Slovak media reported that Ukraine is going to buy 2 batteries from Slovakia, i.e. 16 units of 155-mm ZUZANA self-propelled artillery units on TATRA 8 × 8 chassis. The fact of the talks was confirmed by Jaroslav Nad, the Minister of Defense of Slovakia. Let’s see what SpGH ZUZANA is and why it is really needed by the Armed Forces.
In fact, the Ukrainian military has been thinking for some time about updating the Armed Forces’ self-propelled guns arsenal. And, according to modern trends, it was about wheeled self-propelled guns.
First of all, Ukraine has its own development of this class, 155- mm SpGH 2S22 Bohdana, produced by the Kramatorsk Heavy Duty Machine Tool Building Plant. At the end of January 2022, it passed fire tests at the Alibey training ground of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Odesa region. 450 shots were fired, including at a range of up to 42 km. Unfortunately, Bohdana still exists only as one prototype demonstrator of technology.
Secondly, in the spring of 2021, the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine tested a 152-mm self-propelled howitzer DANA-M2 in Rivne region. Dana was created in the late 1970s in Czechoslovakia for a 152-mm Soviet projectile. DANA-M2 is an improved version that has been produced by Excalibur Army since 2017. Ukraine even ordered 26 DAMA-M2 howitzers back in December 2020, but then a scandal emerged over the price which appeared to be 1.5 times higher and the contract was suspended.
As for the ZUZANA anti-aircraft gun, it is a modified version of the same DANA, but for the NATO 155 mm projectile. In addition, the length of the ZUZANA barrel is much longer – 45 cal instead of 36.6, which gives a longer range – 39.6 km. This howitzer was developed in the late 1990s, when Slovakia was preparing to join NATO and did not need to rely on outdated Soviet standards.
In fact, 2 batteries, i.e. 16 howitzers, are all that Slovakia has in its arsenal. The country is upgrading its artillery and has already ordered 25 upgraded ZUZANA 2. This version has a barrel length of 52 calibers (40.2 km range), a 360-degree turret traverse, an upgraded armored cabin and a reduced automation crew. Slovakia received the first SpGH of the new type in November 2021, the others will be adopted by the army in 2022.
The term of the contract for ZUZANA is 2-3 years, and howitzers are needed by the Armed Forces now. So we can assume that Ukraine will buy the old ZUZANA that Slovakia already has. Yes, it’s a little weaker than the ZUZANA 2, but also not bad, because these weapons meet NATO standards, which will allow us to get not the remnants of old projectiles from the Soviet era, but more common modern ammunition.
We will remind, the artillery of the Armed Forces of Ukraine are the main weapon of this war which in cooperation with the UAV destroys most of the equipment of the Russian army.
SpGH ZUZANA specifications
Caliber – 155 mm
Barrel length – 45 cal (52 in Zuzana 2)
Number of ammunition carried – 40 projectiles/40 charges
Maximum range – 39.6 km
Minimum range – 5.6 km
Rate of fire – 6 rounds per min.
Loading of projectiles and charges – fully automatic
Turret traverse – ±60°(360° for Zuzana 2)
Elevation/Depression – +70°/-3,5°
Crew – 4 (3 in Zuzana 2)
Chassis – modified TATRA 8×8
Vehicle length – 12.97 meters
Vehicle width – 3,015 mm
Total height – 3,300 mm
Total weight of the system – 28,450 kg
Maximum speed – 80+ km/h (50+ mph)
Maximum road range – 750 km (466 mi)
Overcoming of obstacles:
Trench – 2000 mm
Vertical step – 600 mm
Fording – 1400 mm