Slovak howitzers can succeed in two non-European countries

 02. 04. 2024      category: Events
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Self-propelled howitzers are one of the main products of the Slovak defence industry. The best known is the Zuzana 2, which is deployed in the Armed Forces of the Slovak Republic (AF SR) and the Ukrainian Army. According to the latest information from the Slovak media, Zuzana 2 has also attracted the attention of Brazil, which plans to purchase up to 36 new self-propelled howitzers based on the results of a tender currently underway. On the other side of the globe, namely in Malaysia, the Slovak Eva artillery system may break through again.

The production of self-propelled artillery systems has been carried out for several decades in Dubnica nad Váhom, and is currently carried out by the state-owned Konštrukta-Defence armament factory, which is part of the state-owned DMD Group. Its portfolio also includes the Zuzana 2 and Eva howitzers, and these systems are now close to success on foreign markets outside Europe.

Foto: Vize a plány nové slovenské vlády na nadcházející volební období definuje programové prohlášení vlády včetně priorit v oblasti obrany a bezpečnosti. | Michal Pivoňka / CZ DEFENCE
Picture: Slovak self-propelled howitzer Zuzana 2 | Michal Pivoňka / CZ DEFENCE

Recently, information appeared in the Slovak media that the Zuzana 2 howitzer is in the final stage of the Brazilian tender, when this Latin American country or its army published a call for tenders last August. Brazil intends to purchase 36 of the new self-propelled guns, which will partially replace the existing M114A1 systems in its arsenal. Along with the call for tenders, the Brazilian army also published the conditions that the future new artillery systems must meet. The main weapon is to be a 155 millimetre gun with a barrel length of 52 calibre. The additional armament is to be a 7.62mm or 12.7mm machine gun, and the howitzer chassis is to be in a 6x6 or 8x8 configuration with a range of over 500 kilometres. At the same time, the new howitzers must be able to carry a crew of six and fire conventional artillery projectiles and extended-range ammunition according to NATO standards. The howitzers are also to be equipped with smoke grenade launchers.

Based on the available information, the Slovak Zuzana 2 howitzer fulfils all the necessary conditions and together with the French CAESAR system, the Israeli ATMOS gun and the Chinese SH15 system it has advanced to the second phase of the tender. In early May this year, Brazil is expected to announce the selection of the two best bids, which will then be tested in the final phase and adapted to the needs of the Brazilian army according to the results of the military tests.

However, Brazil is not the only country where Konstrukta-Defence is currently offering its howitzers. In Malaysia, there is intense talk that the local army is interested in 18 Slovak Eva artillery systems worth around 157 million euros. The final verdict on the Eva howitzers for Malaysia is also expected to be given during May this year. According to Stefan Škultety, former director of the Slovak state-owned DMD Group, the Eva howitzer is a more suitable type for Malaysia than the more popular Zuzana 2. This is mainly due to the fact that the Eva, with its weight of around 28 tonnes, is significantly lighter than the Zuzana 2 (weighing almost 34 tonnes) and is thus more adapted to the local climate. If successful, this would be the first reference order for the Eva howitzer.

Foto: Samohybná houfnice Eva na podvozku Tatra 8×8 | Konštrukta-Defence
Picture: Eva self-propelled howitzer on Tatra 8×8 chassis | Konštrukta-Defence

Last summer, there was also talk of a possible Slovak-Ukrainian development of a new self-propelled artillery system based on the Slovak Eva. The manufacturer of the Eva howitzer, Konstrukta-Defence, and the Kramatorsky heavy engineering plant even signed a memorandum on joint development and declared their intention to present a working sample within one year of the signing of the memorandum.

The success of the Slovak howitzers in Brazil and Malaysia would be a significant boost for the Slovak defence industry, which would thus confirm its competitiveness, even compared to the world's leading manufacturers. At the same time, the Slovak economy would benefit from both projects in the form of taxes and levies as well as employment support.

 Author: Otto Dóka

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