US M109A6 155mm howitzers planned for Taiwan could help Ukraine in its fight against Russian army

According to information published by the International Press Agency Reuters on May 2, 2022, Taiwan's Defence Ministry announced that the US State Department had informed Taiwan to cancel the sales of 40 M109A6 Paladin 155mm self-propelled howitzers due to the Russo-Ukrainian War. After the proposal by other European countries to deliver M109, we can assume that the M109A6s from Taiwan could be sent to Ukraine.
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U.S. Army M109A6 Paladin 155mm tracked self-propelled howitzer. (Picture source U.S. DoD)

The first eight howitzers for Taiwan were scheduled for delivery in 2023, 16 in 2024, and the last 16 in 2025. These howitzers form part of the first arms package for Taiwan to be approved by the Biden administration since it assumed power in January 2021.

According to the latest information published on Internet, Italy, Belgium, and Norway are studying the option of sending M109s 155mm tracked self-propelled howitzers that are not in active service but which are still available in military stocks. On April 24, 2022, the press agency, FORBES published an article on the advantage that Ukraine would have in the acquisition of American M109s in its fight against the Russian army. Currently, the U.S. Army has a lot of surplus M-109s available, including the relatively modern and still formidable M-109A6 Paladin.

The A6 variant of the M109 benefits from an overall product improvement in the areas of survivability, RAM, and armament. This includes increased armor, a redesigned internal arrangement for safer ammunition and equipment storage, engine and suspension upgrades, and product improvement of the M284 gun and M182A1 mount.

The main difference is the integration of an inertial navigation system, sensors detecting the weapons' lay, automation, and an encrypted digital communication system, which utilizes computer-controlled frequency hopping to avoid enemy electronic warfare and allow the howitzer to send grid location and altitude to the battery Fire Direction Center (FDC). The battery FDCs in turn coordinate fires through a battalion or higher FDC. This allows the Paladin to move and fire within 30 seconds with an accuracy equivalent to the previous models when properly emplaced, laid, and saved — a process that required several minutes under the best of circumstances. Tactically, this improves the system's survivability by allowing the battery to operate dispersed by pairs across the countryside and allowing the howitzer to quickly displace between salvos, or if attacked by indirect fire, aircraft, or ground forces. Ammunition storage is increased from 36 to 39 155 mm rounds. The Paladin can hit targets 30 kilometers away, and fire 8 projectiles within a minute.

The A6 version improves on the 200 A2/A5 howitzers the Taiwan military has been using, according to experts. A key advantage of the new howitzers is that it only takes one minute to prepare to fire. This means the weapons can be quickly repositioned after each use to hit a different target.