Sunday, June 26, 2022

The ‘Big Battle’ Of Howitzers: Russia Says Its Giatsint-S Heavy Artillery Gun Is ‘Wiping Out US-Origin M-777s In Ukraine

The Russian Giatsint-S self-propelled artillery gun has destroyed the US-made M777 155mm howitzer in Ukraine, according to the latest claims by the Russian Defense Ministry.

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The US has supplied 90 M-777 howitzers to Ukraine as part of an $800m military aid package, and reportedly all except one have reached Ukraine, with several of them now deployed on the front lines.

The news comes just days after another Ukrainian M-777 howitzer near the Podgornoye settlement was seen being struck by projectiles fired from a Russian UAV backed up by artillery.

The Russian Defense Ministry has released a video showing the crews of Giatsint-S 152mm self-propelled artillery guns purportedly engaged in counter-battery firing against a Ukrainian unit of US-made M777 155mm howitzers.

“In the process of fulfilling its counter-battery warfare tasks, a battery of Giatsint-S systems eliminated a unit of US-made M-777 155mm towed howitzers,” the ministry said in a statement.

The Russian teams of Giatsint-S self-propelled artillery guns are destroying the Ukrainian military’s strongholds, fortifications, manpower, and military hardware, the state news agency, TASS citing the ministry data, reported.

After each artillery strike and detecting enemy unmanned aerial vehicles, Giatsint-S teams swiftly change their fire positions, added TASS.

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As the war effort is now concentrated primarily in eastern Ukraine and the Donbas region, it has morphed into an artillery duel between Russia and Ukraine. Both sides are more focused on counter-battery fire.

Therefore, the M-777 howitzers supplied by the US have been a major boost to Ukraine’s firepower and counter-Russian offensive due to their long-range and accuracy. Most of the Ukrainian artillery is at least three decades old with relatively small ranges.

M-777 howitzer (Wikimedia Commons)

American M-777 vs Russian 2S5 Giatsint-S 

Designed and manufactured by BAE Systems, the 155mm M-777 is the world’s first ultra-light or lightweight howitzer weighing less than 10,000 lbs (4,218 kg) because of new titanium and aluminum alloys.

Its lighter weight and smaller dimensions allow the M-777 to be easily transported by USMC MV-22 Osprey, CH-47 helicopter, or truck, which means it can be deployed and re-deployed more frequently; maximizing its survivability is vital in a counter-battery warfare.

The 2S5 Giatsint-S 152 mm self-propelled gun was developed during the Soviet era by the Special Design Bureau of the Sverdlovsk (now Ekaterinburg) Machinery Construction Factory late in 1968. The gun weighs 2800 kg, making it approximately seven times heavier than the US-made M-777.

2S5 Giatsint-S self-propelled gun (Wikimedia Commons)

The M-777 Howitzer is equipped with a 39-caliber barrel. It has a maximum firing range of 24.7 km with unassisted rounds and 30 km with rocket-assisted rounds. It can fire at a rate of 2 rounds per minute for a prolonged period of time and up to 5 shots per minute in extreme situations.

In comparison, the 2S5 Giatsint-S provides a slightly longer range of 28.4 km for the standard HE-FRAG shell and up to 33 km with a rocket-assisted shell with a maximum rate of fire of 5 to 6 rounds per minute.

In addition to HE (high explosive) rounds, the gun can also fire HEAT, cluster, smoke, and nuclear projectiles. The weapon is aimed at using the D726-45 Mechanic Sight with PG-1M panorama and OPChM-91A Optical Sight.

The M777A2 variant uses the Modular Artillery Charge Systems (MACS) to fire the Raytheon / Bofors XM982 Excalibur GPS / Inertial Navigation-guided extended-range 155mm projectiles. Excalibur has a larger range of approximately 40km.

The gun crew size requirement is a minimum of 5, and the maximum towed road speed is 88 kilometers per hour, while the towed cross-country speed is 50 kilometers per hour.

The 2S5 can run at a maximum road speed of 63 km/h and off-road speed of 25 km/hr with a maximum cruising range of 500 km.

The M777s are operated by Australia, Canada, India, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, and the United States, while the 2S5 is in service with the armed forces of Belarus, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Georgia, Russia, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

m777 howitzer
File Image: M777 howitzer

Losses On Both Sides In The Ongoing Gunfight

In addition to the 90 M-777s from the US, Ukraine has received ten additional units from Australia and Canada and a whopping144,000 155mm rounds, as well as 72 trucks to transport the guns, enough to supply five battalions.

In early May, Ukrainian forces were reportedly wreaking havoc on Russian positions, blasting targets with their brand new M777 howitzers; however, the recent footages and claims from the Russian ministry indicate losses are being suffered on both the sides.

“That is not to say that losses are not being sustained on both sides. They are, both in terms of forces but also in terms of equipment and weapon systems.” said a senior US official during a Pentagon press briefing.

“It’s a real gunfight in the Donbas, literally, with artillery being exchanged every single day and the Russians [continuing] to fly airstrikes,” the senior US defense official added.

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