TechUkrainian forces deploy high-tech German shells against Russian armor

Ukrainian forces deploy high-tech German shells against Russian armor

The Panzerhaubitze 2000 during the battle in Ukraine.
The Panzerhaubitze 2000 during the battle in Ukraine.
Images source: © forum | MARKO DJURICA / Reuters / Forum

5:19 PM EDT, June 21, 2024

Ukrainians received many artillery systems along with modern ammunition. We explain the use of their SMArt 155 smart rounds.

The Armed Forces of Ukraine acquired a significant number of 6-inch artillery systems from Western countries. These include towed solutions such as the M777 and TRF1, older self-propelled models like the M109, and the most modern systems like the PzH-2000, AHS Krab, and FH77BW Archer.

Along with these systems, very modern and specialized ammunition has also arrived. For the PzH-2000 howitzer, which Andrij Kobzar of the 43rd Independent Artillery Brigade operates, the focus is on SMArt 155 rounds, an abbreviation for Suchzünder Munition für die Artillerie 155.

As Andrij Kobzar stated in an interview with the Drukarnia portal, his unit received these rounds in sufficient quantity at the end of February 2023 and rated them very positively.

"The weapon is highly effective and spares nothing. Sensors placed in the submunitions effectively find and identify enemy targets. Our task is only to fire the round over a given area and program it to release the submunition at the right time, descending on parachutes. Within a radius of 656 feet, the infrared sensor scans the terrain for targets. It reliably identifies and detonates the submunition 66 feet above the ground, creating a penetrator," explains the source quoted by the Ukrainian portal.

"This easily penetrates any protection used on Russian vehicles. Moreover, these rounds can operate in a GPS jamming environment, which, for example, M982 Excalibur or Vulcano 155 GLR (without SAL head) have issues with," Andrij Kobzar concluded.

The Ukrainian unit received 136 rounds, 36 of which were meant for training purposes, and the remaining 100 were used in combat. Andrij Kobzar revealed that his unit's spoils included 41 tanks and several dozen other vehicles, including infantry fighting vehicles, trucks, and artillery tractors towing towed artillery.

Germany's solution against Russia's armored hordes

SMArt 155 rounds, produced since 1998, are smart guided munitions capable of independently detecting, identifying, and attacking armored targets in a specific area. However, if no suitable targets are present, the round self-destructs after the on-board battery's voltage drops below a certain level.

Similar to the Bonus submunition, SMArt 155 is equipped with a pair of sensors. In addition to the infrared sensor that detects the target's thermal image, there is also radar to measure distance. The German solution also employs a parachute to slow down the descent, a feature absent in the competing Bonus.

For target destruction, an EFP (Explosively Formed Projectile) warhead is used, creating a kinetic penetrator moving at a speed of 6,561 feet per second, piercing the tank's upper armor. While this has a lesser effect compared to a shaped charge warhead—it can penetrate over 4 inches of armor steel instead of 20 inches—it excels in resistance to various rod armor forms, such as steel cages or reactive armor blocks.

This means that an EFP warhead detonated above a T-90M tank can eliminate it without any problem.

The range provided by the manufacturer depends on the barrel length of the artillery system. For the M109A5Ö with a shorter barrel, it is 14 miles, while for the PzH 2000 with a longer barrel, the range increases to about 17 miles. These rounds are among the best means for Ukrainians to destroy tanks far behind enemy lines.

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