Krab Howitzers for Polish Army: OBRUM and Bumar-Łabędy Companies Clarify
Referring to the information related to the problems with the chassis of the Krab Howitzers, authorities of the OBRUM and Bumar Łabędy companies have claimed that mass production of the howitzers may start at the beginning of 2015, while within the subsequent 12 months the facility will be able to deliver 16 examples of chassis, in accordance with the guidelines created by the Ministry of Defence.
In a reaction to the Defence24.com article, which described 15 years of struggle related to the procurement procedures connected with the Krab howitzers, president of the board of the ZM Bumar-Łabędy facility - Jerzy Michałkiewicz and general director of the OBRUM company, Andrzej Szortyka, have stated that the Gliwice-based companies are capable of delivering 16 examples of Krab howitzer chassis within the next year. In their opinion, the vehicles currently “meet all the technical conditions” set by the Polish Armed Forces.
Repairs of the first 8 examples of chassis are currently in progress. Potential replacement of these would be possible in 2016. It has been stressed that, after the works come to an end, the Polish Army would have 24 vehicles at its disposal until the end of next year.
Presidents of Bumar-Łabędy and OBRUM companies agreed on the fact that Krab chassis posed technical problems related, among other issues to the problem of engine cooling system. However, according to the content of the statement these problems have already been solved, and the cooling system which is currently used is effective even when the external temperatures are as high as 55 degrees Celsius.
What is more, type of the metal sheets used has been changed, which, according to the Bumar-Łabędy and OBRUM authorities, eliminated the problem of the micro-structural-defects, which had been found in the material earlier on. Field tests of the modified chassis have been carried out – up until now it has covered a distance of 1000 km. Delays in production were to be caused also by lack of decision regarding the continued use of the S-12U engine or potential replacement of this engine with another propulsion system.
Bumar-Łabędy facility management states that “positive” results of the tests carried out do not require using any other type of chassis. It has been stated that currently an original design made by OBRUM Sp z o.o. is being used, while the tests are permanent and ongoing, and that the testing programme is supervised by the 33rd Regional Military Representative Office based in Gliwice.
Jerzy Michałkiewicz and Andrzej Szortyka also claim that there is no need to implement solutions acquired abroad and that the Gliwice facility is able to cope with the MoD requirements within the scope of implementation of changes, including the changes within the scope of the engine. According to the statement, OBRUM has placed an offer within regarding the works on engine replacement.
It was back in September, when the Rzeczpospolita daily had informed about ongoing negotiations regarding procurement of the Krab chassis from South Korean Samsung Techwin company, as defects have been detected in the vehicles delivered by the Gliwice-based companies. Yonhap Agency, on the other hand, on 11th December has stated that the agreement related to purchasing the Korean-made components for the chassis is to be signed until the end of the current month. PGZ president, Wojciech Dąbrowski, stated in his interview for Defence24.pl that the relevant decisions regarding the “business model” within the context of the Krab howitzers is to be undertaken until the end of the year.