TechUkrainian soldier's verdict: Polish krabs vs German howitzers

Ukrainian soldier's verdict: Polish krabs vs German howitzers

Polish Krab self-propelled howitzers fight in Ukraine - illustrative photo
Polish Krab self-propelled howitzers fight in Ukraine - illustrative photo
Images source: ©
Przemysław Juraszek

20 June 2024 14:23

The Krab self-propelled howitzers provided by Poland are considered a very important and generally well-regarded system, but they have also faced strong criticism. Here’s what a Ukrainian who served with the German Panzerhaubitze 2000 thinks about Poland's Krab.

Ukraine received several models of 155 mm artillery systems from NATO countries, which could be tested in wartime conditions like never before. Ukrainian soldier Andrij Kobzar from the 43rd Independent Artillery Brigade initially served on the 2S7 Pion howitzer at the beginning of the full-scale war with Russia. In mid-2022, he and part of his unit went for training in Germany.

The course took place at the artillery school in Idar-Oberstein and lasted one and a half months. In November 2022, Andrij Kobzar and the other trained soldiers defended Bakhmut. His fight lasted until May 16, 2023, when he was injured near Soledar.

AHS Krab through the eyes of a Ukrainian serving on the PzH-2000

Now, Kobzar has decided to share his insights on the artillery war in Ukraine on the portal Drukarnia. The soldier asserts that in front-line conditions, the greater mobility provided by wheeled artillery systems is not worth the reduced protection, as is the case, for example, with the French Caesars. The Russians have a habit of not only attacking detected artillery systems with Lancet drones but also shelling their areas with rocket-propelled cluster munitions fired from BM-27 Uragan systems.

In such cases, armour becomes most important, and the proper level of protection requires the high load-bearing capacity provided by tracked chassis. In Ukraine, among these types of NATO systems are the PzH-2000, the AS90, the AHS Krab, and the M109. Andrij Kobzar said, "I didn't fit into the AS90 or M109, but I consider the Krab to be an unfinished, unthought-out, and very rough machine." The Ukrainian criticizes the simpler interior, incomplete automatic loading system, and thinner armour compared to the PzH-2000.

Furthermore, Kobzar mentioned the difference in losses. Of the PzH-2000, out of 27 units, none have been lost to date, except for one that was seriously damaged and sent for repair. In contrast, Ukrainians have lost 28 out of 80 used units with the Krabs.

AHS Krab vs. PzH-2000

While this criticism is fully justified, the simpler construction of the Polish Krab has its advantages because it breaks down less often, has better service support, and can stay on the battlefield longer. Videos have emerged showing PzH-2000 howitzers operating in emergency mode with the loading mechanism turned off, reducing the firing rate from a theoretical 10 rounds/min to 1-2 rounds/min.

The Krab's greater disadvantage, however, is its poorer armour and uninsulated ammunition storage, which can mean the immediate death of the crew if hit. The PzH-2000's ammunition storage is better designed, as it is fully insulated from the crew.

On the other hand, regarding losses, the Polish Krabs, which were also incidentally three times more numerous than the PzH-2000, spent more time on the front line, while the German machines spent significantly more time in repairs. As we learned during conversations with representatives of the Polish industry at the MSPO fair, the Russians also particularly targeted Polish machines for ideological reasons.

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