As the US prepares to deliver its HIMARS mobile precision rocket system to Ukraine, the latest bid to fortify its forces with advanced war-fighting equipment against Russia’s offensive push, few have noticed how much Russia’s artillery systems rely on US and Western-made electronic parts and components.
So while Ukraine is receiving highly publicized support from the US and European countries for its artillery systems, Russia is also relying on literally thousands of Western parts to keep its rival systems up, running and firing on Ukrainian positions. In particular, those parts are keeping Russia’s target-identifying Orlan-10 drones aloft.
Ukraine’s Western-supplied artillery is longer range than what Russia is deploying. The US gave Ukraine 108 M777 155mm towed howitzers while Canada and Australia sent smaller numbers.
Recently the M777 has been upgraded with M982 Excalibur artillery shells that are GPS-guided. These longer-range shells – up to 70 kilometers – offer a significant advantage to Ukraine’s forces.
Ukraine is also getting extensive intelligence support from the US, its NATO partners and other countries, enabling it to accurately pick out high-value Russian army targets.
Reports indicate that the HIMARS being sent to Ukraine, initially four sets for training, will be equipped with GMLRS unitary rockets, which also have a range of up to 70 kilometers. These also have a 200-pound unitary warhead (M31) designed to knock out point targets.
HIMARS can also launch even longer-range rockets but US President Joe Biden has said he does not want to transfer systems that could strike deep into Russian territory. A key advantage of HIMARS compared with the M777 is that it is mobile and can “shoot and scoot.” But so, too, can the Russians.
Read the full article at Asia Times.
Stephen Bryen is a Senior Fellow at Yorktown Institute.