TechGermany backs Czech-led initiative to boost Ukraine's artillery power

Germany backs Czech-led initiative to boost Ukraine's artillery power

Artillery shells production
Artillery shells production
Images source: © GETTY | The Washington Post
9:20 AM EST, March 4, 2024

The challenge of assembling a new aid package for Ukraine by the United States has placed the onus on European countries to ensure the timely delivery of military supplies, which is critical for Ukraine's survival. Regrettably, several European countries face delays in their delivery schedules, jeopardizing Ukraine's fate.

To address this issue, Czechia has suggested buying 880,000 artillery shells from non-EU sources, promising a swift deployment to the front lines upon securing funding. The exact origin of this ammunition remains unclear, though Greece’s explicit opposition within European discussions hints at possible manufacturers in Turkey. Other potential suppliers include the Republic of South Africa and South Korea, both of which have endeavored to stay neutral thus far.

This significant influx of ammunition is expected to bolster Ukraine's defensive capabilities and buy time for the European arms industry to ramp up its ammunition production capacity. Denmark, the Netherlands, and Canada have already pledged their support for the Czech-led initiative, now joined by Germany.

A diverse supply of ammunition for Ukraine found by the Czechs

The Czechs have managed to source 500,000 155mm caliber shells and 300,000 122mm caliber shells. Given the total estimated cost of 1.5 billion euros, it is clear that these shells are of a basic design, featuring a cast-steel body packed with several pounds of TNT and a fuse.

The 155mm caliber shells, compatible with NATO forces, typically contain 20-22 pounds of TNT. They are effective against targets up to 15 miles away when fired from 39 caliber length gun systems, like the TRF1 howitzers, and up to 19 miles away when used with 52 caliber length gun systems, such as the Polish Krab.

Given their price point, these shells are not equipped with precision guidance. Their accuracy at maximum range is sufficient to hit an area roughly the size of a soccer field. Alternatively, slightly more costly rockets equipped with a gas generator can extend the range by about 30%. The Soviet-era 122mm caliber shells, containing around 5.5 pounds of explosive, can reach targets up to approximately 9 miles away.

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