Patria to develop Finland’s first wheeled 155mm self-propelled howitzer

Patria to develop Finland’s first wheeled 155mm self-propelled howitzer

The Finnish company Patria is currently working to create the first Finnish 8×8 self-propelled howitzer by integrating the 155K98 155mm howitzer onto the chassis of a Sisu E13TP 8×8 truck. Plans for testing the new configuration are set for the coming winter, indicating an important phase to enhance the mobility of this artillery system to facilitate rapid deployment and relocation, crucial in avoiding enemy counterfire.

As announced by the company herself, Patria has retained its capacity to restart the production of the 155K98 155mm howitzer, developed in 1997 and produced until 2005 both in Finland and under license in Egypt at Abu Zaabal Engineering Industries. Vesa Toivonen, the weapon systems testing manager at Patria, noted that despite the hiatus in production, the company has continuously maintained and developed its artillery manufacturing capabilities, which included upgrades like the enhancement of the 155K98’s barrel and other modifications that have sustained the field cannons’ utility and effectiveness. Additionally, Patria has consistently produced and supplied the Finnish Army with essential spare parts for these howitzers, ensuring the operational readiness of the artillery units.

Like the British FH-70 howitzer, the 155K98 is equipped with an auxiliary motor, which allows the howitzer to move independently over short distances at a maximum movement speed of 15 km/h. This is beneficial in conflict areas such as Ukraine, where current artillery warfare largely involves long-range engagements where direct sight contact is rare, typically made through drone surveillance. Artillery units employ tactics where they quickly vacate their firing position post-engagement to evade enemy detection and attack, mainly conducted by counterbattery fire and FPV drones.

b1c5d972 b10f 4708 9300 5c1958685c26The mobility of the 155K98 howitzer has been a focus for Patria for several years, as the idea of mounting this howitzer on a wheeled platform was first proposed by Patria to the Finnish Defense Committee in 2015 during discussions about potential new artillery acquisitions. Despite initially opting for the South Korean K9 Thunder system, the Finnish Ministry of Defense revisited the idea of developing a domestically-produced artillery system following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which highlighted the strategic role of artillery systems being capable of rapid redeployment. Previously, in 2005, Patria introduced a tracked self-propelled howitzer named the 155GH52-SP-T55, which utilized the same 155K98 howitzer. This prototype, based on a T-55 tank chassis, was developed specifically for export to Egypt.

Details on the current progress of the project have not been disclosed, but Patria has expressed that resuming the production of these artillery units is essential for the development of the unnamed wheeled self-propelled gun system. There is also an ongoing assessment regarding the potential export market for these systems upon successful completion of the project, as the 155mm 155K98 howitzer can fire conventional high-explosive fragmentation shells to a range of up to 40 kilometers.

The 155 K 98, also known as the 155 GH 52 APU, is a 155 mm cannon howitzer that has been in service since 1998, following its development based on the earlier 155 K 83 model. This artillery system, weighing 14,580 kg with a 52 caliber barrel length, is designed for both towed and self-propelled operations. It employs a semi-automatic wedge breech mechanism and can achieve a firing rate of 6 to 10 rounds per minute, with a rapid burst capability of 3 rounds in 12 seconds. It is equipped with a rotating telescope for sighting and includes an inertial positioning unit and an exit speed radar for firing control, which aids in accurate targeting and managing effective ranges.

The Sisu E13TP, available in both 6×6 and 8×8 configurations, entered service in 2008, and will likely serve as the basis of the First Finnish 8×8 self-propelled howitzer. The E13TP features a mine-protected chassis and an armored cabin that accommodates two occupants. The vehicle is powered by a 445hp Caterpillar C 13 engine coupled with a 6-speed Allison 4500 automatic transmission, allowing for a top speed of 90 km/h. The truck, which is designed to carry a payload of up to 20,000 kg, has an operational range of 900 km and an empty weight of 18,000 kg. The Sisu E13TP 8×8 serves various military functions, including carrying radar and missile systems, and is capable of operating in harsh conditions thanks to its all-wheel drive and integrated load handling system.

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