Tag: Army

Large-scale multinational Dragon-2017 military exercises begin in Poland

The large-scale Dragon-17 military exercises, in which more than 17 thousand servicemen from Poland, NATO countries, and other countries are taking part, began in Poland, Radio Poland reported.

According to the Deputy Minister of Defense of Poland Michael Dvorchik, the purpose of the exercises is to work on joint actions of Polish and foreign troops in a threatening situation.

“The scenario assumes that a neighboring country intends to gain access to resources in the territory of our country. An attempt is made to destabilize the political situation and disrupt the work of state administrative bodies and local authorities. An attempt to seize the territory is undertaken through hybrid actions,” he said.

Dvorchik noted that, although this is a hypothetical scenario, it is based on situations that have been observed recently.

“We are talking, for example, about the situation in Ukraine and the annexation of the Crimea,” he said.

 

Dutch troops start exercise in Lithuania Monday

VILNIUS, Sep 18, BNS – NATO Enhanced Forward Presence team’s combat group is starting an exercise in Jonava, Kaisiadorys and Elektrenai districts in central Lithuania on Monday. During the exercise, Dutch troops serving in the battalion will drill arrest and defense operations, the Lithuanian Defense Ministry said.

The exercise will take place between Kazokiskes and Gaiziunai on Sept. 18-23, with troops moving in an around the training grounds.

“The exercise will mainly take place at daytime, we will use blank cartridges. The troops said daily lives of local residents would not be interrupted, pledging to cause as little inconvenience as possible,” the ministry said in a press release.

The Dutch contingent in the NATO Enhanced Forward Presence battalion consists of troops from the Dutch Army’s 13th light brigade and the 42nd Limburg Jaeger Armored Infantry Battalion.

The Dutch troops have brought all of the unit’s equipment to Lithuania, including Boxer infantry fighting vehicles and multiple function vehicles Fennek.

Dutch army Fennec armoured fighting vehicle

 

Photos: Canadian howitzers in action in Latvia

Members from 1 Royal Canadian Horse Artillery Z Battery of the Canadian Armed Forces fire the M777 Howitzer guns that have been deployed in support of NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup Latvia as part of Operation REASSURANCE, at Camp Ādaži, Latvia, on September 10, 2017. Photo: Sergeant Bernie Kuhn, Task Force Latvia RP13-2017-0065-003

Members from 1 Royal Canadian Horse Artillery Z Battery of the Canadian Armed Forces fire the M777 Howitzer guns that have been deployed in support of NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup Latvia as part of Operation REASSURANCE at Camp Ādaži, Latvia, on September 10, 2017.

Photos by Sergeant Bernie Kuhn, Task Force Latvia

 

Russia’s Northern Fleet drills involve ten submarines

Russian navy Akula II submarine.

Russia’s Northern Fleet has begun an exercise with ten diesel and nuclear-powered submarines and twenty surface ships taking part.

“At different stages of the exercise more than 20 naval vessels, up to ten nuclear-powered and diesel submarines, 20 logistic ships and up to 30 aircraft will participate. In different episodes of the exercise more than 5,000 officers and men of the Northern Fleet and more than 300 pieces of weapons and military equipment will be involved,” the fleet’s service said in a news release.

Coastal missile and artillery units, a ground corps, coastal forces, an air force and air defense army and logistic units will take part.

Russian Bal, Bastion Coastal Missile System

The exercise is the main operative and combat training event for the Northern Fleet in 2017.

Currently, the preparatory phase of the exercise is in progress. The fleet’s forces are practicing alert measures and readying their command centers and forces for coping with the tasks to be set during exercise in the Barents Sea, which will last several days.

 

Sweden holds military exercise, practising ground, anti-aircraft and naval defense

The RBS-15 (Robotsystem 15) is a long-range fire-and-forget surface-to-surface and air-to-surface, anti-ship missile

Russian troops involved in West 2017 military drills will leave Belarus by October, as the maneuvers should be over by September 20.

In the meantime, Ukraine hosts international exercise Rapid Trident. 2,500 servicemen from the U.S. and Ukraine are participating.

