Ukrainians are cutting American cluster munitions to manufacture drone munitions

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.

Footage from Ukraine shows the process of converting M42/M46 grenades into bomblets that drones can drop, then shows personnel manually arming the fuses on the submunitions by wrapping a tassel-like cloth over each one. When used in the typical manner, this component arms and helps stabilize the submunition. When armed, the fuze relies solely on momentum to send the firing pin into the detonator, firing the main charge.

After arming the DPICM submunitions, the Ukrainians insert a small piece of metal to prevent it from accidentally exploding while being loaded onto a drone. This tab is then removed, making the grenades live again. In principle, it should work properly when dropped in this way from a sufficient height.

It should be noted right away that this process raises a number of safety concerns throughout, starting with the process of dismantling a live artillery shell lying on the ground using a commercial hand-held power tool. In addition, the fuses on the DPICM submunitions are Notoriously difficult and could be seriously liable To explode if they are mishandled while armed. This is one of the main issues that critics of these munitions point to in their opposition to their use.

There is also the question of whether this is a good use of resources. It is true that reports emerged earlier this year that Ukrainian officials were asking their American counterparts about the possibility of obtaining old Rockeye II cluster bombs in order to dismantle them and convert the bomblets inside into munitions for drones. You can read more about this here.

However, the Rockeyes would not be of interest to the Ukrainian forces to use them in the way they were intended. Unguided cluster bombs like these are designed to be dropped by aircraft flying more or less close to or over the target area, something Ukrainian pilots avoid doing largely due to concerns about Russian air defenses.

All this cannot be said about artillery shells, in particular 155-mm shells, which are in great demand in Ukraine, where they are often rationed into units. In April, Oleksandra Ustinova, a member of the Verkhovna Rada, said this the ap The country’s armed forces were firing between 6,000 and 8,000 155 mm rounds every day.

Before US officials announced they would be sending DIPCMs to Ukraine in July, Ukrainian authorities and their advocates had been pressing for months. This was due to the capabilities they provide and just to give the Ukrainian forces another source of much needed artillery ammunition. DIPCM rounds can provide particularly useful effects against enemies hidden in trench networks and against large formations, including those with armored vehicles, out in the open, things that Ukrainian forces regularly encounter as part of their ongoing counter-offensive.

There is a possibility that something was wrong with the specific M483A1 round seen in the latest video, which would have made turning it into a source of drone munitions less of a problem. Depending on the nature of any such problem on the tour, this may heighten the safety concerns mentioned above.

On the other hand, the total number of submunitions in just one round of DPICM rounds can make the reuse of these artillery shells worthwhile, even if UAV units only get a few rounds. As mentioned earlier, one M483A1 grenade contains 88 M42/M46 submunitions. This potentially amounts to 88 individual targets that the drones can now engage, more effectively, thanks to the contents of just one shell.

DPICM submunitions have already been specifically designed to free-fall onto their targets and have a built-in stabilization system. As can be seen in the latest video, the M42/M46s do not require any real modification to convert them into drone weapons. More efforts are necessary to allow other munitions reused in this way by Ukrainian forces, including 40mm grenades, to be used effectively as air-dropped improvised munitions.

The dual-purpose nature of DPICM submunitions gives them useful capabilities against the type of targets pursued by Ukrainian UAV units, including armored vehicles and groups of Russian forces under limited cover or in the open. This translates to added flexibility during a single mission where different types of targets may suddenly appear.

Ukrainian forces have already made use of a variety of commercial unmanned aerial systems modified to drop improvised munitions or simply act as dedicated suicide drones and crash directly into their targets. Even a relatively small payload, such as a DIPCM recycled submunition, can be very effective against a variety of targets if used with precision. So, there is definitely a need to make sure that there is a steady supply of suitable ammunition.

All in all, it remains to be seen if DIPCM artillery shells will become a more common unmanned improvised munition, or if requirements will prevent this from becoming a more widespread event. How the United States will respond to this “off-label” use is also unknown at this time. What we do know is that these weapons are now being used in unconventional, albeit predictable, ways.

Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button