Grumpy Old Man
Verified Defense Pro
catchall thread for Germany
I generally agree with this.cypherbrief op-ed, German Armed Forces Modernize, Build Cyber Defenses
agree, its a mackinder conflict - a continental war in the first instance and the majority of the conflictThinking mainly about SSKs seems like a very Australian way of looking at things. A conflict in the east will mainly be decided on land and in the air with the baltic sea being important but not crucial (and well covered already compared to the Russian strength there).
But the PzH itself isn't the most modern of systems. Is Germany looking into getting a fully automated SP Arty like the Swedish Archer or the Russian Coalition-SV? Both offer considerable advantages in RoF, crew size, and set-up time. To me personally it's amazing that the Swedes are the only ones who bothered with a truly advanced SP Arty system.As for Germany not putting it's artillery (or other forces) into harms way. We operated PzH2000s in Afghanistan and right now they reinforce the rather heavy German lead battlegroup in the Baltics to which the Bundeswehr added MBTs, IFVs and support units.
There's a difference between the munition and the arty piece itself. With the Swedes and the Russians, we're looking at fully automated artillery systems controlled basically, remotely, from inside an armored compartment. In the case of the Russian 2S35, they claim to have reduced crew size to two people. Eventually, this is heading for a future where an entire arty battery can be controlled remotely by an operator sitting in a safe position in a battery command post vehicle.
PzH2000 requires a driver, a commander and a single loader. The loader's function is to operate and watch the already automatic loading system. KMW has a concept in its drawers that eliminates that crew member. As a finished vehicle since about a decade ago.we're looking at fully automated artillery systems controlled basically, remotely, from inside an armored compartment. In the case of the Russian 2S35, they claim to have reduced crew size to two people.
Interesting. All the info I've seen, and granted I haven't seen much, seems to indicate a crew of 5. Is it that it can carry a crew of 5 but only requires 3?The above plans published by FAZ (a rather conservative daily paper in Germany) have been officially denied by the Ministry of Defense.
For a one-sentence summary, under those plans Germany would have added a single extra mechanized brigade, reintroduced brigade artillery and sorted out all light forces into separate commands, also introducing an extra brigade there to field medium equipment shifted away from the armoured troops. Not much more than that.
PzH2000 requires a driver, a commander and a single loader. The loader's function is to operate and watch the already automatic loading system. KMW has a concept in its drawers that eliminates that crew member. As a finished vehicle since about a decade ago.
Thank you for the clarification."Loader 2" and "Gunner 1" are only required if automatic systems fail, i.e. as a manual backup. "Gunner 1" would take over manual gun laying, "Loader 2" would load ammunition instead of the autoloader; as required crew "Loader 1" places the charges, "Commander" fires the gun, "Driver" drives. That's the original layout at least.
The "Loader 1" position is not used anymore in German operations (i.e. the vehicles are run with a 4-man crew) with "Gunner 1" instead taking over placing the charges and "Loader 2" mostly twiddling his thumbs just sitting around* and as a fig leaf operating the pintle-mount machine gun when necessary.
In stationary operations in Afghanistan the PzH operated with 3-man crews (no driver), with "Loader" responsible for reloading the vehicle's magazine from outside, a role he'd also typically fill on firing ranges.
The unmanned AGM version of the PzH2000 turret - apart from the smaller magazine to save weight - has its only major change in using a separate autoloader for the charges, eliminating the need for the third man in the back.
* - Literally. You can find video evidence on youtube
Russia seems to agree, they're pursuing the Coalition-SV on both tracked and wheeled chassis.Would have been too good if true. Although the MoD needed some time for it's rebuke so probably we are at least going into a similar direction as recent announcements hinted.
As for Archer an PzH2000. As Kato said, real crew requirements are nearly identical. Archer is also not all that much newer considering it's long development time.
The PzH carries nearly three times the onboard ammunition. With just 21 rounds onboard an Archer unit is presses hard to keep all kinds of rounds available for fire missions (HE, AT like SMARt, PGM like Vulcano, Smoke, Illum...). It should also be a bit more mobile in rough terrain due to it being tracked and less vulnerable due to better protection while being less mobile on roads.
I for one see trucked based systems like archer or CEASAR (although a different, less automated design) or possibly a Boxer based Donar as an additional capability and not as a 1 to 1 replacement for heavy tracked SPGs.
Specialization and automation are the way of the future. It's a matter of when and how, not if. I would love to see what the TO&E for the new 2S35-based arty btlns looks like but so far there are ~2 btlns online, one doing state trials, and one doing experimental exploitation. It remains to be seen what emerges.You also hit a problem with day to day operations when operating heavy vehicles with very few men. Things like track/wheel/general maintenance, radio watch times, perimeter security, cable laying (as important as ever!) etc.. A two men crew is really hard pressed to do all this so you essentially have to add additional APC based warm bodies to your TOE at which point you have to ask if having them directly at your gun vehicles isn't more usefull.
Wouldn't it be a case of specialization? I.e. a smaller crew of professional maintenance personnel who have little to do with tactical operations but can help with the general maintenance you've described?Automation is definitely an important aspect of every future vehicle design. I bet Germany will never again design a 5 men SPG or a 4 men MBT.
But there are also practical limits which correlate with operating heavy equipment in a warzone with all the additional tasks and requirements attached.
The 2nd battery of each of the current artillery battalions is a reconnaissance company equipped with two COBRA counter-battery radars and two platoons with KZO drones (10 drones total in battery).EDIT: What about organically integrating UAVs into the force-orgs of arty btlns? I guess I should ask a broader question about dedicated recon assets for arty units in Germany.