Artillery vehicle

Video shows first kill of Ukrainian anti-tank artillery

A video shared on social networks Saturday shows an unusual weapon destroying a Russian vehicle, slamming downward at incredible speed and setting off an explosion inside. Close examination suggests this is the first sign that Ukraine is deploying an EFP, a type of weapon fired at long range from Western-supplied 155mm howitzers. These clever artillery shells could wreak havoc among Russian invaders thanks to the combination of precision homing munitions with targeting drones

The video was released by Nexta TV, a Belarusian exile channel run from Poland, and the target looks like a Russian Pantsir-S1, a truck-mounted anti-aircraft system with twelve missiles and two 30mm autocannons, plus radar and other sensors to guide them. The Pantsir-S1 is supposed to provide protection against drones; the fact that the video was filmed from a drone a few miles away shows that Russian air defenses are still permeable.

At 3 second mark in the videoa small bang occurs about 150 meters above the Panstsir-S1, and a moment later – literally the next frame – the vehicle is hit and explodes.

This unusual sequence is the signature of an explosively formed projectile or EFP. This type of weapon features an explosive formed in a metal-lined hollow cavity; when it explodes, it compresses the metal liner into a high-velocity, aerodynamic bullet that can easily penetrate armor. The EFP is related to the more common HEAT or shaped charge warheads which produce an armor-piercing jet at close range; an EFP’s slug penetrates less armor but can have a range of hundreds of yards.

The weapon in the video appears to be a 155mm Bonus artillery projectile, a type produced by BAE Systems that delivers two EFP-based submunitions to the target area from up to 20 miles away. These submunitions deploy small “wings” and descend in a spiral, scanning the ground for vehicles. When they find one, they trigger the VET, with the results seen in the video. They can quickly destroy large armored formations or kill single vehicles with precision.

A more detailed video from BAE Systems showing how the device works in slow motion can be seen here. This particular weapon was probably supplied by the French company Nexter along with the Caesar 155mm long-range guns supplied by France.

This type of artillery-delivered EFP ammunition is almost identical to the American SADARM – Sense And Destroy ARmor – developed in the 1980s, but which was discontinued as it was deemed uneconomical. Instead, the US now has the M982 Excalibur 155mm round, also made by BAE Systems which relies on GPS guidance to hit a vehicle with a standard explosive charge, and the laser-guided Copperhead.

One of the advantages of the bonus over dumb shells is that instead of laying down a barrage or taking out multiple shells to adjust the fire on the target, the artillery can “fire and dash” after a single shot. This made it much more difficult for Russian counter-battery fire from their numerically superior artillery. Russian self-propelled guns and rocket launchers will probably top the list of Bonus targets, although valuable targets like the Pantsir – they were sold to the UAE.
United Arab Emirates
at over $12 million for each vehicle – maybe even more.

The video was shot from a drone, which highlights another crucial aspect of Ukrainian artillery. Precise long-range lights like HiMAR
The S rocket launcher and bonus are useless unless you know exactly where the enemy is. Bonus rounds search an area two hundred yards wide, so the target must be located with that level of accuracy, but need not be highlighted with a laser designator like Copperhead targets do . The effective pairing of battlefield drones with Ukraine’s artillery then makes it possible to locate targets and focus on them quickly, and the bonus rounds make them even deadlier.

France is slow to supply heavy weapons to Ukraine. But the new EFP rounds appear to be giving Russia a real headache and further accelerating the rate at which the invading force is eaten away. These are the kind of weapons Ukraine needs, and if this video is any indication, they work exactly as intended.