Nearly six months after the full-scale invasion, Russian troop advances remain generally modest. But despite several attempts with advanced weapons supplied by the West, Russian artillery still inflicts heavy casualties in Ukraine and often goes unanswered. Kyiv independence.
Ukrainian soldiers fire artillery in the Donbass regionPhoto: Ukrinform / Shutterstock Editorial / Profimedia
- Counter-battery fire, the tactic of hunting and firing enemy artillery pieces, remains a weakness of the Ukrainian army.
- The Russian army indeed enjoys a very strong numerical superiority. But Ukraine, for its part, often lacks adequate systems of counter-battery operations on the battlefield.
- There is also a lack of highly qualified professionals.
- As a result, Russian artillery continued to destroy Ukrainian lines, forcing Ukrainian infantry to pay a heavy price in blood.
- The HIMARS campaign did not, as expected, cause a complete shortage of ammunition in the Russian army, but it further complicated Russia’s complex logistics and significantly reduced the stocks of ready-to-use ammunition.
Rapid transition from Soviet military equipment to Western military equipment
Much has changed since Ukraine depleted its stockpiles of old Soviet-grade ammunition in June. Essentially, he had to switch from foreign supplies to NATO-standard ammunition and acquire dozens of Western-supplied artillery pieces – and he had to do it quickly.
Fortunately, this period of transition, one of the most dramatic moments of the war, was rapid.
Ukrainian soldiers fire M777 artillery received from Americans (Twitter)
Without dozens of Western artillery pieces, such as the US-supplied M777, and vast reserves of ammunition, kyiv would have no hope.
Russia’s numerical superiority resulting from decades of Soviet production and its relentless supply of weapons had a devastating effect on the course of the war.
Simple but brutal and overwhelming Russian artillery barrage tactics drove Russian infantry through the rubble of Ukrainian cities, says war journalist Ilya Ponomarenko.
The discrepancy between the number of Russian and Ukrainian pieces used in a given part of the front line was 10 to 1.
But the purchase of Western artillery, technologically superior to the old Soviet pieces used by Russia, saved Ukraine’s self-defense campaign.
A more significant outcome was the campaign to destroy dozens of Russian ammunition and fuel depots with US-supplied HIMARS missile systems in occupied Ukraine.
The HIMARS campaign did not, as expected, cause a complete shortage of ammunition in the Russian army, but it further complicated Russia’s complex logistics and significantly reduced the stocks of ready-to-use ammunition.
HIMARS bed systems pull during the day
According to estimates by Ukrainian artillery commanders interviewed by the Kyiv Independent, the use of Russian ammunition in eastern Ukraine has fallen from around 12,000-15,000 shells to around 5,000-6,000, a veritable relief for the Ukrainian army.
Heavy losses on both sides / The battle between the artillery forces of the two countries was more than brutal
According to Oryx, an intelligence program documenting war casualties in Ukraine, Russia lost at least 75 towed artillery pieces (including 32 2A65 Msta-B 152 millimeter howitzers) and at least 152 self-propelled howitzers (including 46 152 millimeter of 2253 millimeters). pieces and 58 heavy 152-millimeter 2S19 Msta-S pieces).
Ukrainian losses were also significant: Oryx documented at least 50 towed artillery pieces and 51 self-propelled artillery pieces destroyed, damaged or abandoned.
M777 rifles targeted by Russians (Twitter)
Oryx reports eight destroyed or damaged M777A2 parts that were among more than 100 parts previously shipped to Ukraine from the United States, Australia and Canada.
It should be noted, however, that not all artillery pieces on either side were lost to counter-battery fire.
According to the estimates of Ukrainian experts, the Russian numerical superiority has been somewhat reduced. Ukraine has currently sent nearly 500 artillery pieces to more than 2,000 Russian installations. Some of the limited 152 millimeter howitzers from the former Warsaw Pact countries reactivated some of the old Ukrainian howitzers to Soviet standards.
A weakness / The Russian artillery is still very strong
Progress was significant, but the introduction of superior Western systems did not lead to radical changes in Russian superiority.
Russian artillery is still massive and deadly, constantly cutting through Ukrainian defenses with tremendous force.
Scars from an artillery battle in the Donbass
Despite all the damage inflicted by HIMARS, Russia, especially in the Donbass, is still able to concentrate its massive artillery power in certain frontline units.
Lack of organization at the highest level
Speaking on condition of anonymity, Ukrainian active-duty artillery officers interviewed by the Kyiv Independent acknowledged that Ukrainian counter-battery operations remain largely complex, mainly due to the lack of an effective organization of high level.
According to them, all the key elements of counter-battery warfare, including observation points, radar detection targeting, drones and acoustic telemetry, must be improved.
To destroy detected Russian weapons, target detection must be better synchronized with fast-acting artillery pieces.
Ukrainian artillery at war with Russia (Twitter)
And all the elements had to work in a system and in cooperation with the infantry units which had to hold important local high points for the artillery, which was often not the case for the gunners.
In many cases, Russian victories were secured not by its overwhelming advantage, but by the complex reaction of Ukrainian counter-artillery.
“The infantry paid with blood for these flaws,” said a Ukrainian artillery officer. Kyiv independence.