Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki called the supply of 56 Krab self-propelled gun-howitzers (SPG) to Kyiv worth $700 million a historical and largest Polish arms export in 20 years.
Part of this amount will be paid by donors from the EU, another part will be paid by the customer. What is the SPG Krab for Ukraine and how is it useful in battle?
What Polish Krab was assembled from
The Krab SPG are, in fact, a tracked chassis from the Korean K-9 Thunder, a British licensed turret from the AS-90, and a 52-caliber 155 mm barrel from Rheinmetall.
The Poles themselves mastered the production of only classic high-explosive ammunition, but, fortunately, the market is full of exotics in the form of rocket-assisted, cluster and smoke 155 mm gifts, and guided shells are also available to us via the USA and Canada.
In the first batches, all this was delivered on a turnkey basis and for CKD assembly, but later it was largely localized in Poland by the Huta Stalowa Wola concern. And since about 2018, our neighbors have even mastered the barrel and BCG (Bolt Carrier Group).
In general — a great modern vehicle. For its 55 tons, it has quite good off-road passing ability, and the proven transmission from Allison and a 1,000-horsepower German diesel engine give out 60 km/h on the highway.
The Krab is equipped with a fire extinguishing system, navigation, a secure digital communication channel, the motor driver mechanic and commander have night vision devices.
Even a laser exposure warning system has been implemented — if an ATGM or a helicopter draws a bead on the Crab with a beam, then a signal is sent to the crew, and an aerosol smoke screen is automatically fired.
Topaz system and engagement range
The Krab has a built-in Topaz fire control system — a ballistic computer and a curvature correction computer, paired with a turret position control computer, increase accuracy and reduce the consumption of rounds for adjusting fire.
The Krab shoots at a distance of up to 40 km. The maximum rate of fire is six rounds per minute, which is good enough for separate loading and a semi-automatic ammunition supply system.
The speed of bringing into combat position from a halt is 30 seconds. The crew includes a mechanic, two loaders, gun commander, and a gunner. There are 24 vehicles in the battalion — three 8-gun batteries. Everything is supplied together as a package solution, the so-called Regina battalion.
Regina is extremely filled with controls — each firing platoon of four vehicles has its own command and staff vehicle, which already exchange data with a battery CV (Operation Command Vehicle).
What does that give? It makes it possible to pull apart platoons, like mini-batteries, and relieves the burden on officers who order a fire party.
There is a separate reconnaissance platoon, also with its own command level, organic UAVs, and wheeled armored vehicles with rangefinders and ballistic computers. There is a separate platoon with a counter-battery radar.
The command of the entire battalion gets all command and staff vehicles on caterpillar tracks.
Plus supplies: six Jelcz wheeled vehicles for resupplying ammunition, a special engineering obstacle-clearing vehicle, despite the fact that each SPG is equipped with a blade for digging a caponier.
How many Krabs Kyiv may get
The production rate for the Polish army is 80 vehicles since 2016, when the contract was signed. Average annual rate is 16 SPGs.
In principle, this is not bad — the same Turks produce their Fırtınas (localization of the Korean Thunder) at a speed of up to 20 under the plan of 24 pieces.
This, by the way, is about the opportunity to get all self-propelled guns ordered by Kyiv for $ 700 million by autumn.
There are two things to understand here.
First, you can't just divide 56 SPGs by the price and get $12.5 million per barrel. Because a package solution with control vehicles, loading, spare parts, and ammunition is sold to Ukraine — the difference can reach several times, depending on the configuration.
And secondly, do not forget about the 18 donated Krabs that are already spotted at the front along with the control. Because there are no gifts in the weapons options, but there are emergency supplies from the availability at the expense of the owner, which can greatly impact the subsequent contract.
We can definitely say that the production of this year will not help to cover it, which means that they will also be dispatched from the on-hand of the Polish Army.
In total, Kyiv will get 74 vehicles — three full battalions. For the Poles themselves, this is not the level of a brigade, but higher: an artillery regiment attached to a division.
Probably, here, in Ukraine, they will also be sent not to the brigade artillery groups, but to the OABR separate artillery brigade here.
Even without exotics in the form of gas generators and guided projectiles, this is an excellent SPG, influencing the operational level of war in such numbers.
The Poles, who send Krabs from their on-hand, slowing down the rearmament of their own army, are the best answer to Russian propagandists who vomit with nonsense about Warsaw that allegedly seeks to "return" Lviv.
If not for Poland with its hundreds of tanks, MANPADS, heavy guns, and SPGs, the cost of war for Ukraine would have been critically heavier and bloodier. We won't forget this.