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Top 10 Self-Propelled Howitzers

 

   Self-propelled howitzers are tracked or wheeled artillery systems. These have high degree of mobility and that is their main advantage over towed howitzers. These artillery systems are used as combat support weapons. Normally they provide indirect fire, however, if needed, they also have direct-fire capability. Most of modern self-propelled howitzers are fully or partially armored. In modern combat these artillery systems often exploit their mobility for shoot-and-scoot type attacks in order to avoid counter-battery fire.

   So which is the best self-propelled howitzer in the world? Which is the most capable and effective self-propelled howitzer? This Top 10 analysis is based on firepower, rate of fire, ammunition load, deployment and redeployment time, protection and some other factors.

   This list only includes self-propelled howitzers, that are currently in service. It does not includes artillery systems that are under development or at the prototype stage.

   Currently top 10 self-propelled howitzers in the world are these:

 

 

Best self-propelled howitzers

Nr.1 PzH 2000 (Germany)

 

   The Panzerhaubitze 2000 or PzH 2000 is a German self-propelled howitzer. This is a very advanced and extremely capable artillery system. Initially German Army planned to order a total of 1 254 new self-propelled howitzers, however in 1996 a contract was signed only for 185 artillery systems. First of these self-propelled howitzers were delivered to the German Army in 1998. It has also been exported to some countries.

   The PzH 2000 has a fully-automatic loading system with ammunition management system. It is compatible with standard NATO 155 mm ammunition. Maximum range of fire is 30 km with standard HE-FRAG projectile and 40 km with rocket-assisted projectile.

   Maximum rate of fire is a whooping 9 rounds per minute. This artillery system is capable of Multiple Round Simultaneous Impact (MRSI) firing. It can launch several shells with different trajectories, that would land on the target simultaneously. Such way of firing is very efficient.

   The PzH 2000 receives target data via datalink. The gun is automatically laid using the fire control data.

   This artillery system has a high level of protection. Its front armor withstands hits from 14.5 mm rounds. Add-on explosive reactive armor can be fitted in necessary.

 

 

Which is the best self-propelled howitzer

Nr.2 2S35 Koalytsiya-SV (Russia)

 

   The 2S35 Koalytsia-SV is the latest Russian artillery system. It was developed as a successor to the 2S19 Msta-S. First demonstrator of this self-propelled howitzer was completed in 2006. It was unique and had two 152 mm guns. However for some reason twin-barrel design was abandoned. In 2013 a new prototype of the Koalitsiya-SV was completed. It had a different design and only one gun. A first batch of 12 artillery systems was delivered to the Russian Army in 2015. Currently it is one of the most capable howitzers in the world.

   Even though the Koalitsiya-SV resembles the older 2S19 Msta-S, it is a totally different system. It has unmanned turret and is armed with a 152 mm ordnance. It has a fully automated ammunition loading and handling system and utilizes modular charge system. This artillery system can fire a wide range of munitions, including standard and rocket-assisted HE-FRAG projectiles, cluster projectiles with anti-tank submunitions, jammer carrying projectiles. Range of fire with standard projectile is around 30 km and around 40 km with rocket-assisted projectile. A new long-range precision-guided round has been developed. It has a claimed maximum range of 70 km. The Koalitsiya-SV It is also capable of firing older Krasnopol precision guided munitions with a range of 20-25 km.

   Maximum rate of fire is around 8 rounds per minute. It seems that the Koalitsiya-SV is capable of multiple round simultaneous impact firing. This artillery system carries impressive onboard ammunition supply of around 60 to 70 rounds.

   The Koalitsiya-SV has a high level of automation. This artillery system is operated by a crew of only 3 soldiers.

   This artillery system has a built-in ammunition reloading system at the rear of the turret that allows to load ammunition from resupply trucks.

 

 

Top ten self-propelled helicopters

Nr.3 PLZ-52 (China)

 

   The PLZ-52 is a new Chinese self-propelled howitzer. It is an improved version of a PLZ-05, which is used by the Chinese army. Currently it is among the most capable artillery systems in the world. However the PLZ-52 is aimed mainly at export customers, rather than Chinese army.

   The new PLZ-52 has a modified hull and new turret. This artillery system is fitted with a 155 mm/L52 howitzer. The PLZ-52 is capable of firing a full range of Chinese 155 mm munitions. Range of a standard High-Explosive Fragmentation (HE-FRAG) projectile is around 30 km and around 40 km of extended-range projectile. Maximum range of fire is 53 km with rocket-assisted projectile. It has been reported that China developed a GPS-guided 155 mm projectile. It was claimed that this projectile has a whooping maximum range of 100 km and accuracy of 40 m.