Besides, Sweden also conducts its own large-scale military exercise; 20,000 NATO servicemen and civilians play the scenario of an attack on Gotland Island, practicing ground, anti-aircraft and naval defense.

Anti-aircraft and Naval Defense is provided by the Saab RBS-15 missile system. The Swedish Navy operates the missiles from its Stockholm, Göteborg and Visby class corvettes. The Swedish coastal artillery was also equipped with RBS-15Ms, which are mounted on Scania trucks.

Four missile batteries were planned, but in the end only one battery was ever ordered serving from 1995 to 2000 when the coastal artillery was disbanded. The vehicles in the battery where then scattered. However, in November 2016 it was announced that a secret number of missile trucks had been gathered and reactivated under Navy control.

The Swedish Air Force operates the RBS-15F. The AJS 37 Viggen and the JAS 39 Gripen carry the missile, with the Viggen no longer in service.

Sweden, the non-aligned state, voices out concerns that Russia could attack from the mainland.

 

French and US troops head to Gothenburg as Sweden’s biggest military drill in 20 years kicks off

French troops are heading to Gothenburg to join their U.S. and Swedish counterparts in Exercise AURORA 17

The biggest Swedish military exercise in over 20 years has started in Gothenburg, with French and US air defence units as well as other overseas troops joining the Swedes in the Aurora 17 drill of more than 20,000 military personnel.

Taking place between September 11th and 24th, Aurora 17 involves a total of 19,000 Swedish troops, as well as 1,435 soldiers from the US, 120 from France, and other units from Finland, Denmark, Norway, Lithuania and Estonia. The exercise starts on Sweden’s west coast and will also cover the Stockholm area, Mälaren Valley and Baltic island Gotland.

The first event, practising “Host Nation Support” in Gothenburg, involves testing the “capability of receiving and providing support to other nations, an important element at a time of crisis”, according to the Swedish Armed Forces.

Starting on September 11th and running until the 20th, around 1,200 Swedish personnel as well as 200 from French and US air defence units are taking part in the first phase at Gothenburg’s Landvetter Airport, as well as the city’s harbour and Hisingen island.

The show of force comes in a period where Swedish defence is in sharp focus following an increase in military activity from Russia in the Baltic region. In June, Sweden summoned Russia’s ambassador after an SU-27 jet flew unusually close to a Swedish reconnaissance plane in international airspace above the Baltic Sea.

Sukhoi Su-27 Russian Aerospace Force, Air Superiority Fighter

Sweden’s coalition government recently agreed a new defence deal worth 2.7 billion kronor ($334 million) per year until 2020 with two of the centre-right opposition parties. Conscription has also been brought back to strengthen the number of troops available to the Swedish Armed Forces after recruitment drives failed to deliver results.

READ ALSO: New defence deal agreed in Sweden

Aurora 17 will cost Sweden around 580 million kronor, about twice as much as the Armed Forces usually spends on military exercises in an entire year, according to SVT. The Swedish Government argues that a worsening security policy situation in Europe means that Sweden’s defence capabilities and cooperation with other nations in the area need to be strengthened.

“Aurora is the biggest operation in 23 years where the army, air force and marines collaborate in a drill. The exercise is an important defence policy signal. It raises the threshold against different types of incidents and provides an important foundation for evaluating our military capabilities,” Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist said in a statement.

Stridsvagn 122 bataljonen förberedd för AURORA 17

Sweden is not a member of Nato, but has strengthened ties with the alliance in recent years in the face of Russian warnings that an expanding Nato would be seen as a “threat”. The Nordic country has a Host Nation Support Agreement (HSNA) with Nato which means helicopters, aircraft and ships can be transported by members across Swedish territory upon Sweden’s invitation.

In July, US Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, who is a commanding general of the US Army in Europe, singled out the importance of Gotland, saying “I do not think there is any island anywhere that is more important”.

READ ALSO: No island as important as Gotland, US military chief says

At the same time as Aurora 17 gets going, Russian and Belarusian forces are preparing to start their own major joint military exercise on September 14th. Zapad 2017 (“West 2017”) will start in Russian enclave Kaliningrad, then move to Belarus and finally into mainland Russia.

