range is 0.50 per cent and in azimuth 0.1 per cent.
The gun commander is provided with a DD-9620 terminal that receives target information from the battery command post. Mounted over the 155 mm/52 calibre ordnance is a muzzle velocity measuring radar that feeds information to the fire-control system. A navigation system is also fitted as standard.
In addition to the internal and external communication system, Krab has a fire-control system that includes a computer to control the turret mechanism, gun layer computer and a ballistic calculation and gun commander computer.
There is also a direct fire sight and a laser range-finder mounted coaxial with the 155 mm armament. An auxiliary power unit is provided for the turret that allows all of the Krab systems to be run with the main diesel engine shut down.
Standard equipment on the Krab includes an NBC system, front-mounted dozer blade, fire/explosion detection and suppression system and a laser warning system that is coupled to the two banks of 81 mm electrically operated smoke grenade launchers mounted either side of the turret.