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105mm guns being replaced by 155mm ...?


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Hi all,

With all the focus on the "situation" in Ukraine, noticing the emphasis on the 155mm.  Here in Australia, the 155mm has replaced the 105, where previously there had been a mix of 105 and 155mm.  I havent paid any real attention to why this was so..from my time in the service it was understood that at least one battery of 105s would be attached to each infantry battalion for on call work etc.  Logistically, it would seem easier to support 105s, lighter gun, lighter round, more of them able to be supplied.  I get that each 155mm round is more destructive, but that you would have less of them.  I also get that more sophisticated rounds are available for the 155mm.   And of course greater range.

I assume the trend is going to continue.  With that in mind, as a non artilleryman, what is the current thinking out there with the whole 105mm vs 155mm, the role of artillery in supporting the infantryman and of course armour etc?

 

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With increased motorization and mechanization, as well increased truck capacities 155mm has became logistically feasible at brigade level. Hence abandonment of 105mm, since it found itself w/o place in organization, since battalions are traditionally better served with 120mm mortars.

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A 105mm shell has little volume available for payloads, IIRC it's DPICM had 16 bomblets compared to 30? for a 120mm Mortar round, due to it's shape and needing fairly thick walls. It's logistics is also worse than a 120mm mortars. The gun is heavier, needs more manpower and it's shell+charge is bulkier and heavier than mortar ammo.

The 105mm's traditional advantages were range and to a lesser extent accuracy but technology has chipped away at that while emphasizing it's payload disadvantage. 

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The increased mechanization of potential enemy forces is also a driver.  Unarmoured leg infantry can be very effectively engaged by 25 pounder and 105 mm size weapons.  Tanks and IFVs, not so much.  You need 155 mm for that.

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Smaller armies too, that means only the most important hardware  remain.  You can live without 105 but not without 155.

If huge armies return you can specialize again.

Edited by lucklucky
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And 155 has all the advanced projectiles such as copper head. The explosive load out of 105 mm isn't enough to justify the advance tech.

105 is used in the U.S. Army mostly by light units such as the 82nd Airborne and 101st Air Assault Divisions. 

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1 hour ago, 17thfabn said:

And 155 has all the advanced projectiles such as copper head. The explosive load out of 105 mm isn't enough to justify the advance tech.

105 is used in the U.S. Army mostly by light units such as the 82nd Airborne and 101st Air Assault Divisions. 

In the Army, 105mm is ONLY in the Infantry BCTs, and has been for a couple of decades, at least. But there are more IBCTs than the two divisions that you listed- they are approximately half of the BCTs in the total Army.

The USMC did have 105mm in the past, but they've been 155 pure for a long time, although I'm not exactly sure when they got rid of their last 105mm.

 

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but in current conflict in ukraine, all the huge logistics tail , trucks, field kitchens, etc., is still vulnerable to 105mm? 

i think finland was looking to replace d-30 , and 105mm seemed to be only alternative and they were looking into licence production of korean kh-178 (upgraded ww2 m101)

that was 3 years ago i think.

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3 hours ago, bd1 said:

but in current conflict in ukraine, all the huge logistics tail , trucks, field kitchens, etc., is still vulnerable to 105mm? 

i think finland was looking to replace d-30 , and 105mm seemed to be only alternative and they were looking into licence production of korean kh-178 (upgraded ww2 m101)

that was 3 years ago i think.

If anyone was to place field kitchens in the range of 105mm guns, not protected by counter battery fire, then they deserve themselves to be hit by 105mm / 122mm rounds.....  now what was that about Soviet  Russian Generals being attritted?

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5 hours ago, bd1 said:

but in current conflict in ukraine, all the huge logistics tail , trucks, field kitchens, etc., is still vulnerable to 105mm? 

i think finland was looking to replace d-30 , and 105mm seemed to be only alternative and they were looking into licence production of korean kh-178 (upgraded ww2 m101)

that was 3 years ago i think.

Replacing D-30 with 105mm would be peak idiocy. Worst than a NGSW dumpsterfire.

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Mortars are in most cases the superior solution for anything less than 155/152 mm because the additional range for 105mm  is not so meaningful given the proliferation of long range artillery (using 105mm for counterbattery work is infeasible) and mortar rounds have better terminal effects for a given logistics load and they are easier to conceal or dig in.

The partial exception is airborne or other light troops that cannot rely on this proliferation of longer range systems, and need something with a bit more reach than the typical 120mm mortar, but even here something like Nona-K is superior to 105mm.  Or even older systems like the 160mm M-160 mortar has sufficient range for most fire missions that will exist when counterbattery etc. is taken care of by higher level systems, and has vastly superior terminal effects to 105mm (though perhaps a somewhat lesser rate of fire).

Actually I think there is a good case for taking the guidance system from e.g. Krasnopol and putting it on a 160mm mortar round. If you are going to pay for a guided mortar round, it may as well have a big bang and decent reach.

