Ukraine plans to launch mass production of 155mm artillery shells in 2024

Ukraine has announced its intention to start mass production of 155mm artillery ammunition in 2024. This development is crucial in the context of the ongoing war in Ukraine, as the heavy use of artillery has led to a shortage of shells that even deliveries cannot fulfill.
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Ukraine has announced its intention to start mass production of 155mm artillery ammunition in 2024. (Picture source: US DoD)

Oleksandr Kamyshin, Ukraine's Minister for Strategic Industries, announced that Ukraine has begun the development of 155mm ammunition, essential for bolstering its artillery capabilities. Currently, prototypes of these munitions are being tested, with mass production planned for next year. This initiative is especially critical in light of the ongoing conflict with Russia, as it will significantly increase the firepower of Ukrainian artillery.

The heavy use of artillery in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has highlighted that the world's 155mm shell production lines were not prepared for a high-intensity war. The challenge, therefore, is to establish an industry capable of supplying a significant number of 155mm shells, and Ukraine is following this path following the announcement. Ukraine must develop this sector as shell deliveries are lower than the number of shells fired per day, so it is urgent to produce more to maintain adequate firepower on the front.

Despite this progress, Ukraine faces challenges, particularly in sourcing critical components. The country relies on NATO-standard powders, necessary for these munitions, which are not produced locally. This dependence on external suppliers underscores the difficulties Ukraine faces in establishing an independent defense industry.

A 155mm shell is a type of large-caliber artillery ammunition, widely used by NATO armies and their allies. It measures approximately 155mm (6.1 inches) in diameter, and each shell weighs about 45 kilograms (100 pounds) and is about 60 centimeters (2 feet) long.

They can be configured in several ways, depending on specific needs. They can be filled with highly explosive materials, used in precision guidance systems, designed to pierce armor or produce high fragmentation. Earlier variants included smoke rounds to mask troop movements and illumination rounds to expose the enemy's position.

Historically, the 155mm caliber was developed by the French to meet the needs of World War I and was adopted by the U.S. Army as the standard heavy artillery piece on the field. After World War II, the 155mm caliber was adopted by the new NATO alliance as the standard for artillery.

In the context of the war in Ukraine, the 155mm shell is one of the most requested artillery munitions. It is highly valued by ground forces for its ability to reach targets up to 24 to 32 kilometers (15 to 20 miles) away, depending on the type of ammunition and firing system used.

Ukraine has entered into agreements with two American companies for the joint production of these munitions. However, this initiative is expected to take several years to fully materialize, reflecting the complexities involved in setting up such manufacturing processes.

Ukraine's decision to start mass production of 155mm artillery munitions in 2024 is more than just an enhancement of its military arsenal; it's a step towards self-sufficiency. Despite challenges in sourcing and production, the path may not be easy, but it is certainly a step in the right direction for Ukraine's defense industry.