The agreement approved by the head of the Polish Ministry of Defence Mariusz Błaszczak, a day before the launch of the 30th-anniversary edition of the MSPO expo covers the delivery of two Regina squadron-level fire modules. Each module consists of 24 Krab self-propelled howitzers, along with support vehicles - 9 command vehicles for the fire platoon and battery commanders, and two command-staff vehicles for the squadron commander and his deputy, utilizing a light tracked base platform, along with logistics support vehicles: six ammunition carriers, one armament, and electronics repair vehicle; all seven use Jelcz trucks as their base platform.
The agreement has a value of PLN 3.81 bn. The deliveries, meanwhile, would be finalized between 2025 and 2027. Following the implementation of this agreement, the total number of Krab howitzers delivered by HSW to the Polish military would go up to 170. Some of them - at least 18, probably more - have become a part of a military aid package for Ukraine. They were transferred along with the C2 vehicles.
After the agreement was signed, Mariusz Błaszczak - Deputy PM, and Head of the Polish Ministry of Defence - said that the contract would be finalized within 2 to 2.5 years which is proof of increased manufacturing capacity at HSW. The previous contract signed in 2016 envisaged a term of 8 years, and 4 squadrons were to be delivered during that term. President Andrzej Duda said that the howitzers do well in combat, as this matter was covered in his talks with Volodymyr Zelensky. In the current geopolitical circumstances, a rapid reinforcement of the Polish defence potential is very much required.
- Another major procurement related to the delivery of selected elements of the REGINA modules is the best answers to questions asked recently, concerning the HSW S.A. company. The contract signed today is another credential for our know-how, the artistry of our technologists, and the potential, accumulated within the domestic defence industry. I can promise, this is not our last word on this matter - said Sebastian Chwałek, President of the Management Board at PGZ S.A.
- We're consistently developing our manufacturing capacity, which allows us to propose a broader, and broader offer to our customers. Krab self-propelled howitzers, ZSSW-30 unmanned turret systems, or tank destroyers can be found among the solutions that our manufacturing department is dealing with right now. Another step would come in a form of the NBPWP Borsuk platform - soon it would be commissioned in the Polish Armed Forces - stressed Jan Szwedo, President of the Management Board at HSW S.A.
This is the third agreement on the delivery of the Krab fire modules for the Polish military. The first "implementation" squadron has been delivered between 2016 and 2017, following the conclusion of the agreement concerning the first module in 2008, and expansion of its scope to a complete squadron in 2012, and the conclusion of a license-manufacturing agreement with Hanwha Defense in 2014, regarding the South-Korean K9 base platform.
Another contract, concerning series-manufactured howitzers, was signed in December 2016, and it covered the procurement of four squadrons (96 howitzers plus support vehicles, and a delivery deadline set in 2024). It had a pricetag of PLN 4.6 bn., and its scope also included an annex allowing for delivery of another two howitzer platforms for the training units, after completion of an audit concerning the deliveries of the first squadron. That very agreement has been almost completed now. The Krab systems were being delivered for artillery regiments of three, fully-fledged Divisions (16th "Pomorska" Mechanized Division, 12th "Szczecińska" Mechanized Division, and 11th "Lubuska" Armoured Cavalry Division), and for the self-propelled artillery squadron of the 21st Highland Brigade.
As mentioned before, some of the howitzers were handed off as a part of a military aid package for Ukraine. The necessity to fill in the gaps is one of the reasons why the Korean K9A1 howitzers are being acquired in parallel. The necessity to increase the scale at which the Krab systems are procured has now been a major point of discussion for quite some time. When the Strategic Defence Review was published back in 2017, the talk surrounding the document mentioned a necessity to procure ca. 500 Krab howitzers. The Strategic Defence Review covered a timeline until 2032. However, just until recently, the Polish Ministry of Defence was not making any steps towards ordering further howitzers.
This year, 54 Krab systems were also ordered to meet the Ukrainian needs - at a price tag of PLN 2.7 bn. The procurement was partially financed by Kyiv, while a portion of it was funded by the EU. In total, HSW has 224 howitzers contracted. The Krab systems have been getting good press in Ukraine, they are admired for their accuracy, lethality, ergonomics, user-friendliness, and reliability - the latter feature cannot be overlooked in circumstances of a lengthy conflict. Let us add: Krab has been fitted with a 52-caliber long barrel gun, compliant with NATO standards. The howitzer may use any ammunition used by NATO, complying with the JBMoU memorandum. Its range exceeds 40 kilometers.
Krab can fire 3 rounds in 10 seconds, while its rate of fire is as high as 6 rounds per minute, for consecutive 3 minutes. MRSI engagements (up to 3 rounds per minute) are also possible.
WB Group Topaz fire control system is an integral element of the howitzers, allowing for automated fire control. Krab has also been fitted with a navigation system and a firefinder radar of its own. Its mobility is enhanced thanks to the 1000 HP MTU engine, Allison gearbox, and hydropneumatic suspension. Krab weighs 48 tonnes, and it is operated by a crew of 4 or 5.