Espreso. Global

Competing for 155-mm rounds: is there really problem for Israel and Ukraine?

20 October, 2023 Friday

The IDF has almost as many 155-mm artillery systems as the Ukrainian Armed Forces, but there are a number of additional factors to consider, including that Israel has asked to return only a part of the shells

Defense Express writes about this.

Since artillery is crucial for the situation on the frontline in Ukraine, any news regarding the competition for their stocks is more than important. After it was reported that ammunition intended for Ukraine would be sent to Israel, the picture became even worse.

Defense Express emphasizes that the Axios' headline needs to clarify the very essence of the news, which was received from unnamed sources in the Israeli Defense Ministry.

“According to the media, the issue is the return to the country of 155-mm ammunition that belongs to the US Army but was stored in Israel and to which the IDF should have had access if necessary. This ammunition was exported at the level of last winter, and, as the American media wrote at the time, it was about 300,000 shells. And, according to Axios, Israel's request is for "tens of thousands" of 155-mm shells. So, obviously, we are not talking about all the ammunition,” Defense Express explains. 

Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder also confirmed that artillery munitions will be sent to Israel, along with high-precision JDAMs and SDBs, which are being delivered under a commercial contract and will be accelerated according to Boeing.

“Anyway, if the number of countries in need of artillery ammunition increases, it will definitely not have a positive impact on their quantity. Moreover, the need for them in the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the IDF is virtually the same, if we count the number of artillery systems themselves. For the Ukrainian Armed Forces, it is approximately 300 155-mm self-propelled artillery systems and trailed guns, while the IDF has 250 M109A5s in service. However, Israel still keeps about 200 155-mm artillery systems in storage, including 30 older M109A2s, as well as 171 units of trailed artillery - M-46, M-68/M-71, and M-839P/M-845P,” the article reads.

Thus, it is possible to focus on 250 units of Israeli M109A5s, which will form the corresponding need for ammunition. But in addition to the number of guns, the intensity of the artillery itself must be taken into account.

It is stated that while for Ukraine artillery fire is the main weapon of choice, both in defense and offense, for Israel, aviation can be considered the main means of remote destruction. However, this does not mean that artillery will not play the role of constant fire to suppress and restrain.

“It is also crucial to understand the pace and timing of the IDF's active ground phase in the Gaza Strip. The longer and more intense it lasts, the greater the need for ammunition will be. But, all things considered, the IDF's own stockpiles should be sufficient for an operation against the Gaza Strip,” Defense Express explains.

But in the event of a war against Hezbollah in the north, this is a question, especially if the war drags on for months. In this negative scenario, both stockpiles and current production of 155-mm shells will be shared between Ukraine and Israel. Moreover, an increase in the need for 155-mm shells will certainly push up their cost, which will also be a negative factor.

At the same time, as for the IDF's shells at the expense of the Armed Forces, the situation does not look so critical, because what Israel is not interested in is a long operation. To reduce the risks of a full-scale war on two fronts, the United States is deploying two aircraft carrier strike groups in the Mediterranean and moving additional aircraft.

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