Although our hopes for obtaining British AS-90 self-propelled artillery weapons proved to be useless, AS-90 still appeared in Ukraine. At least the turret. Polish media claim that the Armed Forces has already received 155-mm AHS Krab gun-howitzers. At least 18 units. And as we have already written, AHS Krab is a turret of the British AS-90 plus the French 155-mm gun Nexter plus the Polish fire control system WB Electronics Topaz plus the chassis of the Korean howitzer K9 Thunder from Samsung Techwin (formerly Samsung Aerospace Industries). A clear example of globalization.
Unlike Ukraine, Poland decided to switch to NATO caliber in the 1990s, on the eve of joining NATO. Instead of buying or licensing ready-made self-propelled gun, it was decided to license the gun and turret, and place them on the chassis of domestic production. The British AS-90 won the competition of turrets with a gun (a combination of components was considered). By the way, the German PzH-2000 with the same gun Rheinmetall L52 lost.
The Huta Stalowa Wola plant was chosen as the self-propelled gun howitzer manufacturer, and the chassis was to be a modified version of the PT-91 Twardy tank chassis (Polish advanced modernization of the Soviet T-72), created as part of the UPG-NG project. Production began in 2001, the first battery was supposed to join the army in 2008, but was delayed due to lack of funds.
Meanwhile, the UK stopped producing the licensed Rheinmetall L52 gun, so the AHS Krab project switched to an almost similar gun from the French Nexter. CAESAR has the same gun.
And although in 2012-2013 the Polish army conducted tests of eight AHS Krab on the UPG-NG chassis on December 17, 2014, the Ministry of Defense of Poland announced the signing of an agreement with Samsung Techwin (now Hanwha Techwin) to purchase 120 chassis Korean K9 Thunder for $320 million. By the way, K9 Thunder is quite popular for self-propelled gun-howitzers upgrades. Turkish T-155 Fırtına and Australian AS9 “Aussie Thunder” are also Korean K9.
The first K9 chassis arrived in Poland in 2015, and tests of new prototypes soon began. And on April 28, 2016, the first serial AHS Krab left the Huta Stalowa Wola plant. Subsequently, the Polish Ministry of Defense ordered 122 new ACS, 80 of which have already joined the army. It is not entirely clear whether the cars already adopted were sent to Ukraine, or new ones, directly from the factory. Most likely the first.
AHS Krab electronic systems include:
- FiN 3110L ground navigation and topographic system + GPS + odometer;
- TOPAZ fire control system (turret control computer, aiming computer and commander’s ballistic computer);
- FONET internal and external communication system (RRC 9311AP digital radio and crew personal radios);
- normal and night surveillance system for driver and commander;
- Obra-3 SSP-1 warning and self-defense system;
- sight for direct aiming;
- MVRS-700 SCD ballistic radar.
AHS Krab can use the full range of 155-mm NATO munitions, and Poland has its own shells. There is information that the ACS can work with high-precision projectiles.
Weight – 48 tons
Length – 12.05 m
Width – 3.60 m
Height – 3.00 m
Crew – 5
Caliber – 155 mm
Barrel length – 52 calibers
Rate of fire – 6 shots per minute
Effective firing range – 30 km
Maximum firing range – 40 km
Armor – POSCO MIL-12560H steel
Secondary armament – machine gun WKM-B .50 BMG
Engine – STX-MTU MT881Ka-500, 8-cylinder water-cooled diesel
Power – 735 kW (1000 hp)
Operating range – 400 km
Maximum speed – 67 km/h