October 2, 2005:
With so many Cold War era self-propelled artillery systems getting too old to operate, there is a growing market for replacement equipment. Russia has taken advantage of the situation by aggressively marketing their 2S19 152mm self-propelled gun. This system is basically a T-80 tank chassis, with much larger turret and the 152mm artillery piece installed. The vehicle weighs 43 tons, has a five man crew and carries fifty rounds of ammo with it. Equipped with GPS and other modern electronics, the 2S19 sells for much less (often half) than what Western firms are asking for similar systems. Russian tanks and are artillery have a good reputation for reliability, and getting the job done. The Russians have a wide array of modern 152 munitions available, including the laser guided Krasnopol round. The vehicle has an auxiliary power unit, so the 2S19 can sit in one place, ready to fire on short notice. The gun can fire up to eight rounds a minute, and is capable of "shoot and scoot" (stopping quickly, firing off a few rounds at a distant target, then moving on quickly before anyone can fire back.) Depending on the type of ammo fired, max range is up to 30 kilometers (or more.) The 2S19 entered service in 1989, just in time for the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the era of no-money-for-new-equipment. This means that few have been sold, even to the Russian army. But now the factories are ready to produce the system for both the Russian forces, and foreign customers.