How Western arms supplies to Ukraine are changing the situation on the battlefield

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Ukrainian soldier with MANPADS Stinger

image copyrightAnadolu

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Ukrainian soldier with MANPADS Stinger

In the war in Ukraine, according to experts, the Russian army, which operates according to the guidelines and regulations of the Soviet armed forces, is opposed by a new type of army. The Armed Forces of Ukraine have been able to develop more flexible tactics and organization, and now, as Kyiv believes, they need more modern and sophisticated weapons. However, the supply of new weapons poses new problems for the Ukrainians – they still need to learn how to use them.

“If Ukraine had access to all the necessary weapons that our partners have and are comparable to the weapons that Russia uses, we would have already ended this war,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a speech at the end of April.

Arms supplies to Ukraine began even before the invasion, but before the war and at its very beginning, the West sent there mainly infantry weapons – man-portable anti-tank and anti-aircraft missile systems, as well as various military supplies – primarily ammunition, ammunition, medical kits, devices night vision. These deliveries eventually helped to delay the Russian offensive at the very beginning of the war.

Already after the start of the war, and especially after the Russian troops failed to capture Kyiv and they retreated in this direction, concentrating their efforts on the Donbass and southern regions of Ukraine, Ukraine began to request heavier weapons from the West.

Now Ukraine needs rocket and cannon artillery, high-precision munitions, armored vehicles and anti-aircraft systems, drones, anti-ship missiles. In addition, according to experts, the Ukrainian Air Force needs combat aircraft and helicopters.

In general, the Ukrainian army is trying to counter Russian forces with flexible tactics, trying to deliver accurate strikes on the most important targets rather than massive ones. This requires the most up-to-date information on the disposition and movements of Russian troops.

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Javelin missiles began to arrive in Ukraine long before the start of the war

That is why Ukrainians need reconnaissance and target designation means – radars, counter-battery combat and fire adjustment means, drones, satellite data and other information.

Both sides still retain the ability to use aircraft, but air defense systems do not allow for absolute air supremacy. At the same time, military air defense systems suffer losses on both sides, and therefore they also need to be replenished.

On May 10, the Pentagon published a list of weapons that Ukraine receives and will receive from the United States. In addition, Kyiv receives, expects or expects to receive other systems from European countries.

Some deliveries have already begun, others have not yet been agreed. For example, Kyiv has not yet been able to convince Western countries to supply it with combat aircraft. Ukraine received only Mi-17 helicopters, although it expected to receive MiG-29 fighters from Poland.

In mid-April, the Ukrainian Air Force received, through the mediation of the United States, aviation spare parts, which made it possible to fly a certain number of MiGs on the wing, how many exactly is unknown. However, negotiations on the supply of aircraft, judging by the information that gets into the press, are not over, and Kyiv is looking for an opportunity to still get fighters.

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Ukraine was able to repair a number of its combat aircraft after deliveries of parts from abroad

The supply of weapons and military equipment is only part of the military assistance. In addition to them, Ukraine is receiving medical equipment and medicines, personal protective equipment, ammunition and much more.

old and new

The weapons and equipment that help Ukraine are of two types – systems developed back in Soviet times in the USSR and the countries of the socialist camp, and Western ones, among which there are both old and new ones.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the UK is looking for Soviet weapons around the world through representatives of the Ministry of Defense and its military attaches. As British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said, it often turns out that Russian representatives are also looking for the same weapons in the same countries. Soviet or Russian weapons are in the armies of 23 countries.

The supply of old Soviet weapons is a forced measure, this will help the Ukrainians survive while they master new equipment.

Soviet weapons that are supplied to Ukraine are often worse in their characteristics than similar systems that are in service with the Russian army.

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Now this is a war of artillery rather than Javelins

But such tanks, armored vehicles, large and small anti-aircraft missile systems do not need long-term training of personnel and crews – they are well known to the Ukrainian military. These supplies most often allow you to simply maintain the APU, making up for losses.

The second type of supply is Western weapons. It can also be outdated or new, but in any case, if, of course, these are not just cars, then they need to learn how to maintain, drive and fight.

Many Western weapons are superior to Russian ones in terms of range, accuracy and overall effectiveness.

War of howitzers and missiles

After the retreat of Russian troops from Kyiv, Chernigov and Sumy, the nature of the war changed. Now the Russian army is no longer trying to move forward without dense artillery and, if possible, air support. At the same time, it tries to accompany attacks in key areas with active actions in secondary ones – this makes it difficult for the Armed Forces of Ukraine to transfer reserves from other sectors of the front.

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US sends 90 M777 howitzers to Ukraine

But the pace of advance remains low. In some areas, it is impossible to attack at all; in other places, Russian troops manage to advance a few kilometers. In the Kharkiv region, Ukrainian troops struck back, pushing the front line away from the city, in some places they have already reached or almost reached the state border.

