Ukraine, high-tech artillery duel


Who will pound the hardest?


©SIPA

“It’s a tough fight, gentlemen, but we’ll see who can hit the longest.” So spoke the Duke of Wellington on the afternoon of the Battle of Waterloo, when Napoleon’s cannons were beating his troops. These words come to mind as the war in Ukraine turns into a long artillery duel, centered on the Donbas in the east of the country. Phillip Karber is a former U.S. Marine who now heads the Potomac Foundation, a research and public policy organization based in Virginia, and regularly travels to the front lines of war to study combat. He estimates that Russian artillery barrages are now responsible for around 80% of Ukrainian casualties. The numbers are probably similar in the opposing camp.

Whoever wins this artillery duel will probably win the war. And Ukraine bases much of its hopes on the sophisticated weapons and ammunition it receives from its Western backers.

“Russian artillery barrages are now responsible for around 80% of Ukrainian casualties. The numbers are probably similar in the opposing camp. Whoever wins this artillery duel will probably win the war”

At the top of the list for the moment, the French Caesar system, manufactured by Nexter, a company from Versailles. It can throw shells over a distance of around 40 km, which is 16 km more than the company’s previous model, the TRF1. So far, France has provided five or six of the promised twelve Caesar artillery guns, allowing Ukrainian troops to hit targets 50% further away than a few weeks ago.

Caesar, a French technology

The secret to the range of the Caesar system lies in its detonation chamber – the part of the barrel where the propellant charge explodes. It can contain about four liters more than that of the TRF1 cannon, i.e. a capacity of 23 liters and therefore 30 kg of propellant. To hold back the propellant explosion, the chamber […]

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