Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24th of 2022, the Ukrainian military has struggled to hold on against enormous pressure. While there have been successes against the surprisingly anemic Russian juggernaut, the fact is that the conflict has seen the return of massed artillery fires, at a scale and intensity not seen since at least the 1990-1991 Gulf War.
Artillery, in its many forms, has been a major component of armies since at least the 15th Century. Artillery can cause heavy damage to both attacking forces in an open field, but can also hammer fortifications into a moonscape, if allowed to.
Like many armies, Ukraine had allowed its artillery establishment to atrophy – despite armies depending on massed artillery for centuries – and it now finds itself desperately scrambling to replace damaged and lost artillery pieces, and scrape together more ammunition. This has seen the first mass deployments for systems such as the French ‘CAESAR‘ 155mm self-propelled howitzer, the M777155mm towed howitzer and the M142 HIMARS Multiple-Launch Rocket System, among others, all supplied by NATO states trying to shore up Ukraine’s defenses.
But none of these weapons – nor their ammunition – are arriving in the quantities Ukraine needs. There may be at least a partial solution to Ukraine’s problem, however:
The EVO-105, now designated the K105HT.
The EVO-105 is a self-propelled artillery system that originally combined an M101-type howitzer and a Kia KM500 6×6 truck chassis. The first version, manufactured by Samsung Techwin (Hanwha Techwin, since 2015) was unveiled in 2011.
The EVO-105/K105HT uses an assembly of long-proven systems to make a lightweight, self-propelled artillery piece. While originally produced as a cost-saving idea to get the maximum utilization out of old artillery, the basic design could easily be adapted to artillery similar to the M101-series, such as the L118, or the M119. Although having a significantly shorter range than larger-caliber weapons (a maximum of 17.5km (10.9 mi), or 19.5km (12.1 mi) with RAP (Rocket-Assisted Projectiles)), the K105HT is much faster to “shoot-n-scoot“, firing one or two rounds, then rapidly moving to a new firing location, and can do this faster than most other similar systems.
Hindsight is always 20/20, but other states and other forces can take the artillery issue as a lesson from Ukraine’s failure to maintain a well-rounded defense establishment.
Artillery matters. Victory also matters – and artillery wins more wars than gory pictures do.