Nora B52 – The first truck mounted howitzer in the world

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In the 1980’s the Yugoslavia army was amongst the strongest in Europe concerning the number of troops, modern armoured, artillery and air force units. It was a formidable force on many levels and it was a pioneer in many fields of developing the armed forces.

The artillery had always a high priority in their defence philosophy and there were many guns and howitzers that were of the highest possible quality within the ranks of JNA (Yugoslav People’s Army). The Nora 155 mm towed howitzer was one of the strongest conventional systems in the service but the need to make it more mobile was more than obvious.

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Development

Defining the need of a huge army proved that mounting Nora howitzer on a tracked chassis would be too expensive. This meant that the concept such was the Soviet MSTA-S or German Panzerhowitzer 2000 was out of the question.

The engineers of the Yugoimport came with a unique solution for the time being by putting the gun on the FAP 8×8 truck chassis. That resulted in the first mobile howitzer on a wheeled platform in the world. The dissolution of the country stopped the further development but also gave the chance to evaluate the platform in real battle conditions. Various types of Nora were employed on all battlefields in former Yugoslavia and it performed outstandingly well on each theatre. Even in conflict on Kosovo during 1999 in the conditions where the enemy had the undisputed superiority in the air the system proved to be very effective and was feared by the adversaries due to its precision and devastating effect on the infantry.

After the 2000th the development of the system continued but on a Kamaz chassis this time. Nowadays there are several versions that are used by the Serbian military but there are also some exported to the third world countries.

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Basic characteristics

The latest versions of Nora are the truly powerful and versatile artillery systems. They all have the highly mobile armour protected chassis, high rate of fire, high precision, long range and the fully automatic fire control and navigation systems.

The versions that are already developed are K-0 (1st serial model). K-1, M03, KE (export variant), and the newest version K2 is in the final stage of development.

Depending on the ammunition used the range of Nora B-52 systems can be up to 67 km and the latest version has even the capability to fire the high precision laser guided ammunition. Also, they can fire laser guided Krasnopol anti-tank rounds at the distance of 20 km.

The latest systems have the most modern fire control system which allows fast and extremely precise fire in a record time. The crew is reduced to 3 to 5 men depending on the version and the fully automatic loading provided much higher rate of fire that can go up to 12 rounds a minute. At request, it is possible to mount a 152mm gun instead the 155mm to accommodate users who have a huge stock of those rounds.

The Kamaz trucks used as a platform for this vehicle have the engines of 410 HP and that allows the maximum speed of 90 km/h on road and 15 km/h off road.

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Finally, the price of this system is quite affordable concerning the fact that a single unit is only 0.7 million USD (estimated in 2005). That made it very interesting for many countries with small military budgets. The Serbian political influence in the world is basically non-existent and that greatly undermines the country’s ability to sell weapons as it is impossible to do it without the consent from the major players on the globe. Still, even in such conditions some 78 units have been exported so far.

Kenya bought 30, Myanmar also got 30, and Bangladesh has 18 of these guns. The final users are very satisfied with the system and it would be no wonder if it marks some more successful appearances on the international market, despite the stiff competition.

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