The Lithuanian Armed Forces has received the first two upgraded heavy self-propelled artillery systems, Panzerhaubitze 2000 (PzH2000) howitzers.

Delivered to the Lithuanian Artillery Battalion, the heavy artillery systems were procured from the German Armed Forces.

National Defence vice-minister Giedrimas Jeglinskas said: “A modern military conflict, as we can see from the military actions in Ukraine and other hotspots, efficient artillery is one of the most important pillars of defence, which is also of deterrence. These fully upgraded, armoured, heavy tracked self-propelled howitzers will doubtlessly enhance defensive capabilities of the Lithuanian Armed Forces, they are still the highest standard in indirect artillery to date.”

In September 2015, Lithuania signed a contract with the German Armed Forces to acquire18 upgraded howitzers in combat setup mode.

Featuring upgraded control battlefield control, and fire control software, the new PzH2000 howitzers will enhance the firing range of the battalion by up to 40km.

The battalion has been using the 105mm howitzers with a firing range of roughly 11km.

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"These fully upgraded, armoured, heavy tracked self-propelled howitzers will doubtlessly enhance defensive capabilities of the Lithuanian Armed Forces."

With the new equipment, Lithuanian soldiers will begin training with the howitzers.

Lithuania’s future military maintenance personnel and operators, howitzer crews and planning officers have already participated in various training courses in Germany.

Next year, the new howitzers will be deployed to fire the first shots during Exercise Fire thunder.

General R Giedraitis Artillery Battalion commander lieutenant colonel Marijus Jonelis said: “This is the best Christmas present the Artillery Battalion could get. Such gifts will increase the Battalion personnel’s motivation to seek the status of the biggest firepower status in the Lithuanian Armed Forces even more, of course, the gifts have arrived along with new responsibility. Troops have to reach set goals, demonstrate excellent results, and take care of the new equipment.”

The remaining howitzers will be delivered to the Lithuanian Armed Forces by the end of next year.