Slovak wheeled self-propelled howitzer ‘God of war’ goes to Latvia
BRATISLAVA, (BM) – According to the Slovak armed forces, Zuzana wheeled self-propelled howitzers sent to Latvia and learned BulgarianMilitary.com, citing Defence24. A program is currently underway to replace these systems and bring the new Zuzan 2s that were purchased two years ago to line service. Both artillery systems mentioned above are of a 155 mm caliber, compliant with NATO standards.
They will join the multinational battle group of the NATO Response Force that rotates in Latvia as part of strengthening the eastern flank of the North Atlantic Alliance. These cannon-howitzers are part of two-barrel artillery batteries of the self-propelled artillery battalion from Michalovce in east Slovakia.
This battalion is part of the 2nd Mechanized Brigade from Prešov. The Slovak Army artillery subunits also include the Rożniawa missile battalion, which consists of three RM-70/85 Modular multi-lead missile launcher batteries and is part of the 1st Mechanized Brigade from Topolczany.
In April 2018, the Slovak Armed Forces signed an agreement with the Slovak company KONŠTRUKTA-DEFENSE [part of the DMD Group] to deliver 25 Zuzana 2 wheeled 155 mm self-propelled howitzers. Deliveries are to be made in 2020-2021, and all systems are to be brand new. The total value of this contract is approximately EUR 175 million. For the purchase, EUR 151.7 million will be allocated along with a training and support package, with EUR 19.32 million to purchase 155 mm ammunition.
Zuzana 2 is a modernized version of the Slovak Zuzana wheeled self-propelled howitzer [which is a modernization of the Czechoslovak DANA vz. 77 system] designed and produced by the Slovak company KONŠTRUKTA-DEFENCE. Compared to the previous version, the Zuzana 2 was armed with a new, longer barrel with a length of 52 calibers [previously 45 calibers] and equipped with a new armored cabin. The turret has full 360-degree rotation [once only 60 degrees], and thanks to automation, the number of crew members has been reduced from 4 to 3.
Currently, the Zuzana 1 systems are still in use – and as can be seen, they are still in use in NATO operations, which constitute a significant reinforcement for the battalion group, which, apart from the Canadian and Slovak commanders [BVP-2 company], also includes Poles on PT-91 Twardy. It is worth mentioning that Slovakia also has RM-70/85 Modular rocket launchers, which at the beginning of this century underwent modernization, allowing them to fire 227 mm caliber missiles [interchangeable with the previous 122 mm].
Bratislava used to have M26 missiles with 227 mm cluster warheads, but these were decommissioned due to the signing of the Convention Banning Cluster Munitions. However, theoretically, Modular systems could fire 227 mm missiles with other warheads, such as the GLSDB type, after appropriate adjustments.
New US special operations center has been established in Latvia
According to USSOCOM, a new special operations center has been established in the Latvian capital Riga, as we already reported on December 5. This project has received funding from the Pentagon of USD 3.7 million and is implementing as part of the European Deterrence Initiative, whose primary goal is to secure NATO’s eastern flank.
The strategic location of this center in the very center of the Baltic states and the mere fact of its creation will allow for a significant expansion of the operational capabilities of the American special forces in this region. The new headquarters of American specialists in Latvia includes, among others, a military vehicle service point, weapons and ammunition warehouse, and two helipads, which can also be used by the V-22 Osprey multi-purpose powered lift from the 352th Special Operations Wing from Great Britain.
“This project, along with other major European defense initiatives, represents our continued commitment to our friend and ally Latvia,” a spokesman for the Special Operations Command-Europe Lt. Col. Juan Martinez.
The center officially opened last week at a ceremony attended by US diplomats and Latvian military commanders. The main goal of this center is to enable US special forces to quickly enter and exit the area of operations and conduct ongoing maintenance and supply works.
Subsequently, it plans to build a facility that will increase the number of personnel and military equipment transferred to the Baltic States for exercises or in response to a crisis. In July this year, the program for the modernization of the Estonian Amari airbase was completed, which cost USD 10.8 million. The investment increased US and Allied air forces’ operational capability from the northernmost airbase in the region.
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