TechRussia's artillery production outpaces U.S. and Europe by threefold

Russia's artillery production outpaces U.S. and Europe by threefold

AHS Krab - illustrative photo.
AHS Krab - illustrative photo.
Images source: © Wikimedia Commons | Gavin K. Ching

12:03 PM EDT, May 26, 2024

Up until recently, the Pentagon emphasized significant Russian losses in the war with Ukraine. Shortly after, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin adjusted his tone, discussing rebuilding the Russian army. Experts from the U.S. subsequently noted that Russia is improving its weapon production, which is now being corroborated by new reports.

According to an analysis by Bain & Company, cited by Sky News, the Russian Federation produces artillery shells three times faster than the U.S. and Europe and for a quarter of the cost.

Recent reports confirm the American experts' findings, highlighting that Russia has the capability to produce (or repair) 1,200 tanks and at least 3 million artillery shells or rockets annually. Bain & Company notes that in 2024, Russia might produce up to 4.5 million shells.

Ammunition production in Russia

Sky News reports that the war in Ukraine has been described as a "fire battle" from the start due to the extensive use of artillery shells exchanged between Ukraine and Russia daily. As a result, Ukraine's allies have decided to ramp up the production of ammunition for the most commonly used weapons on the front.

Despite these efforts, the United States and Europe remain behind in the number of shells produced. The Russian Federation leads the arms race, with its production capabilities outpacing the combined economic strength of NATO countries. Consequently, Ukrainians constantly face a shell shortage, while Russians frequently can "flood" the front with their more abundant and cost-effective ammunition.

The average production cost of a standard NATO shell (cal. 155 mm) is about $4,000 per unit. This amount varies by country, but analysts have averaged the costs. It remains four times higher than in Russia, where a 152 mm shell costs approximately $1,000 to produce.

155 mm artillery shells, illustrative photo
155 mm artillery shells, illustrative photo© X | Ukrainian Front

Ukrainians pretend to fire

A Ukrainian soldier, using the pseudonym "Bolt," revealed to Sky News that due to the shell shortage, military exercises involve simulated firing. Soldiers simulate shelling during exercises and encounter live ammunition only during actual battles.

In an interview with Sky News, the Ukrainian military also emphasised the need for smaller anti-tank guided missile launchers. They highlighted the MBT LAW (known as NLAW), a handheld short-range missile system effective up to 656 yards (600 m). This lightweight weapon, weighing about 25 pounds (11.5 kg), can be carried anywhere and used to attack enemy armored vehicles from concealment.

Ukrainian howitzers 2S22 Bogdana, illustrative photo
Ukrainian howitzers 2S22 Bogdana, illustrative photo© X, @friedhelm_mosel

Meanwhile, the artillery shortage means that the Western-supplied artillery pieces fire increasingly less often. Among these, the Polish AHS Krab, praised for its high mobility and significant firepower, is now on the front lines.

This weapon, similar to the German PzH 2000, can fire shells up to a distance of 25 miles (40 km). In standard mode, the Polish Krab fires at a rate of 2 rounds per minute, but in intensive mode, it can fire up to 6 rounds per minute. Another valuable Ukrainian-developed artillery piece adapted to 155 mm NATO shells is the 2S22 Bohdana, which gained fame during the battles for Snake Island. This 6x6 wheeled howitzer can achieve a shell range of up to 37 miles (60 km) and fire 6 shells per minute from its 52-caliber barrel.

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