Artillery: December 1, 2000

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The Greek Army has ordered and is to receive within a few weeks a dozen Slovak-built Zuzana 8x8 155mm 45-caliber wheeled armored self-propelled guns. These are westernized commercial export versions of the Czechoslovak DANA howitzer which was produced during the Warsaw Pact years. Officially, the guns are a trial batch to be assigned to the Greek Army Rapid Reaction Force (intended to join NATO peacekeeping units), but some analysts are convinced that the guns are actually intended for use by the Greek-Cypriot Army on the island of Cyprus. The Zuzana is a workable weapon, based on the proven DANA design. Zuzana is based on a modernized 8x8 Tatra 815 chassis, and mounts the western 155mm gun in an armored turret. The vehicle carries 40 shells, and can fire 6 of them in the first minute by using an autoloader. As the autoloader can be set to hold five shells, the Zuzana would be perfect for "shoot and scoot" tactics to avoid counter-battery fire. Its armor is comparable to that of tracked armored artillery (primarily proof against shell splinters and small arms fire). Range for full-bore base-bleed shells is 39.6km, perfectly acceptable in the current market. Zuzana can fire all standard NATO 155mm rounds. Zuzana is a relatively new weapon. While 750 DANAs were built (mostly for use by Warsaw Pact units), only a handful of Zuzanas have built. The Slovak Army has 17 of them (and wants 78 but may not have the funding for that many). The company (ZTS) hopes that the Greek sale will be the breakthrough that introduces the weapon to NATO forces, particularly those of the former Pact nations now members of NATO. ZTS also offers an ammunition vehicle on a 6x6 chassis which can carry 120 extra rounds for the Zuzana.-- Stephen V Cole

 


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