Most Fearsome Artillery Systems Used by the Russian Army

The Russian Defense Ministry has ordered its first Koalitsiya-SV self-propelled guns. Military observer Andrei Kotz decided this was a perfect opportunity to view some of the most powerful artillery systems already in use by the Russian armed forces.

The military will receive their first batch of Koalitsiya SVs from 2020. With 16 rounds per minute, GLONASS-guided 152.4 mm shells and a range of up to 70 km, the Koalitsiya-SV becomes the Msta. replace 152.4mm self-propelled howitzer, an impressive system in itself.

The RIA Novosti military observer, Andrei Kotz, whom some readers may already know for his “Top Five” lists, decided to create a new one, this one on the five most powerful artillery systems of the Russian armed forces.

‘Pion’ & ‘Malka’
The first artillery system on Kotz’s list is the Pion (“Peony”), NATO report name M-1975, a powerful, large-caliber self-propelled artillery gun developed during the Cold War. In the 1970s and 1980s, both the USSR and the US sought an effective way to hit large concentrations of enemy troops from a relatively short range with short-range tactical nuclear weapons.

“In our country, the weapon that could achieve this was the 2S7 Pion self-propelled cannon and its later modification, the 2S7M Malka,” wrote Kotz.

In addition to its ability to fire nuclear projectiles, engineers would eventually make powerful non-nuclear ammunition for them, the observer noted. “For example, the 110 kg fragmentation projectile ZFO35 can hit enemy targets from a distance of up to 50 km. In other words, in terms of combat capabilities, this self-propelled gun comes very close to the main guns on a WWII battleship. “

“The performance and range of these systems are not only advantages, but also disadvantages in some cases,” the journalist admitted. “In Russia you can count on one hand the number of shooting ranges that are suitable for shooting with these guns at medium or maximum range. In addition, the ammunition supply for these self-propelled guns is quite small – four rounds for the Pion and eight for the Malka. “

“Nevertheless, over 300 of these self-propelled guns are still stored in the arsenals of the Bundeswehr.”


The 2S4 Tyulpan (“Tulip”) self-propelled mortar, also known by NATO as the M-1975, was first entered into service with the Soviet military in the 1970s, but Kotz says it is still powerful enough to prevent it retired.

“The Tyulpan’s main asset is its wide range of 240mm destructive ammunition, including high explosive, incendiary, cassette and guided ammunition. In the Soviet era, these guns could fire two kilotons of neutron and nuclear projectiles. The mortar ‘hurls’ its projectiles at the target ”, according to its design,“ and enables it to destroy enemy targets hidden in trenches and fortifications. In addition, it can be fired from a closed position, which makes detection much more difficult. “

The Tyulpan received her baptism of fire in the Soviet-Afghan war. “Its high mobility enabled it to move on uneven terrain at the level of other armored vehicles, while its powerful gun enabled it to destroy targets on the opposite side of mountain slopes, in ravines and other hideouts. Its high-explosive 240 mm projectiles would effectively destroy enemy points of fire between boulders, caves and fortresses. “


The 2S31 Vena (“Vein”) self-propelled mortar system is significantly newer than the other systems on this list and will not be delivered to the Russian Army until 2010. Kotz recalled that this system was developed in Afghanistan after the war. where the lightweight 120mm S29 Nona (Russian acronym for “Newest Ordnance of Ground Artillery”) airdrop system used by the airborne troops proved valuable against the mujahideen.

After that experience, the Department of Defense decided that the ground forces needed a similar weapon, this time based on a BMP-3 APC chassis, and the Vena was born.

Apart from the chassis, the other major difference between two systems is the high level of automation of the vena.

Kotz explained, “Each system is equipped with a weapon computer system that is responsible for sending and receiving shot data. The information is displayed on a monitor by the commander of the vehicle. The on-board computer is able to save information on around 30 destinations at the same time. The commander only has to choose the target; from there the system automatically aims at the weapon. In the event of the sudden appearance of a new target, the vena is ready to fire its high-explosive projectile just 20 seconds after receiving this information. “

The combined howitzer and mortar system is capable of firing any type of 120mm projectile regardless of the country of origin, making it an attractive weapon for export.


Most impressive at the end, Kotz described the BM-30 Smerch (‘Whirlwind’) as the most powerful rocket artillery system in the world. First introduced in 1987, “the system can rain 12 300 mm, 250 kg warheads, fragments / high-explosive or thermobaric warheads on the enemy’s head with one volley.”

“The deadly footprint of a Smerch outbreak is around 70 hectares and its range of fire varies between 20 and 90 km. According to experts, the destructive power of the volleys of six Smerch units, which start simultaneously, is comparable to that of a tactical nuclear explosion. “

Today the original Smerch artillery systems are supplemented by the more advanced Smerch-S. Kotz noted that these systems “provide the ability to perform autonomous flight path correction through the use of gas dynamic control devices that receive signals from the control system. Simply put, this weapon, which was developed to defeat targets in large areas, has become highly precise and can effectively aim with pinpoint accuracy. “

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