UK to repair Ukrainian 105 mm HAMEL guns and bring them back

BAE Systems, a British multinational, is set to repair all damaged L119 light artillery guns retrieved from Ukraine. This follows London’s grant to the esteemed British firm to execute the repairs. As affirmed in a press release issued by BAE Systems, the restored L119 artillery guns will return to the front lines post-restoration.  

UK to repair Ukrainian 105 mm HAMEL guns and bring them back
Photo credit: Flickr

The L119 light gun, affectionately known as the L119 Hamel, is a 105 mm towed howitzer. It is a product of the British corporation BAE Systems. Its adaptability and lightweight nature have earned it a place in military arsenals globally, including prominent forces in the United States, Canada, and Australia.

Stretching 7.1 meters in length with the gun forward, the L119 light gun boasts a width of 1.78 meters and a height of 2.13 meters. Despite its size, the L119 is astonishingly lightweight for an artillery weapon, tipping the scales at a mere 1,858 kilograms. This, in turn, allows for easy transportation and fluid maneuverability in a battlefield setting. 

UK to repair Ukrainian 105 mm HAMEL guns and bring them back
Photo credit: NZDF

Renowned for its precision and reliability, the technical specifications of the L119 light gun truly stand out. Without resorting to rocket-assisted projectiles, the artillery has a maximum firing range of 17.5 kilometers, which extends to a notable 19.5 kilometers with the added booster. Even when we dial up its rate of fire to six rounds per minute, the L119 never flinches, maintaining this pace effortlessly for three consecutive minutes. Alternatively, it can sustain a three-rounds-per-minute rate without difficulty.

One of the L119 light gun’s true hallmarks lies in its ability to utilize a multitude of ammunition types catering to diverse operational needs. This includes high explosive [HE], smoke, illuminating, and even practice rounds. The crafty artillery gun is also capable of firing the M913 and M760 extended-range full bore [ERFB] rounds, capable of hitting a target nearly 19.5 kilometers away. 

BAE Systems is not only instrumental in offering assistance for furnished equipment but also plays a pivotal role in implementing the critical components of the United Kingdom Government’s strategies to strengthen Ukraine’s cybersecurity. The firm exhibits efficient capabilities in identifying, neutralizing, and countering harmful cyber threats and espionage – targeting not just military assets, but also civilian infrastructures that form the backbone of essential services for Ukrainian citizens. 

“Our team stands resolved to collaborate with our government clients and industry colleagues to design solutions that promise to empower the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Our partnership to establish a strategic military repair facility would significantly cut down the downtime for vital artillery equipment. This contract marks progress in strengthening our bond, while also paving avenues for us to extend more direct, longer-term support to Ukraine,” said Gabby Costigan, the Group Managing Director of Business Development at BAE Systems.

The Ukrainian forces highly prize the L119 Light Gun for its noteworthy attributes, such as reliable performance, accurate firepower, lightweight structure, minimal logistical demands, and mobility. With the distinction of being the original manufacturer of the Light Gun among more than 15 other systems used in Ukraine, BAE Systems has worked in collaboration with allied governments since the beginning of the war, providing essential support and training. 

Faced with a shortage of Soviet-style 152-mm and 122-mm artillery shells, the Armed Forces of Ukraine are gradually transitioning to NATO-standard caliber weaponry. This switch includes an increased production of 155-mm and 105-mm shells, which has effectively helped to prevent potential ammunition shortages. Along with acquiring M777 howitzers, Ukraine has also procured lightweight 105-mm L119 and M119 howitzers from various countries. This new artillery enhances the existing 122-mm D-30 howitzer fleet and in some divisions, has completely replaced it. The inherent lightweight nature of these howitzers allows for great maneuverability and transportability with readily available SUVs. 

In April 2022, Ukrainian artillery personnel underwent training in New Zealand to specialize in the operation of the L119 howitzers. As an addition to their arsenal, countries like Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom began initiating transfers of these guns. By the summer of 2022, visuals began to appear online, depicting the active frontline use of these guns. This allowed Ukrainian artillery operators to evaluate these howitzers in real combat scenarios.

“We alternate between making adjustments and deploying against preset targets. Imagine a zone where intruders are breaking in. We already have our coordinates set, permitting us to persistently bombard the area. Our main aim is to sabotage their goal of securing those positions,” shared Andriy, an artillerist on the frontline. 

Experts point out the superior precision, rapid set-up, and dismantling of the howitzers, together with the supply of rocket-propelled shells able to hit targets approximately 24 km away. The minimal weight of the howitzer also allows for transportation via a standard HMMWV. 

In an unprecedented action, we observed the introduction of the M927 105mm high-explosive rocket-assisted shells for M119 howitzers in the fall of 2022. These exceptional artillery pieces have been distributed to both mechanized and airborne units. You may have noticed this artillery being assimilated into the armament of the 77th Airmobile Brigade, the 2nd Rifle [mechanized] Battalion of the 67th Mechanized Brigade, and the 46th Airmobile Brigade. For many units, these howitzers have proved to be an excellent replacement for D-30 122mm howitzers and have demonstrated greater effectiveness than their Soviet counterparts.

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