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Aug 9, 2022
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Exhibition of captured NATO weapons: “Three Axes” M777

Exhibition of captured NATO weapons:

Photo: Keystone Press Agency/Global Look Press

As the administration of the Patriot Park told SP, an exposition of trophies captured by the allied forces during the Special Military Operation in Ukraine is now being created on the territory of Museum Site No. 1, but they did not give us the exact date – they say, it will become known later. However, based on the fact that the Army-2022 forum opens on August 15, and the first day will be closed, it is not difficult to guess the day of the premiere.

For our part, we will try to create a descriptive part of that NATO equipment, without which the exposition of trophies would not look complete. And let’s start with the American M777 howitzer, by analogy with the port wine of the same number, which received the nickname “three axes.”

It is obvious that after more than five months since the start of the Russian special military operation, the conclusions that have spread around the world about fundamentally new ways of waging war are, to put it mildly, untenable. And first of all it concerns artillery. Today, it is she who plays one of the key roles in the Ukrainian theater of operations. And given the fact that since the start of the special operation “Z” 3242 artillery installations (including mortars) of the Armed Forces of Ukraine have been transferred to a state called scrap metal, it is possible to talk about artillery of the Armed Forces of Ukraine only in the context of samples supplied by the collective West. Let’s start with the M777 towed 155mm howitzer.

The artillery heritage of the “cursed scoop” quickly ceased to burden the sharovary guidliness of the Ukrofascists with its totalitarian essence. At the same time, the supply of artillery systems, promised by foreign puppeteers, turned out to be unable to make up for the thinning park before our eyes. This is also why the usual, in fact, towed howitzer became one of the first “wonder weapons” capable of “helping to return the lost territories as soon as possible.”

The Kyiv regime was supplied with all the M777 howitzers promised by the collective West – 108 units, but instead of words of gratitude, the White House heard from Kyiv a demand to supply another thousand barrels. That is, everything that is in the arsenals of the North Atlantic Alliance.

True, in our opinion, the enthusiastic psychosis deployed by the 95th quarter propaganda team around the M777 rather damaged the reputation of this, in general, quite effective weapon. However, the brainless actions of the ukrovoyak and the pompous words of unfortunate experts, like Arestovichspoiled the reputation of more than one type of weapons, by the evil will of the “hegemon” came into the possession of the “strongest army in Europe.” However, let’s look at the facts.

The opinions of experts who are able to more or less objectively assess the combat potential of a particular weapon in relation to the M777 are far from unambiguous. One part positions the American howitzer as an ultimate weapon capable of playing a key role in combat, while the other considers such an assessment, to put it mildly, overstated, especially in comparison with the artillery systems of the RF Armed Forces. Which of the versions is closer to the truth, we propose to discuss.

But first, a little history. Today, many analysts recognize the American M777 as one of the best in its class, but this was not always the case. Its first version, which appeared at the beginning of the 2000s, was a serious competitor to the Russian 2A65 Msta-B. Its key advantage was the mass, almost half that of the Russian competitor, and this is higher mobility and simplified transportation. The Americans continued to upgrade and after a short period of time, the M777A1 appeared – a variant equipped with a computerized optical fire control system, including computers, LCD displays, a GPS module, and the result of this upgrade was a serious increase in the efficiency and accuracy of fire.

The next breakthrough step was another software update, which allowed the developers to announce the creation of a completely new version – the M777A2, capable of using the M982 Excalibur guided munition.

And this “reflashed” version is the very one of the best towed howitzers in its class with a target engagement range of up to sixty kilometers. However, not everything is so clear-cut here. First, the number 60 is nothing more than the rounded 56.5 kilometers resulting from the conversion of thirty-five miles. But this figure should not be trusted either, since it was taken from the list of characteristics presented to the developer in the customer’s technical assignment.

