Powerful U.S. artillery pieces have started to arrive in Ukraine that offer the country’s military the opportunity to outgun Russia’s military as the new equipment can outreach the capability of Russia’s military by several miles.
Various reports indicate that between 12 to 74 of the 90 155 mm M777 towed howitzers are in fighting positions in Ukraine.
“You’re already seeing the Ukrainians being willing to go on the counteroffensive in the Donbas [region of Ukraine]. They are taking back some towns that the Russians have taken in the past,” a senior Defense Department official said. “We do believe that the howitzers … are having an impact, particularly in Kharkiv. Now is that the only reason? I don’t think we would go that far to say that, but we do believe that the systems they’re getting — not just the U.S. systems but the systems from other countries — are absolutely helping them regain some momentum and to take back some territory.”
The New York Times reported that the American-made M777 howitzers “are the most powerful and destructive of the many types now being provided by NATO countries” to Ukraine.
“They fire three miles farther than the most common artillery system used by the Russian army in the Ukraine war, the Msta-S self-propelled howitzer — and 10 miles farther if shooting a precision, GPS-guided projectile,” the report said. “Since their deployment two weeks ago, the dozen or so howitzers operating in two artillery batteries had by Sunday fired 1,876 rounds.”
The report said that the artillery pieces are able to easily blend into the surrounding environment by adding camouflage consisting of branches from trees and bushes.
Analysts said that the impact of the howitzers will not be fully recognized for at least another few weeks because Ukraine does not have enough trained personnel to operate them.
The M777’s mobility is an advantage for Ukrainian forces as they are able to quickly tow them away after they are used so they are not destroyed by drones or other Russian forces.
The howitzers, in their so-far limited use over the last couple of weeks, have reportedly fired several different types of shells and have already destroyed several heavy Russian military vehicles and scores of Russian troops.
“The purpose of the guns will be to grind down Russian positions and military infrastructure, such as ammunition depots and command posts,” the report said. “The American M777, known as the triple seven, is likely to have the greatest effect [out of all the artillery pieces being provided to Ukraine] for the quantity of guns provided, providing accurate, long-range fire when sufficient crews are trained to use them.”
The U.S. has trained approximately 200 Ukrainian soldiers on how to operate the M777 and Ukraine split that group in half, sending some to the battlefield and sending some to train other Ukrainian soldiers. The report said that it could take many more weeks to train up the number of soldiers needed to operate the systems adequately.