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Ukrainian M109A6 Paladin howitzer engages Russian troops during combat operations

According to a video shared by OSINTtechnical on August 5, 2023, one of the 18 M109A6 Paladin 155mm self-propelled howitzers supplied by the United States and operated by Ukraine's Armed Forces, is seen engaging Russian positions in the southern front.
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Ukrainian M109A6 Paladin howitzer engages Russian troops during combat operations (Picture source OSINTtechnical and US DoD)

This situation stems from a series of events that started on January 7, 2023, with a report from the Army Recognition editorial team detailing a fresh US military aid package that included the provision of these 18 M109A6 Paladin 155mm tracked self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine. As an update, the Army Recognition editorial team revealed on July 1, 2023, that the US also delivered at least one M992 FAASV, its dedicated artillery resupply vehicle.

It's pertinent to note that Ukraine has received other deliveries of M109 howitzers from various countries. Latvia, for instance, contributed six M109 howitzers, while Norway provided 23 M109A3G units. Additionally, the UK government procured 20 ex-Belgian M109A4 units through OIP Land Systems.

The M109A6 Paladin holds a noteworthy position within the realm of self-propelled howitzers, being employed not only by the United States Army but also by various international military forces. As a successor to the M109 series, this upgraded version has been designed to deliver essential artillery support to ground troops.

The M109A6 Paladin has a weight of 35,380 kg, a length of 9.07 m in length, a width of 3.38 m, and a height of 3.18 m. It has a crew of six members, including a driver, commander, gunner, loader, and two assistant gunners.

The main armament of the M109A6 Paladin consists of one 155mm M284 cannon, capable of a vertical elevation range between -3 to +68 degrees, coupled with a complete traverse of 360 degrees. The second armament includes one 12.7mm machine mounted on the turret roof which can be used to offer close protection around the vehicle. 

In terms of firepower, the M109A6 Paladin can fire a wide range of 155mm rounds, including high-explosive (HE) shells, rocket-assisted projectiles (RAP) for extended distances, illumination rounds, smoke rounds, copperhead laser-guided projectiles (no longer in service), and precision-guided projectiles like the M982 Excalibur, which was also delivered to Ukraine. High-explosive (HE) rounds can engage targets at distances of 18-24 km (11-15 miles), while RAP projectiles can reach up to approximately 30 km (18.6 miles). Precision-guided projectiles like the M982 Excalibur have the potential to exceed 40 km (25 miles). The firing rate ranges from around 3 rounds per minute for short bursts to 1-2 rounds per minute for sustained firing.

The M109A6 is powered by a Cummins VTA-903T V8 diesel engine developing 600 horsepower. It can reach a top road speed of 62 km/h. Its torsion bar suspension system enhances its off-road maneuverability, while its operational range extends up to about 300 km (186 miles).

Notable enhancements in armor, surpassing its predecessors, contribute to improved crew survivability. Moreover, the inclusion of nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) protection mechanisms aims to safeguard the crew in diverse environments.

The M109A6 Paladin's efficiency is augmented by advanced fire control systems, encompassing the M109 series Fire Control System (FCS), Position and Azimuth Determining System (PADS), and a digital ballistic computer that ensures accurate targeting and firing.

The integration of communication and navigation systems, such as GPS and inertial navigation, enhances connectivity and situational awareness. Additionally, the Paladin benefits from digital command and control systems, streamlining coordination on the battlefield.

Deployed within artillery units, the M109A6 Paladin plays a pivotal role in providing indirect fire support for both offensive and defensive operations. Its seamless integration into command and control networks enhances its effectiveness, and its adaptability to various types of ammunition offers versatility on the ever-evolving battlefield.


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