Germany’s contribution to the Ukrainian artillery arsenal – With reports this week that Germany has approved Ukraine’s purchase of 100 Panzerhaubitze 2000 howitzers, Germany’s contribution to Ukraine’s artillery arsenal has returned to the forefront of the stage. However, this order would not be the first Panzerhaubitze 2000 example to enter Ukrainian service, as the handle that has been donated by Germany and the Netherlands so far has already seen service in Ukrainian service.
As a howitzer, the Panzerhaubitze 2000 is designed to provide indirect fire support against a variety of different target types. The howitzer produced by the Franco-German company of armored vehicles Krauss-Maffei Wegmann also produces the German Leopard 1 and 2 main battle tanks. Developed in collaboration with the German armament company Rheinmetall Landsysteme, the first Panzerhaubitze 2000 were delivered to the German Armed Forces in 1998. Equipped with a commander, gunner, driver and two loaders, the main gun of the Panzerhaubitze 2000 is a 155 mm L52 howitzer cannon.
According to Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, the Panzerhaubitze 2000 has a range of 30 kilometers with standard ammunition, 40 kilometers when using basic purge ammunition, or 54 kilometers or more when using certain specialized guided munitions such than volcano or excalibur shells. Base-bleed is an aeronautical improvement to projectiles that reduced their drag to increase their range. The Panzerhaubitze 2000’s autoloader allows it to Fire at a rate of four rounds per minute, which is augmented by a fire control computer to calculate projectile ballistics and coordinate with an artillery control system.
Use wisely in Ukraine
To date, the Panzerhaubitze 2000 has seen significant service since first entering Ukrainian service.
On May 6, the German and Dutch governments announcement that they would send 12 Panzerhaubitze 2000 to Ukraine and immediately begin training Ukrainian crews on the weapon. German howitzers were to be removed from the German Bundeswehr’s maintenance pool to avoid disruption of its own arsenal. Six other Panzerhaubitze 2000 were promised to Ukraine by the Netherlands and Germany on June 28 on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Madrid in 2022.
On June 21, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov announcement on Twitter that the Panzerhaubitze 2000 then in Ukrainian possession, had been officially put into service. Ukrainian gunners using the howitzer in combat interviewed by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty spoke highly for its ability to pierce armored and unarmoured targets as well as its ease of use, which requires minimal physical intervention from the crew.
Ukrainian media have also rented howitzer performance in the Donbass region of Ukraine. Western artillery systems such as the Panzerhaubitze 2000 delivered to Ukraine over the past three months have proven instrumental by blunting Russia’s advantage in artillery fire in the Donbass, helping to slow its advance.
First reported by Der Spiegel on July 27, the German government approved the sale of 100 new Panzerhaubitze 2000 to Ukraine. The size of the order means it is unlikely to be completed for several years, although Krauss-Maffei Wegmann has already started making them. However, the tempo of the fighting appears to have strained the existing Ukrainian Panzerhaubitze 2000 arsenal, with several examples reportedly being need urgent repair due to heavy wear and tear caused by active combat service in the Donbass.
According to the German Defense Ministry, ten Panzerhaubitze 2000 howitzers were delivered nowadays. While the 100 howitzers purchased by Ukraine may still be a long way from fighting on Ukrainian battlefields, other German, Dutch or even howitzers Italian Panzerhaubitze 2000 howitzers could be sent to fill the gaps as they emerge in the near future.
Wesley Culp is a researcher at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress. He writes regularly on Russian and Eurasian leadership and national security topics and has been published in The Hill as well as the Diplomatic Courier. It can be found on Twitter @WesleyJCulp.