Russian army deploys Msta-B 152mm howitzers in Crimea

Russia has reinforced Crimean defense with 2A65 Msta-B 152mm howitzers which can fire ordinary shells and smart munitions. Defense Ministry sources said Msta-B had already been supplied to Crimean units. Artillerymen are currently training to operate the howitzers.
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152mm howitzer 2A65 Msta-B (Picture source: Vitaly Kuzmin)

They were delivered to the 8th artillery regiment. Besides unguided shells, they are also armed with laser-guided smart Krasnopol projectiles. Orlan-30 drones provide guidance for them. These drones were tested in Syria and Center-2019 exercise. Batch supplies to the army began in 2020. In late 2019, the Defense Ministry demonstrated Orlan-30 with a laser sight at Luga range on the Day of Missile and Artillery Forces. The drone can provide guidance to other precision projectiles, including Smelchak mines of 240mm self-propelled Tyulpan mortars.

The Defense Ministry reported successful engagement of Krasnopol in Syria. In 2018, the military demonstrated the footage of the destruction in Idleb of a group of terrorists who launched a drone attack at the Russian Humaymim airbase. The footage showed drone operations and engagement of smart guided projectiles. Several dozen targets were hit near the Euphrates River and in Idleb.

“Krasnopol is very effective together with drones”, expert Dmitry Boltenkov said. “Previously, it was necessary to have a pointer close to the target. It is not always possible, specifically when the target is in adversary rear. It is impossible to illuminate a warship with a laser when it is far away from the shore. A drone with a laser guider can engage in dangerous missions. Ground obstacles and the landscape pose no problems for it,” he said.

An artillery regiment armed with howitzers and drones can effectively fight ground targets and repel amphibious assault. One guided Msta projectile can do the job of hundreds of ordinary shells, the expert said.

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Orlan-30 drone (Picture source: Vitaly Kuzmin)

Orlan-30 resembles Orlan-10 reconnaissance drone, but it weighs 31 kg and is twice heavier than its predecessor. It carries day and night optics and a laser range finder. The drone can guide a projectile to a pickup- or a firing position from several kilometers. It can also adjust artillery and MLRS fire with ordinary shells.

The 8th artillery regiment near Simferopol is a new formation. It was created on November 19, 2014, but actually dates back to the Soviet 301st artillery brigade. The unit was transformed into a coastal battery when Ukraine took it over in early 1990s. After Crimean reunification with Russia, many artillerymen remained to serve in the new regiment which is currently subordinated to the 22nd army corps of the Black Sea fleet. Besides Msta-B, the regiment has received KAMAZ-63501AT multi-axis armored prime movers to tow the howitzers.

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KAMAZ-6350-367 artillery tractor with 152mm howitzer 2A65 Msta-B (Picture source: Vitaly Kuzmin)

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