“Artillery Deal of the Century” – Is it Maturing?
Antoni Macierewicz, Polish Minister of Defence, visited the Huta Stalowa Wola facility. During the said visit, another nine Krab self-propelled howitzers were handed off for the Polish Armed Forces. Macierewicz noted that delivery of the Krab SPH initiates a “great agreement, the value of which exceeds 4 billion zlotys”. According to the information that had been released previously, the agreement concerning the acquisition of four “Regina” squadron sized units, using the Krab SPHs, is going to be signed by the end of this year.
Minister Macierewicz, during the press conference, referred to the planned conclusion of the contract, concerning the acquisition of equipment for another four squadron sized “Regina” units (referred to as “fire modules” in the Polish nomenclature), including, among other vehicles, 96 155 mm “Krab” self-propelled howitzers. The agreement is going to be signed by the end of this year. On the other hand, during the ceremony, 9 Krab howitzers were handed off for future use. These platforms, and subsequent vehicles which are already being manufactured, are going to become a part of the inventory of the 4th “Masuria” Artillery Regiment which is using 10 cannons of this type already.
Eight howitzers of this type, still based on the “Kalina” chassis, have been delivered by the HSW company in the late November of 2012. Another two howitzers, modernized, and based on the South Korean K-9 “Thunder” platform, have been transferred under the jurisdiction of the Polish Ministry of Defence at the end of April. This happened on occasion formed by the visit paid by the Polish PM Beata Szydło to the HSW. Polish PM assisted in the process of signing the agreement by and between the HSW SA plant and the Polish Ministry of Defence, regarding the procurement of eight company-sized fire modules (units) concerning the M120K Rak [Crayfish] self-propelled mortar. Let us also recall the fact, that the aforesaid agreement, which is to be implemented by the year 2019, covers procurement of 64 mortars and 32 command vehicles. In the upcoming months, it is also expected that the Polish Ministry of Defence signs contracts related to further elements of the Rak units, covering the procurement of the following platforms: recovery vehicles, reconnaissance platforms and ammunition carriers.
The manufacturing process regarding the Rak mortar is being carried out by the Stalowa-Wola based company in parallel, with the production of the Krab SPHs. The equipment for the first “Regina” unit, according to the agreement, is to be acquired throughout the beginning of 2017, nonetheless the company declared that it would be able to deliver all of the contracted components well before that. Also, on the date when the Polish Defence Minister visited the Stalowa Wola plants, at the artillery range of the Military Institute of Armament Technology Dynamic Tests Facility, intensive acceptance test programme has been taking place, with a reference to subsequent examples of the Krab vehicle.
Neither the Polish Ministry of Defence, nor the HSW S.A. company, have disclosed the value of the contract and detailed delivery schedule referring to the Squadron Modules no. 2, 3, 4, and 5. According to the unofficial information obtained by us, the value of the deal is shaped at the level of PLN 4 billion, and the expected delivery term is placed between the years 2018 and 2021 (or 2024).
Thus, the aforesaid deal is going to constitute the largest modernization contract concluded, since the 2015 election. However, the economic factor is of tantamount importance, for the quantitative and qualitative dimension of the equipment of the Polish Army. Conclusion of the aforesaid agreement will also make it possible to start the implementation of the second phase of the agreement signed by and between Huta Stalowa Wola S.A. and the Korean Hanwha Techwin company. This part of the contract covers the transfer of design documentation of the K-9 chassis to the Polish defence industry, and it may only be started, after HSW S.A., which acts as a Party to the agreement signed with the Korean partner, signs an agreement with the Ministry of Defence, which would regulate procurement of equipment for all five artillery “modules”, including, in total, 120 Krab howitzers. The agreement with the Korean company also guarantees that the Polish Party receives a right to export, develop and modify the vehicle. Chassis adaptation for other applications is also possible, on the grounds of the aforesaid agreement.