MOSCOW, RUSSIA — The large reward promised by Russian businessmen to those who destroy the German Leopard or the American Abrams did not cause much excitement among the military of the Russian Federation. “They’ll come – they’ll get what they deserve,” the Russian soldiers say in the trenches. Among those who can count on such a “reward”, most likely the gunners will be among the first. All thanks to the corrected Krasnopol projectile used.
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‘This is the right projectile’
During the war in Ukraine, the use of the 152-mm Krasnopol guided missile by the Russian artillery is not so often mentioned. For the last time, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation showed footage of its use by Msta-B howitzers on January 23. They were shelled by the artillery of the Marine Corps of the Pacific Fleet, destroying strong points, firepower, and manpower of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the war zone.
The Krasnopol projectile is a rare “guest” on the front line and is mentioned quite rarely. And this is even though the irreplaceable defeat of the target is reported. The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation notes that the projectile is equipped with a semi-active laser homing head. On the downward part of the trajectory, the head independently searches for a target illuminated by a laser pointer. Elevation – no more than a few meters.
Back in June last year, the footage was shown of a tank column about to launch a counteroffensive. All were destroyed by Krasnopol projectiles, that is, this projectile is no stranger to the destruction of tanks. Then combat operations were carried out by 2C19 Msta-S self-propelled howitzers, and Orion-10 unmanned aircraft adjusted the fire.
In general, this corrected projectile can be used by other artillery systems – towed howitzers D-20 and 2A65 Msta-B, self-propelled 2S3 Akatsiya, 2C19 Msta-S, and also 2S35 Koalitsiya-SV. And it is possible to determine whether they shoot with conventional 152-mm shells or Krasnopol only by the result – range and accuracy. In addition, in the arsenal of artillery batteries, there are both types. Krasnopol is slightly longer [1305 mm] when self-propelled guns are used. It consists of two parts that are joined immediately before the shot.
The Krasnopol projectile has been in service since 1986, several modifications appeared in the modernization process, including those aimed at increasing the firing range. In the Krasnopol-D version, it is already 25 kilometers.
“This projectile is the right projectile,” Lieutenant General Anatoly Khrulev, a military expert, told aif.ru. “It is ideal for modern mobile combat, primarily for hitting small moving targets. Including actively moving tanks. And Krasnopol’s accuracy here is its main advantage. Stationary, stationary targets are one thing, but guaranteed coverage of a moving target is another. So the Leopards and Abrams won’t be of much use if they show up in Ukraine and risk getting close to Russian positions within firing range of Krasnopol.”
More shells, good and necessary
The Krasnopol-D projectile is not the only high-precision munition in the arsenal of the Russian army, but it has become the most suitable for use by artillery when an accurate shot is required. Its effectiveness was also confirmed by Rostech specialists, who told aif.ru that last year the production of these high-precision projectiles increased. This year, their manufacturer, the Izhmash enterprise, which is part of the Kalashnikov concern, will continue to increase the production of Krasnopol projectiles.
The expenditure of artillery shells on the battlefield of the special operation is quite high on both sides. On some days, the Russian army used up to 60 thousand of them per day, taking into account all available calibers of guns, artillery, and tanks. That is, we are talking not only about large-caliber 152 mm shells, but also about 100-, 122- and 130-mm caliber.
The potential of the accumulated reserves allowed such an expenditure of ammunition, and production did not stop working. In Russia, there are 33 enterprises involved in the production of shells – these are all cycles, from the production of primers and cartridges to their final assembly. The estimated volume of 152-mm shells alone at the end of 2022 is 100,000 shells per month.
Now with the declared increase in performance “in times” they will be released much more. Therefore, the “hunger for shells” of the Russian army does not threaten, including the Krasnopol shells, which are given special attention in the destruction of the German Leopards and the American Abrams. At the very least, neither Germany nor the US will be hiring more tanks than Krasnopol had intended.
More expensive does not mean better
The US defense industry has a large potential for the production of 155 mm shells, but now produces 15 thousand of them. This amount was quite sufficient for the participation of the American army in various armed conflicts. There was also a reserve that was considered sufficient to maintain the defense capability of the United States. The conflict in Ukraine, in which Washington assumed responsibility for supplying weapons and ammunition to Ukraine’s armed forces, eroded these reserves.
The Pentagon now requires an additional number of artillery shells to replace the “missing ones” in Ukraine. But it is impossible to launch a “shell machine” in one day.
Yes, and the financing will be very serious – the price of the shells “bites”. For example, if the production of one Russian Krasnopol projectile is estimated at 56.4 thousand dollars today, then for the American order of numbers it is much higher. For example, the M712 Copperhead projectile in the Blok 1a-1 modification costs the Pentagon $232,000, and the Bloc 1b version is considered the cheapest – from $68,000 to $112,000. But it also has a firing range of 16/20 kilometers.
A “fancier” M982 Excalibur high-precision guided active missile [actually a missile fired through the muzzle of an artillery gun] has a range of 60 kilometers. Its cost is comparable to the M712 round. Canada and the US have delivered Excalibur rounds to Ukraine, but in a simplified version with a range of 23 kilometers. By the way, Russian Krasnopol using 2S35 Koalitsiya-SV flies 60 kilometers.
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