Ukraine Has Received Over A Million Artillery Rounds From The U.S.
Ukraine’s fight against Russia has gobbled up an incredible amount of artillery rounds, with over a million provided by the U.S. alone.
The U.S. has now provided Ukraine with over a million rounds of howitzer ammunition since it began shipping arms to the embattled nation to aid its fight against Russia, according to the latest figures from the Defense Department.
All told, that’s more than 1.09 million rounds which weigh well in excess of 50,000 tons combined — close to twice as much as the Statue of Liberty.
The rounds are part of more than $18.2 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden Administration, including approximately $17.6 billion since the beginning of Russia’s full-on invasion on Feb. 24.
The M795 projectile is the standard round for the 155mm M777 towed howitzers used by the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps.
It is a “103lb 155mm high fragmentation steel (HF1) body projectile filled with 23.8lbs of TNT or IMX-101 with a gilded metal rotating band for compatibility with all current and future towed and self-propelled 155mm howitzers,” according to its manufacturer, General Dynamics.
The M982 Excalibur is a 155mm round that uses GPS and inertial guidance to find its target while also extending the range at which it can strike.
To use the guided round, troops input location data into the gun's guidance unit that uploads it into the projectile before sending it downrange. More complex salvos can also be programmed. You can read much more about these rounds here.
The RAAMS is a 155mm artillery shell that contains nine individual anti-tank mines that are released along a portion of the terminal phase of the round's flight path. These shells can be used to rapidly emplace minefields to complicate the movements of enemy armored vehicles.
Though the introduction of multiple launch rocket systems like M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, and guided 227mm M31 rockets for them to fire have given Ukraine extended reach on the battlefield, howitzers have been and remain absolutely critical and a mainstay of its fight.
While the U.S. has provided 20 HIMARS to Ukraine with another 18 promised — M270 multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS) that are capable of firing the same rounds have also been donated by NATO allies — it has provided 142 M777A2 towed Howitzers and 36 105mm howitzers. Other nations have contributed howitzers as well.
With so many standard howitzer rounds shipped off to Ukraine, there is growing concern about whether enough ammunition exists for the U.S. should it get into a major conflict of its own.
In August, the Wall Street Journal reported that the military is now conducting “an ammunitions industrial base deep dive” to determine how to support Ukraine while protecting “our own supply needs.”
The Army, the Journal reported, said it also asked Capitol Hill for $500 million a year in upgrade efforts for the Army’s ammunition plants.
“Meanwhile, the service is relying on existing contracts to increase production of ammunition, but it hasn’t signed new contracts to account for the higher amounts it will need to replenish its stocks, according to Army officials.”
In Fiscal Year 2023, the Army only planned to buy 29,000 of the basic high explosive projectiles (M795), according to the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS). “Surge capacity was 288,000 projectiles per year, though with a 48-month lead time,” CSIS wrote last month.
The good news for Ukraine is that the U.S. is not the only nation providing Ukraine with howitzers and associated ammunition. And the U.S. and its allies have now had six meetings of the Defense Contact Group, some 50 nations working together to provide Ukraine with arms while ensuring their own supplies are sufficient given the possibility of a widening war in Europe and an outbreak of hostilities with China. Even Pakistan has been leveraged to supply artillery rounds to Ukraine, which you can read all about in this past piece of ours.
“Because this is a NATO standard munition, a dozen countries can supply these projectiles," CSIS wrote. "Therefore, transfers to Ukraine are unlikely to be constrained when the global market is considered.”
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