Every day, Russia produces 12,320 artillery shells at $1K each

Every day, the Russian arms industry churns out a remarkable 12,320 artillery shells, each costing about $1,000 to manufacture. This adds up to an impressive 375,000 artillery shells every month and a staggering 4.5 million shells per year. 

Every day, Russia produces 12,320 artillery shells at $1K each
Photo credit: Top War

These numbers come from the consulting firm Bain & Company and were reported by Sky News. According to Bain & Company, Russia is expected to produce around 4.5 million artillery shells in 2024. While it’s unclear how many of these shells are recovered and reused, this production rate is significantly higher than the 1.3 million shells slated to be produced by the United States and European countries combined, which is just a third of Russia’s output.

Bain & Company also highlights a serious issue facing Ukraine: a severe shortage of artillery shells, compounded by slow production rates. The combined supply of artillery shells from the US and Europe is falling short of meeting Ukraine’s needs to counter the Russian threat effectively. 

Every day, Russia produces 12,320 artillery shells at $1K each
Photo credit: Russian MoD

A Ukrainian artillery gunner remarked that for every shell launched by Ukrainian forces, the enemy responded with five. According to the Ukrainian resource Militarnyi, which referenced a report by Sky News, Russia’s rapid production and repair capabilities keep the cost of producing 152 mm artillery shells around $1,000 each.

Meanwhile, in Europe and the USA, the average cost of a similar projectile is approximately $4,000, and in some instances, it can surpass $5,000 per unit. Sky News highlights that this sluggish approach to increasing artillery shell production negatively impacts Ukraine’s ability to counter the Russian Federation.

Uralvagonzavod, one of Russia’s leading artillery shell manufacturers, is state-owned and renowned for producing a wide range of military equipment. Although specific figures are often classified, this enterprise’s monthly production capacity is estimated to be in the tens of thousands of shells, reflecting its significant role in Russia’s military-industrial complex.

Russia boosts 152mm Krasnopol artillery shell output 20-fold
Photo credit: Zvezda

Another significant player in Russia’s production of artillery shells is the Tula Ordnance Plant. This historic facility has been a cornerstone of Russian arms manufacturing for centuries. The Tula Ordnance Plant can produce substantial quantities of artillery shells each month—estimated to be in the several thousand range, depending on the specific type and complexity of the shells. 

Kurganmashzavod is another key contributor to Russia’s artillery shell production. While this plant is best known for its infantry fighting vehicles, it has diversified to include artillery ammunition in its production lineup. The monthly output at Kurganmashzavod is believed to be in the low thousands, emphasizing its commitment to high-quality, specialized munitions.

The Nizhny Novgorod Machine-Building Plant, often referred to simply as the Nizhny Novgorod Plant, also plays a crucial role in this sector. With a sturdy manufacturing infrastructure, this facility supports the production of a wide array of military equipment, including artillery shells. Its monthly capacity is estimated at around one thousand units, ensuring a steady supply of ammunition for the Russian military. 

Russia monthly produces more shells than US produces 155mm shells
Photo credit: Konstantin Mihaylchevkiy

In the realm of artillery production, it’s important to consider the existing stockpiles Russia has amassed over the years. Recent reports from ERR.ee in October 2023 highlighted that the Estonian Defense Forces’ intelligence head, Ants Kiviselg, confirmed Russia had received 350,000 units of ammunition from North Korea.

Estonian intelligence also noted that Russia currently possesses 4 million artillery shells, sufficient for a year of low-intensity conflict. However, this number is based on satellite images of uncovered Russian warehouses. The quantity stored in covered warehouses, or their total number, remains unknown. 

Regarding production costs, back in November last year, BulgarianMilitary.com reported on Russia’s approach to minimizing expenses. Sources revealed the Russian military’s use of a 122mm artillery shell with a distinctive bright green color. Social media sources, such as an informant on X [formerly Twitter], suggest this unusual color results from omitting the typical casing used to extend shelf life—a clear cost-saving measure.

Russia uses newly produced and without wrapper 122 mm shells
Photo credit: Twitter

The main purpose of the casing, as one might guess, is to ensure the longevity of the artillery shell. Normally, you would expect this ammunition to be stored for a long time. However, for the Russian Federation, it’s a chance to cut costs amid the ongoing conflict with Ukraine. The immediate need here is for ammunition on the frontlines, not sitting in warehouses.  

Another key role of the casing is to make transporting the projectiles to the artillery easier. Typically, certain artillery pieces come with handy features like handles or lifting lugs to simplify transport, along with standardized dimensions to fit seamlessly with artillery systems. 

Finally, the casing, which usually boosts shelf life, can also have markings or color codes indicating the type of shell and its specific function. This makes it easier to identify and deploy them accurately.

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