Artillery vehicle

Ukrainian troops train with howitzers optimized for guided artillery rounds

Ukrainian troops are currently training on the M777A2 towed howitzer, optimized for firing GPS-guided artillery shells. These are the same shells that were promised under Washington’s latest $400 million military aid package.

The M777A2 comes with a digital fire control system that includes GPS aiming capability as well as standard digital fire control systems that come with the M777A1 already in Ukraine. The training would take place in Germany.

The most advanced guns are optimized to fire the M982 Excalibur guided projectile, which can change course in flight using extendable fins and is therefore much more accurate than traditional artillery shells, especially at longer distances . To use guided round, troops input GPS location data into the gun’s guidance unit before sending it down. More complex bursts can also be programmed.

In the latest Security Assistance Program, the US Department of Defense only said it would send 1,000 155mm howitzer rounds which provide “greater accuracy” than the standard rounds for the M777. The New York Times on July 13 reported that the 155 mm precision shells were indeed Excalibur guided artillery shells.

Moving to Ukraine proper, long-promised M113 armored personnel carriers were seen for the first time in Ukrainian service. The United States included 200 Vietnam-era APCs in a previous military aid package. Several other countries, including Australia, are also sending M113s to Ukraine, but the video below is the first time vehicles donated by the United States – of which the US military has hundreds in stock in depots. prepositioned in Europe – were seen used by the Ukrainian. Army.

All of this American gear and more has made a big difference to Ukrainian forces as they continue to resist Russia’s westward push, but before we get into the details, catch up The war zone previous rolling cover here.

The last

After last week, in which Ukrainian forces targeted huge stockpiles of Russian artillery ammunition and explosives, in part with US-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS , the effects of these weapons can be observed from space. Using NASA data that identifies ongoing fires, the maps below show the almost complete elimination of Russian fire on Ukrainian front lines to the east. Dubbed by some war observers “the HIMARS effect”, the Ukrainians harnessed the weapon’s power to zero in on specific high-value targets and used them so effectively that the United States sent four more launchers. This will bring the number of HIMARS in Ukraine to 12, in addition to tracked M270 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) donated by other NATO countries.

The Ukrainians may have received targeting assistance from the Russians themselves, according to a video that recently surfaced on Twitter. It appears that a Russian soldier or collaborator filmed several others loading an ammunition truck into one of their huge ammunition depots in the Donetsk region. When the video was posted on social media, the Ukrainian military was able to identify the location and target it with artillery.

If true, this is yet another example of Russian forces and their allies in Ukraine using insecure communications to their detriment. To get an idea of ​​the kind of destruction caused when the Ukrainians rain artillery on a Russian munitions storage facility, watch this video of the aftermath of one such depot believed to be in Alchevsk, Luhansk.

In response, Russian forces continue to saturate a broad front with massive artillery and, in some areas, launch probing assaults by small company- and platoon-sized units, according to the latest intelligence assessment. of the British Ministry of Defense on the war.

But the “aging vehicles, Soviet-era weapons and tactics…do not lend themselves to rapid revival or momentum unless used in overwhelming numbers”, which Russian forces are currently unable to muster, said the British Ministry of Defense.

With all the ammunition and vehicle losses, Russia is still focused on capturing more towns and territories in the Donbass in the coming days, according to the UK Defense Ministry. Russian forces will likely target smaller towns and villages to secure road approaches to larger targets like the towns of Slovyansk and Kramatorsk, Britain’s Defense Ministry said.

The July 13 British intelligence assessment also reveals that Russia is working to “undermine the legitimacy of the Ukrainian state and consolidate its own governance and administrative control over occupied parts of Ukraine.” Further evidence comes from online photos of Ukrainian passports confiscated, piled up and thrown away by Russian officials in the eastern regions of Ukraine under their occupation.

Russian forces also continue to fire missiles at Ukrainian cities, with anti-aircraft sirens being activated almost daily across the beleaguered nation. On July 13, the Zaporizhia Regional Military Administration claimed that two Russian missiles had hit the city of Zaporizhia.

Then the next day, at least a dozen people were killed and some 25 injured in a Russian missile strike on the town of Vinnytsia, according to Ukraine’s State Emergency Service. The affected area was near a hospital and most of the dead are civilians, including children. The Ukrainian army claims that the country has already suffered 3,000 Russian missile strikes.

The New York Times reported on July 13 that Russian and Ukrainian negotiators met in Belgium to find a way to divert Ukrainian grain exports from Black Sea ports. Although they failed to meet a formal agreement, UN Secretary-General António Guterres came away with a “glimmer of hope”, according to the Times.

Commercial maritime traffic has increased sharply in the Black Sea over the past week, according to ship tracking maps. This could be a direct result of Ukrainian forces driving out the Russian garrison off Snake Island, from which they could hold ships in danger and enforce the Russian grain blockade inside ports like that of ‘Izmail, at the mouth of the Danube.

However, Russian warships are still patrolling the Black Sea. On July 13, a US Air Force RQ-4B Global Hawk unmanned aerial system took a close look at some of these Russian Navy ships. The high-altitude, long-endurance drones have been carrying out reconnaissance missions over the Black Sea for weeks, gathering intelligence on Russian naval movements, although it’s unclear if the information is then transmitted directly to Ukraine from American sources.

Ukraine is making good use of weapons supplied by the West in the ongoing fight, but its government and military officials continue to demand ever more ammunition, which is flowing into the country at an alarming rate, according to European officials. This could fuel a black market for smuggling weapons out of the country. The Financial Times recently reported that NATO and European Union officials fear weapons such as these anti-tank guided missiles, which appear to be loaded into the trunk of a car with Albanian plates, are being smuggled from Ukraine to the Balkans.

In another interesting twist to the proliferating weapons narrative, Iranian-made HM-16 120mm mortars have now appeared in combat footage of the war.

Russian forces also remain threatened by a variety of anti-tank guided missiles, or ATGMs. Ukrainian forces continue to hammer their armored vehicles with various ATGM designs, as seen in this stunningly clear view of a Stugna-P strike on a Russian Buk surface-to-air missile system.

European countries continue to demonstrate their collective military might along NATO’s eastern border in response to Russia’s chosen war in Ukraine. On July 13, British Challenger II tanks arrived in Poland, where they will support Polish units but remain under British command. Poland donated hundreds of its own T-72 tanks to Ukraine at the start of the nearly five-month war. Britain temporarily sends its tanks to fill Poland’s armor capabilities while the United States tries to speed up the sale of M1 Abrams tanks for the same reason.

War, as always, produces bizarre and improbable scenes, like the x-ray below of a very lucky Ukrainian soldier. Hit by a bullet in the head, but wearing a ballistic helmet, the bullet could not penetrate the skull. It can be seen on the x-ray film, lodged in the soft tissues of her scalp.

We will continue to update this post until we say otherwise.

Author’s note/correction: Updated title and lede to indicate Ukrainian troops are currently training on M777A2 systems and not yet on the battlefield.

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