In a significant increase in Ukrainian artillery capabilities, the German-made 155 mm Panzerhaubitze 2000 (PzH 2000) self-propelled artillery has been transferred to Ukrainian forces and is in action against Russian forces.
According to public announcements, Germany transferred seven PzH 2000s, with the Dutch adding five more platforms for an initial total of a dozen. Germany has announced plans to deliver six more rigs – three from its own domestic stock and three more from the Netherlands – on June 29, 2022.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov announced on June 21, 2022 that the first tranche of PzH 2000 had been delivered to the Ukrainians and thanked the Dutch and Germans for their help. Ukrainian gunners have been training on the platform in Germany since May by a group of Dutch and German instructors
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense released images of the vehicle in action with the following comment: “
“A 155mm Panzerhaubitze 2000 self-propelled gun has already ‘worked’ against the Russian invaders on the eastern borders. Quick shot. Precision. Efficient use of ammunition. Minimum time to hit a target and leave a combat position. The PzH 2000 is a German combat vehicle weighing more than 55 tons and already “registered” with the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
The platforms were also equipped with SMArt 155 precision ammunition (Suchzünder Munition für die Artillerie 155 or “sensor-fuse munition 155mm artillery”). SMArt rounds explode above a target and propel two submunitions, both with their own sensors, to provide terminal guidance on the targets upper armor. Ukrainian media reported the use of SMArt 155 projectiles against Russian armor this week.
Ukrainian indirect capabilities have also been improved with the delivery of the French Nexter CAESAR with a dozen in service and six more promised to follow. M109 155mm self-propelled platforms in a number of variants also continue to be delivered by various NATO nations.
Deliveries of towed 155mm M777 and 105mm L118/119 also continue, although towed platforms are more susceptible to Russian counter-battery fire, while wheeled and tracked platforms can “pull and spin” to avoid Russian retaliatory fire. The Russian-Ukrainian War therefore probably marked the end of the towed artillery platform in peer or near-peer conflicts.
Ammunition remains a critical factor with dwindling supplies for Ukraine’s many older 152mm systems, including the Czech DANA. Russian efforts to covertly reduce the availability of 152mm ammunition on the world market apparently paid off. Production of 155mm ammunition is being ramped up to fill the gap as Ukraine transitions to the standard NATO cycle.
In a fascinating aside, in a recently published RUSI report, it was noted that when Russian counter-battery fire that was conducted by traditional methods (electronic warfare, counter-battery radars, etc.) usually required a half an hour before the largely inaccurate counter – battery fire was delivered to Ukrainian positions. In the case of UAV-led counter-battery, this response time was reduced to “3-5 minutes” and was considered much more accurate by those receiving it. With drones once again demonstrating their worth, it is no surprise that Ukrainian troops used MANPADS to shoot down Russian reconnaissance drones. With drones reducing response times and improving accuracy on target, the PzH 2000’s shooting and scooting capability is vital.