 

 

US troops take part in Ukrainian military exercise before Russian war game

US and Ukrainian soldiers attend an opening ceremony of the joint military exercise at the Yavoriv.

US troops are currently taking part in a multinational military exercise in Ukraine, an exercise that comes just days before Russia is scheduled to launch their own massive military maneuvers that have put the region on edge.

Approximately 1,650 service members from 15 different countries are participating in Exercise Rapid Trident 2017 which began Monday and will last until September 23, Pentagon spokesman Johnny Michael told CNN.

The US involvement will include approximately 250 soldiers from the Oklahoma Army National Guard, 80 soldiers from the California Army National Guard, 45 airmen from the California Air National Guard, and some additional Army and Air Force personnel in support and control roles.

The annual exercise focuses on peacekeeping and stability operations and helps promote interoperability among the partner militaries of Ukraine and the United States as well as its NATO allies, according to US Army Europe. It also serves to validate aspects of the Ukraine’s military training program.

The exercise in Ukraine comes as Russia is gearing up for its major military exercise, Zapad 2017, which is expected to involve tens of thousands of troops operating along NATO’s borders in Western Russia, the Russian European enclave of Kaliningrad and Belarus.

Military analysts see such war games as a possible rehearsal for a Russia-NATO armed conflict as it is taking place very close to an area that analysts consider to be the most likely target of a Russian offensive.

ZAPAD 2017 has also sparked concerns among NATO’s easternmost members that Russian forces may stay in the area following the conclusion of the exercise.

Russian officials have said that only 13,000 troops will participate but western observers have said that as many as 100,000 Russian and Belorussian forces could be involved.

Russian Paratroopers in action in Ukraine 2014

NATO has been critical about how transparent Moscow has been about Zapad 2017, saying it has failed to adhere to international treaties by not allowing observers to monitor the exercise to ensure that it is not a cover for an aggressive military operation.

NATO’s easternmost members have been wary of an increasingly aggressive Russia, particularly following Russia’s 2014 military invasion and annexation of Crimea and Moscow’s support of separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.

“We urge Russia to share information regarding its exercises and operations in NATO’s vicinity to clearly convey its intentions and minimize any misunderstandings,” Pentagon spokesman US Army Lt. Col. Michelle Baldanza told CNN.

“In response to this uncertainty, the US has built a joint, persistent rotational presence of air, land, and sea presence in the region to support our Allies,” she added.

 

Exercise Aurora 17 Nordic Strategic Strength on Show

Svenska Stridsvagn 122 bataljon

In order to increase military capabilities, Swedish Armed Forces will conduct Exercise Aurora 17 – a national exercise that will build a stronger defence and increase the overall capability to face an attack on Sweden.

The overarching mission of the Swedish Armed Forces is to defend the country´s interests, our freedom and the right to live the way of our choice.

Deterrence lies at the core of a strong defence, one that rises to all threats and overcomes all challenges. It is designed to deter potential attackers, and force them to carefully consider the risks of attacking our country.

For a deterrent to be effective, it needs to be credible and visible. Through frequent and extensive training and exercise, especially with other defence forces, Sweden is strengthening its deterrence effect and makes it more credible.

Aurora 17 will be conducted in the air, on land and at sea. Units from all over Sweden will be involved, but the main exercise areas will be the Mälardalen and Stockholm areas, on and around Gotland, and the Gothenburg area.

 

The Exercise will contribute to the development of Sweden’s total defence capabilities. Therefore, it is planned that around 40 other agencies will participate.

In addition, in order to have as good an exercise as possible, and at the same time exercise Sweden’s defence capability against a larger, sophisticated opponent, other countries have been invited to participate in Aurora 17.

 

 

Sweden’s “biggest drill in decades” coincides with Russia’s Zapad 2017

Saab JAS 39 Gripens

The Swedish Armed Forces kicked off Aurora 17 today, the international exercise has been dubbed as Sweden’s “biggest drill in decades”.

