Ukraine is preparing to take into service a new weapon: the Bohdana, a 155-millimeter heavy self-propelled howitzer.

The newly-built weapon in now undergoing a series of live-fire tests.

On Aug. 10, the first photos were published on the web of the weapon prototype being demonstrated to Ukraine’s defense and security chiefs and top military experts at a firing range near the town of Ozerne near Zhytomyr, some 120 kilometers west of Kyiv.

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“Its crucial features are high mobility, precision, range capability, as well as rapid firing speed,” said Oleksandr Turnchynov, the chairman of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council.

The existence of the Bohdana was first revealed on July 14, when Serhiy Zgurets, a military expert with Defense Express military think tank, reported that a brand new Ukrainian-built heavy howitzer would be shown of at Ukraine’s Independence Day military parade in central Kyiv on Aug. 24.

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Later, on Aug. 7, the country’s defense minister Stepan Poltorak confirmed that the weapon’s live-fire tests had commenced, adding that on Aug. 10 he would announce the decision to put it in service with the army.

The Bohdana’s main feature is that it fires NATO-standard 155-millimeter rounds, as opposed to the 152-millimeter caliber rounds that have been the standard ammunition for Ukraine’s heavy artillery since Soviet times, and that are currently used by the country’s workhorse cannons such as the 2A65 Msta-B or 2A36 Giatsint-B.

Following its initial presentation, the howitzer was expected to consist of a combat turret from the Polish-made Krab howitzer carried by a tracked chassis of the Ukrainian Oplot main battle tank.

However, the first photos published by Zgurets, and also by presidential aide Yuriy Buriukov on their Facebook pages, showed the Bohdana being mounted on Ukrainian-built KrAz-6322 6×6 truck chassis. The truck cabin is augmented with enhanced armor so that the howitzer crew is protected from gunfire and shrapnel.

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According to Defense Express, the artillery asset provides the maximum operational range of at least 40 kilometers with fragmenting shells, or at least 50 kilometers with rocket-assisted projectiles, at a firing speed of up to 5 rounds per minute.

As the latest photos show, the Bohdana features a computerized control and targeting system that uses SIPLUS and SIMATIC HM modules produced by Siemens, as well as a shell loading device, as noted by the Ukrainian Military Portal.

The howitzer’s in-built munition containers are capable of carrying up to 20 rounds, the portal added.

In general, the Bohdana resembles French CAESAR howitzers (produced since 2002), or the Swedish-made Archer artillery systems, which have been operated since 2013.

Nonetheless, according to presidential aide Yuriy Buriukov and military expert Serhiy Zgurets, the Bohdana is a completely Ukrainian product.

Defense Minister Poltorak has confirmed that the weapon will be shown in public during Ukraine’s Independence Day parade in Kyiv on Aug. 24.

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