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Russia Strengthens Artillery Arsenal: Deploys 2S23 Nona-SVK Mortar Carrier on Ukrainian Battlefield

The Russian Ministry of Defense, in a video released on July 7, 2023, has demonstrated an enhancement in their artillery strength through the strategic positioning of the 2S23 Nona-SVK 120mm 8x8 self-propelled mortar carrier armored vehicle in the Ukrainian combat zone.
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Russian army deploys its 2S23 Nona-SVK 8x8 120mm self-propelled mortar carrier on the Ukrainian battlefield. (Picture source Russian MoD)

Citing open source information published on the Internet, Russian armed forces will have lost more than 440 self-propelled artillery vehicles including 2S9 Nona, 2S34 Hosta, 2S1 Gvozdika, 2S3 Akatsiya, 2S5 Giatsint-S, 2S19 Msta-S, 2S33 Msta-SM2, 2S7M Malka and 2S4 Tyulpan.

The Russian military doctrine historically assigns significant importance to the use of artillery, reflecting its experiences in World War II where massed artillery played a crucial role in achieving both tactical and strategic victories.

In the context of combat, the Russian army frequently employs artillery to execute preparatory bombardment. This strategy revolves around subjecting enemy defenses to heavy artillery fire before launching a direct attack. The objective is to inflict maximum damage on enemy infrastructure, severely disrupt their communication lines, and, importantly, sow a sense of demoralization among their ranks.

This broad application of artillery demonstrates its multifaceted roles within the Russian military doctrine.

During the persisting conflict in Ukraine, artillery divisions of the Russian army are making use of precision-guided munitions to target advanced equipment and combat vehicles. These resources were furnished to Ukraine by the United States and European countries in a show of support. At the onset of the Russian invasion in February 2022, the Ukrainian military was chiefly armed with Soviet-era hardware, including tanks, artillery units, and fighter aircraft.

Ukraine's recently initiated counteroffensive could offer a measure of the impact and efficacy of these newer weapon systems. It may provide valuable perspectives on how much this upgraded arsenal has enhanced Kyiv's defensive capabilities against Russian military aggression. Concurrently, Russian forces persist in augmenting their artillery capabilities in order to counter the Ukrainian army's offensives and neutralize their modern combat vehicles.

The 2S23 Nona-SVK is a self-propelled artillery gun, specifically designed to target enemy personnel in both open and sheltered areas, weapon systems, command and control structures, and both light and heavy armored vehicles in the immediate tactical region.

This artillery vehicle is built upon the BTR-80 chassis, providing it with the same degree of protection and mobility. Its turret is uniquely designed, housing an artillery system that merges the functions of a mortar and a howitzer. The inclusion of a rifled gun, equipped with a combined breechblock and a pneumatic rammer, offers a significant advantage - it can fire not just projectiles that are custom-designed for this system, but it can also launch any 120mm mortar bombs.

In terms of main features, the Nona-SVK weighs in at 14.5 tons and is operated by a four-person crew. It has a maximum firing range of 8.8 km for a high-explosive (HE) projectile, 7.1 km for an HE bomb, and a boosted range of 12.8 km for an HE Rocket-Assisted Projectile (RAP). The vehicle can hold up to 30 rounds of ammunition, and it can deliver them at a rate of 10 rounds per minute. The gun can be positioned at elevations ranging from -4 to +80 degrees, and it can traverse 30 degrees in either direction.

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