BRUSSELS ($1=0.97 Euros) — The Belgian online portal Army Recognition analyzes the Russian Msta-S self-propelled howitzer, stating that this self-propelled gun is the Russian nightmare for Ukraine. According to the Belgian authors, it is this Soviet-era self-propelled howitzer that is the backbone of Russian artillery in the war with Ukraine. BulgarianMilitary.com will provide more clarity on the effectiveness of the Msta-S to support Army Recognition’s claim.
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The Msta-S is a 152.4mm self-propelled howitzer developed in the 1980s and entered service in their region. The howitzer has documented participation in several conflicts, mostly regional to the Russian Federation, such as the Second Chechen War, the War in Donbas, the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. The howitzer weighs 42 tons. Depending on the type of ammunition, it can fire up to 10 rounds per minute. The maximum range can reach up to 28 km.
The cannon and the shells
The Msta-S is armed with the 152mm 2A65 gun, which note is the main gun of the towed howitzer of the same Msta-B series. This gun, even in a towed howitzer version, can fire a laser-guided artillery projectile.
There is a documented case in Ukraine. On April 29, BulgarianMilitary.com reported that during the siege of the Azovstal plant in Mariupol, a Ukrainian tank was literally shattered by a laser-guided artillery projectile – 2K25 Krasnopol. Except in Ukraine 2K25 Krasnopol continues to be used in the war in Syria. This artillery shell is in service in Russia, Syria, Ukraine, Algeria, China, and India.
2K25 Krasnopol weighs 50 kg and in addition to 152 mm caliber, a 155 mm caliber variant is also produced. The operational range is from 20 to 25 km and uses the HE warhead.
2K25 Krasnopol artillery shells are fired mainly from Soviet self-propelled howitzers such as the 2S3 Akatsiya and 2S19 Msta-S and intended to engage small ground targets such as tanks, other direct-fire weapons, strong-points, or other significant point targets visible to the observer. It can be used against both stationary and moving targets [providing these remain within the observer’s field of view].
Laser-guided artillery shells are only dangerous if they are correctly aimed and the target is correctly located. It is the targeting of the 152mm Msta-S self-propelled howitzer that is the other key factor in its excellent performance. But this is not about the standard equipment of a Soviet self-propelled howitzer, which in no way differs from other types of howitzers.
It is about its autonomy. Yes, you read that right. Despite its Soviet-era design, the 152mm Msta-S self-propelled howitzer has in recent years undergone some major updates and gained the ability to operate on the battlefield in conjunction with a drone.
In May of last year, BulgarianMilitary.com wrote that during a demonstration in front of representatives of the Russian government and foreign customers, the Russian Orlan-10E drone took off, detected the target, marked it, and returned the necessary coordinates to the self-propelled howitzer. All shots fired were successful hits. Moreover, the Russian gunners used new ammunition, which increased the range of the self-propelled howitzer to 40 km.
Thus, we come to the third key factor in the effectiveness of the 152mm Msta-S in the war in Ukraine. The quantity. According to data from open sources, the Soviet Union produced about 1,100 units in various variants and configurations of the self-propelled howitzer. Army Recognition reports that the Russian Army has at least 500 operational self-propelled howitzers in its inventory, including 2S19/2S19M1 Msta-S and 320 2S19M2/2S33 Msta-SM.
Thus, through the use of extended-range and laser-guided projectiles, the ability to target autonomously with a reconnaissance drone, and the amount [as yet unknown] sent to the Ukrainian front, the 152mm Msta-S is a highly effective killing machine.
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