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Western Barrels Prove Exceptionally Durable Midst the Intense Warfare in Ukraine

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PzH 2000 of the Armed Forces of Ukraine / Illustrative photo credits: 43rd Artillery Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, AFU StratCom
PzH 2000 of the Armed Forces of Ukraine / Illustrative photo credits: 43rd Artillery Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, AFU StratCom

Occasionally, guns significantly outperform the service life declared in the tech documents, estimated by the manufacturer

The russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 has underscored the importance of modern artillery on the battlefield. With the intensity of warfare unfolding, with Ukrainian Armed Forces firing thousands of shells each day, the manufacturers focused on expanding the capabilities of their field artillery, from increasing range and accuracy of fire to resuming the production of certain systems, National Defense Magazine notes (for example, the U.S. allocated $50 million to renew the production of M777 howitzers.)

At the same time, some of the artillery systems have already exceeded the expectations of even their creators. In particular, the barrels of the L52 gun employed on the Panzerhaubitze 2000 (PzH 2000), have proven exceptionally durable in the conditions of intense utilization by Ukrainian forces.

Read more: U.S. Army Will Get New M777 Howitzers from BAE Systems
PzH 2000 of the Armed Forces of Ukraine
PzH 2000 of the Armed Forces of Ukraine / Illustrative photo credit: 43rd Artillery Brigade

"We’ve gotten direct feedback from the Ukrainian chief of artillery. <…> They love the howitzer mobility and the accuracy of both the weapon [referring to the PzH 2000] and the SMArt 155 sensor-fused top attack anti-armor munition that has been really proving itself in the Ukraine," said Jon Milner, director for business development, weapons and munitions at American Rheinmetall Defense Inc., as he was convincing the journalist why the 52-caliber long L52 gun would be a good choice for the U.S. military, too.

Inspections of the barrels of PzH 2000 self-propelled guns sent for repair revealed that wear on the barrels was not as significant as expected, despite many of these guns having fired some 4,000 to 9,000 shots.

Side note, earlier Armin Papperger, CEO of Rheinmetall, shared that barrels of the PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzers can consistently endure a truly record-breaking number of up to 20,000 shots discharged without the need for repair or replacement. The normative indicator for replacement assessed by the manufacturer is around 4,500 shots.

Ukrainian technicians learn repair and maintenance of PzH 2000 howitzers
Ukrainian technicians learn repair and maintenance of PzH 2000 howitzers / Illustrative photo credit: Lithuanian National Radio and Television

"Because of Ukraine and other things, that production line has basically doubled in capacity. We currently make both large caliber tank and 155 mm howitzer barrels on the same line at a rate of approximately 200 per year," Jon Milner stated.

A brief reminder from Defense Express, the American Rheinmetall Defense is only a U.S. hub for weapons manufactured in Germany. Meanwhile, the United States, according to last year's report by The Wall Street Journal, was producing 300 to 900 gun barrels per year at its Watervliet arsenal, including those intended for supply to the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Read more: ​Ukrainian PzH 2000 Breaks Record Having Fired 20,000 Rounds Already