While Sweden itself is not a member of NATO, over 20,000 troops from the country and other NATO members, including the US, are set to participate in the three-week exercise. Naval, air and land services will be taking part in the drill.

The exercise coincides with the start of the major Russian drill Zapad 2017 this week. The week-long exercise will include Russian and Belarusian military forces and will take place in Russia’s Kaliningrad district and across Belarus.

A CB-90 Fast-Attack Patrol class in the foreground with a Visby-class Corvette in the background

Taking place along the borders of NATO member states, Zapad has caused greater concern for the West given Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. Sweden’s defense minister Peter Hultqvist told Financial Times the drill reflected Sweden’s new military strategy which is a consequence of Russian actions, adding that Sweden plans more drills in the future.

Concurrently with Aurora 17, Sweden is hosting a total of 16 countries for the 2017 edition of the German Navy-sponsored exercise Northern Coasts 2017.

The international exercise is taking place between September 8 and 21 off Gotland and in the Southern Baltic Sea.

A Swedish combat team from an armored regiment arrives on the island of Gotland. (Photo: Soren Andersson)

A general goal of the drill is to develop skills in maritime surveillance, anti-surface, anti-air, anti-submarine and mine counter-measures. At a tactical stage, a fictitious but realistic scenario will see participants respond to a multinational crisis in maritime areas.

 

Russian ‘Zapad-2017’ drill – what does Moscow want?

The large “Zapad-2017” war games will pit the troops of Russia and Belarus against terrorist infiltrators from three “hypothetical” Eastern European countries. DW gives you an overview of the upcoming drill.

Moscow and Minsk are finalizing their preparations for the week-long “Zapad-2017” drill, which is set to start next Thursday. In it, the two countries will deploy their troops, designated as “the Northern ones” to stand up to the aggression from “the Western ones” – armed attackers from the made-up countries of Vesbaria, Lubenia, and Veishnoria.

According to the scenario released by Russian and Belarusian defense officials, Vesbaria and Lubenia are located in the Baltic region and control the corridor which links the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad with Belarus. In the real world, the corridor roughly corresponds to the border between Lithuania and Poland, both of them NATO members.

The hypothetical state of Veishnoria, however, is located in the Grodno area of Belarus, near the country’s western border.

Read more: Ursula von der Leyen says Russia showing off ‘power’

Independent experts see this as a sign that Minsk and Moscow are preparing scenarios for threats originating in NATO countries as well as from within Belarus. The Grodno area seems to have a special significance as the home for a large population of Poles living in the former Soviet state. However, military officials insist that the scenario was developed “against a hypothetical opponent, unrelated to the concrete region.”

What is the goal of the drill?

“Belarus and the Kaliningrad region have been infiltrated by extremist groups with the intention of committing terrorist attacks. The illegal militias are backed from abroad, providing them with armaments and naval and air capabilities. In order to neutralize the opponents, land forces will be deployed to cut off their access to sea and block air corridors in the region, with the support of the air force, air defense forces, and the navy,” the official plan says.

Read more: Russia readies troops for Zapad war games with Belarus

The goal of the Zapad-2017 maneuvers is to coordinate actions between regional military commands “in the interest of ensuring military safety,” Moscow and Minsk said. “The Republic of Belarus strives to prevent armed conflicts, and the Russian federation is providing it with political backing, financial aid, as well as technical and military support,” according to the Belarusian Defense Ministry.

The drill is set to proceed in two stages. Initially, the military will boost their air force and air defense capabilities to protect key military and state objects, and prepare to “isolate regions of activity by the illegal armed groups and their subversive-reconnaissance squads.” The second stage will be “to work out the issues of managing troops while repelling an aggression” against Russia and Belarus.

Mi-24Ps Russian Air Force

How many troops will take part?

The two countries say that some 12,700 servicemen will be involved in the upcoming drills. “Zapad-2017” will also involve 70 planes and helicopters, 280 tanks, 200 artillery weapons, ten ships, and various other pieces of military equipment. The drills will also include agents of the Russian intelligence service FSB, as well as people working for the Russian Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Emergency Situations.

