As the United States prepares to deliver its HIMARS Mobile Precision Rocket System to Ukraine, the latest attempt to fortify its forces with advanced combat equipment against Russia’s offensive push, few have noticed how Russian artillery systems rely on US-made electronic parts and components and in the West.
So, while Ukraine receives high-profile support from the United States and European countries for its artillery systems, Russia also relies on thousands of Western parties to keep its rival systems operational and fire on positions. Ukrainians. In particular, these parts hold the Russian Orlan-10 target identification drones in the air.
Ukrainian artillery provided by the West has a longer range than that deployed by Russia. The United States gave 108 to Ukraine M777 155mm towed howitzers while Canada and Australia sent smaller numbers.
Recently the M777 has been upgraded with M982 Excalibur artillery shells which are GPS guided. These longer-range shells – up to 70 kilometers – offer a significant advantage to Ukrainian forces.
Ukraine also enjoys significant intelligence support from the United States, its NATO partners and other countries, allowing it to accurately select high-value Russian military targets. .
Reports indicate that the HIMARS sent to Ukraine, initially four sets for training, will be equipped with GMLRS unitary rockets, which also have a range of up to 70 kilometers. These also have a 200 pound unit warhead (M31) designed to knock out point targets.
HIMARS can also launch longer-range rockets, but US President Joe Biden has said he doesn’t want to transfer systems that could hit Russian territory deeply. A key advantage of HIMARS over the M777 is that it is mobile and can “shoot and dash”. But so are the Russians.
The Russian response to the artillery systems sent to Ukraine is the MSTA SM-2which is a mobile 152 mm (60 caliber) gun system mounted on a chassis derived from the Russian T-73 main battle tank.
Shells fired from this gun have a range of 30-40 kilometers, much less than that of artillery shells supplied to Ukraine. Recently, the Russians added a new laser-guided munition called Krasnopol-DSlightly improving the range to 43 kilometers.
Russia’s use of artillery has two interesting aspects in relation to Ukraine. Ukraine uses its artillery primarily to try and take out as much Russian equipment as possible, but not as an offensive combat tactic.
Russia, on the other hand, is trying to use his artillery to create “cauldrons” where maximum firepower is used to drive Ukrainian forces out of strategic battle locations.
While much of Russia’s approach resembles a land-based version of what the United States called carpet bombing in Vietnam, Russian artillery is also increasingly able to fire accurately.
Russian MSTA weapons are now linked to Orlan-10 drones. Drones are able to identify targets and provide coordinates using precise triangulation and also stand ready to ensure a target has been destroyed. Some Orlan-10 drones have laser designators.
Significantly, the Orlan-10 would not fly without parts supplied by the United States and allies. The Orlan-10 is a Russian home-made drone mainly with pieces from the United States, China, Taiwan, France, Japan, Sweden, Israel and elsewhere.
Early versions of the drone were fairly easy to jam electronically, but more advanced versions also have thermal cameras that can operate day or night, and have been fitted with more jam-resistant devices. GPS Kometa M-VT chips, made in Russia under Israeli license.
Earlier versions of Orlan-10 drones used commercial Japanese Canon cameras, namely the 750D and 800D models. The Russians glued the adjustment dials onto the cameras so they couldn’t be easily changed. The Orlan-10 engine is also Japanese-made.
Other companies involved in supplying parts for Orlan-10 drones include Lynred Infrared (France), AxisIPVideo (Sweden), Cirocomm (Taiwan), Ublox (Switzerland), XilinxInc (USA), AllianceMemory (USA), United), Sony (Japan) Playstation, Saito (Japan, but engine made in China).
About 80% of Orlan-10 parts come from outside Russia.
The Orlan-10 is available in many versions and over 1,000 have been produced. Roughly 50 of these drones – mostly of the earlier type – were shot down by Ukrainian forces, about half through soft jamming attacks.
Russia deploys many different types of drones in Ukraine, some for reconnaissance, some for electronic warfare and some as attack drones, including so-called suicide drones.
Russian drone development lags behind Western and Chinese systems, and Russia lacks the industrial base for critical components, meaning it depends on external supplies for its drones. This also applies to other Russian weapons that use imported electronics.
It is surprising that with all the embargoes on Russia, the high-tech electronic and optical systems that Russia needs have not been specifically blocked by sanctions.
It’s important to keep in mind that countries that won’t enforce the US and NATO embargo on Russia, like India and Turkey, probably won’t go through US electronics high leverage for combat hardware from Russia if it is clearly stated that these components are explicitly embargoed and acting as a post office to sell banned technology is unacceptable.
It is remarkable that Washington has neglected this extremely important supply for the Russian war machine.
Follow Stephen Bryen on Twitter at @stephenbryen