The 1st Army, one of the Russian Army’s most powerful tank units, will face four of the world’s most powerful artillery pieces as part of the West’s aid to Ukraine.
The four most modern and heavy self-propelled guns in the world include Germany’s PZH-2000 self-propelled howitzer, France’s Caesar self-propelled howitzer, America’s M-109A6 Paladin self-propelled howitzer and howitzer FH-77BW Archer of Sweden, on its way to Ukraine.
Because the Russian Air Force lacks the ability to attack the ground; The tactics of the Ukrainian Army are more prone to guerrilla warfare. In addition, the battlefield in Donbas is full of fortress-style cities and large-scale fortified defense areas, which are difficult for Russian tanks and armor to breakthrough.
Thus, the truly decisive force on the Russo-Ukrainian battlefield is the firepower of heavy artillery and multiple rocket launchers. In this field, Both Russia and Ukraine have inherited the Soviet-era battle ideology, which favours the deployment of artillery fire.
The main advantage of the Russian Army on the current Ukrainian battlefield is artillery; to hit the target, the Russian Army can fire artillery shells continuously for several days, even weeks; making the enemy intolerable, then the tank and mechanized infantry advanced slowly.
For example, in the small town of Avdeyevka in Donetsk, the Russian Army and pro-Russian Donetsk militias, began to attack the Ukrainian Army’s defensive positions from Kurakhove to Avdeyevka from the beginning of March. The town of Avdeevka has been under bombardment for a month and a half, and so far not much progress has been made.
After determining that the core of the war in Donbas was artillery, the US and NATO began to provide large amounts of artillery support to Ukraine. After the Netherlands announced the transfer of 12 self-propelled guns PzH-2000 to Ukraine. Krauss-Maffei-Wegmann (KMW), a German military manufacturer, proposed to supply Ukraine with 100 PzH-2000 self-propelled howitzers.
PzH-2000 self-propelled howitzer is one of the best in the world. Its main armament is a long barrel rifle 52-caliber 155-mm gun which is loaded with shells by an ornate auto-loading system that involves the human loader only needing to insert appropriate strength changes before firing, although the gun can be completed manually loaded if the auto-loader malfunctions. A total of 60 shells can be stored, typically including smoke and illumination rounds as well as high explosives.
The barrel of the gun is laser hardened and lined with chromium which provided substantial heat tolerance thus allowing high rates of fire that could otherwise rapidly overheat the barrel requiring lengthy cool-downs.
PzH-2000 can complete a full range of tactical operations from driving to standing still, aiming at the target, firing 10 round and then retreating within 2 minutes; at the same time, it can also ensure high level of accuracy. Compared with the American self-propelled gun M-109A3G 155mm to do the same, it would take at least more than 10 minutes.
The self-propelled howitzer FH-77BW Archer, supplied by Sweden to Ukraine, was put into service in 2016. Thanks to the use of fully automatic loader, it can fire all 21 rounds in 2.5 minutes. This machine is using a cross-country chassis with articulated Volvo A30D 6×6, capable of moving on all terrains.
M109A6 self-propelled howitzer manufactured by the US, equipped with an automatic firing system, can fire in a 360-degree circle, can receive automatic artillery adjustment commands; capable of rapidly destroying single and large-area targets; M109A6 is also likened to “a cannon as effective as an artillery company”.
The special advantage of the M109A6 is that it shoots very accurately. On May 5, 2007, on the Iraqi battlefield, the M109A6 fired the first bullet, breaking a bullet hole on the roof of a building, which was occupied by the anti-American armed forces; The second bullet entered the hole and exploded. But the exterior of the whole building was undamaged; This shows its terrifying accuracy.
The French Caesar self-propelled howitzer is characterized by a “fire and run” strategy, using an advanced computer and fire control system. It can quickly calculate the coordinates of the target and the firing element, and it takes only 1 minute from the moment of occupying the firing range, to the time of firing the first shot.
The artillery moved to the next battlefield to evade enemy fire after firing 6 rounds accurately in 1 minute. Caesar only required one minute of accurate striking, switching the firing range fast, and continuing for another minute of precise shooting in this manner.
These four types of heavy self-propelled howitzers, all of which are high-end, with a unit price of tens of millions of dollars each, along with self-propelled artillery pieces from Britain, the Czech Republic, and other countries equiments, this summer the Ukrainian Army will be equipped with about 150-200 advanced self-propelled guns.
The actual combat capabilities of these advanced artillery pieces are completely superior to those of the old-fashioned 1,500-2,000 self-propelled guns of the Ukrainian Army, and the leaders of the Ukrainian Army hope, these modern artillery will help improve the battlefield situation.
It is still difficult for the Russian Army to launch an offensive in a large-scale ground conflict, despite the strong deterrent provided by Russia’s strategic nuclear forces and the excellent assistance provided by the air force. But by this summer, when the heavy artillery of the Ukrainian Army will have enough power to overwhelm the most powerful 1st Guards Tank Army of the Russian Army, then maybe the shape of the battlefield will change.
As can be seen on the Donbas front, the Ukrainian artillery force has recently improved, after being equipped with advanced anti-artillery radars, reconnaissance drones and precision-guided artillery shells manufactured by the US.
For example, recently, the Ukrainian Army, holding the village of Zabuvne in western Izum, shelled the headquarters of the Russian 2nd Army unit, destroying many motor vehicles and the headquarters of the Russian Army.
With conventional cannons, depending on the different firing ranges, the general artillery error is usually from 10-200 meters, making it difficult to hit the vehicle. But the shelling of the Ukrainian Army is very accurate, the shells are completely controlled, guided by US GPS satellites.
This summer’s on the Ukrainian battlefield will be a clash of four types of modern Western heavy artillery against the Russian Army’s and air force’s top heavy artillery and rockets.