However, NATO allies have repeatedly disputed these numbers, with German Defense Minister Ursula Von der Leyen claiming the real number is likely to be upwards of 100,000 troops. International accords mandate that countries provide a larger degree of transparency when holding drills with over 13,000 troops.

On Saturday, Russia’s Defense Ministry said it was “bewildered” by Von der Leyen’s assertion, and repeated its claims that drill would stay below the 13,000 threshold. Previously, the Kremlin has asked foreign defense officials and military-diplomatic corps to visit the final stage of the joint exercise at one of the sites in Russia. Belarus also stated that it had sent out invitations to UN, OSCE, NATO, the post-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States, and military attaches accredited in Belarus.

Where will the drill be staged?

The bases will involve seven locations in Belarus, one location in the heavily militarized Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, and two in western Russia. In order to reduce tensions with neighboring countries, the authors of the drill made an effort to pick the areas “at a significant distance from the border.”

NATO’s eastern members are concerned over the deployment of Russian troops near their territory, as Moscow has been known to stage large drills ahead of conflict in Georgia in 2008 and the annexation of Crimea in 2014. Some have even speculated that Russia might use the troops to occupy Belarus, its closest European ally. Most observers, however, consider this move to be extremely unlikely.

The drill has “strictly defensive character, its execution will not present any threat for the European community as a whole, nor for the neighboring countries,” the Russian defense ministry said. The Belarusian side has ensured that after the drills are over “by September 30 the military personnel, weapons, military equipment and specialized devices of Republic of Belarus will be returned to its permanent deployment locations, and the elements of the Russian military will leave Belarusian territory.”

 

 

“Third Unveiling of Kryl” in Kielce

Image Credit: M. Rachwalska/Defence24

During the MSPO Defence Expo in Kielce, Huta Stalowa Wola is showcasing a prototype of the Kryl 155 mm self-propelled howitzer. Following a series of tests, the vehicle underwent minor modifications and the series production example may be presented to the Army at the beginning of 2019.

The Agreement concerning the development works related to a light wheeled self-propelled 155 mm howitzer has been concluded at the end of December 2011, with guaranteed financing of PLN 28.2 million. Huta Stalowa Wola became the entity that is to implement the programme, at the time the said facility was determined to finalize the first phase of the Krab programme restarted back in 2008, concerning a tracked SPH.

As we know, despite the well known problems related to the chassis delivered by the Gliwice-based armoured platforms factory, at the end of November 2012 the Army has received, in order to carry out operational and military tests, the first fire element consisting of eight Krab howitzers. Ultimately, the Krab SPH has been based on the new K9 chassis. Just recently, the Polish Army has received the first equipment set for the Squadron Fire Module unit (DMO). At the moment the Regina programme is being implemented effectively (in 2016 an agreement has been signed concerning the equipment for another four squadrons), meanwhile the Polish Ministry of Defence remains interested in acquiring wheeled, lighter and cheaper Kryl systems, that also exhibit a higher degree of mobility. The long range artillery also remains one of the priorities within the Strategic Defence Review.

Within the first phase of the Kryl SPH programme, cooperation with the Nexter company was being considered, with the Polish solution being based on the artillery component of the Caesar howitzer. Following the technical analysis the competitive Israeli solution, the ATMOS 2000 howitzer offered by Elbit, has been selected as the way to go. Both solutions, technically similar, assumed that the cannon would be loaded manually and that the crew would remain in the open space, when laying down the artillery fire.

The Israeli offer has got the Polish partners convinced with the following arguments: the Israeli claimed that business offer was more flexible, and that the ATMOS system would provide the user with a wider angle of fire azimuthally. Moreover, the supplier, according to the HSW facility, was more open towards potential technology transfer, assuming that Poland would not procure, alongside the artillery portion of the system, the chassis.

It was assumed, despite the negative experiences related to the Krab’s tracked platform, that the chassis would be developed from a scratch, domestically.