   The PLZ-52 is capable of firing Chinese precision guided projectiles. In the late 1990s China obtained the Russian Krasnopol laser-guided projectile technology and production licese. Later it successfully developed its own precision guided munitions. These laser-guided projectiles have a maximum range of 20-25 km. Furthermore China publicly revealed new precision guided anti-armor projectiles, similar to the Bonus. The original Bonus projectile carries two smart anti-tank submunitions to a range of 34 km. So Chinese equivalent of this projectile should have similar performance.

   This artillery system has a semi-automatic or even fully automatic ammunition loading system.

   Maximum rate of fire is around 8 to 10 rounds per minute. The PLZ-52 is capable of Multiple Round Simultaneous Impact (MRSI) firing. It can launch up to 4 rounds that would hit the same target simultaneously.

 

Top ten self-propelled helicopters

Nr.4 K9 Thunder (South Korea)

 

   The K9 Thunder is a South Korean self-propelled howitzer. In the late 1980s Republic of Korea Army drew up its requirements for a new indigenous 155 mm tracked howitzer to meet the requirements of 21st century. Key operational requirements included a higher rate of fire, longer range, better accuracy and faster into and out of action times. Development of the K9 Thunder began in 1989. It entered service in 1999 and replaced the older K55 self-propelled howitzer, that is a Korean version of American M109A2. The K9 is fielded by the ROK Army in large numbers.

   K9 Thunder is fitted with automatic shell handling and ramming system. It is compatible with standard NATO 155 mm ammunition. Maximum range of fire is 30 km with standard HE-FRAG projectile and 40 km with rocket-assisted projectile.

   The K9 Thunder has a maximum rate of fire of 6 rounds per minute and is capable of multiple-round simultaneous-impact firing. It is able to fire three rounds in 15 seconds, each in different trajectories, so that all of the shells arrive on target at the same time.

   This artillery system carries a total of 48 rounds for the main gun.

   The K9 is fitted with automatic fire control system with internal navigation system and automatic gun laying systems. It takes 30 seconds to prepare to fire at emplacement and 60 seconds from movement.

   This artillery system is supported by a dedicated K10 ammunition resupply vehicle. It is also based on the K9 chassis. The reloading process is fully automated and can be performed without exposing the crew under enemy fire or in the contaminated areas.

   T-155 Firtina is a Turkish 155 mm self-propelled howitzer. It uses subsystems of the K9. It is in service with the Turkish armed forces.

 

 

Top 10 artillery systems

Nr.5 Type 99 (Japan)

 

   The Type 99 is a Japanese self-propelled howitzer. It was developed by the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and the Japan Steel Works. A small number of Type 99 self-propelled howitzers is currently in service with the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force. So far this howitzer was never exported. Earlier Japan's laws did not allow export of weapons and military equipment.

   Maximum range of fire is 30 km with standard HE-FRAG projectile and approximately 38 km with rocket assisted projectile. Maximum rate of fire is around 6 rounds per minute.

   The Type 99 self-propelled howitzer is resupplied from the Type 99 ammunition resupply vehicle. A battery of the Type 99 howitzers also includes a mobile command post and fire control radar.

 

 

Top 10 self-propelled howitzers

Nr.6 PLZ-05 (China)

 

   The PLZ05, also referred as the Type 05, is a recent Chinese development. It was developed as a successor to the Type 83 SPH. It evolved from the PLZ-45.

   This 155 mm self-propelled howitzer has an automatic ammunition loading system. Some sources report, that this autoloader has been copied from the Russian 2S19 Msta-S.

   The PLZ05 fires Chinese 155 mm ammunition. Maximum range of fire with rocket-assisted projectile is over 40 km. It is also capable of firing laser-guided projectiles, based on the Russian Krasnopol technology. Also there is a GPS-guided projectile with a claimed maximum range of 100 km, however it is unconfirmed.

   Maximum rate of fire is about 8 to 10 rounds per minute. Onboard ammunition supply is around 30 rounds.

   This self-propelled howitzer is supported by an associated ammunition resupply vehicle, which carries ammunition under armor on the battlefield. The resupply vehicle carries about 90 rounds and is capable of automated delivery. This support vehicle is fitted with a crane, which is used for ammunition handling operations and can be also used to replace the powerpack and for other load-handling operations.

 

 

Best self-propelled howitzers

Nr.7 M109A7 Paladin (USA)

 

   The M109A7 is a further upgrade of the ubiquitous M109 self-propelled howitzer, which that introduced in early 1960s. Formerly it was known as the M109A6 PIM. Unofficially this latest version is still being referred as the Paladin. In 2013 the M109A7 was approved for production. First of these artillery systems will be delivered to the US Army in 2015.

   The upgraded M109A7 has new automated loader and some components of the canceled Crusader and NLOS-C.

   Maximum range of fire is 24 km with standard projectile and 30 km with rocket assisted. The M109A7 can also fire M982 Excalibur extended-range precision guided projectiles that have a maximum range of 40 km.

