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Ukrainian Brigade values US M109A6 Paladin howitzer's superior range and defense features

According to a report by Voice of America (VOA) on February 28, 2024, the Ukrainian 24th Separate Brigade's soldiers have positively assessed the US-supplied M109A6 Paladin 155mm self-propelled howitzer, noting its advantages over former Soviet-era howitzers. They observed that the Paladin's extended firing range and improved protective measures mark an update in the brigade's artillery capabilities.
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The brigade has primarily utilized Paladin howitzers to target and neutralize heavy equipment considered threatening to Ukrainian infantry, such as tanks. (Picture source: VOA and US DoD)

An officer from the 24th Brigade, using the callsign "Kent," has been leading a crew that operates the M109A6 Paladin. Kent compared the capabilities of the Paladin with those of older Soviet artillery systems, observing that the Paladin's firing range significantly exceeds that of Soviet-era howitzers. While a Soviet howitzer has a range of about 17 kilometers, the Paladin's range is at least 28 kilometers, which can extend to 40 kilometers when using the Excalibur shell.

The brigade has primarily utilized Paladin howitzers to target and neutralize heavy equipment considered threatening to Ukrainian infantry, such as tanks. A member of the crew, Bogdan, mentioned that he was able to learn the digital system of the Paladin within a week, which he suggests has increased the precision of their operations. He also remarked on the Paladin's armor and control system, noting that the armor is more robust than that of the Soviet 2S3 Akatsiya howitzers previously used, and that the control of the barrel is facilitated by a joystick, which he finds more user-friendly.

The introduction of the M109A6 Paladin into Ukrainian service was reported by the Army Recognition editorial team on January 7, 2023, as part of a new military aid package from the United States. This package included the delivery of 18 M109A6 Paladin howitzers, marking their first deployment to Ukraine.

In the broader context of the conflict, artillery systems such as the M109A6 Paladin are utilized for their capacity to provide long-range firepower. The M109A6 Paladin features a 155mm M284 cannon, enabling a variety of artillery rounds to be fired over considerable distances. This model represents an evolution from previous versions in the M109 series, designed with a focus on improved range, mobility, and protective measures.

Experts suggest that the effectiveness of artillery systems operated by Ukrainian forces could significantly influence the current conflict. The capability for accurate long-range strikes enables Ukraine to target critical enemy locations while minimizing direct confrontations, a tactic beneficial in addressing the challenges posed by larger opposing forces.

The M109A6 Paladin, an American-made advancement from earlier models in the M109 howitzer series, incorporates enhanced technology and firepower. It is equipped with a 155mm M284 cannon, enabling the firing of a variety of artillery rounds and engaging targets up to 24 kilometers away with standard ammunition and up to 30 kilometers with rocket-assisted projectiles. The Paladin can also employ M982 Excalibur GPS-guided rounds for targets up to 40 kilometers away, enhancing range and accuracy.

The mobility of the Paladin, powered by a 440 horsepower Detroit Diesel 8V71T engine, is notable, achieving a maximum road speed of 64 km/h and a cruising range of about 344 kilometers. Its design, including the suspension system and tracks, supports movement across challenging terrains, facilitating repositioning in various combat scenarios.

In terms of protection, the M109A6 has been enhanced with additional armor, primarily made of welded aluminum, designed to provide better defense against ballistic threats and artillery shell fragments. The interior layout aims to increase crew safety, with a particular focus on securing ammunition storage areas to reduce the risk of internal detonations.

The Paladin incorporates a fire control and targeting system that uses digital technology to expedite firing solution calculations, aiming to enhance accuracy and reduce the time needed to engage targets. This system also aims to improve communication and coordination with other military units, essential in modern military operations.


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