For the HSW S.A. facility the above was significant also due to the fact that in April 2012 the company has taken over the Jelcz-Laskowice factory, and had both the capital, as well as the concept to reinforce the Jelcz-Komponenty company and its design and technology background. HSW guaranteed that a chassis would be developed for Kryl that would meet the basic requirement defined by the Army, as it was required that the SPH should be light enough to be transported onboard of a plane. Kryl was to fit onto the C-130 Hercules aircraft (in 2012 the deliveries of this aircraft for the 33rd Airlift Base were coming to an end, with 5 contracted airframes being stationed there).

Image Credit: M. Rachwalska/Defence24.pl.

This, from the very beginning, was creating relevant limitations concerning the weight (airlifter’s payload capacity) and dimensions (loading space, access) of the developed platform. The military, at the time deeply involved in the foreign deployments, stated that the ability to be transported by Hercules would be an absolute, categorical and final condition.

Read More: “Kryl” Going Through a Renaissance?

The Polish design was to be similar, within that respect, to the French Caesar solution. In practical terms it turned out that C-130 aircraft imposes a number of design limitations concerning this class of artillery assets.

The above means that it is difficult to understand that the designers did not get themselves inspired with the Ceasar howitzer solutions, indicated by the Polish military. Some solutions were imposed by the design logic. Moreover, the prototype also featured a plastic engine cover, rearview mirrors of a specific type and a single cabin door.

The latter solution is good, as space within the cabin is not taken by the tunnel covering the engine block. Rapid manning of the battle-stations is not a problem, delaying the attainment of combat readiness once fire-mission orders are received.

For the HSW, Jelcz and Elbit designers, as well as for the collaborating engineers of several Universities, the requirement defined by the military was a serious challenge. The most difficult challenge was to keep the platform’s weight below 19 tonnes for airlift (with the combat weight, including the crew, ammunition and fuel, at 21 tonnes).

It was also required that entirely new design layout was created for the wheeled platform with a nose-layout cabin with the engine protruded in front of the front axle and lowered roof. Moreover, the platform also featured a number of innovative solutions, never before used by the Polish industry, within the scope of materials, design, suspension layout and so on.

The Israeli partner of the programme was also forced to modify the ATMOS 2000 system, including the intermediary frame, to diminish the weight of the platform by around 500 kilograms. Despite the aforesaid problems, the tempo of work was satisfactory: in July 2014, a prototype of the chassis, designated as Type 663, and expected to be used with the Kryl system, was presented. In mid-August HSW received the Israeli artillery system, and the Kryl platform created out of the aforesaid assemblies was showcased at the MSPO event in September, sparking a lot of interest.

According to the plans made back in 2012, the Kryl development work was to be finalized until the end of December 2015. Later the aforesaid assumptions were adjusted, with the deadline postponed to the final quarter of the year 2018, which was to make it possible to begin deliveries of 7 Squadron Fire Modules (DMO) in 2019, with 24 howitzers in each of the units. Ultimately, when the Technical Modernization Plan was being updated, this phase of work has been scheduled to be finalized on 27th August…2020. The programme and the course of the works have been described by us earlier.

Despite the lack of formal basis, in a form of a research programme co-arranged with the military, the preliminary tests were carried out independently by HSW S.A. It was assumed that in the situation in which a “driveable and shooting” artillery product exists, it shall be perfected to shorten the time required to introduce it into production, should the Army ultimately express its interest in the said system.

Not only did the preliminary test programme carried out by the HSW facility on its own, covered by the facility’s own funds, but also in collaboration with specialized research institutes, include traction tests that verified a variety of chassis design solutions, but the initiative also concerned artillery tests, also involving a maximum propelling charge load live-fire test at the Slovak Zagorje range.

All of the aforesaid research was aimed at refinement of the design, and at diagnosing and effectively eliminating the “infancy” problems. They shall not emerge at the stage of the formal qualification test programme.

The first step that was made to perfect the platform’s design was the redesign process, concerning the engine hood and the front bumper. The requirement to do this emerged during the field tests, as the front axle of the vehicle had to have more load imposed on it, for the purpose of refining the handling capabilities of the platform. On that occasion the engine compartment was also fitted with armour-plating, which has enhanced the level of ballistic protection for the powerpack, also making it more resistant to any fragmentation e.g. of artillery rounds.

