A senior defense official told reporters during a Friday briefing that Ukrainian forces were firing some 3,000 155mm shells a day at Russian forces.
The revelation came amid questions over the latest tranche of arms and ammunition sent to Ukraine, including, for the first time, 1,000 155mm “smart” guided rounds.
The official said that despite the high utilization rate, Ukrainian forces still had “substantial stocks” of 155mm rounds and were far from running out with more rounds on the way. US and NATO allies have donated hundreds of thousands of 155mm rounds to Ukraine.
“We provided it, other countries provided it,” the official said. “…We know what their utilization rate is, we know what their store rate is, and we’re monitoring that as we continue to provide capacity to them.”
Footage from Friday showed a Ukrainian crew of PzH-2000 self-propelled howitzers firing 155mm shells every eight seconds in combat near the front line.
It’s not hard to imagine how quickly shells disappear with one, more likely multiple guns at once, firing seven rounds per minute in the heaviest combat. Scale the number of 155mm guns sent to Ukraine like the M109 self-propelled variants, the M777 howitzers and the PzH-2000, and the calculations lead to an incredible volume of fire.
Before discussing the latest news from Ukraine, The war zone readers can familiarize themselves with our previous continuing coverage here.
Here is the latest intelligence update from the UK Ministry of Defence, which specifically noted that Russia was calling up reserve forces equipped with dated MT-LB armored personnel carriers.
We have new footage of Ukrainian troops returning to Snake Island in the Black Sea after it was abandoned by Russian forces.
Ukrainian combat divers reportedly reached the island via underwater vehicles, as well as what appear to be rigid-hulled inflatable boats, as seen in the video above.
It seems that the Russians left behind a lot of scrap metal, mainly the remnants of the bombed Tor and Pantsir-S1 air defense systems.
Ukrainian forces appear to have struck an ammunition depot at occupied Kherson airport in the latest attack on Russian ammunition stores.
It is not immediately clear whether HIMARS rockets hit the site as has been suggested in similar attacks in Russin-held territory. While HIMARS has a much improved range compared to unguided artillery, the eight systems currently in the country represent a tiny fraction of the overall fires. In other words, it’s easy to attribute any high level attack to HIMARS, but that’s not realistic.
In something resembling a scene from a sci-fi movie, footage shows Ukrainian troops loading an 82mm mortar onto a quadcopter drone as it hovers for use against Russian forces.
It appears that the troops modified the mortars with a plastic or metal shroud attached to the tail with a carabiner style clip. A soldier hooks the mortar under the DJI drone and appears to arm it before signaling the operator to take off towards the unseen target.
Although a common weapon so far in the war, the clip is a rare glimpse into how troops modified both drone and mortars to create an air attack system on a low budget.
Far from the front lines, a report of Sky News documented the start of the training of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers in England.
Groups of 200 Ukrainian soldiers at a time, with targets of 10,000 soldiers trained every 120 days, are on the schedule at four separate bases far from the reach of Russian forces. Russian missiles hit the Yavoriv combat training center in western Ukraine in March, which once housed a US and NATO training contingent before the war, and continued Missile attacks endangered all fixed training facilities in Ukraine.
With foreign support in mind, an agreement between Germany and Norway would bring ammunition for Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft guns supplied by Germany to Ukraine.
Switzerland blocked the retransfer of ammunition for the Gepard’s 35mm Oerlikon automatic cannon in late April when Germany announced the arms donation.
Finally, in northern Ukraine, it appears that Ukrainian troops have begun to fortify the border with Belarus with mines and buried defensive positions, as video from the Belarusian side of the border shows.
Russian forces intervened and invaded from Belarus at the start of the war in February. In late June, Russia and Belarus announced plans to deploy nuclear-capable Iskander-M missiles in the country, and Russian bombers launched cruise missiles from Belarusian airspace. Given these recent developments, the defenses are likely a precaution should Belarus join the war or if Russian troops renew an offensive from Belarusian territory.
We will continue to update this post with new information until we say otherwise.
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