The power of ‘small but powerful’ artillery on armored vehicles in the Ukrainian battlefield

Armored vehicles mounted with 20-40 mm caliber guns play an important role in the Ukrainian battlefield, although their firepower is not as strong as large-caliber guns on tanks.

Tanks are one of the main weapons in the Ukrainian battlefield, from World War II-era vehicles such as the T-55, T-62, to modern versions such as the T-90, Leopard 2 or Challenger 2. They are used by warring parties as shock spearheads or “mobile artillery platforms”, providing important fire support for infantry.

Although they do not have such powerful firepower, armored vehicles using medium-caliber guns (20-40 mm) such as infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) also play an important role in fighting in Ukraine.

According to Sam Cranny-Evans, a military expert who worked at the British Royal Institute for Defense and Security Studies (RUSI), Russian BMD, BMP and Ukrainian BRT armored vehicles all use 30mm automatic cannons. mm 2A42, with a rate of fire of 200-800 rounds/minute depending on version.

The 2A42 cannon on armored vehicles can fire many different types of bullets such as explosive fragments or armor piercing. “These cannons are commonly used, have powerful firepower, and contribute to shaping the combat capabilities of both sides,” Cranny-Evans commented.

A Ukrainian soldier said that when firing this cannon, Russian armored personnel carriers are “more dangerous than tanks”, because they have a higher firing speed and can transport infantrymen quickly. quickly approached the trenches.

“The injuries caused by this type of artillery are so bad that they can cause the victim’s leg to be amputated,” the soldier said. “Armored vehicles carrying Russian troops are easy to destroy, but you should not confront them directly.”

Cranny-Evans said the 30 mm cannon on armored vehicles can be used to attack enemy infantry from long distances, even tanks. This weapon also plays an important role in urban combat environments, because it can attack targets at distances beyond the range of infantry equipped with anti-tank missiles.

Main tanks with large cannon barrels are often considered the main firepower in battles, but they also have some weaknesses, such as having a low rate of fire and being able to only carry a limited amount of ammunition. The tank’s main gun is also not designed to attack common battlefield targets such as infantry.

“Using tanks to attack dispersed targets like infantry is like using howitzers to hunt rabbits,” Michael Peck, Business Insider’s military expert, said, adding that this is why tanks are often equipped have secondary weapons such as machine guns to deal with “soft targets”, which do not require the use of main artillery to penetrate.

Armored vehicles equipped with medium-caliber guns such as the American M2 Bradley possess a high firing rate like a machine gun, and can still use powerful bullets, such as armor-piercing bullets and high-explosive bullets. The M2 Bradley’s M242 Bushmaster 25mm gun can also fire bullets containing depleted uranium like main tanks.

During the 1991 Gulf War, the M242 Bushmaster gun on the M2 Bradley vehicle was used to suppress the Iraqi army’s T-72 tanks, creating conditions for the crew to launch TOW guided missiles to destroy the tank.

“This does not mean that armor should confront tanks head-on, but it does demonstrate the value of medium-caliber artillery,” Peck opined.

This expert believes that future generations of infantry fighting vehicles will likely still use medium-caliber guns, along with some improvements to increase power, such as increasing the caliber to 50-57 mm.

However, NATO, Russian, and Chinese armor still mainly uses 25-30 mm caliber guns produced in the 1970s, because they are still effective in dealing with many types of military targets today. .

“The effectiveness of medium-caliber artillery in Ukraine shows that it will continue to be used as a weapon for armored vehicles in the future,” said expert Peck.

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