   However its maximum rate of fire is only 4 rounds per minute. This limitation is due to design of this self-propelled howitzer, that traces its roots back to the late 1950s.

   The Paladin has a brief reaction time. It can stop and fire the first round in under 60 seconds. Sustained rate of fire is 1 round per minute.

   Each M109A7 Paladin is escorted by an associated ammunition supply vehicle. It is based on the same chassis and carries spare ammunition under armor.

   The US Army plans to obtain a fleet of 580 M109A7 howitzers and the same number of associated armored ammunition support vehicles.

 

 

Self-propelled howitzer helicopter comparison

Nr.8 Krab (Poland)

 

   The Krab self-propelled howitzer was developed by BAE Systems Land Systems. Turret of the Krab is almost identical to that installed on the AS90 Braveheart. This artillery system uses a modified chassis of the Polish PT-91 Twardy main battle tank. The Krab won international competition and was selected by the Polish Army. First of these howitzers were delivered to the Polish Army in 2012. However future of this artillery system is uncertain due to various problems.

   The Krab is fitted with 155 mm/L52 howitzer, which is compatible with all standard NATO 155 mm ammunition. The Krab has an automatic projectile loading system and modular charge system. Maximum range of fire is 30 km with standard HE-FRAG projectile and 40 km with rocket assisted projectile. A total of 60 rounds are carried.

   The Krab is fitted with polish fire control system, intercom and radios. Vehicle is completed with Danish muzzle reference system, which tracks outgoing projectiles and adjusts the next shot.

   The Krab uses modified chassis of the PT-91 Twardy man battle tank. However since 2012 production of the engine for this chassis stopped. In 2014 it was reported that Poland plans to acquire 120 tracked chassis of the South Korean K9 self-propelled howitzer for the Krab.

   Battery of this artillery system consists of 6 Krab self-propelled howitzers, 2 ammunition resupply vehicles based on the 6x6 military trucks, Waran maintenance vehicle and Azalia artillery C3I vehicle.

 

 

Best self-propelled howitzer

Nr.9 AS90 (United Kingdom)

 

   The AS90 is a British self-propelled howitzer. It was developed by Vickers. It entered service with the British Army in 1993. Production ceased in 1995. A total of 179 AS90 self-propelled howitzers were built for the British Army. It replaced the FV433 Abbot and the US M109.

   The AS90 is fitted with 155 mm/L39 howitzer. It is fitted with an automated loading system. It is compatible with all standard NATO 155 mm ammunition. Maximum range of fire is 24.7 km with standard HE-FRAG projectile and 32 km with a rocket assisted projectile. The AS90 is capable of firing 3 rounds in 10 seconds. Maximum rate of fire is 6 rounds per minute, sustained - 2 rounds per minute. A total of 48 rounds are carried.

   The British AS90 is supported by an 8x8 high mobility logistic support vehicle, fitted with a load handling system. It is used to transport ammunition.

   The AS90 Braveheart was an upgrade programme of the AS90. It was fitted with longer 155 / L52 gun and had improved range of fire. This project was terminated. However BAE Systems created a Krab artillery system fitted the AS90 Braveheart turret on a modified PT-91 Twardy main battle tank chassis. This artillery system was aimed to meet a Polish Army requirement. Eventually it was adopted and deliveries commenced in 2012. Polish Army requirement was for 80 howitzers of this type. However the whole program was plagued with problems.

 

 

Top 10 self-propelled howitzers

Nr.10 2S19 Msta-S (Russia)

 

   The 2S19 Msta-S self-propelled howitzer entered service with the Soviet Army in 1989. Currently it is in service with Russia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Ethiopia, Georgia, Ukraine and Venezuela. Russian Army operates about 550 of these artillery systems.

   This artillery system is fitted with an semi-automatic loader that can load the gun at any angle. The Msta-S is compatible with all standard Soviet and Russian 152 mm shells. It fires a wide range of munitions, including standard and rocket-assisted HE-FRAG projectiles, cluster projectiles with anti-tank submunitions, jammer carrying projectiles. It is capable of firing Krasnopol precision guided munitions. Maximum range of fire is 24.7 km with standard HE-FRAG projectile and 28.9 with rocket-assisted projectile. The Krasnopol  projectile has a maximum range of 20-25 km and a hit probability of 70-90%, depending on the version. It can also engage moving vehicles.

   Maximum rate of fire is 7-8 rounds per minute. A total of 50 rounds are carried inside the Msta-S. This artillery system has got no dedicated reloading vehicle. However there is a separate conveyer in the rear of the turret allows loading of ground ammunition.

   The 2S19M2 is a recent upgraded version. It was adopted by the Russian Army in 2013.

 

 

 

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Self-Propelled Howitzers