Now the nature of the war has changed, Russian troops have begun to act more cautiously, fearing Ukrainian infantrymen armed with modern anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons. The war of armored personnel carriers and Javelins became a war of tanks, howitzers and missiles. Therefore, more and more artillery and ammunition for it began to be supplied to Ukraine.

What was delivered to Ukraine

  • Czech Republic – RM-70 rocket launchers – a localized version of the Soviet BM-21 Grad. A few dozens
  • Poland – BM-21 Grad, exact number unknown
  • USA – M777 howitzers. 90 units
  • Poland – self-propelled artillery installations “Gvozdika”. About two dozen
  • Estonia – D-30 howitzers. Multiple units
  • Czech Republic – self-propelled howitzers ShKH vz. 77 DANA. 20 units.

What are they going to deliver

  • France – Caesar wheeled self-propelled guns. 10-12 units
  • Germany – caterpillar self-propelled guns PzH 2000. Seven units
  • Netherlands – PzH 2000. Five units
  • Norway – tracked self-propelled guns M109A3GN. 20 units
  • Australia – M777 howitzers. six units
  • Canada – M777. Four units

Ukraine also expects the United States to supply it with its long-range missile launchers M142 HIMARS, which can fire at a distance of up to 300 kilometers, and M270 MLRS with a range of up to 80 kilometers.

On May 5, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valery Zaluzhny wrote in his telegram channel that these long-range MLRS are needed by the Armed Forces of Ukraine to combat cruise missile launches. However, so far they have not openly spoken about such supplies, and it is not known whether they will reach Ukraine.

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Losses of armored vehicles are borne by both sides – Ukrainian T-64 on the side of the road

Meanwhile, British air-launched Brimstone naval missiles have already appeared in Ukraine, adapted for launches against ground targets from ground installations. The fact that Britain can supply them to Ukraine was said after a visit to Kyiv by Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson. For the first time, their use in Ukraine was reported a week ago, but on May 15, a video of the launch of these missiles from a ground installation appeared.

Ammunition deliveries have already helped Ukraine stop the Russian invasion. Israeli military expert David Gendelman told the BBC that they played a decisive role. “Ukraine receives not only weapons, but also ammunition. This is what has helped them to hold out so far. Without a few dozen howitzers, they could still fight, but ammunition is depleted very quickly in such a large-scale war,” he said. .

What will the supply of artillery change?

Ukraine has its own artillery, but most of it is still Soviet-made, and its characteristics match most Russian systems. Roughly speaking, if a Ukrainian battery can reach a Russian one, then the reverse is also true.

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The data in the infographic is for conventional ammunition.

The Armed Forces of Ukraine are armed with Grad rocket launchers, as well as more long-range Hurricanes and Tornadoes. There are also self-propelled guns “Msta-S”, “Hyacinth-S”, “Akatsiya”, “Carnation” and heavy 203-mm self-propelled guns “Pion”, of which there are very few. Since Soviet times, the Armed Forces of Ukraine have been armed with conventional howitzers “Msta”, “Hyacinth”, D-20 and D-30.

With longer-range Western artillery systems, Ukrainian troops will be able to strike at a greater distance from Russian troops and, above all, their artillery.

However, due to the difference in standards, ammunition will have to be purchased for them, and this is a separate logistical problem. True, the Pentagon’s supply list includes 200,000 shells for 155-millimeter guns. According to John Kirby, 120,000 rounds are already in Ukraine.

In addition, many parameters, including accuracy or range, depend on the ammunition that will be transferred to Ukraine. Quite a lot of them have been developed, there are special high-precision projectiles with guidance and correction systems, ultra-long-range projectiles that cost a lot of money.

M777 A2 howitzers, which are capable of using special projectiles, were delivered to Ukraine. In one of the photos, which got into the social network, according to its author, more long-range and powerful shells M795 and M549A1 are visible.

armored vehicles

Light anti-tank weapons, which were actively supplied before the start of the war and at its first stage, helped groups of Ukrainian soldiers fight the advancing, poorly protected and stretched columns of Russian troops.

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Javelins helped the Ukrainians at the beginning of the war, but then they needed artillery

A lot of photos and videos with burnt equipment appeared on the Internet, which gave rise to the image of a grenade launcher as a perfect means of fighting tanks. The tanks were more like a moving target for the Javelin, NLAW, Stugna and other anti-tank missile systems than a versatile and highly effective means of warfare.

Meanwhile, in many respects this image was created precisely by such publications. According to experts, many tanks and other armored vehicles hit not only portable grenade launchers and ATGMs, but also artillery, and after the retreat from Kyiv, when Russia focused on the offensive in the Donbass, it was artillery systems that became, if not the main, then even more massive means of combating tanks and other armored vehicles.