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My only doubt is if technology expands making all artillery rounds guided projectiles. A 127mm naval vulcano round (unitary) have a 80-100km range. They have a small explosive but might compensate with precision.

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One other factor has been that towed 155mm howitzers are getting lighter while helicopters are lifting heavier and heavier loads; this eliminates the air-portable artillery niche that was one of the last strongholds of 105mm artillery. 

Airborne operations are the last gasp and I agree with KV7 that a 2B16 Nona-K type solution would be superior; I think it's only organizational inertia and sunk costs that are keeping 105mm in that space.

I do, however, see one opportunity for a 105mm comeback, though it's unlikely: something like the Denel G7 in a turret like the Cockerill 3105 (42 degrees max elevation).  This is a very interesting combination of direct and indirect fire support capabilities that could be deployed on a lighter chassis, especially wheeled vehicles.  It's still a niche, but in weight/bulk critical applications, being able to land one vehicle that can do both direct fire and indirect fire support (out to 30km or so) would be a spiffy package.

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Well troop densities is also an issue. In the Ukraine the frontage for each batallion are about 20km in some areas. In those cases 120mm mortars lacks the range to cover the entire frontline and even less, the ability to reach behind the frontline. Something like the mortar/howitzer on the russian 2S31 Vena looks attractive to me as a batallion weapon. Or perhaps scaled up to a rifled 155mm mortar/howitzer, that could fire rifled 155mm mortar rounds at shorter ranges and standard 155mm howitzer ammo (with fewer MACS than a conventional 155mm) for longer range engagements.

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1 hour ago, Olof Larsson said:

Well troop densities is also an issue. In the Ukraine the frontage for each batallion are about 20km in some areas. In those cases 120mm mortars lacks the range to cover the entire frontline and even less, the ability to reach behind the frontline. Something like the mortar/howitzer on the russian 2S31 Vena looks attractive to me as a batallion weapon. Or perhaps scaled up to a rifled 155mm mortar/howitzer, that could fire rifled 155mm mortar rounds at shorter ranges and standard 155mm howitzer ammo (with fewer MACS than a conventional 155mm) for longer range engagements.

A very light low/medium pressure 155mm is a good idea but it still needs new ammunition to realise the gains from low pressure, i.e. thinner shell walls and a deeper boat tail. It is similar to the 160mm mortar idea I floated above.

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2 hours ago, lucklucky said:

My only doubt is if technology expands making all artillery rounds guided projectiles. A 127mm naval vulcano round (unitary) have a 80-100km range. They have a small explosive but might compensate with precision.

If you want to go really long range with guided ammunition then arguably you may as well use a smoothbore high calibre gun, so that you can use a sabot round with considerable payload.  A 210mm smoothbore gun could fire 155mm rounds at 1700 m/s or so. It's going to need a big platform but still on the order of a MTB for mass/fuel consumption etc. Small guided rounds are obviously enough for vehicles but if you have the capability for long range precision fire it would be nice to be able to hit buildings as well.

127mm pushed to high pressures as in naval guns obviously can work, but it is not going to be a light gun. And if it is not light, then it is falling into the area where 155mm is already established as the standard solution.

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14 hours ago, FALightFighter said:

In the Army, 105mm is ONLY in the Infantry BCTs, and has been for a couple of decades, at least. But there are more IBCTs than the two divisions that you listed- they are approximately half of the BCTs in the total 

 

I was not up on the newer Brigade Combat Team set up. Thanks!

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It might be too 'niche', but I can see a role for a 105 howitzer in an infantry support vehicle.  Relatively light and compact yet still able to provide effective direct/medium range fires.

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3 minutes ago, shep854 said:

It might be too 'niche', but I can see a role for a 105 howitzer in an infantry support vehicle.  Relatively light and compact yet still able to provide effective direct/medium range fires.

Along the same lines but BIGGER!

Could you have a short barrel 155mm  howitzer on the same vehicle?  Limit it to what ever size propelling charge the short barrel and vehicle can handle? This would be more of a breach loading rifled mortar based on size.

Several advantages to this:

Bigger bang with the 155 versus 105.

Can use the more advanced 155 type projectiles. 

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1 hour ago, KV7 said:

A very light low/medium pressure 155mm is a good idea but it still needs new ammunition to realise the gains from low pressure, i.e. thinner shell walls and a deeper boat tail. It is similar to the 160mm mortar idea I floated above.

Yes, but with the added advantage that it could use existing 155mm rounds, fuses (and ideally charges) for long range fire, simplifying development, purchase and supply. For a 160mm mortar new ammo would still have to be developed, so we wouldn't really add anything development wise.

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The South Koreans procured hundreds of EVO-105, basically M101 mounted on 5 ton trucks, with modern FCS, nav and commo systems. Seems like it can go in/ out of action in 1 minute, with ROF of 10 reds/min. Maybe it suits Korea terrain ?

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