TechGermany to deliver 290,000 artillery rounds to Ukraine, bolstering defense

Germany to deliver 290,000 artillery rounds to Ukraine, bolstering defense

Artillery ammunition cal. 155 mm
Artillery ammunition cal. 155 mm
Images source: © Petr Topič, MAFRA
5:33 PM EDT, March 20, 2024

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius has announced the delivery of 290,000 artillery rounds to Ukraine, with the initial batch of 10,000 rounds set to be transferred shortly. This article outlines what Germany is providing.

Germany will supply Ukraine with 10,000 155mm caliber artillery shells from Bundeswehr reserves in the next few days. In addition, Germany is financing the procurement of 180,000 shells through the Czech ammunition initiative, expected to reach Ukraine by summer. Furthermore, an order of 100,000 shells from its domestic industry has been placed, with delivery anticipated at a later date.

Given the current estimated daily consumption of shells in Ukraine is between 2,000 and 3,000, Germany’s supply of 10,000 shells will suffice for a maximum of five days. While seemingly modest, this assistance, if replicated by other nations, could significantly support Ukraine until more substantial ammunition supplies are secured.

What Germany is delivering to Ukraine

Germany has a history of providing Ukraine with both budget-friendly and specialized ammunition; this occasion appears to uphold that tradition. The bulk of the delivery includes DM121 shells, each costing around 3,000 euros, known for their simple design featuring TNT within a steel casing and a straightforward impact fuse.

About 85% of these shells successfully hit a target the size of a soccer field from nearly 18.6 miles away, showcasing their relatively high accuracy for unguided munitions. However, they do not match the precision of guided munitions. A slightly pricier variant includes a gas generator at the base of the shell to improve aerodynamics by mitigating the base bleed effect, thereby extending the range by 30%. For artillery systems with a 52 caliber barrel length, such as the PzH 2000, this translates to a firing range of around 24.8 miles.

Another category features shells with an additional rocket booster, sacrificing some explosive material for extended range—over 37.3 miles. However, in Ukraine, there has been no use of such V-LAP type ammunition, a trend likely to continue.

The most advanced among the supplied are the guided artillery shells SMArt 155, designed for tank engagement with a range of 17.4 miles. These shells house EFP (Explosively Formed Projectile) warheads capable of defeating modern tanks by targeting their less protected upper armor. Each shell contains two submunitions with radar and infrared sensors, allowing for precise targeting as they descend on a parachute.

Ukraine is also expected to receive a small quantity of the innovative Vulcan 155 GLR shells. These guided sub-caliber projectiles, launched at a higher velocity, can reach up to 49.7 miles, exhibiting exceptional accuracy due to GPS and INS navigation systems. The accuracy can be further enhanced to below 9.8 feet for moving targets using a semi-active laser guidance (SAL) warhead in coordination with a target-illuminating laser beam.

Despite having a smaller warhead, these shells are highly effective because they can operate in three modes: detonation upon impact, with a delay for penetrating obstacles, or by exploding above the target to disperse lethal shrapnel over a wide area.

As one of Europe's leading ammunition producers, Germany plays a vital role in supporting Ukraine with necessary arms. The latest contribution is poised to temporarily bolster Ukraine's defenses, emphasizing the importance of timely fulfillment of further commitments.

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