TechUkrainian forces unleash cutting-edge SMArt 155 artillery on Russian armour

Ukrainian forces unleash cutting-edge SMArt 155 artillery on Russian armour

Panzerhaubitze 2000 during the combat in Ukraine.
Panzerhaubitze 2000 during the combat in Ukraine.
Images source: © forum | MARKO DJURICA / Reuters / Forum
Przemysław Juraszek

21 June 2024 20:03

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

The Armed Forces of Ukraine received many 155mm artillery systems from Western countries. These include towed solutions such as the M777 or TRF1, old self-propelled models like the M109, and the most modern systems like the PzH-2000, AHS Krab, and FH77BW Archer.

Along with the latest group, very modern and specialized ammunition arrived. In the case of the PzH-2000 howitzer, which Andrij Kobzar of the 43rd Independent Artillery Brigade served on, the talk is about SMArt 155 rounds, named as an abbreviation for Suchzünder Munition für die Artillerie 155.

As Andrij Kobzar said 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 very effective and spares nothing. Sensors placed in the submunitions effectively find and identify enemy targets. Our goal 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 200 metres, the infrared sensor scans the terrain for targets and reliably identifies and detonates the submunition 20 metres above the ground, creating a penetrator," explains the source quoted by the Ukrainian portal.

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

The mentioned Ukrainian unit received 136 rounds, 36 of which were intended 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, consisting of infantry fighting vehicles, trucks, or artillery tractors towing towed artillery.

Germany's solution against Russia's armoured hordes

SMArt 155 rounds, produced since 1998, belong to the category of smart guided munitions capable of independently detecting, identifying, and subsequently attacking armoured targets located in a specific area. However, if there are no targets of suitable characteristics in the area, it self-destructs after the voltage generated by the on-board battery drops below a certain level.

Similar to the Bonus, the submunition is equipped with a pair of sensors, but here, in addition to the infrared sensor that sees the thermal image of the target, there is also radar needed to measure distance. The German solution uses a parachute to slow down the descent, which is absent in the competing Bonus.

For destroying targets, an EFP (Explosively Formed Projectile) warhead is used, creating a kinetically formed penetrator moving at a speed of 2,000 metres per second, piercing the upper armour of the tank. This is a lesser effect than a shaped charge warhead, as it means the ability to penetrate over 10 centimetres of armour steel, rather than 50 centimetres.

However, the strength of the EFP penetrator compared to the shaped charge stream is its resistance to various forms of rod armour, such as steel cages (sometimes multi-layered) or reactive armour blocks. This means that such an EFP warhead detonated even above a T-90M tank is capable of eliminating it without any problem.

The range provided by the manufacturer depends on the barrel length of the artillery system. In the case of the M109A5Ö systems with a shorter barrel, it is 23 kilometres, while for the PzH 2000 with a longer barrel, the range increases to about 27 kilometres. These rounds are one of the best means for Ukrainians to destroy tanks far in the enemy's rear.

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