Tag Archive | latvian army

Baltic Panzerhaubitze, fresh from staring down the Soviets and Yugoslavs

After Austria de-Anschluss’ed in 1945, their Army was no-existant for a decade until the (largely token) Bundesheer was formed in 1955. Holding a cautious neutrality during the Cold War, the ‘Heer was in large part obsolete on purpose for much of the conflict: a force in being that could provide a competent defense if invaded but not so much that neighbors would think it a threat.

Then, very rapidly after the Cold War, Yugoslavia fell literally to pieces and the series of increasingly nasty wars between its former components broke out. With the prospect that it could spill over its common border, the Austrians looked to beef up. At the same time, the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR), its largest armored force post-WWII, was stood down leaving lots of surplus kit available in London. It was kismet and Vienna in 1992 bought 112 early-production (1970s) M109A2 and A3 155mm self-propelled howitzers for a song and, in conjunction with Switzerland, began a program to update these guns which the Brits were keen to be rid of as they were fielding their new L131/AS-90.

The rebuilt gun– with a longer tube to extend the range to 30km, new NORA inertial navigation system coupled with a new gun-laying system and more ammunition storage– became known as the Panzerhaubitze M109 A5Ö (PzHb M109 A5Ö) and started to be fielded in 1994. The guns were comparable to the U.S. M109A6 Paladin, although with a disco-era hull.

Austrian Panzerhaubitze M109 155 (Via Bundsheer)

Fast forward to 2017. With the Balkans settled down but the Baltics under increasing stress due to the Russian bear next door, Latvia went ahead with a deal to buy 47 of the now-surplus A5Os from Austria, many of which had been in storage for a decade.

Now, all 47 have been delivered, and for a quoted price of between €60,000 and €140,000 depending on condition per gun, is a deal.

Which goes to show that even twice-previously owned howitzers are still marketable, depending on which way the wind blows.

Latvian M109AO5 howitzer

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