Germany to buy up to 28 howitzers to help replace arms rushed to Ukraine

Self-propelled howitzer is seen on a road near a frontline in Donetsk region

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany aims to purchase up to 28 self-propelled howitzers to replace weapons rushed to Ukraine out of army stocks last year, according to a budget draft seen by Reuters on Monday.

Heavy artillery-type weapons such as howitzers, long perceived as arms of the past by military experts, have made a huge comeback as Ukraine seeks to repel a Russian invasion.

The German parliament's budget committee will decide on the howitzer deal at a session on Wednesday.

The government in Berlin has supplied 14 howitzers to Kyiv, and originally intended to ask parliament for their replacement in summer only. Defence Minister Boris Pistorius brought the move forward after criticism that the backfilling of German military hardware was going far too slowly.

According to the budget draft, the defence ministry aims to procure at least 10 howitzers for some 180 million euros from German arms maker Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW), and acquire options for the purchase of another 18.

The document said the ministry intended to soon trigger options for the procurement of 12 additional howitzers in order to replace all the weapons handed over to Ukraine and to also make up for spare parts supplied to Kyiv.

The Panzerhaubitze 2000 howitzer is one of the most powerful artillery weapons in Bundeswehr (German military) inventories. It can hit targets at a distance of 30 kilometres (18.6 miles) with standard ammunition and at a distance of up to 100 kilometres with advanced types of ammunition.

(Reporting by Holger Hansen, writing by Sabine Siebold, editing by Rachel More and Mark Heinrich)