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Jun 13, 2022
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The last hope of the Armed Forces of Ukraine was the “sevens” from the USA and the Polish “crabs”

The Ukrainian leadership in Kyiv and in the frontline areas complains to Western curators about the lack of long-range artillery as perhaps the main reason for the defeat of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. There is an element of cunning here – the transfer of large-caliber guns and the drill of personnel are in full swing. But Ukraine is already asking for at least a thousand howitzers. If she gets them, will they be a serious hindrance to the special operation?

The Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) need to achieve parity with the Russian army, and for this it is necessary, first of all, to receive a thousand 155 mm howitzers. Mikhail Podolyak, adviser to the head of the office of the President of Ukraine, wrote about this on Monday in one of the social networks.

According to TASS, Ukraine’s Western partners, including the United States and Canada, have already provided Kyiv with M777 towed howitzers of the required 155 mm caliber and ammunition for them. The United States handed over to Ukraine ninety such howitzers, known among experts as “three sevens”, Australia – six similar guns, Canada – four. There have also been reports that the Armed Forces of Ukraine are using French self-propelled artillery mounts CAESAR.

Nevertheless, the military and political leadership of Ukraine complains about the chronic shortage of long-range weapons. This applies to both multiple launch rocket systems (the same Podolyak said on Sunday that Ukraine needs “not three or four” MLRS, but at least three hundred), and artillery.

Last Friday, a representative of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, Vadym Skibitsky, lamented in an interview with The Guardian that the Ukrainian military had used up almost all artillery shells and would not be able to resist Russia without the supply of Western weapons.

In the same spirit – and also addressing Western partners – the governor of the Nikolaev region of Ukraine, Vitaliy Kim, spoke out. “The Russian army is stronger. They have a lot of artillery and ammunition. We have run out of ammunition in our warehouses, so the help of Europe and America is very important,” Ukraina.Ru quoted him as saying.

At the same time, as noted by the sources of the Rybar Telegram channel, the preparation of artillery units is in full swing in the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Training takes place both in Ukraine itself (for example, in the 184th training center in Starychi, Lviv region, where fighters master American M109 Paladin howitzers), and on the territory of NATO countries. According to the source, at the base of the Bundeswehr in Idar-Oberstein, an accelerated – until June 22 – training of artillerymen of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the use of the German 155-mm Panzerhaubitze 2000 self-propelled artillery mount is taking place.

In Estonia, at the former Soviet military base in Tapa, about four dozen fighters of the Armed Forces of Ukraine are studying British-German-Italian FH-70 howitzers. Fifteen of these self-propelled guns are installed at the training ground in Malaya Lyubush in the Rivne region. By the way, the FH-70 is not the newest equipment – the operation of these artillery systems began in the countries of the alliance back in the late 1970s.

Training courses can take no more than 10 days. It is reported that this is how much the fighters of the 44th separate artillery brigade should be trained, after which they will be transferred to the Zaporozhye direction, where artillery duels between the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the Russian Armed Forces periodically take place in the area between Orekhovo and Gulyaipole.

In recent days, the cities of the Donetsk People’s Republic have been subjected to intense attacks using cannon artillery, including NATO 155 mm caliber guns. This may indicate the use of American “three sevens”, French CAESAR self-propelled guns or Polish AHS Krab.

Special attention should be paid to artillery assistance from Poland, points out military expert Yuri Knutov. “Krab has a British turret, from the AS-90 Braveheart installation, a platform from the South Korean K9 howitzer. These are quite powerful machines. The main thing to consider is that the Poles handed over the “Crabs” immediately with a repair kit, with the necessary equipment for repair. On the territory of Poland, these howitzers will also be repaired – not only Polish, but, I think, the Three Sevens will also be repaired there, ”Knutov said.

“The volume that has already been transferred by the West is far from what is required by the armed forces of Ukraine. But in some areas, the appearance of such artillery installations can play a significant role, the expert emphasizes. – For example, in the event that 152-mm howitzers 2S3 “Acacia” with a firing range of twenty-odd kilometers are involved on our side, and the same “three sevens” on the Ukrainian side, or French self-propelled guns CAESAR, or German Panzerhaubitze 2000 , which Germany is going to deliver to Kyiv. In this case, it will be more difficult for our artillery to finish off enemy positions, and it will be easier for the enemy to suppress our positions. Theoretically, such a threat exists, but only if there are enough guns.”

If the Ukrainian side receives the required number of artillery systems, then the leveling of combat capabilities may begin on the front line, military expert Vladislav Shurygin believes. “The well-coordinated complaints to Western curators about the lack of weapons and ammunition are heard with only one purpose – in Kyiv they understand that they probably won’t give a thousand units, but the West may chip in for a hundred guns.

One hundred installations during one month, a hundred during another – with two hundred guns it is quite possible to strengthen a fairly large grouping of troops.

Another thing is whether the curators have enough of these weapons and whether they are ready to supply them,” Shurygin explains. “But if decisions on massive deliveries are made, then we will need to think very seriously about how to respond to all this.”

Firstly, the geographic factor may not play in favor of the enemy, Knutov points out. “If we are talking about the Zaporozhye or Kherson directions, then there are many open areas. Here, the artillery mounts can be neutralized with the help of aviation, or with the help of long-range cruise missiles “Caliber” or operational-tactical complexes “Iskander,” he said.

Secondly, the quality of training of artillery crews of the Armed Forces of Ukraine raises questions. “Due to the fact that the training is being carried out at an accelerated pace, the quality of this training is not very good,” Knutov noted. – In particular, there are complaints about the “three sevens” that howitzers fail due to violation of operating rules. After 40 shots, the M777 needs rest, after 100 shots, maintenance. Our howitzers, by the way, do not need this. But for the sake of accuracy in firing, Ukrainian gunners first fire a sighting shot, the second – at the target. The accuracy of shooting is an order of magnitude higher, but there are more shots. And because of the low quality of staff training, many problems arise.”

The most effective option for neutralizing enemy artillery is that the guns should be destroyed even before they are deployed in positions, when transported from the border through the territory of Ukraine, the expert added.

In order to effectively destroy artillery systems with the help of aviation on the way, it is necessary to completely suppress the enemy’s air defense, Shurygin notes. The ability to “meet somewhere deep, at the stages of importation” can be problematic, he suggests. It is possible that the problem will have to be solved “at the front line, acting more mobile – try to find and destroy guns before they start to be used.”

“In any case, the main task now is to prevent the Armed Forces of Ukraine from accumulating serious potential in heavy long-range guns, to disable these guns before they enter combat or at the very beginning of combat use,” Knutov sums up.

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