The base of the Russian artillery: the 2S3 Akatsiya artillery system – As a relic from the end of the Cold War, the Soviet-designed 2S3 Akatsiya continues to be used extensively by Russia and Ukraine during the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Despite its age, the artillery system (whose Russian nickname means “Acacia” in English) is capable of firing advanced guided shells, which has helped to consolidate its status as a basic element of the artillery arsenal Russian.
2S3 Akatsiya Basics
Development of the Russian Akatsiya 2S3 began in the 1960s, before the system officially entered service in 1971. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the Akatsiya is powered by a V-59U engine and is equipped an automated mechanical loading mechanism. The Akatsiya is equipped with a 152mm D-22 main howitzer as well as a 7.62mm PKT machine gun to defend the vehicle against infantry. In keeping with its nature as a self-propelled artillery gun mounted on tank treads, the Akatsiya is capable of moving quickly on and off the road.
Modernized versions of the Akatsiya known as the 2С3М and 2С3М1 were introduced in 1975 and 1987 respectively. These versions reworked and extended the ammunition storage capacity of the Akatsiya to its current size and gave the gun the ability to fire modern guided shells. According to Russian sources, the Akatsiya is designed to resist attack or the effects of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons through ventilation filters and cabin sealing technology that can be automatically activated in the event of a nuclear strike. , thus protecting his 4 men. crew. Production of the howitzer was officially discontinued by its manufacturer Uraltransmash in 1993, shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Modern features of the Akatsiya
In an effort to extend its life, Russian military leaders opted to upgrade the system, which already serves alongside the 2S19 Msta self-propelled artillery system that was designed to replace it. This modernization has progressed in recent years, as the first batch of modernized Akatsiyas was delivered by Uraltransmash to the Russian Armed Forces in May 2021, according to reports in Russian state media. These Akatsiya models are updated to the 2S3M2 configuration, which includes communications equipment upgrades and replacement of some components to meet Moscow’s import substitution policies.
Part of the reason the Akatsiya has been able to remain in service to the present day is the ability of modernized versions of the self-propelled artillery system to fire the Krasnopol 152mm laser-guided artillery shell. This ammunition is designed to hit specific targets with greater accuracy than unguided munitions, making it well suited for counter-battery fire and strikes on command centers or strategic points.
Akatsiya service history
The Akatsiya has enjoyed considerable service worldwide through its various operators. In addition to serving in the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Akatsiyas have been used in virtually every major conflict involving Russia since the breakup of the Soviet Union, including Moscow’s intervention in Syria. and its 2014 invasion of Ukrainian Donbass. Both Ukrainian and Russian Akatsiyas have been widely used since Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, helping to bring the howitzer back to international attention. The system continues to be of interest to foreign customers such as the Belarusian Armed Forces, which received a shipment of modernized Akatsiyas earlier this month.
While Russian Akatsiyas are old, their employment in Ukraine and ongoing modernization indicate that Moscow wants to get more out of its Akatsiyas before retiring them.
Wesley Culp is a researcher at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress. He writes regularly on Russian and Eurasian leadership and national security topics and has been published in The Hill as well as the Diplomatic Courier. It can be found on Twitter @WesleyJCulp.