The Ukrainians are now dismantling some recently received US-made cluster munition artillery shells to reuse their submunition submunitions as improvised air-dropped weapons from small drones.
Ukraine has been trying to acquire and reuse US air-dropped cluster munitions to enhance and increase the effectiveness of its stockpile of submunitions for drones. Dropping improvised small bombs from drones has often been a very successful tactic for Ukrainian forces. Meanwhile, there is too much demand for 155mm artillery shells in Ukraine to be used as designed.
Video footage of Ukrainian forces cutting down an M483A1 155mm artillery shell loaded with so-called Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Submunitions (DPICM) recently appeared on social media. It’s not clear where or when it was shot, but some of the watermarks indicate it shows members of a relatively well-known drone unit. Nicknamed “Achilles” assigned to the Ukrainian army 92nd Mechanized Brigade.
The Ukrainian Army began receiving M483A1 and M864 155mm DPICM artillery shells from the United States in July. You can read more about these munitions in detail and why Ukrainian officials have repeatedly claimed them here.
There are several different types of DPICM submunitions, also officially referred to as grenades, but they are all similar in form and function. Each one consists of a main body containing a shaped charge intended to defeat armor – up to 2.75 inches of penetration against it Homogeneous steel armor plate In the case of the grenades found in the M483A1 – they are enclosed in a casing designed to send deadly shrapnel flying in all directions. This combination of the ability to penetrate armor and the effects that fragments can have on unarmored targets is why submunitions are referred to as dual purpose.
The video from Ukraine shows personnel using an angle grinder to first saw the front of the M483A1, before extracting the individual M42 and M46 submunitions inside. Each of these shells contains 64 M42 shells and 24 M46 shells, or 88 in all. The main difference between M42s and M46s is that the latter, which are in the lower rows of the shell, have a slightly heavier structure due to the increased force to which they are subjected during firing.