155 mm Howitzers on the Ukraine Battlefield

M777 155mm Howitzers

The defense of Kyiv has resulted in a Ukrainian victory over the invading Russian forces in northern Ukraine. Russian units have pulled out of most of northern Ukraine and have repositioned into eastern Ukraine in the Donbas region. Both Ukraine and Russia are massing their units for a protracted battle in this area of Ukraine and artillery is playing a key role on the battlefield.

Russian tactics have always had artillery and rocket fire as a key ingredient in both offense and defense. The Ukrainians need to match their adversary’s artillery capabilities. Numerous shipments of M777 155 mm howitzers (Wikipedia) by the United States and other countries are helping Ukraine respond to the firepower of Russia’s artillery and rocket systems.

On May 19, 2022, the Pentagon announced (DoD) that another shipment of 18 155 mm howitzers are heading to Ukraine. In addition, 18 tactical vehicles to tow those howitzers are part of the shipment. Other field equipment and three AN/TPQ-36 counter-artillery radars are also going as part of the weapons shipment. This equipment is part of yet another tranche of presidential drawdown support for Ukraine. The 18 artillery tubes are basically the equivalent of a U.S. artillery battalion.

Marines Fire M777 155 mm Howitzer

Photo: Marines fire a M777 howitzer at Twentynine Palms, California. Marine Corps Sgt. Jose E. Guillen.

The howitzers have left several different locations within the United States. They are usually transported by Air Force C-17 Globemaster IIIs to Europe. Members of the Ukrainian military have received training on the artillery tubes in Germany and a few other locations in Europe. The training is about a week long. The transition to the M777s should not be difficult by the Ukrainians. Their standard artillery weapons are the D-30 122 mm howitzer and 152 mm Msta-B howitzer. By the end of April over 50 of the howitzers had arrived in Ukraine along with 155 mm rounds. With this latest shipment of 18 howitzers and the 90 already shipped or enroute, the total M777 howitzers delivered to Ukraine will be 108 or the equivalent of six U.S. artillery battalions. The U.S. is also providing the tactical vehicles to tow the howitzers.

The artillery is a critical element for the Ukrainians in the Donbas region where the opposing forces are heavily reliant on long-range fires and artillery and have massed many motorized infantry and armor units. Many of the 155 mm howitzers are already on the frontlines and being used effectively by the Ukrainians.


Photo: Marine Corps 155 mm M777 towed howitzers are staged on the flight line prior to loading them into an Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft on March Air Reserve Base, Calif., April 23, 2022. The howitzers are included in U.S. and allied efforts to identify and provide Ukraine with additional capabilities. Photo by Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Royce H. Dorman.

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