A Ukrainian army artillery brigade has begun piloting a new small unmanned aerial vehicle and using it to scout targets for its giant, aging self-propelled howitzers.
The results are spectacular.
The 45th Separate Artillery Brigade released a recording of a video feed from a Spectator drone on Saturday. strike representative by the brigade’s 2S7 howitzers at an industrial facility near the southeastern town of Zaporizhzhia that a Russian army battalion was using as a staging area.
Watching the drone feed to correct their fire, the 45th gunners destroyed several Russian vehicles.
The 2S7 is an old weapon. The open-hull tracked gun and its support vehicle entered service with the Soviet Army in 1976. The 2S7 saw action in Afghanistan in the 1980s and the Chechen wars in the 1990s.
The Russians eventually put a large part of their approximately 300 2S7s into storage. The Ukrainians did the same with the hundred or so 2S7s inherited from the Soviet Union. In the run-up to the current war, both countries returned to service with some of the big guns.
Both use drones to scout targets for their 2S7s. The 12-pound Spectator, from Ukraine’s JSC Meridian, is one of the newest. The Zaporizhzhia strike was apparently the first time the 45th used the Spectator in combat. “An effective combat test drive,” boasted the brigade.
While a 203mm gun packs a big hit, it’s also heavy, slow to fire, hard to sustain and painfully noisy for the crew of 14. It should therefore be noted where the Russian and Ukrainian armies endeavored to deploy their respective 2S7s.
Russian 2S7s are reportedly active in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine, particularly around the Severodonetsk salient, where Russian forces are trying to encircle several Ukrainian brigades with their thousands of troops.
Some of the Ukrainian 2S7s are in the same area. A video that the Ukrainian 92nd Mechanized Brigade posted on social media on Sunday depicts 2S7 in action. The 92nd held the line in the Donbass north of the Severodonetsk salient.
The 45th, with its own 2S7s, is in southern Ukraine, which has been relatively quiet since the Kremlin refocused its war effort on Donbass earlier this month. But there are reports the Russians are trying to regroup and launch a new offensive in the south.
Ukrainian drones keep watch. And his gunners try to spoil the plan.