Firstly, the Russian troops have changed tactics, now they are trying to conduct a combined arms battle, where tanks advance with the support of infantry, light armored vehicles and artillery. With proper use, the tank becomes the basis of the battle group, strengthening it, and the infantry, in turn, protects it from grenade launchers.

Ukrainian tanks are also actively involved in the defense and also suffer losses, which, however, are difficult to assess in war conditions. The Ukrainian army needs to replenish its tank fleet, and has already received several hundred vehicles from abroad.

image copyrightGetty Images

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M113 – the “workhorse” of the American army since Vietnam, but he managed to serve even in Iraq

Light armored vehicles are even more vulnerable to fire, and Soviet infantry fighting vehicles, armored personnel carriers and landing vehicles are just different in that they were lightened by reducing protection.

Both sides are losing a lot of light armored vehicles and need to replenish the fleet. However, Russia has a greater stock of such equipment than Ukraine, and therefore the Armed Forces of Ukraine need any armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles.

What armored vehicles have already been delivered or are being prepared to transfer to Ukraine

  • Poland – T-72M1 tanks. 240 units
  • Czech Republic – T-72M1 tanks. Exact number unknown
  • United States – M113 tracked armored personnel carriers. 200 units
  • Denmark – M113. 50 units
  • Poland – BMP-1. Tens of units
  • Czech Republic – 50 Pbv 501A (BMP-1). 56 units
  • Australia – Bushmaster armored vehicles. 20 units
  • USA – M1114 HMMWV Humvee armored vehicles. About 100 units
  • United Kingdom – Mastiff, Wolfhound and Husky patrol armored vehicles. 80 units
  • Canada – Roshel Senator armored vehicles. eight units
  • Spain – URO VAMTAC armored vehicles. Exact number unknown
  • United Kingdom – FV103 Spartan tracked armored personnel carriers. 35 units
  • Denmark – Piranha III wheeled armored personnel carriers. 25 units

What can be delivered, but not yet agreed

  • Germany – Leopard-1A5 tanks. 88 units
  • Germany – BMP Marder. 100 units

What will the supply of armored vehicles change?

In fact, only one model of the tank is supplied to Ukraine – the Soviet T-72M1. They come from the two countries and differ slightly in the composition of the equipment, but in general, as Ukrainian military expert Andriy Tarasenko told the BBC, they are well known to Ukrainian tankers.

The disadvantage of these tanks is the absence of dynamic protection units (DZ), and now, the expert said, they need to be re-equipped. The production of this protection in Ukraine was established even before the war. True, it would be difficult to produce such a large batch of upgrade kits in a short time, he admitted.

image copyrightGetty Images

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German BMP Marder may end up in Ukraine in the future

Among the lighter vehicles, the American M113 and Humvee dominate, which simplifies maintenance and the supply of spare parts. But besides them, several countries have delivered and are preparing to transfer to the Armed Forces of Ukraine small batches of various armored vehicles. Their maintenance and repair is a much more difficult task in terms of logistics.

However, according to Andrei Tarasenko, “the consumption of equipment in combat conditions is such that any machine that can save the lives of people, the crew, is relevant and necessary.” “The problem of its repair and maintenance goes by the wayside, because the consumption [of equipment], the number of losses and failures is high,” he said.

In addition, Ukraine will need to train a large number of crews for both foreign and old Soviet vehicles.

“Even the tanks that are available without proper training, simulators, training park, methodological materials are not used even to 60-70% of their potential,” the expert said. “According to studies conducted back in 1989, an increase in the level of crew training by 25% is equivalent to an increase in the fleet of combat vehicles and tanks by 60%,” he added.

According to Andrey Tarasenko, the American training system is superior to the Soviet one, because there are more modern simulators. Ukraine also has modern training complexes. However, the training of tankers takes at least a few weeks.


In recent years, drones have become almost the main symbol of modern military conflict.

But, as with anti-tank systems, the assessment of their effectiveness has been heavily influenced by the media and the blogosphere – videos shot by drone cameras destroying military equipment during the war in Nagorno-Karabakh or Ukraine are very popular on social networks.

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Turkish drone “Bayraktar” can strike and conduct reconnaissance

According to experts, in fact, the value of drones on the battlefield lies elsewhere. They really can hit, and sometimes they do it successfully. But they are even more useful for adjusting and targeting other, more powerful strike weapons.

The Turkish TB2 drone, known as Bayraktar, has become a real star of social networks. Turkey used them in Syria during Operation Spring Shield in February 2020, and before that in Libya, where this drone was operating against Haftar’s army. They were widely used in Karabakh and are used in Ukraine.

