Ukraine General Staff updated on delivery of Western weapons systems.
I am happy to inform you that Polish self-propelled artillery units AHS Krab are ready to carry out combat missions at the front.
After M777 and FH70 howitzers, CAESAR self-propelled howitzers and M109A3, these units are the 5th type of 155 mm artillery that we managed to obtain.
The war has become a WWI-style artillery slugfest, with Russia enjoying a massive advantage in guns and ammo. With its Soviet-caliber ammunition running out, Ukraine and its partners have worked feverishly to transition to NATO standard guns. .
With 18 new Polish Krabs, Ukraine now has over 150 155mm guns, and 60 more Krabs will be arriving over the coming months, hot off the factory line. Meanwhile, new American M777s were photographed being loaded on transport planes headed to Ukraine, so the total number will soon be over 200.
We don’t know exactly how much artillery Russia has in Ukraine. I just spent an hour researching various types of Russian units and their artillery components, did some dirty math, and finally deleted the entire paragraph. Reality is, Russia has a lot. And while Ukraine claims it has destroyed 1,393 tanks and 3,429 infantry armored vehicles, the numbers for artillery systems are much smaller—213 MLRS vehicles and 703 artillery guns. Prior to the invasion, Russia claimed it had 6,000 artillery guns in its army, and while we now know those numbers were grossly exaggerated (thanks to grift and incompetence), Russia likely has multiple thousands artillery and MLRS pieces in Ukraine.
(For their part, Ukraine claimed 1,960 artillery pieces before the invasion, plus 2,000 tanks and 2,870 armored vehicles).
Back to Ukraine’s general staff:
To this date, the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine has ensured the supply of 150 artillery platforms of 155 mm caliber to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The stockpiles of ammunition of this caliber are already 10% larger than the stockpiles of Soviet-type large-caliber shells that existed before 24 February 2022. Moreover, these new shells are more effective than their Soviet equivalents, and hence their consumption is lower.
This is incredible information—right now, Ukraine has 10% more 155 mm artillery shells than its entire stockpile the day Russia invaded. And given the increased accuracy of Western systems, they don’t need to use as much to accomplish any given mission. Their burn rate is slower. Donor countries include Australia, Canada, Czechia, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, and the United Kingdom.
At the same time, more than 50 other large-caliber cannons were supplied to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. This includes projectiles for them, which constitute over 75% of the amount that existed at the beginning of the full-scale russian invasion.
These are artillery systems larger than 155 mm. Ukraine operates the Soviet-era 203 mm Pion self-propelled gun, and had 99 before the war started, but no one has announced sending more of those. According to Wikipedia, Czechoslovakia had 12, Poland had 8, and Slovakia had 3. Assuming those existed in deep storage somewhere, that still doesn’t add up to 50. NATO doesn’t have anything larger. So no clue what they’re talking about, but glad they got more of them, whatever they are!
Dozens of Soviet-type MLRS units and tens of thousands of shells, hundreds of mortars and hundreds of thousands of projectiles for them have strengthened our defence capabilities during this period.
NATO countries from the former Warsaw Pact have emptied their coffers of all their Soviet-era MLRS systems, including Bulgaria, Czechia (20+), and Poland (20+).
The Ministry of Defence is competing with the russian army for leadership in the supply of tanks and other Soviet-type armored vehicles. We`re talking about hundreds of units.
This is incredible. Poland has sent 230 T-72 tanks, and Czechia 40 more. Those, plus the tanks Ukraine has captured and returned to service from Russia itself has given them parity against the invaders. Heck, Ukraine might even have more tanks at this point.
We received around 250 armored vehicles of Western models (M113 TM, M113 YPR-765, Bushmaster, Mastiff, Husky, Wolfhound etc.) from our partners. This line of work continues.
In addition to new unannounced M777 shipments, the US is also sending more M113s beyond the first 200 on a boat hopefully arriving to Ukraine soon (if it hasn’t already). Given that the U.S. has 5,000 M113s, virtually all of them retired, the supply of those should be essentially unlimited.
It is worth noting, for instance, that the initial request of the Armed Forces regarding 155 mm artillery units has been 90% fulfilled by the Ministry of Defence.
For all the people who scream that Western allies are holding back, this confirms that in reality Ukraine has gotten most of what it has requested, and artillery systems continue to stream in. That doesn’t mean Ukraine can’t and won’t ask for more, but Ukraine’s allies are being responsive in this category.
Important announcement has been made recently: our American and British partners have decided to provide Ukraine with MLRS units. I must note that our soldiers have been learning to operate those weapons for some time.
Ukraine has only gotten a fraction of the units it has requested. Four HIMARS launchers are coming from the U.S., while the UK is handing over a similarly small number of M270 MLRS launchers. Germany promised another half-dozen or so, then came up with a cockamamy “software update” excuse for delaying the delivery until winter.
As I have written, the small number of HIMARS is likely an initial tranche given the insanely complex logistical demands of NATO MLRS systems. More will be coming, but the problem isn’t getting launchers to Ukraine, it’s getting ammo pods to those launchers. Those logistics will be worked out in time, but it does take time.
I had many discussions with foreign colleagues to launch early training for teams with different types of weapons that do not yet have political decisions regarding their supply. Training with some of those weapons began in March. More than 1,500 of our servicemen are currently undergoing training or will begin their training shortly.
This is a fascinating admission: Ukraine has been training since March on systems that have not yet been cleared for delivery. Presumably, we’re talking things like German Leopard tanks, Patriot anti-air missile systems, and if we can dream, F-16s, A-10s, or even attack helicopters.
They sum up most of their most pressing needs:
• to obtain a significant amount of NATO-type MLRS units with ammo;
• to ensure complete replacement of some existing Soviet-type calibers (worn guns, shells not produced or scarce) with platforms that are common in NATO countries and equipped with ammo;
Yup, MLRS and more MLRS and then some additional MLRS. Again, ammo supply is the real challenge here.
• to agree with partners regarding the transition from supplies of separate platforms to integral organic units immediately ready for combat. This will significantly boost efficiency on the battlefield;
• to ensure the supply of hundreds of heavy armored vehicles, without which effective counterattack is impossible. It should be considered that Soviet equipment is mostly obsolete and needs to be prepared for combat. Meanwhile, we are receiving only light armor from partners, not necessarily with weapons;
M113s are light armor with no guns. They’re armored personnel carriers, rather than infantry fighting vehicles. Ukraine needs more of the latter. I still don’t understand why we aren’t giving them our M2 Bradleys, which replaced the M113s in our armed forces, before they themselves being phased out. (The M113 is two generations old.) We have thousands of those, and the only thing I can think of is logistical/maintenance concerns. Six countries are sending M113s to Ukraine (Australia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, and the US), which simplifies supply and maintenance requirements. But Ukraine needs infantry movers with cannons, and the Europeans don’t have anything comparable available in volume like our Bradleys.
• to obtain fighter jets, anti-aircraft and missile defence systems to protect our skies.
I just wrote about the difficulties of moving to NATO gear, and that goes 100x for aircraft and air defense systems. Those are systems that take years for the maintenance crew to learn and master. Even if they started training on those systems in March, it’ll be a while before they can be deployed. Maybe it’s why this is the last bullet point in their wish list—they know it’s the least likely to happen anytime soon.
Regardless, this is an excellent, realistic summary of the state of Ukraine’s weapons deliveries and continuing needs. Yes, Ukraine has serious needs, but Western allies have stepped up big-time to fill the gaps, and a lot more remains to be sent.
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