In the Ukrainian army, the Soviet artillery bows

In the Ukrainian army, the Soviet artillery bows

Tapi in a hole in the middle of a field, the old Soviet Akatsiya 2S3 self-propelled gun lives its swansong. The Ukrainian army, which will soon run out of its last missiles, prefers Western weapons, which are better against the Russian enemy.

On the roof of the machine, a set of tools shows other repairs.

Built in 1986, “Lastotchka” (“Swallow”), the nickname given to her by her crew, reflects the weight of the years. But the men he is carrying don’t seem to be holding him.

“To make it go from second to third gear, you have to hammer or clap,” smiles Serguiï, 26, matching the word, with the sound “bang”.

In front, visibility is so limited that sometimes the driver has to stick his head out of the cabin. The rear gear is more random, due to the lack of a rearview camera.

On the turret, you have to put a pencil between the chain links to make the machine gun work properly, he points out.

“To make a strike, we need 30 to two minutes, time to adjust the course, to prepare the guns”, all these maneuvers are done manually, confirms Serguiï, met in Mykolaiv region (South).

In contrast, the most recent Western machines close their focus to the computer.

Then shoot. “Their shells are still in the air, they are already gone.” A valuable advantage of time to avoid a possible Russian response.

Lada vs Mercedes

“We will be remembered as the last to use these systems”, jokes the officer “Baniet” (“Bayonet”).

In Ukraine, the army “does with what it has”, even if it would prefer “more modern equipment, and more computers”, from the West, continues “Baniet”. And twisting the metaphor: “Every Lada owner would be happy to have a Mercedes.”

As their range, these “Lada” of Ukrainian art therefore give back 10 km or more to Western weapons.

They sin more precisely: at the maximum distance, their strikes land at least “within an area of ​​200 to 300 m” from the target, compared to five meters for a modern guided shell, according to Pierre Grasser, assistant researcher at Sirice . laboratory – Sorbonne.

Whatever the advantages or disadvantages, the Ukrainian army is in any case forced to abandon its Akatsiya 2S3, which this Russian defense expert estimates at 200 operational copies, for lack of ammunition.

Because the machine inherited from the USSR, like other artefacts given to Ukraine during its independence in 1991, works mainly with 152 mm shells, mostly produced in Russia or in countries close to Moscow.

‘New standard’

In the past few months, Ukraine’s allies, led by the United States, therefore, have delivered more than 220 mm of different types (155 mm), as well as almost 500,000 bullets, some of them guided, which has enabled Kyiv to “move to a new level.” military”, the highest, according to Mr. Grasser.

Also equipped with Himars systems capable of launching highly accurate missiles with a range of 80 km, Kyiv took the upper hand over Moscow, intensifying strikes against sensitive targets, especially ammunition depots, behind Russian lines, and endangering its facilities .

“It’s a big surprise, because it’s the first time that Russia has been down in terms of tank battles since the First World War,” the French researcher said.

Ukraine now has “the ability to cover a wider and more precise field with its weapons” than Russia, the supporter of heavy missile attacks during this conflict, confirms Pierre Razoux, academic director of the Mediterranean Foundation for Strategic Studies.

With the stockpile of 152mm shells running out, the ‘Swallow’, like other Ukrainian Soviet artillery, will be destroyed, marking the end of an era, according to military analyst Serguiy Zgourets, based in Kyiv.

For officer “Baniet”, a former Red Army veteran with little emotion, “it doesn’t matter what weapon will destroy our enemy”. And emphasized: “it is important that it works well, and that we have ammunition, Soviet or not.”

21/09/2022 19:08:21 – Mykolaiv region (Ukraine) (AFP) – © 2022 AFP