4 Weapons the War in Ukraine Is Proving Obsolete

Photo credit: John Moore – Getty Images

  • Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is now in its fifth month New technology Old revenge on the battlefield.

  • trenches, howitzers and even aircraft and tanks Russian and Ukrainian forces face serious challenges as they fight each other.

  • some Weapons are clearly obsolete, while others, like tanks, will require innovations to survive.

of Russia War in Ukraine, now entering its 169th day, has had its share of upsets and surprises. The largest European war since World War II, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is making Ukraine increasingly dependent on NATO-supplied high technology. Weapons. Many weapons, some in use for centuries, are fighting their last battle as both sides try to renew their ways to victory.

War, especially between nation states, is a competition for which there is no other place. The possibility of elimination is a strong incentive for the country to innovate the best in science and technology. New weapons and tactics to ensure victory. Other countries are racing to develop new weapons themselves, rapidly discarding old technologies, creating a new, global status quo.

The war in Ukraine is no different. Here are four weapons that are obsolete — or obsolete — as this unique conflict nears the six-month mark.

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Battle trenches

Photo credit: ANATOLII STEPANOV - Getty Images

Photo credit: ANATOLII STEPANOV – Getty Images

Trench warfare goes back centuries as a means of protecting infantrymen from small arms and artillery fire. Battle trenches are long, digging deep holes in the ground, sometimes stretching for miles, providing cover in places where there is otherwise nowhere. World War I is the most famous trench warfare, although earlier and later wars featured trenches.

There are hundreds of miles of trenches along Ukraine’s eastern front, and Russian invaders and Ukrainian defenders on both sides have dug them wherever the war has subsided. The rise of armed drones, however, allows the military to drops Grenade Straight down into the ditch. Another nail in the coffin for trenches was the use of small-caliber artillery proximity fuzes, which could be set electronically to detonate above the combat trench, raining shrapnel on the enemy taking shelter. Here is an example:

It is unclear what, if anything, will replace the trenches. They are easy to construct and require no additional building materials, so there is a strong incentive to continue using them. Still, armed drones will make life more complicated and dangerous for the troops harboring them.

Towed Howitzers

Photo credit: Future Publishing - Getty Images

Photo credit: Future Publishing – Getty Images

Howitzers, large-caliber guns that bombard enemy troops with explosive shells, have also been around for hundreds of years. Large, heavy and relatively easy to manufacture, howitzers are carried to their firing positions by horse or truck. A battery of four to six howitzers must be dragged into position and removed from its transport. The guns are then “laid in,” aligned so that they can direct all their fire on a common target, and then be ready to fire. The laying process can take up to eight minutes.

In wartime, a towed howitzer must “shoot and scoot”, quickly lifting and moving to a new location to avoid enemy return fire or “counter-battery fire”. Counter-battery fire is always a problem for artillery, but the use of radar (such as American supplied AN/TPY-36 to Ukraine), modern communications, and precision-guided munitions meant that enemy shells could scramble to a towed artillery firing position in seconds, capturing the guns and artillery before redeploying them.

The war in Ukraine means the end of artillery. Self-propelled howitzers, such as the French CAESAR, the Swedish Archer and the German Pz2000, mount the guns on a tracked armored chassis, with everything needed to mount and fire the guns built into the vehicle. A self-propelled howitzer like the CAESAR, already delivered to Ukraine, can fire a volley of shells and then move to the next firing position within seconds.

Manned frontline aircraft

Photo credit: TED ALJIBE - Getty Images

Photo credit: TED ALJIBE – Getty Images

Introduced in World War I, aircraft have diversified to perform dozens of roles in warfare. The most important is the close-air-support airplane, a fixed-wing aircraft or helicopter intended to attack enemy positions on the front line. Today, the US military has aircraft such as the AC-130J Ghostrider GunshipThe AH-64 Apache attack helicopter and the A-10 Thunderbolt can all deliver precision fire on enemy targets on the ground—unless the enemy has advanced surface-to-air weapons.

The war in Ukraine has exposed the dangerous truth that, in a modern war against an armed adversary, aircraft can no longer operate near the front lines. Russian air defenses are the standard for measuring modern enemy surface-to-air threats and have severely affected Ukraine’s manned and unmanned aircraft. Surface-to-air missile systems, including the low-altitude Tor, medium-altitude Buk, and long-range Triumph systems, can inflict serious damage. Despite the fact that the Russian systems are all dated, they still pose a great threat.

Aircraft can still operate effectively near the battlefield, but changes will have to be made in how things are done. Unmanned drones can eliminate casualties. Armed drones that can scout and then precisely deliver tank-killing warheads, which U.S. Army aviators call Air Launched Effects (ALE), will allow helicopters to stand far from the front lines and still provide effective support. Stealth and suppression of the aircraft’s infrared signature can make it more difficult for air defenders to detect, track and engage aircraft on the front line.

tanks

Photo credit: Miguel Medina - Getty Images

Photo credit: Miguel Medina – Getty Images

Thanks to the invasion, tanks are teetering on the edge of obsolescence. Russia is visibly defeated At least 936 tanks in Ukraine, equivalent to three tank sections. Although a combination of factors contributed to these heavy losses, a major factor was the use of Western anti-armor weapons such as the Swedish NLAW and the American Javelin. The thin armor on Russian tanks also leaves the tanks vulnerable to drones capable of dropping high explosive grenades into vulnerable areas. A drone armed with six grenades Theoretically, a platoon of Russian tanks can be destroyed twice.

If a 60-ton, 10-million-dollar armored vehicle can be disabled by a commercial drone armed with a grenade, a fair question is whether that vehicle is still relevant on the battlefield. Yet as vulnerable as tanks are at the moment, their combination of firepower, protection and speed is second to none on the modern battlefield. The introduction of some form of defensive weaponry, such as radar-controlled machine guns (or lasers) that seek out the skies above a tank, could neutralize the threat of drones … for now.

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