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HN: Era of cannons far from over, Czechs products on offer

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Prague, Dec 12 (CTK) – Czech cannon manufacturers are offering their products now that Donald Trump and the Donbas conflict have changed Europe’s view on the role an artillery can play in a modern war, daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) wrote on Monday.

Experts say the experience from the war in Donbas, eastern Ukraine, has shown that artillery, including modern systems and navigation through unmanned aircraft, has a promising future, HN writes.

In addition, Europeans face pressure from Trump, the U.S. president-elect who threatens to reduce the U.S. support for the allies unless they raise their defence spending, the daily writes.

The Polish army has now bought some hundred howitzers worth an equivalent of 29 billion crowns, and the Czech and Slovak armies are planning to upgrade their artillery equipment, HN writes.

In the Ukrainian war, artilleries with a shooting range of more than 20 km and modern navigation combining electronics with drones caused considerable worry to the fighting parties. According to Polish journalist Wojciech Luczak, these artilleries are to blame for up to 85 percent of the losses suffered by the parties to the conflict, HN writes.

According to Ukrainian expert Mykhaylo Samus, even old cannons can be effectively upgraded if combined with drones and modern software.

Czech, Polish and Slovak experts say armies’ interest in the modernisation of cannons and artillery systems has grown recently. One of the companies that offer to connect cannons to modern systems of navigation and shooting control is the Czech firm Czechoslovak Group owned by Jaroslav Strnad. It has offered to modernise the 30-year-old Czechoslovak-made Dana howitzers and R-70 rocket launchers for the Czech, Polish and Slovak armies, HN writes.

Polish soldiers recently used the Dana howitzers in an armed conflict in Afghanistan, the paper writes.

“Czechoslovak Group has registered a strong domestic as well as foreign interest in artillery systems. We have reacted to the demand by offering modernisation projects,” its spokesman Andrej Cirtek is quoted as saying.

Before, the Poles have modernised some of their Dana howitzers by adding a TOPAZ system that has been developed by the WB Electronics Polish company and is compatible with NATO standards. The Slovak Povazske strojarne engineering company, for its part, supplies barrels to partner countries’ cannon producers, HN writes.

Cirtek said a possible joint modernisation of Danas would be a pioneer project within the planned cooperation of defence industries of the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland, which has been sought by central European politicians.

Modernisation of old weapons would be cheaper than the purchase of new ones, though Dana’s 152-mm caliber does not correspond to NATO standards and is incompatible with smart ammunition, the daily quotes WB Electronics deputy director Adam Bartosiewicz as saying.

In reaction to the Donbas developments and Trump’s statements, central European politicians have started supporting arms acquisitions. Discussions about territorial defence, in which artillery is indispensable, have intensified.

Earlier this year, the Czech military decided not to buy new 155 mm howitzers but to modernise about 50 Danas by 2020.

A single artillery brigade with Danas, a howitzer with a shooting range of 25 km on the Tatra chasse and with a cannon made in Povazske strojarne, together with some mine launchers, is all that has been left of the great artillery in which both the Czechoslovak army and industry prided between the two world wars, the paper concludes.

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