Image Credit: M. Rachwalska/Defence24.pl.

In mid-August Kryl was returned to HSW S.A, following yet another lifting resulting from the experience gathered during the further field tests, and from the analysis of the assessments, comments, and public sphere opinions in existence. In this form, the howitzer was presented during this year’s MSPO 2017 event.

The observers will, undoubtedly, notice the redesigned front section of the Jelcz vehicle. The bumper was redesigned to enhance the vehicle angle of attack, also improving its offroad capabilities. The new bumper also features a winch. Its parameters have not been disclosed by the manufacturer, but the specification has been summed up with a statement suggesting that the system allows to pull a vehicle out of rough terrain, with the pulled platform weighing no less than the fully loaded Kryl sph.

The above statement may suggest that the Kryl howitzer, even though such requirement was not created by the military, is capable of getting itself out of rough terrain. But this is not the end, as the vehicle should also be able to recover other howitzers of the same type, ammunition or engineering, or even the command platforms included in the Kryl Squadron, with the winch allowing for recovery of any other vehicle weighing around 20 tonnes.

The aforesaid change also made the weight distribution better, with more mass placed on the steered axle. Moreover, the said parameter has also been enhanced as the designers have resigned from using the additional, fourth axle. The said axle was created to facilitate the process of loading the howitzer on the C-130 aircraft.

When the Polish Ministry of Defence has officially resigned from the requirement of providing the Kryl system with airlift suitability, tailored to the Hercules aircraft, the solution became irrelevant and redundant. Getting rid of the load placed behind the third axle enhanced the weight distribution even further. Thanks to the above, the driving differences offroad, between a fully loaded vehicle, and a vehicle without the ammunition, were also diminished.

The side ammunition storage placed between the first and the second axle house 18 sets of rounds and propelling charges, weighing almost 1500 kilograms. There is a design reserve that would allow for increasing the ammunition load. The field tests carried out so far confirm the fact that Kryl, fully manned, going over the obstacles on the test tracks used to test the Rak self-propelled mortar and the AWD command vehicles based on the Rosomak platform, was carrying out all of the movement without a need of using the offroad gears. The only change required for the Kryl howitzer, in comparison with the road configuration, was to slightly lower the tyre air pressure.

Image Credit: Jerzy Reszczyński.

The most important change that is noticeable right away is seen in replacement of the front lighting system, criticized earlier. The presented Kryl vehicle has received a set of modern, efficient lens-burner headlamps. They provide a higher intensity of light and make the howitzer look much more modern.

The HSW S.A. experts also responded to the questions related to the ammunition loading process: “Within a few days we are able, and the Polish Ministry of Defence knows our abilities within that scope, to introduce changes in the fire control system that would simplify the ammunition loading process, shortening its duration and increasing the rate of fire.”  However, the engineers do not promise that a complete autoloader would be applied in case of the Kryl system, as this would be technically difficult, requiring fundamental design changes. They suggest that solutions similar to the ones used in case of the Archer or Nora, or even the Eva systems are impossible to be applied – these platforms were originally designed with automatic loading in mind. New information has also been published concerning new types of ammunition for the Kryl howitzer. HSW S.A. confirms the fact that it has received a serious offer from the ammunition manufacturers who remain ready to deliver rounds with a range of 56 kilometers for the Kryl system. The range declared at the moment is equal to around 40 kilometers.

Here we are referring to base-bleed or rocket-assisted rounds. HSW does not consider conclusion of ammunition memorandum to be a problem, however a problematic issue may emerge if a test programme concerning such rounds would have to be carried out, due to a lack of a proper range available. Nobody in Europe has carried out such tests so far.

Rheinmetall has been developing its extended range ammunition by testing it in South Africa. The parties, at the moment, are working on a memorandum concerning this issue. HSW S.A. is interested in the said memorandum as several foreign buyers remain highly interested in procuring the Kryl howitzer. One of the potential buyers, based outside Europe, expects that demonstration of ability to conduct fire missions at distances of 50 km+ is performed as soon as possible.

