Ukrainian soldiers traveled to Germany to begin howitzer training. The soldiers will return to Ukraine at the end of their training, with Chancellor Olaf Scholz promising to send heavy artillery to bolster the country’s defences.
Ukrainian troops land in Germany for weapons training
More than 60 Ukrainian soldiers traveled to Germany from Poland to take part in weapons training. The soldiers, including technical experts and translators, will undergo the training, which is expected to last around 40 days, at the German military artillery school in the town of Idar-Oberstein, Rhineland-Palatinate. After the training, the troops will return to Ukraine.
A howitzer is a long-range weapon; a form of heavy artillery that falls somewhere between a cannon and a mortar. They are intended to accompany the convoys and provide them with ground support. Ukrainian troops in Germany will practice operating the Model Howitzer 2000 (also known as the Panzerhaubitze 2000 in German), an armored 155 mm caliber self-propelled gun capable of firing three shots every 10 seconds.
Howitzers were first developed by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, a Munich-based defense company, and Rheinmetall, a Düsseldorf-based weapons manufacturer, for the Bundeswehr in 1998. The Howitzer Model 2000 is operated by a crew of five men and can travel up to 60 kilometers per hour, at a range of about 420 kilometers. They are extremely capable weapons, capable of traversing bodies of water up to 1.5 meters deep and having a range of approximately 30 to 56 kilometers (depending on the type of ammunition used).
Chancellor Scholz promises arms to Ukraine
In a major U-turn by the German government, Olaf Scholz announced that Germany would send seven howitzers to Ukraine, after previously being criticized by kyiv and its allies for not sending heavy weapons to the beleaguered country. The howitzers will first have to be made operational before being dispatched, which should be done by the summer.
According to German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht, the armed forces currently have around 100 howitzers, although only 40 are operational. The German government has also undertaken to send several Flakpanzer Gepard anti-aircraft guns to Ukraine, although these must also be made operational first.