At the end of 2014 a Polish company signed a deal to build under license the South Korean K-9 Thunder chassis. This deal was needed to keep the Polish KRAB self-propelled 155mm howitzer program going. K-9 Thunder chassis is used for a South Korean self-propelled artillery vehicle and now will be used by the Polish one as well. Initially 36 chassis will be built in South Korea. The remaining 86 chassis will be built in Poland and the result will be 120 KRAB self-propelled howitzers.
Back in 1991 Polish military leaders began working on developing a new artillery system. This eventually evolved into the KRAB system which included new command, communications and fire control subsystems. “KRAB” was designed to have longer (40 kilometer) range than the existing Russian 152mm artillery systems used by Polish forces. Poland eliminated a lot of development time and expense arranged to build, under license, a complete turret system based on the British AS-90/52 Braveheart. Initially the chassis was to be designed and built in Poland. But by 2003 only two prototypes (rather than six) had been built. These two had gone through intensive testing before program was frozen due financial problems. By 2008 these problems were fixed and another 6 howitzers were ordered. Then in 2010 micro cracks were detected in metal used in KRAB chassis. Investigators found out that subcontractor had used some old steel which was not of the quality required for the job. Around the same time the company providing the engine found they could not do so. Designers then sought to use a German engine but found this would require a hull redesign which, it was later discovered would produce engine overheating problems.
After five years of unsuccessful efforts to fix these problems the manufacturer admitted defeat and withdrew. Later in 2014 the government determined that the KRAB program was essential and approved the use of a license built armored chassis. Thus after 15 years of efforts the Polish Army will finally get the promised new artillery system that is, most importantly, compatible with NATO standards. KRAB is a 52 ton armored vehicle with a crew of five. The vehicle is expected to enter service in 2016. -- Przemys&&22;aw Juraszek