Other potential customers based in Europe view the Kryl howitzer as a way to acquire a self-propelled, highly mobile and NATO-compliant artillery platform at a relatively low price. The cost ratio between procurements of Kryl and Krab systems is estimated at the Polish Ministry of Defence as 1:3. This is quite important for the states that have limited amount of money at their disposal, or that are using a low quality road network in difficult terrain. Slovenia, Montenegro or Macedonia may be included among the aforesaid countries.

Kryl’s potential also remains relevant for the Polish Army. The heavy brigades, as we know it now, are going to receive the Regina modules with the tracked Krab SPHs. Gvozdika era is passing by, and this cannot be changed by any of the recent upgrade programmes.

Modernization of the model 77 Dana howitzer, also expected to happen as it was included in the Strategic Defence Review, would not mean that gradual increase of capabilities of the Polish artillery would occur. The upgrade may allow the army to keep the Dana systems in service, or to insignificantly expand their combat capabilities, nonetheless one cannot expect the range to be expanded, as Danas utilize the old “Soviet” 152 mm rounds, not the NATO standard 155 mm ammunition.

Krab has an effective range of 40 kilometres, same applies to Kryl, however, according to the information mentioned earlier, rocket assisted or base-bleed rounds may be used to attack targets at a distance of 56 kilometres or beyond. We do not know though, whether the extended range ammunition could be used with the Krab howitzers.

We must leave aside the issue of effective operational use of such potential, entailed by such ammo, which requires a proper array of reconnaissance and target designation assets, capable of being operated behind the enemy lines, at the distance corresponding at least with the effective range of fire of the two aforesaid systems. It may be assumed that the problem may be solved through development of the currently utilized UAV-based reconnaissance systems, including the UAVs that are to be acquired in the future.

Image Credit: Jerzy Reszczyński.

The official premiere of the Kryl system took place three years ago, however the implementation process has been hampered by legal and formal procedures. Even though the system has been available since 2014, the stage of developing the design assumptions is planned to be formally finalized in 2017. Now the formal arrangements concerning the configuration of the Kryl modules are being refined in collaboration with the National Centre for Research and Development. The aforesaid arrangements are to take on a form of an annex to the agreement that created the relationship between the HSW S.A. company and the National Centre for Research and Development, concluded on 28th December 2011.

The representatives of the HSW S.A. company assure that Kryl, along with the series production documentation, may be delivered in 2019, if the Polish Ministry of Defence expresses its interest in the project and if no need emerges to change the system’s design significantly.

At the moment the Armament Inspectorate has received a document package concerning the Kryl howitzer, including the most important element: the conceptual design. Theoretically this should make it possible to approve the relevant general project assumptions by the end of this year, as well as to issue an approval concerning the programme of initial and qualification tests.

We are, until the end of September 2018, able to finalize the preparation of series manufacturing of the Kryl SPH and to leave the documentation for series production for the Kryl SPH at disposal of the MoD until the end of January 2019.

President of the HSW S,A. company, Bernard Cichocki

The prolonged work on the Kryl system may also have an impact on another programme that is fairly important for the Polish Armed forces: the WR-300 Homar rocket artillery system development process. A relevant agreement concerning the above solution is to be concluded soon. According to the assumptions adopted when the Jelcz 663 platform was being designed, the first platform of this type designed for military applications was to be used both within the Kryl SPH project, as well as within the WR-300 Homar programme.

Now, when the formal test programme concerning the Kryl howitzer has only begun, with the finalization expected to happen next year, it remains doubtful whether the chassis 663 may also be considered in the Homar programme. As for now, the schedule in place, included in the Technical Modernization Plan that has been modified in April and confirmed within the Strategic Defence Review, assumes that delivery of three Homar squadrons would take place in 2019. It is possible that there will be no option of basing the system on the Kryl chassis that has not yet gone through the formal test programme.

HSW S.A., PGZ, as well as Lockheed Martin, the American entity involved in the Homar programme, should all have an alternative solution prepared. One of the Jelcz trucks that is being already operated by the Polish Armed Forces is to be used for that purpose, as all signs seem to suggest.

Jerzy Reszczyński.