The contract with Kiev for the manufacture of howitzers has not yet been signed, but artillery vehicles are already at the final stage of production.
Artillery system Zuzana-2, upgraded by the Slovak company Konstrukta Defense, a version of the Czechoslovakian 152 mm Dana howitzer, which was created in the late 1970s. The machine was designed and manufactured by the Czechoslovak company ZTS and entered service in 1981. The Slovaks began modernization work in 2018. Later, the government signed a contract to supply the army with 25 howitzers, the first eight of which were commissioned in 2021. Today, the Czech army also buys them for itself.
The new self-propelled howitzer is based on a TATRA tractor with an 8x8 wheel arrangement. The maximum firing range of the gun is just over 41 kilometers when using extended-range ammunition, the minimum is five kilometers. The howitzer is equipped with an automatic loading system that provides a maximum rate of fire of five rounds per minute. In manual mode, it is capable of firing two shots per minute.
The ammunition load includes 40 shells and charges for them. Of these, 30 are in the machine shop, and the rest are stacked separately. The Slovak howitzer accepts all standard NATO 155mm ammunition. The howitzer is also equipped with a 12.7 mm heavy machine gun.
The artillery system is located inside a fully enclosed tower, consisting of two parts, separated by a door. There are hatches in the roof. The hull and turret provide protection against 12.7 mm small arms fire and artillery shell fragments.
Four smoke grenade launchers on each side in front of the turret create a dense curtain, if necessary, allowing you to quietly leave the position. The barrel can move in the range from minus 3.3 to plus 70 degrees to the horizon.
At the firing position, the vehicle is stabilized by three hydraulic jacks: one at the rear and two at the sides. They drop to the ground point-blank.
Small bullet-proof windows are installed in front and to the side of the driver's seat, which can also be covered with a steel shutter. He can leave the car through the hatch on the right side. The driver can fire from service weapons through round holes to the right and left of him. The Zuzana-2 crew consists of four people: driver, commander, gunner and loader.
The tractor from the Czech company Tatra is powered by an eight-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine that develops 442 horsepower. The maximum speed is 80 kilometers per hour, and the cruising range is 600 kilometers.
The standard equipment of self-propelled guns includes a chemical protection system, air conditioning, a fire control computer interfaced with digital maps, a navigation system, an automatic leveling sight, a muzzle velocity sensor and electronic equipment for providing information about the target. The machine is also equipped with a central tire inflation system.
The terms of the contract to be signed have not been disclosed. Whether we are talking about some amount that Kiev will have to pay, or Bratislava wants to include weapons in the American Lend-Lease account, or another scheme has been devised, it is not known. In any case, Kyiv's solvency is currently questionable.
Most likely, one way or another, Washington or NATO allies will compensate for the damage. Not for nothing, of course, but at a discount. This is exactly what another Bratislava arms deal looks like, which concerned the T-72M1 tanks. At first, Slovakia tried to bargain with Washington for special conditions for the supply of natural gas. The situation in this state is extremely difficult. It receives 85% of this energy source from Russia. Now Bratislava is negotiating to replace retired armored vehicles with German Leopard main tanks.