On 13 April the Croatian Ministry of Defence (MoD) presented the country's first two Panzerhaubitze (PzH) 2000 155 mm self-propelled howitzers (SPHs), which were bought second-hand from Germany, modified to Croatian standards, and arrived in the country a few days before.
The two SPHs are the first batch of a total of 16 PzH 2000s procured, the rest of which will arrive by the end of the year. Twelve of the systems are to be fully operational, one is a driver-trainer (which was one of the first two delivered), and three will be used as a source of spares.
The Croatian PzH 2000 modifications centred on the communication suite, data management software, and fire control system, which were modified to Croatian military standards and translated into Croatian. The overall cost of the procurement value has risen considerably since the systems were first purchased in 2014, from around HRK300 million (USD43 million) to HRK352.5 million by the end of 2016 and now to around HRK444 million. While the first increase was explained by the cost of a 2015 contract with NSPA for maintenance and modification to Croatian standards as well as a fire-control upgrade, the recent hike in costs was allegedly due to the additional procurement and installation of the communications equipment.
The training of Croatian crews and technicians has been ongoing for almost two years, making the Croatian armed forces capable of putting all 12 weapons into active service as soon as they arrive in Croatia. The first live-fire exercises with the systems are expected during the second half of this year, although more time will be required for the full integration of the PzH 2000s with Croatia's new observation systems: 16 OH-58D helicopters recently donated by the United States and a yet-to-be-procured unmanned aerial vehicle system.
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