In fact, it is difficult to assess the effectiveness of Bayraktars or kamikaze drones, which are already entering the Ukrainian army – only videos of successful strike sorties get into social networks, and it is not always possible to assess the consequences of such strikes.

But “Bayraktar” is not so much a strike drone that can conduct reconnaissance as an unmanned reconnaissance aircraft that can strike. And therefore, its value is rather that it can conduct surveillance, reconnaissance and target designation.

In early May, Ukrainian drones, together with aircraft, launched strikes on the Black Sea island of Serpents. At the same time, Bayraktars not only attacked land and sea targets, but also conducted reconnaissance and surveillance of Russian forces on the island and in the water area around it.

What drones are delivered to Ukraine

  • United States – Phoenix Ghost loitering ammunition. 121 units
  • USA – Switchblade – loitering ammunition. 700 units
  • United States – RQ-20 Puma – tactical reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicle. unknown number
  • Turkey – TB2 Bayraktar reconnaissance and strike drone. Unknown date, deliveries continue
  • Denmark – reconnaissance drone Heidrun. 25 units

What will drone deliveries change?

The list of deliveries from the United States has the most loitering ammunition, or kamikaze drones, as they are also called.

Unlike scouts, these are disposable weapons, in fact, these are tactical cruise missiles that can stay in the air for a long time. They will increase the capabilities of Ukrainian units, but will not replace reconnaissance drones.

Ukrainians are widely using the capabilities of not only large Bayraktar drones. Often, reconnaissance and adjustment of artillery fire are carried out by small copters that can hover in one place and transmit a picture to the operator in real time.

Drones cannot replace aviation, whose strike capabilities are much greater. “Bayraktar” is not the best replacement for an attack aircraft or a bomber. But the UAV has its advantages. Drones are able to take off from smaller runways, some can even be launched in the field.

And since the Ukrainians rely on the accuracy of strikes, and not on the massive use of artillery, and since the coordination of the work of various units is better established in the Ukrainian army, the role of drones for the Armed Forces of Ukraine cannot be underestimated.

It becomes even more important given that, according to military experts, the Russian army, until recently, neglected the dispersal of equipment and soldiers, and this allowed the Ukrainians to deliver sensitive strikes, correcting them with UAVs.

UAVs are actively used on both sides, it is impossible to determine their exact number, since, firstly, it is hidden by both sides, and secondly, it is difficult to establish exactly how many drones were shot down – reports of the destruction of drones are received almost every day, along with videos of their use .

Control and intelligence

Another system that helps to conduct counter-battery combat, that is, to hit artillery positions, are artillery radars. Since artillery usually operates from covered positions in the rear, it is rather difficult to trace the location of the battery.

The counter-battery radar calculates the position of the battery by tracking the trajectory of the projectile. This helps to quickly open fire on it, until the guns are removed from position. Such radars are especially useful for combating self-propelled artillery mounts that can quickly change positions. Russia also has Zoopark-1 counter-battery radars.

What radars have been delivered or are being prepared to be delivered to Ukraine

  • USA. Counter-battery radars for tracking mortars. Four units
  • USA. Counter-battery radars. 17 units
  • Netherlands. AN/TPQ-36 counter-battery radars. five units
  • Netherlands. Ground tactical radar Thales Squire Ground Surveillance Radar. Two units
  • USA. AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel air defense radar.

In addition, there were reports in the press about the supply of other counter-battery radars from the UK and the USA.

What will counter-battery radars change?

Such systems, working in close connection with unmanned reconnaissance aircraft, will further strengthen the Ukrainian artillery.

The radar allows not only to accurately determine the location of the enemy battery, but, most importantly, to do it quickly.

Artillery, especially self-propelled artillery, can quickly change positions to avoid retaliation, and the speed of reaction to shelling plays a very important role.

Finally, another item on the list, also extremely important in the pinpoint tactics that the Ukrainian forces are trying to adopt, is the provision of intelligence information. One of the items on the list is commercial satellite images that help control the situation behind enemy lines.

What else have foreign countries supplied or will supply to Ukraine?

  • USA – Mi-17V5 helicopters. 16 units
  • United States – portable anti-aircraft missile systems Stinger. 1400 units
  • USA – various anti-tank systems (excluding Javelin). 14 thousand
  • USA – Javelin ATGM. 5500 units
  • United States – Coast Guard unmanned boats. Unknown amount
  • Slovakia – anti-aircraft missile system S-300PMU. One battery
  • United Kingdom – Stormer HVM anti-aircraft missile system. Unknown amount
  • United Kingdom – Starstreak anti-aircraft missile system. Unknown amount
  • Germany – Gepard anti-aircraft installations. 50 units

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