An analysis of more or less authoritative American sources suggests an effective firing range at a distance of up to 40 kilometers. And we are talking about the same M777A2, which independent propaganda, which is not distinguished by either truthfulness, or expertise, or the presence of elementary common sense, is trying to pass off as a test version of the M777ER with a seriously increased barrel length (+1.8 meters) and a target engagement range of up to 70 kilometers, forgetting that there is no such howitzer (and is not yet expected) even in service with the US Army.

The upgraded version of the M777A2 received a new fire control system, a new automatic loader, an XM654 propellant charge, and an XM1113 active rocket projectile. It should be noted that this is more than a good projectile with high hitting accuracy – the indicator of the circular probable deviation from the target does not exceed 4 meters. However, with this projectile, not everything is clear.

This characteristic is correct only if the howitzer is aimed at the target using the GPS system, which makes it possible to refuse laser illumination of the target by the reconnaissance group or UAV. That is, a partial implementation of the “fire and forget” concept.

But this works only until the moment of meeting with the enemy, who is armed with modern systems and complexes of electronic warfare. For example, such as the Russian army. The result of such a meeting is the transformation of an advanced howitzer into a highly inaccurate and extremely expensive scrap metal.

As for the basic version of the M777 supplied in most cases to Ukraine, it is inferior to almost all self-propelled guns in service. It is characterized by a very long list of restrictions on ammunition, weight etc. The American towed howitzer has the most numerous combat crew (at least seven people) and the longest deployment time to a combat position. It cannot be used from cover, and the declared range of hitting a target of forty kilometers is achieved only when using active-reactive type ammunition, which has not yet been delivered. An ordinary M777 projectile fires no further than twenty kilometers, that is, at the level of the Soviet D-20 howitzer, developed in 1947.

However, these are not the only problems of the “three axes” in the rank of “wonder weapon”. Ukrovoyak’s main problem was voiced by a veteran of the US Army Marine Corps Edwin Wylliestating the following: “It takes months, and in some cases years, to achieve mastery of artillery shooting. Artillery fire cannot be overcome from a swoop, without regular training. After completing a week-long course, Ukrainians can only properly unload such weapons. There is nothing to learn from such a course to conduct a battle.

Indeed, the defenders of democracy who completed a course in Germany turned out to be not only unable to fire from the M777 at the given coordinates, they reduced the standard rate of fire three times (!) Releasing one projectile within three to five minutes. In addition, according to the same Edwin Willey, these gunners, nicknamed “weeks”, have a very high chance of dying in the first battle – due to the use of the M777, as they say, in the “open field”, without disguise, without means of observation and reconnaissance, without prior sighting, and at times even without confirmed target coordinates. And firing into the white light, like a pretty penny.

And the extremely low level of reliability of this howitzer makes it simply dangerous. In 2017, the media spread the news from Iraq, where, as a result of a loosely locked chamber, the M777 combat crew was disabled – three officers were killed, the rest were seriously injured, incompatible with further service.

It is noteworthy that in the case of not the most outstanding mental abilities of the representatives of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the howitzer is equipped with a digital fire control system DFCS, which works on the principle of a car navigator, prompting which coordinates must be entered in order for the projectile to hit the target. However, the vast majority of the M777 arrived on the territory of Ukraine without this ingenious device. But, fortunately, not all – which led to another and natural zrada.

In mid-July, almost simultaneously, there was an information explosion in a number of trustworthy Telegram channels (Rybar, WarGonzo and some others) on the topic of “mourning in the Pentagon.” The capture of the “three axes” along with their foreign crew by the fighters of the NM of the LPR became an informational occasion. Despite the fact that the howitzer was seriously damaged during the counter-battery fight, it became a valuable gift to the domestic defense industry.

It’s not about the hardware: together with the M777, a combat information system fell into the hands of the allied forces – a secret digital ballistic calculator. It was precisely this development of the situation that the Americans feared most of all, handing over this artillery installation to the independent defenders of Nezalezhnaya. The captured calculator will greatly simplify our specialists’ understanding of the location of the “three axes” fire spotter. In general, the system went to the appropriate institution. And, hopefully, there she will answer the most tricky questions of Russian defense engineers.

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