No matter how much Berlin tried to limit its role in further deliveries of heavy weapons to Ukraine only by allowing other countries to transfer German weapons, it nevertheless surrendered under pressure from Washington. Germany has decided to send seven Panzerhaubitze (PzH) 2000 self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine. They will complement the five howitzers that Berlin has given permission to send to the Netherlands.
Initially, back in mid-April, the management of Krauss Maffei Wegmann announced its intention to sell 100 PzH 2000 howitzers to Ukraine. Allegedly, the company received a corresponding commercial offer from Kyiv. However, a little later, talk of a deal subsided, but undisguised pressure began from all sides on the German government. Berlin resisted as best it could. By the way, the number of howitzers being sent can also be seen as an act of resistance, evidence of the resilience of the political spirit and a small revenge for Kyiv's criticism of top German officials.
It must be admitted that the Germans know how to make artillery. Old school. Krauss Maffei Wegmann and Rheinmetall began to design the two thousandth self-propelled gun in the late 80s of the last century. At the end of 2002, the PzH 2000 self-propelled artillery mount (ACS) was already ordered for the armed forces of Germany, Greece, Italy and the Netherlands. Later, some other countries joined the queue.
The 155mm barrel is compatible with all projectiles and propellants used in NATO today. The effective fire range for conventional ammunition is 30 kilometers, for active-reactive - up to 41. In particular, Rheinmetall's RH 40 shot is distinguished by such a firing range. The German howitzer can also fire South African rockets, which have a range of up to 56 kilometers.
Electric drives provide vertical aiming of the gun in the range from 2.5 to 65 degrees and turret rotation by 360 degrees. To ensure accurate aiming of the gun, the self-propelled gun is equipped with a GPS navigation system and an on-board electronic ballistic computer. Data on targets come to it from the fire control point via a radio channel.
In fact, the gun can perform a combat mission autonomously. The aiming is checked and corrected after each shot automatically. The automatic loader can operate in automatic, semi-automatic and emergency manual modes. It allows you to maintain a rate of 10 rounds per minute, and the upgraded automatic loader can handle up to 12 rounds. In the central part of the hull, 60 shells and 288 modular propellant charges are placed.
PzH 2000 is also armed with a 7.62 mm anti-aircraft machine gun. The standard combat crew is five people, but three can handle the entire amount of work.
The self-propelled guns were built on a tracked armored chassis with a turret mounted at the rear of the hull. The armor provides protection against small arms fire and artillery shell fragments. When equipped, the self-propelled gun weighs about 60 tons. Its length, together with the cannon, reaches almost 12 meters. A thousand horsepower diesel engine is coupled to an automatic transmission. The driver has four speeds forward and two reverse. Self-propelled gun can move on roads at speeds up to 60 kilometers per hour. The maximum power reserve is 420 kilometers.
The German newspaper Welt, reporting on the decision to send howitzers to Kyiv, also spoke about the unexpected disagreement between German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Defense Minister Christina Lambrecht. The minister did not recommend giving self-propelled guns. She was worried that Germany would weaken its defenses, since although there are 121 howitzers in service, only 40 are operational. Another argument was put forward - the ministry doubts that Ukrainian artillerymen will be able to master the art of working with a digital fire control system on the Panzerhaubitze 2000.
The disagreement is surprising in that the position expressed by the minister is similar to the one that the chancellor had only recently adhered to. He also justified his restrained position in comparison, for example, with the Poles, by the danger of weakening Germany's defense capability, as well as by the impossibility of fulfilling obligations to NATO member countries in the event of excessive depletion of the arsenal. In terms of these theses, the chancellor even managed to refuse to supply Marder infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine.
There is at least one other argument that has been made in Berlin a couple of times. Some members of the German political elite seriously fear that direct military supplies could lead to Germany's involvement in an armed conflict with Russia.
This is not to say that this hypothesis is completely unfounded. The confrontation between Russia and NATO has reached such a high level that at any moment it can turn into the very direct armed clash that the Germans fear. The "Red Line" is literally under their feet. And if someone, for example, Poland, or Washington, who mentioned that he had begun training 11 Ukrainian pilots to fly the F-16 Fighting Falcon multifunctional light fighter of the fourth generation, it would inadvertently cross over, it would be impossible to stop.