Queen of Battles: Poland’s New Artillery Programs (2014 snapshot)
Poland’s military is modernizing on a number of fronts, and a Western shift in its self-propelled artillery is underway. The country has become a key bulwark within NATO, but its howitzers have used Russian calibers. Among its self-propelled vehicles, its most numerous 2S1 tracked vehicles are 122mm, while its Czech-designed Dana wheeled howitzers are 152mm. Project REGINA is slowly changing that, as the country adopts standard NATO calibers. A combination of local and international design leans heavily on local defense industries for production…
Poland’s Kryl Hybrid
This program began in 2011. Poland wanted a light truck-mounted 155mm howitzer that would use locally-designed and built trucks and Polish equipment, but mount a proven gun system from abroad. The finalists were Nexter’s Caesar, and Elbit Systems’ ATMOS 2000. The Israeli firm won, and the resulting machine from Huta Stalowa Wola (HSW) mounts a modified ATMOS on a 6×6 Jelcz-663 truck.
Maximum range with rocket-boosted ammunition is estimated at 41 km. Poland is also said to be looking into 155mm SmArt armor-killing cluster rounds, from Diehl/Rheinmetall’s GIWS (Gesellschaft fur Intelligente Wirksysteme mbH) joint venture, to equip its new 155mm guns.
HSW are currently under contract to deliver 24 Kryl self-propelled howitzers, with 1st delivery planned for 2015. Each division of 24 will have 3 batteries of 8 guns, which can split into 2 platoons of 4 guns each. Note that full divisions will also include a variety of other vehicles for reconnaissance, command and control, ammunition supply, general transport, mobile repair, etc.
Overall, the Polish Army plans to buy about 170 Kryls. These vehicles, and the RAK vehicle-mounted 120mm mortars, will eventually replace Poland’s 250+ legacy 2S1 Gozdzik 122mm tracked self-propelled howitzers. The Kryls may also have a future role in situations that would otherwise call for the 29.25t Dana wheeled howitzer, as Kryl’s deployability in C-130s and on roads is far better than the heavy Krab’s.
Project REGINA: Other Systems
Poland’s artillery modernization has a number of other components, which will operate alongside Kryl in future Polish forces.
Heavy Tracks: The Krab. This is a 52.1t heavy tracked self-propelled 155/52mm howitzer, designed and built by HSW but using a British AS90 Braveheart turret and (in future) a Rheinmetall gun. There are about 8 in service with the 1st Mazurska Brygada Artylerii, of 24 on contract for the initial order. Poland plans to buy about 124 total: 5 artillery regiments worth, plus a few for the training center in Torun. They will replace the 29.25t Dana 152mm wheeled self-propelled howitzers over time.
Rocket Fire: Langusta WR-40. Replaces legacy 122mm BM-21 Grad rocket launchers with a locally-designed system that can fire all 40 of its 122mm rockets in 20 seconds, reaching distances of 32-42 km. It’s mounted on a 3-axle, 6×6 drive Jelcz P662D.35-M27 truck with the 144WPP cab. This platform is an exception to the adoption of western calibers, but the 122mm rocket has a strong production base in Poland.
Long-Range Rockets: WR-300 Homar. An MLRS-compatible system firing Lockheed Martin’s guided and unguided 227mm rockets, with a reach that ranges from 40-140 km. Homar would also be compatible with Lockheed Martin’s GPS-guided ATACMS missile, which replaces the full rocket pod but has a 300 km reach.
Lockheed Martin signed an agreement to ‘develop’ surface-to-surface long-range missiles with PHO’s Mesko subsidiary in September 2013, and they intend to respond to the expected October 2014 RFI with their M142 HIMARS launcher, mounted on the same 6×6 Jelcz 663.32 truck used for Kryl. Homar is expected to debut in 2017.
Mortar Fire: KRO-M120 RAK. The RAK breech auto-loading 120mm mortar turret was developed to mount on the Rosomak (Patria AMV) 8×8 wheeled APC, and a tracked vehicle to be determined. Patria had already developed that solution with their NEMO turret, but mortars are part of HSW’s product portfolio, so they pursued their own development to create RAK.
The tracked platform for RAK hasn’t been finalized yet, but the system has appeared at trade shows mounted on a German Marder IFV chassis. There have also been rumors that RAK could be mounted in existing 2S1 chassis.
Around 100 of these wheeled and tracked mortars will be part of the replacement process for Poland’s 16t legacy 2S1 Gozdzik howitzers. They will trade ammunition capacity and volume of fire for a 50%+ cut in range, which is an inherent tradeoff between mortars and howitzers.
RAK’s ability to stay with mechanized infantry formations, and to provide fast MSRI (multiple simultaneous rounds impact) fire directly to the engagement zone, can help compensate for their short reach. The mortar/howitzer range differential is also counterbalanced by the Kryl’s significantly greater howitzer range, compared to the D-30 based 2S1 Gozdzik.
DID would like to thank our friends at DziennikZbrojny.pl for their assistance with the article, and for their pictures. Note that all Polish artillery seem to have a convention of being named after crustaceans.
- Polish MON (Sept 18/13) – Money for new military equipment guaranteed.
- Foreign Policy Association (Sept 18/13) – Beyond Air and Missile Defense: Modernization of the Polish Armed Forces.
- Elbit Systems – Soltam ATMOS: Wheeled self-propelled 155 mm howitzer. Brochure [PDF].
- Army Recognition – ATMOS 155mm autonomous self-propelled artillery howitzer.
- Elbit Systems (May 28/14) – Elbit Systems to Showcase a New Upgraded Version of the ATMOS 155mm/52 caliber Truck-Mounted Howitzer at Eurosatory 2014.
- HSW – KRAB 155/52 mm Self-Propelled Howitzer. Heavier tracked 155mm SPH.
- HSW – GOZDZIK 122 mm Self-Propelled Howitzer. Current legacy system, max. firing range 15-22 km. Built under license.
Mortars & Rockets
HSW doesn’t have a HOMAR WR-300 page yet.
- HSW – RAK 120 mm Self-Propelled Mortar – Wheeled Chassis. Mounted on Rosomak (Patria AMV) 8×8 wheeled APCs. See also YouTube video. Will replace the 122mm 2S1 SPHs, alongside the wheeled Kryl.
- HSW – RAK 120 mm Self-Propelled Mortar – Tracked Chassis.
- Army Guide – Rak.
- HSW – Langusta WR-40 Rocket Launcher.